B. Marcus Priteca bigraphy, stories - American architect

B. Marcus Priteca : biography

1881 - 1971

Hollywood.]] Detail of Priteca's Chevra Bikur Cholim [[synagogue (1912), now Langston Hughes Performing Art Center, Seattle.]] Benjamin Marcus Priteca (December 23, 1889-October 1, 1971) was born in Glasgow, Scotland. A theater architect, he is best known for his work for Alexander Pantages. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1907 and later attended the Royal College of Art. He served a brief apprenticeship under architect Robert MacFarlane Cameron, in Edinburgh, before emigrating to the United States, where he settled in Seattle, Washington, in 1909.

Priteca met Seattle vaudeville theatre owner Alexander Pantages in 1910 and won from him a commission to design the San Francisco Pantages Theater (1911), the first of many so-named vaudeville and motion picture houses in what would become one of the largest theater chains in North America.

In all, Priteca designed 22 theaters for Pantages and another 128 for other theater owners. Notable theaters include the Coliseum (1915) in Seattle; the Pantages (1918) in Tacoma, Washington; the Pantages (1920) in Los Angeles (downtown); the Pantages in San Diego (1924); the Pantages (1928) in Fresno, California; the Paramount (1929) in Seattle; the Pantages (1929) in Hollywood (the last and largest of the Pantages theaters); the Warner on Pacific Boulevard in Huntington Park (1930); and the Admiral (1938) in West Seattle.

Pantages is said to have liked Priteca as a theater architect for his ability to create the appearance of opulence within a less-than-opulent budget. "Any damn fool," Pantages is quoted as saying, "Can make a place look like a million dollars by spending a million dollars, but it's not everybody who can do the same thing with half a million."

Priteca's apprentices included Gregory Ain, who went on to success as a modernist architect (practicing in a very different manner). Ain worked with Priteca for a short time in the late 1920s and helped draw the Los Angeles Pantages.

Benjamin Marcus Priteca remained active as an architect well into his eighties, working as a consultant in the design of the Seattle Opera House (1962) and the Portland, Oregon, Civic Auditorium (1968).

He died in Seattle on October 1, 1971.

Notes

Gallery

Image:Seattle Coliseum Theater 09.jpg|Terracotta Green man, Coliseum Theatre, Seattle Image:Seattle - Cristalla 05A.jpg|Terracotta Griffins, Crystal Pool, Seattle Image:Seattle-Alhadeff-Sanctuary-3604.jpg|The Alhadeff Sanctuary of Seattle's Temple De Hirsch Sinai, a late Priteca project. File:Keller Auditorium.JPG|Civic Auditorium (now Keller Auditorium) in Portland

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