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Edward Robert Humrich (1902-1991)

Dates of Interview:

February 3, 4; April 23, 1986

Location of Interview:

Humrich's home and studio in Wadsworth, Illinois


Maya Moran

Length of Transcript:

98 pages
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Biographical Summary

Edward Humrich was born in Chicago in 1902. He was trained as a musician but began his career in real estate selling co-op apartments, financing and developing North Shore properties. He later found work designing houses for Chicago architects Robert Arnold and Robert Seyfarth. He left Seyfarth to work in the office of Chester Walcott and then formed a partnership with Harry B. Clow before opening his own independent architectural office in the late 1930s. Humrich's work was almost exclusively residential and in the Prairie School idiom. Most of his commissions were built in the Chicago suburbs during the 1950s and 1960s. Humrich died in Zion, Illinois, in 1991.

Interview Highlights

Humrich speaks about how he became an architect without formal training; architects with whom he trained; features of Humrich-designed residences; clients and commissions; competitions; the role of nature in Humrich's designs; the Chicago Architectural Club; his philosophy.

Interview Excerpt

"I think I would tell [someone who wants to be an architect] to forget schools, take the books and throw them away. I remember the thing that affected me more than anything else in my youth was that I ran across something by [Frank Lloyd] Wright. He was denouncing people who copied and trying to establish schools...He said, 'Never copy anything. Try to find out the principles involved and then work out your own answers.' It's a very hard job when you're faced with a problem, especially a design problem, to stare at a blank piece of paper for hours and sometimes days and nights. Nothing comes and you begin to think you're going a little batty. I remember one time I was working in the studio and I knew if I put pencil to paper I'd be lost, I knew that. I worked one way or another in my mind, in my imagination, but nothing came. I think I worried over that for three days and three nights. It was a beautiful night and at about five o'clock in the morning I went out to get a little fresh air and I happened to look up and here is Orion....That solved my whole problem." (pp. 54-55)

Funding for this oral history was provided by Mrs. Ogden Livermore.
Publication of this oral history in web-accessible form was made possible by the generous support of The Vernon and Marcia Wagner Access Fund at The Art Institute of Chicago, The James & Catherine Haveman Foundation, The Reva and David Logan Family Fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Daniel Logan and The Reva and David Logan Foundation.