A Sad Day


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Journal of the “American Institutes of Architects”, November 1919, Vol. VII, Number 11

Obituary – William Sydney Wicks

Tomorrow is Father’s Day & by happenstance an auspicious day to remember William S Wicks in a way that only his family could have known him. He was obviously a talented, gifted architect, visionary and naturalist, and an exceptional provider for his family.

By his actions I would endeavor to say he loved his daughters as precious, smart individuals in a Victorian world of oppression. I think of the amount of work he accomplished with and without E B Green, his continued studies, traveling and projects he undertook in Barneveld and with the Adirondack League Club, and yet, he took the time to write a book dedicated to his 12-year-old daughter, Ruth.

He provided her with the benefits of a lavish lifestyle in the up and coming metropolis of Buffalo, tempered by the natural landscape and experience of country life of Barneveld at Rubble Manor and the rustic majesty of the Adirondacks, at Rabbit Wild.

In this era, when girls were born the primary consideration for the future was marriage, not education. Wicks provided his daughter with a formal education at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She was encouraged to indulge in her favorite sports, golf & tennis.

When she completed college, Wick’s provided her with a trip around the world.

The way he moved in the world was as genuine as the honesty of his Adirondack projects, understated elegance in a rough, rugged, wild world, which I think is also reflected by his philosophy and actions in caring for his daughters. In today’s world we might see a similar story exploited in a way that doesn’t bear repeating.

The Obituary is a testament to his accomplishments and character: “…Among his fellow architects and business acquaintances, he was held in great esteem, and his record of high professional integrity and achievement is one that will long endure to the credit of his profession.”

But, I think that the love and respect he demonstrated for his wife and daughters is a window into his soul, on equal footing with his mind-blowing accomplishments.

Do men like this exist now? I wonder ….


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