Barry Byrne

Barry Byrne

Barry Byrne (19 December 1883 – 18 December 1967) was initially a member of the group of architects known as the Prairie School. After the demise of the Prairie School about 1914-16, Byrne continued as a successful architect by developing his own personal style.


Francis Barry Byrne was born and raised in Chicago. After seeing a Chicago Architectural Club exhibit in 1902, he sought employment with Frank Lloyd Wright and secured a position although untrained in architecture. As Wright’s son, John, relates:

William Drummond, Francis Barry Byrne, Walter Burley Griffin, Albert McArthur (Albert Chase McArthur), Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts and George Willis were the draftsmen. Five men, two women. They wore flowing ties, and smocks suitable to the realm. The men wore their hair like Papa, all except Albert, he didn’t have enough hair. They worshiped Papa! Papa liked them! I know that each one of them was then making valuable contributions to the pioneering of the modern American architecture for which my father gets the full glory, headaches and recognition today! [My Father: Frank Lloyd Wright by John Lloyd Wright; 1992; page 35.]

After working for Wright for several years, Byrne worked briefly at other Chicago firms, then moved to Seattle in winter 1908-9 to join Andrew Willatzen, who had been a fellow employee at Wright's office. They formed the firm Willatzen & Byrne and, over the next several years, produced a series of residential designs in the Prairie Style.

After the Willatzen & Byrne partnership dissolved in 1913, Willatzen remained in Seattle but Byrne moved first to California and then returned to Chicago to take over the practice of Walter Burley Griffin (who moved to Australia).

By 1917, Byrne was practicing under his own name. He briefly served in World War I, then returned to Chicago. In this period, Byrne's style developed independently of Wright and the Prairie School as he moved toward greater simplification of form. Annette Cremin became Byrne's wife in 1926, and they had three children. As an artist, she influenced his work, drawing renderings of his architectural designs, and on occasion, contributing interior color patterns and decoration for his buildings and churches.

During the 1920s, some of Byrne's work contained elements of Expressionism. He became successful as a designer of ecclesiastical and educational buildings for the Roman Catholic Church, for whom he later created three of his most important works: Church of Christ the King in Cork, Ireland (1931), Church of St. Francis Xavier in Kansas City, Missouri (1949), and St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kansas (1951-1957).

In the 1930s, Byrne moved to New York, but after 1945 returned to Chicago. Byrne partially retired about 1953, but continued to accept commissions until his death. He died in December 1967 after being struck by an automobile. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Illinois.

elected works

* Nelson, Tagholm and Jensen Building, Seattle, Washington (1909) with Andrew Willatzen
* Charles H. Clarke House, Seattle, Washington (1909) with Andrew Willatzen
* Frederick Handschy House Seattle, Washington (1910) with Andrew Willatzen
* Our Lady of Good Help Catholic Church, Hoquiam, Washington (1910) with Andrew Willatzen
* George Matzen House, Seattle, Washington (1910), with Andrew Willatzen
* Oscar E. Maurer House, Seattle, Washington (1910) with Andrew Willatzen
* Andrew S. Kerry House, Seattle, Washington (1910-11) with Andrew Willatzen
* George E. Felmlay House, Seattle, Washington (1911) with Andrew Willatzen
* John T. McVay House, Seattle, Washington (1911) with Andrew Willatzen
* Carleton Huiscamp House, Seattle, Washington (1912) with Andrew Willatzen
* George Bellman House, Seattle, Washington (1912) with Andrew Willatzen
* L. George Hagar House, Seattle, Washington (1913) with Andrew Willatzen
* Sam Schneider House, Mason City, Iowa (1914), attributed (original commission to Walter Burley Griffin)
* J.B. Franke House, Fort Wayne, Indiana (1914)
* Hugh Gilmore House, Mason City, Iowa (1915)
* Dr. James Frederic Clarke House, Fairfield, Iowa (1915)
* John Travis Kenna Apartments, Chicago, Illinois (1916)
* C.M. Rich House, Keokuk, Iowa (1916)
* Saint Francis Xavier School, Wilmette, Illinois (1916)
* John Valentine House (now Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity house, Ball State University), Muncie, Indiana (1917)
* William F. Temple House remodeling, Kenilworth, Illinois (1917), with Alfonso Iannelli
* Immaculata High School and Convent Buildings, Chicago (1922), historic landmark
* St. Francis Xavier High School, Wilmette, Illinois (1922)
* Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, Chicago, Illinois (1922)
* All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines, Illinois (1923)
* Church of St. Patrick, Racine, Wisconsin (1924)
* Church of Christ the King, Tulsa, Oklahoma (1926)
* Church of Christ the King, Parish of Turner's Cross, Cork, Ireland (1931), sculpture by John Storrs
* Church of SS. Peter & Paul, Pierre, South Dakota (1941)
* Church of St. Francis Xavier, Kansas City, Missouri (1949), sculptures by Alfonso Iannelli
* Church of St. Columba, St. Paul, Minnesota (1949)
* St. Benedict's Abbey Church, Atchison, Kansas (1951-1957)
* Church of St. Patrick, London, Ontario (1952)
* Holy Redeemer College (now Académie Sainte-Cécile), Windsor, Ontario (1957)
* St. Procopius College (now Benedictine University), Lisle, Illinois (1962)


* Brooks, H. Allen (Ed.), "Prairie School Architecture: Studies from "The Western Architect", Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York 1983; ISBN 0442213093
* Brooks, H. Allen, "The Prairie School: Frank Lloyd Wright and his Midwest Contemporaries", University of Toronto Press, Toronto 1972; ISBN 0802052517
* Hildebrand, Grant, and Giessel Jess M., "Andrew Willatsen," in "Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects" (ed. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner), University of Washington Press, Seattle and London 1994, pages 168-173, 312; ISBN 029597365X

External links

* [ Barry Byrne Archive at The Art Institute of Chicago]
* [ Byrne Biography and Buildings]
* [ Prairie Styles - Barry Byrne]
* [ ArchiSeek: "Barry Byrne: Christ the King, Turner's Cross, Cork"]

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