William S. Kelton

Engineer

Kelton, William S.

(1885 – 1966)

Born February 17, 1885 in San Francisco, California, William Sutherland Kelton began his career as a civil engineer. He attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania formal education and came to Seattle around 1910. His early career was delayed by severing in the Army during World War I (rising to the rank of First Lieutenant).

Before the war he had a successful construction business.  Among his more notable early projects was the Swiss Chalet style James Dyer House (1922) designed by Ellsworth Story.

After World War II, Kelton wanted to profit on the pending post-war building boom and reformatted his business. In his new business plan, he would offer stock and “tailored to order” house plans with complete working drawings for reasonable prices – a fairly unusual practice at the time. He heavily advertised in the Seattle Times and Seattle Post Intelligencer, and offered plan sets for four, five and six-room models from $50 to $170 dollars. While it is unknown how many plans Kelton sold, advertisements reported that, by 1953, the firm had designed over 1,800 buildings in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. These included stores, warehouses, commercial buildings, and single-family homes.

Known projects are include a house near Denny Park (1953); a split-level home in Manhattan Village (240 S. 182nd St., Normandy Park (1956); and the Pacific Diesel Co. Warehouse & Office (1956). Later in his career, Kelton focused on apartment designs including an apartment building at 2030 Eastlake (1956); the Boston Apartments (1957); a 10-unit apartment building at 100 E. Boston St. (1957); the Beverly Coral Apartments (1957); a 13-unit apartment building at 412 W. Mercer St. (1958); the Evergreen Apartments (1960); a 7-unit apartment at 4301 Whitman (1960); and an apartment at 501 NE 73rd St (1965).

Kelton always marketed himself as a structural engineer, and likely employed architects at his firm. He also heavily marketed his appraisal services in the late 1950s. Kelton passed away on March 8, 1966 and was buried at the U.S. Soldiers and Airman’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

– Michael C Houser

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