J. Fred Beckbissinger, Saginaw, Michigan
(Born 1870, Saginaw, Michigan; died 1963, Saginaw, Michigan)
In partnership with William T. Cooper 1914 - 1923
J. Fred Beckbissinger started his career - and training - working as a draftsman in various Saginaw architectural offices. Detroit City Directories and correspondence indicate that he worked briefly in Grand Rapids1 and Detroit.2 In 1910 he opened an office in Saginaw.3 In 1914 he formed a partnership with William T. Cooper. In 1915, when Michigan instituted architectural registration requirements, J. Fred Beckbissinger’s registration number was 19.4 The firm of Cooper and Beckbissinger lasted until Cooper’s retirement in 1923. After Cooper’s retirement, Beckbissinger continued to practice on his own and is listed as an architect in Saginaw City Directories until 1958.5
Beckbissinger’s work includes residential, commercial and industrial buildings - all attest to his interest in both the American Arts and Crafts Movement and the Colonial Revival style. His interest in the Colonial Revival started before his partnership with William T. Cooper. Viewing the two design movements as complementary philosophies, he combined influences from both schools to create a unique, personal design vocabulary. Simple, elegant and meticulously detailed, all of his buildings underscore the pragmatic nature of his on-the-job training. He is quoted as saying, “It’s fine to have a lot of theory behind you, but you’ve got to be enough of an engineer and a bricklayer and lot of other things to know how to put a building together.”6
614 South Jefferson Avenue, Mautner residence
505 Thompson, Liebermann residence
1555 S. Washington, Wiechmann residence 7
Holland Court grouping 1 8,2 9,4 10,5 11,& 6 12 Holland Court, c. 1911
915 Holland 13
Modart Corset Factory, 1920 southeast corner of Lapeer and 2nd 14
1James B. Peter. Letter to J. Fred Beckbissinger. 15 June 1888.Hoyt Library Trustee Papers. Local History and Genealogy Collection, Hoyt Library. Letter Press Book: 25 May 1883 to 28 October 1889. 332.
2Detroit City Directory
3Saginaw City Directories
4“J. Fred Beckbissinger Dies: Dean of Saginaw Architects.” The Saginaw News. 27 July 1963. Note: This article provides information about his training and background that appeared in an earlier newspaper article and is not supported in other records.
5Saginaw City Directories
6The Saginaw News. 27 July 1963.
7 William C. Wiechmann Residence Plans, Private Collection
8 “Another Fine Home on Holland Court.” Saginaw Daily News. 17 August 1912. 9.
9"Handsome Home in Holland Court.” Saginaw Daily News. 26 October 1912. 12.
10“Built for Thomas A. Reade in Holland.” Saginaw Daily News. 5 July 1913. 10.
11“Interesting Homes in Holland Court: That of H.C. Woodruff A Very Pretty Residence.” Saginaw Daily News. 11 May 1912. 9.
12 Built for Dr. Fiske Wood. Saginaw Daily News. 18 October 1913. 10
13“Another New Home on Holland Avenue.” Saginaw Daily News. 1 July 1991. 9.
14 Construction Drawings. Modart Corset Company Papers. Historical Society of Saginaw.