Cummings, Ira E.
(1915 – 1975)
Born on October 4, 1915 in Lewistown, Montana, Ira E. Cummings attended primary school on Bainbridge Island and Broadway High School in Seattle. With no formal architectural training, he began his architectural career at the age of 24. His hands-on architectural training eventually took him to Wyoming before he returned to the Pacific Northwest in 1945.
Initially Cummings established an architectural practice in Winslow on Bainbridge Island, and while there he designed several private residences and spec houses. After receiving his architectural license in 1946 in 1953 he had moved his practice to Seattle.
Cummings’s design talent was quickly recognized. He holds the distinction of designing the first “Home-of-Month” dwelling to be featured in the Seattle Times/AIA home competition (January 1954). The Blue Ridge Drive house, designed for the builder, N.J. Zorich, created a lasting bond with Zorich and several other prominent builders, including Richard Lee and W.F. Cook. Over the next 15 years, he became their go-to designer and provided them with many unique designs for spec houses and apartment buildings.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Cummings’s work focused primarily on single-family residential commissions and many of his designs were featured in local newspapers. Among the more noteworthy projects are the J.A. Colcock House (1952), the Harlow Snyder House (1954), the Frederick Criddle House (1955), the Paul Tutmac Jr. House (1959), the William Wheeler House (1959), the Twenty-Ten University Apartments (1963), and a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home at 10241 Valmay Ave. (1958).
While Cummings’s designs are scattered throughout Seattle, many of his nearly 500 known projects can found in the neighborhoods of Magnolia, Queen Anne, Innis Arden and Blue Ridge. Other projects are located on Bainbridge Island and Mercer Island.
In the late 1960s, Cummings took a job with the State of Washington designing and planning health facilities. Utilizing this experience, he moved to Los Angeles, California where he served as project director for the architectural firm of Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall (a large international architectural firm which specialized in hospital and medical facilities). His projects during this time included clients in Guam and Hawaii.
On December 20, 1975, Cummings passed away suddenly in London while on a return trip to visit a project he was working on for a medical facility in Tehran, Iran.
– Michael C Houser