Albin A. Shay

Shay, Albin A.

(1899 – 1984)

Albin Aurelius Shay was born February 17, 1899, in Columbus, Ohio and moved to the Seattle area when he was eleven. He received his formal architectural education at the University of Washington and the University of Pennsylvania where he received his bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1922. Upon graduation, Shay went to work for the noted New York firm of Warren & Wetmore, and then for the firm of George B. Post & Sons. In 1923 Shay returned to Seattle and took a job as a part time as an architectural instructor at the University of Washington. On the side he worked for the firm of Bebb & Gould. In 1927, Shay opened his own independent practice. Known projects include a refreshment stand and residence for Seward Park (1927); and “The Friendly House” Model Home (1931).

Business was slow during the Depression years then in 1935, Shay formed a partnership with fellow architect Paul Thiry. Together they began designing some of the earliest works in the modern vein in Washington state. Among their projects were the Peterson Investment Company Building (1936), the Delman’s Fifth Avenue Shop (1936), the Percival K. Nichols House (1936), the Dr. Lauren Shroat House (1937), and the Frank Barrett House (1937). At the time, the dwellings were a radical advancement for architecture in the Northwest.

During the World War II, Shay, like many architects at the time, completed a 15-week course in the art of camouflage. Afterwards he reportedly designed and supervised the building of many federal housing projects in and around the Puget Sound area.

After the war, Thiry and Shay and parted ways; each opened their own independent practices. Shay’s known post war work is limited a handful of structures including a warehouse for Van Walters & Rogers Inc. (1949) in Portland; the Nat Rogers House (1950); Otteson House (c. 1953); Washington Chocolate Factory (1953); and the Scientific Supplies Company (1954) all in Seattle.

Shay retired in 1964 and passed away in Seattle on October 18, 1984 at the age of 85.

– Michael C Houser

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