Theodore H. Damm

Damm, Theodore H.

(1902 – 1984)

Born on August 10, 1902 in Seattle, Theodore Harold Damm received his architectural education primarily by on-the-job training. For reasons unknown, he spent just one year at the University of Washington before going to work for architect F.A. Naramore in 1922. After spending time as a framing superintendent on a variety of construction sites, Damm then gained valuable experience by working for architect Victor Voorhees.  While there he served as a draftsman and superintendent of construction (1923 to 1932).

While working for Voorhees, Damm also moonlighted on the side and is credited with designing several buildings in Seattle. Such projects include a home for Phillip Vizio (1926); a remodeling of a brick apartment structure for Chris Boysen (1926); and the Ware & Hosey Store (1928). He received his architectural license on December 29, 1928.

Damm opened his own firm in the mid-1930s and continued practicing architecture for another forty plus years. Early projects include the V.L. Miller Building (1940) in Georgetown; the Streamline Moderne style Irwin Chiropractic Clinic (1947) in West Seattle; and the Laurelhurst Community Club Gymnasium (1949-1950).

Later projects included an addition to Harborview Hospital (1954 with Henry Bittman); the Seattle Engineering Department’s West Maintenance & Engineering Shops (1956); John Rogers Elementary School (1956); the Noble, Jonson & Derrig Accounting Office (1956); the West Seattle High School Gym (1959); the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health Building in Bellevue (1960); and Graham Hill Elementary School (1961).

In 1961 associate Harold James Daum became a partner and the name of the firm changed to Damm-Daum & Associates (1961-66). After Daum decided to leave the firm in 1966, Damm continued to practice independently until his retirement in 1973.

Damm’s largest project was the controversial Seattle Municipal Building (1962). Designed in conjunction with Dallas, Texas architect James MacCammon, the 12-story, seven million dollar building, featured an exterior curtain wall of metal turquoise panels and prefabricated concrete panels blasted with crushed quartz, and a rooftop garden. Despite being referred to by many as “The Holiday Inn for Bureaucrats,” the project brought Damm much attention and further work.

Damm passed away in Seattle at the age of 81 on January 17, 1984.

– Michael C Houser

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