Kenneth E. Kohler

Koehler, Kenneth E.

(1920 – 1981)

Born in Columbus, Ohio on May 11, 1920, Kenneth Eugene Koehler graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1948. While there, he served as an assistant instructor, teaching drafting and the use of materials. His studies were interrupted by World War II and he served as a B-17 pilot in the Army Air Corps (1942-1945), rising to the level of 1st Lieutenant (receiving a Purple Heart).

After the war, Koehler returned to his former employers, architect R.C. Sandberg in Rock Island, Illinois (1938 & 1946), and the firm of Kruse & Parish (1939 & 1947) in Davenport, Iowa.

With a degree, teaching experience and practical application at hand, for reasons unknown, upon graduation Koehler moved to Seattle in 1948. He worked briefly for architect George W. Stoddard before starting his own independent firm in 1950.

Koehler’s work focused mainly on residential designs. Notable projects included the Francis Baarley House (1953) in Normandy Park; the Robert & Helen Wilhoit House (1957, Seattle Times / AIA Home-of-the-Month); two spec houses for builder John Conner featured in the 1958 Parade of Homes; a spec house for builder John Conner (1961, Parade of Homes); a spec house for builder Norval Latimer (1962 Parade of Homes); a variety of spec houses for John Conner (1963) in Renton and in the Newport Hills neighborhood of Bellevue (split entry – Colonial, 1963 and split level, 1964); the Dr. R.M. Grimm House (1965) in Issaquah; the Blake Cahill House (1968); the J. Lanza House (1968) in Seattle; Brighton Place Apartments (1968); and Hawthorne Apartments & Cabana (1969) in Everett.

Non-residential projects include restroom facilities for Seattle Parks Board (1964, Lakewood, Rogers, Haller Lake, East Green Lake Parks & Playfields); the Dr. Anderson Dental Clinic in Kent (1968); a store building for C. Marc Miller (1959); and the Eagles Lodge (1959) Rainier District.

Kohler moved to Poulsbo in 1970 and built a home for his family outside of the city (1970). While in Poulsbo he designed the Liberty Bay Park and Marina; the American Legion Park; additions to the Poulsbo City Hall and Courthouse; and the Holiday Inn in Bremerton.

Kohler’s design for the “Vista ’63 Model House” brought him much publicity and many clients. The house was constructed inside the Washington Coliseum (Seattle Center) for the 1963 Seattle Area Home Show. Built in just 10 days, the partially prefab dwelling had a modified dramatic A-Frame design and was disassembled and moved after the show. It was purchased by Koehler and was used as his family home. After the home show a second model of the home was built in Issaquah. Later Koehler built a modified version of the “Vista ’63” model in Poulsbo for his family (1970).

A variety of builders were impressed with Kohler’s designs and asked him to provide plans for multi-family housing projects. Projects include the Seward Park Apartments (1958); the York Apartments (1958); an 11-unit apartment for builder-owner John Conner (1958); the Parkway House Apartments (1959, also John Conner); an apartment for C.A. Seguin (1959); the Fontanelle Apartments (1962, also with John Conner); the Skyline Apartments (1962); the Newport Manor (1965, John Conner – Valley Building Co., Newport Hills) in Bellevue; Marymoor Townhouse development/ Lakewood Shores Condominiums (1965) in Redmond; the Arches apartments (1968); the Brighton Place Apartments (1968); the Byron Place Apartments (1968); and the conversion of Oxford Hotel to senior apartments (1970).

Over the course of his career, Kohler was involved in many civic affairs including serving as president of the Rainier Chamber of Commerce; the AIA Home-of-the-Month Committee Chairman (1956-60); the King County Building Code Advisory Committee (1965); the Kitsap County Board of Appeals; and was an active member of the Board of the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce.

Kohler passed away in Poulsbo on March 18, 1981.

–  Michael C Houser

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