Frantz and Spence
(Robert B. Frantz, born 1894, Waynesboro, Pennsylvania; died 1971, Saginaw, Michigan)
(James A. Spence Sr., born 1899, Saginaw, Michigan; died 1970, Higgins Lake, Michigan)
After receiving a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan in 1920,1 Robert Frantz moved to Saginaw and worked for architects Cowles and Mutscheller.2 In 1924 James A. Spence graduated from the University of Michigan.3 In 1925 the firm of Frantz and Spence was formed and continued until 1960. After the firm was dissolved, the principals formed independent firms.4
The majority of the firms’ residential designs are inspired by American Colonial examples. These homes demonstrate the designers’ careful analysis and understanding of historical examples and their facility in adapting these designs to contemporary demands - a home modeled on a federal-style farmhouse, gains bathrooms, butler’s pantry and a modern kitchen. There was another side to the firm’s work. In their designs for several commercial buildings - Central Fire Station and a store for the J. C. Penney Co. - they demonstrate interest and skill in modern design. In fact, even in their most passionately colonial homes, careful scrutiny exposes subtle design details related to the firm’s more modern designs. After World War II, the International Style became a clear source of inspiration for the firm.
Residence for Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Montague
Penney Store building on North Washington
Residence of Mr & Mrs Robert Frantz5 and other residences on Edgewood Road in Saginaw Township
Central Fire Station
Arthur Hill High School
1"Noted Designer, Architect Robert B. Frantz Dies.” The Saginaw News. 16 June 1971
2Saginaw City Directories
3“Spence, James A. Sr.”The Saginaw News. 23 October 1970.
4“Partnership Dissolved: Two Architects, Long Together, On Lone Trails” The Saginaw News. 1 January 1960.
5Advertisement. The Saginaw News. 10 November 1929. Section 4- 9.