Charles C. Rich 1881-1963

Architect Charles Clyde Rich was born in Metamora, Illinois on October 1, 1881, son of Albert and Mary Ellen Rich. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1906 with a bachelor’s of science degree in architecture and practiced briefly in Chicago.

Charles C. Rich, from 1906 University of Illinois Yearbook

By 1913 Rich had established an architecture practice in Portland and submitted plans for a high school in Gresham. During these years, he lived in rented rooms, first at 741 NE Ainsworth and then later in a home now gone in the 2400 block of SW Montgomery.

Rich was actively involved in University of Illinois alumni gatherings in Portland, hosting several at the Central Library (including one for the visiting Chicago architect Louis Sullivan). In 1916-1917, Rich was on the faculty at the UO School of Architecture and Arts along with leading Portland architects A.E. Doyle, F. A. Naramore, Wade Pipes and Joseph Jacobberger. He was an active member of the choir at Portland’s First Presbyterian Church.

Rich was also involved and interested in Portland civic life: In 1915 he was one of several founders of Portland’s City Club, along with H. Ashley Ely, Ellis Lawrence and Louis Reist. Two years later, Ashley Ely married Gwendoline Smith, the daughter of Charles J. and Lillian Smith, whose home Rich designed, 2834 NE Alameda. In subsequent years this home was mis-identified as being designed by Ellis Lawrence. It remains one of the few C.C. Rich designed buildings in Portland.

From the Oregon Journal, March 16, 1916

Just before receiving the commission from the Smiths, Rich was commissioned by the City of Portland to design a new city barn and stables at SW 16th and Jefferson which cost $50,000. About that time, he published a two-part series about the role of the architect in the building process which ran in The Oregonian, the Architect and Engineer of California journal, and Western Architect and Engineer magazine.

From The Oregonian, September 12, 1915

From The Oregonian, September 19, 1915

Not long after completing the Smith house, Rich made a major change in his life. There is no mention of his departure from Portland in local newspapers, but by September of 1918, he had returned to the east and was living in Philadelphia as an insurance salesman working for a company based in his former Illinois hometown. His father—who was also in the insurance business—died in January 1918, which may have had an effect on C.C. Rich’s pathway and career choice.

In 1920, Rich married Mary Alice Paddock and they moved to Wayne, Pennsylvania, a suburb northwest of Philadelphia where they raised a daughter and two sons. Rich had left architecture for good and continued in the insurance business. He died at age 81 on March 19, 1963.

Obituary from the Philadelphia Inquirer, March 21, 1963