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Western Home Builder

House Plans by Victor W. Voorhees of Seattle

1908 Western Home Builder Title Page

Victor Voorhees, one of the Pacific Northwest's most versatile and prolific architects, was not formally educated as an architect, but managed nevertheless over his long career to design and oversee construction of hundreds of homes, apartment buildings, hotels, and a variety of commercial buildings. Voorhees was educated in law while studying at Minneapolis Academy. During his college years, he worked in general construction which formed the foundation of his design experience.

Like many many of his professional peers, he was influenced by a variety of cultural and technical innovations as well as the Progressive movement that propelled many young designers, architects, and entrepreneurs during the first quarter of the 20th century.

According to a variety of write-ups done by the city of Seattle, Voorhees emigrated from the Midwest in 1904 to work in the building department of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway Line. He lost no time developing house plans that he published from at least 1907 to 1911 in his very popular catalogs titled Western Home Builder. The city estimates that hundreds "—possibly thousands—" of homes in Seattle and the surrounding area were built using his plans. Examples can be found throughout the city, but especially on Wallingford, Queen Anne Hill, and Capitol Hill.

Initially, Voorhees got his start in Washington designing homes through his architectural practice Fisher & Voorhees in the summer of 1904. Voorhees lost no time jumping into the plan business offering his first book of catalog plans in 1907. Many of the homes developed in the Pacific Northwest during this period exhibit a number of characteristics found in the Voorhees catalogs.

1908 Sunset Ad for Voorhees Such was Voorhees' native talent and business acumen, he had no difficulty securing ever larger projects as the years went by including a number of commissions by Seattle lumber and developer, Joseph Vance.


Buildings nominated for landmark status include

Voorhees practiced in Seattle until his retirement in 1955 and died in Santa Barbara on August 10, 1970.

Personal and family

Victor Wilber Voorhees (noted on his house plan catalog books as V. W. Voorhees) was born in Columbia county, Wisconsin May 4, 1876 to Victor and Violetta (Irons) Voorhees. His paternal ancestors were among some of the earliest Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam.

He was married first to Antoinette Amelia Blackmarr in about 1899. They appear in the 1900 census, which shows his occupation as real estate and loan agent. By 1904, with that marriage dissolved, Victor headed west and Antoinette, saddled with two toddlers (Frank Ellis b. 1903 and Virginia b. 1901) moved back in with her parents. From 1910 on, she claimed a marital status of widow ... not divorcée. In 1930, Frank was living in Seattle at the time of the census and working as a draftsman ... possibly for his father indicating that there had been some family reconciliation.

V. W. Voorhees married to Phoebe Bell Peters in British Columbia in October 1905. By 1920, their household consisted of Victor and Phoebe and Phoebe's grandmother, Armina Peters. They never had any children.


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