Galen W. Bentley

Bentley, Galen W.

(1903 – 1985)

Bellingham architect Galen Willard Bentley was born on June 30, 1903 in Seattle. The son of a carpenter, Bentley graduated from the University of Washington in 1926. Upon graduation he took a job as a draftsman for William J. Bain (1926-1928) and John W. Maloney (1928-29). To further his education, Bentley moved to New York and took additional classes at the New York School of Fine & Applied Arts (1929-1931, today known as Parsons). When he returned from his studies in New York, Bentley went to work for Seattle architect B. Dudley Stuart (1935-1936), and then William Mallis (1937-1938). During the war years he served as Chief of the Design Section at the Sandpoint Naval Air Station (1938-1945).

After the war ended, Bentley worked briefly for architect Ivan W. Meyer before acquiring the firm of Stanley Piper in Bellingham in 1946. Piper was well known in the Bellingham region and purchase of the firm gave Bentley immediate access to Piper’s former clientele. Coupled with his vast experience at a variety of firms, Bentley had no trouble finding work. Among his first projects was a design for the Whatcom County Courthouse (1950) in Bellingham.

Other notable projects included the First Baptist Church in Bellingham (1954); Carl Cozier School (1953) and a later addition (1959) in Bellingham; alterations to New Hotel Vendrome in Seattle (ca. 1946); the master site plan for civic athletic field (1960) in Bellingham; a junior high school (1958) in Marysville; and Bellingham Medical Center (1959). Some of his work was featured in Progressive Architecture magazine (July 1960).

In 1970, success and growth of the firm necessitated Bentley to take on a partner, Norman Olson. Five years later Bentley retired at the age of 72.

Bentley passed away in Wilsonville, Oregon in November 1985.

– Michael C Houser

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