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Walter Thaw Stockton (1895-1989)

Dates of Interview:

August 30, 1983

Location of Interview:

Stockton's home in Evanston, Illinois

Interviewer:

Betty J. Blum

Length of Transcript:

45 pages
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Biographical Summary

Walter Thaw Stockton was born in Chicago in 1895. He studied architecture at Princeton University and graduated in 1917. Returning to pratice in his hometown after graduation, Stockton was a partner of Robert DeGoyler for more than twenty years before he became associated with architect Philip Maher in the 1950s. Stockton's commissions were primarily for prestigious apartment buildings in Chicago. Stockton died in 1989 in Evanston, Illinois.

Interview Highlights

Stockton speaks about studying at Princeton and on-the-job training; Clark & Walcott; working with Robert S. DeGoyler; building the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago; office records of DeGoyler & Company; working in the office of Philip Maher and others.


Robert DeGolyer, 1120 N. Lake Shore Drive; Chicago, 1926.
Photograph by Jean Jenger.


Robert DeGoyler, 1242 North Lake Shore Drive; Chicago, 1928.
Photograph by Jean Jenger.

Interview Excerpt

"We had [the Ambassador East Hotel] all designed as a cube--not a cube, but an oblong. It was the same height all the way up. We built it on a guarantee for Ernest Byfield. We formed an outfit with BW Construction Company and a real estate outfit and ourselves as architects, and we guaranteed to build a three-hundred-room hotel for Byfield. Just at the time we were about ready to build--we were finishing the drawings--we discovered that the building code, the zoning code, had been changed. They never notified the architects at all. They just came around and slapped notices on you that you couldn't have the height limit on the street that high. But I saved the day...I studied that thing back and foward and found that if you set back one foot from each lot line, you could go up two feet higher. So, if you set back ten feet, you could go up twenty feet as a tower, and that just made three hundred rooms. And Byfield promised me a case of his College Inn canned goods for saving the day. I never got it. I've been waiting for it ever since." (p.15)

Additional Resources

Walter Thaw Stockton images in the R&B Archives


Funding for this oral history was provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
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.