Herbert C. Chivers (1869-1946)
|Women's Magazine Building, now |
the University City City Hall.
It is easy to guess how Chivers and U. City's Lewis were attracted to each other - Chivers would probably be dismayed to discover his relative obscurity for he devoted considerable time and talent to self-promotion. In addition to advertisements in Lewis' magazine, Chivers published a monthly called the Home Builder, took out ads in City Directories (not a common practice for the early 20th century architectural profession) and developed a far-flung mail order business selling house plans.
In 1910, he compiled a handy, hard cover volume of over 1000 of these plans. Artistic Homes is replete with testimonials from former clients, admonitions from Chivers about the value of using an architect and an essay on the City Beautiful: "For years I have been eminently successful as a Deviser of Civic Improvements ...."
|6915 Amherst, University City|
Did he move to San Francisco after the earthquake? He certainly knew where to find a market. Chivers died on May 13, 1946 in Tecumseh, Kansas at age seventy-seven. His obituary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on June 5, 1946 reveals little about this fascinating character. The only building mentioned other than the University City City Hall was Union Station for which he "worked as a draftsman on plans."
Some sense of the man's spirit can be gleaned from the beginning of a five-stanza poem he wrote for Artistic Homes:
HE EMPLOYED AN ARCHITECT
-- Herbert C. Chivers
He made a fortune buying lots,
Converting them to pretty spots,
And building pleasant homes to sell,
For Roycraft always builded well.
Substantial healthy, handy homes;
With arches, gables, peaks and domes,
Piazzas, oriels and handsome towers,
Half hidden in the trees and flowers.
Each house was varied from the rest--
Like pretty women, nicely dressed.
He scarce could hold a house til done,
For at least two buyers sought each one.
How Roycraft did it, none could learn;
He was so very taciturn.
When dying, Roycraft told his spouse
The secret: "When you want a house,
Secure an architect at once."
(He who hires himself, a dunce employs.)