Marshall W. Perrow

Perrow, Marshall W.

(1916 – 2017)

Born January 27, 1916 in Tacoma, Marshall Woodrow Perrow began his architectural education at the young age of 15. To help support the family, he received special permission to attend school for half days, and spent the rest of his day working. His employer was the architectural firm of Mock & Morrison, the largest firm in the city at the time. Partner Nelson Morrison took the young Perrow under his wing and became his mentor and close friend. By the time Perrow graduated from high school, he had risen to the level of full draftsman.

In the Depression years, Perrow moved to Alaska and reportedly worked for wartime contractors designing large warehouse structures. During WWII he entered the Naval Reserve and then transferred to the Coast Guard, rising to the level of Chief Warrant Officer (1942-46).

When the war was over Perrow sat for the WA State architectural exam and with no formal training, he received his license (No. TL341) on March 15, 1946. He then opened his own office in Seattle, but moved the practice to Tacoma in 1948. At the time jobs were scarce. However, Perrow benefited from a school bond levy that allowed for the constructed of several new structures within the school district. He was awarded the contract to remodel of Arlington Elementary School (1948); and to design Geiger Elementary School (1949). Other school designs followed including Reed Elementary School (1951) and Baker Jr. High School (1955).

Other notable projects included Farley’s Flower Shop (1948); Johnny Dock’s Restaurant (1954); the Eric Hayes Nursery (1958) in Purdy; and Southside Church of Christ remodel (1964). Perrow also did several additions including projects at Crawford’s Sea Grill Restaurant (1953); the Tacoma Pierce County Humane Society (1954); and the Tacoma Little Theater (1956).

His design for Bowlero Lanes Bowling Alley (1960) in Tacoma brought him much acclaim. The design, with its folded plate roof, was featured in Pacific Architect & Builder (July 1961).

On the residential side, Perrow designs also received wide recognition in a variety of publications. The T. Harbine Monroe Cabin on Horsehead Bay designed in conjunction with Lawrence Halprin (c.1956) was featured in Sunset book New Homes for Western Living; and a cabin on Case Inlet (1959) was featured in Sunset. Other publications included designs in House & Home and Popular Mechanics.

Other notable residential buildings included the Tom Carsten House in Lakewood (1951); the St. Andrews Cabin/ Bishop’s Cottage on Hood Canal near Union (c. 1955); the Dr. William Taylor House & Office (1951); a set of cabins off Whidbey Island for Eugene Ruthford and Dr. Olin Loomis families; the McKendry House (1963) on Gravelly Lake; and the Lewis Langdon House (1965) on Bainbridge Island.

Business was booming for Perrow in the 1950s and he opened a branch office in San Francisco specializing in Nursing Homes. However, known California projects are limited to the Georgian House Medical Hospital (1961) in San Jose. Other projects include jobs as far south as Puerto Vallarta, and a hotel in Bora Bora.

A gifted artist, Perrow provided water color paintings for several boating and yachting magazines 1940s. Later in life he became a resident cruise-ship artist, engaged by the Holland American line to teach water color painting to vacationers while the ship is at sea.

Throughout his life Perrow has been active in a variety of sports. He was an avid snow skier and was inducted into Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame as the brains behind the first ski tow on the west coast. Perrow’s design for a rope tow – powered by a V-8 Ford engine, popularized Mount Rainier’s Alta Vista area as a winter recreation destination on the eve of WWII. He also operated a ski school on Mt. Rainier with Otto Lang. In the summer months, Perrow enjoyed sailing. A mechanical prodigy, he built his own sailboat at the age of 14. He also had many projects on the water, and he often flew himself to job sites on his float plane.

On the professional side, Perrow was a member and chairman of the Tacoma Planning Commission (1958-64), served on the Puget Sound Regional Planning Commission (1961-63), and was President of SW Washington AIA Chapter (1965).

Perrow closed his Tacoma architectural practice in 2000 and passed away in Olympia in June 5, 2017.

Michael C Houser

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