by Sarah Hilsendeger
John Gardiner Proctor was born in April 1854 in Ontario, Canada. According to records, Proctor started practicing in Tacoma in 1885 when he partnered with Charles N. Daniels. Their office was located on Pacific Avenue between 13th and 15th streets in the Olds block. They partnered until 1888.
Next, Proctor worked with Oliver Perry Dennis from 1888 to 1901. During their partnership they had offices in various locations. In 1889, they were located at 20 Hotel Fife block. In 1890, their office is listed at 1111 Pacific Avenue (the Barlow Catlin building). Later, in 1892 they moved to 528 Washington building. Then, in 1900 Proctor lists his office and residence as 920 South Proctor. He had acquired two acres to build his home in 1890 on what was then Ester Street. It was during this time that Proctor designed the neighboring house for Dennis at 910 South Proctor. These were two of the first homes in the North End of Tacoma. Prior to this the family home was on South G Street.
His last Tacoma partner was William Farrell. They partnered in 1901 and worked at the National Bank of Commerce Building in Tacoma. The last documented project that they designed together was at 910 South 8th Street in 1908.
Proctor married his wife Zellah, or "Nellie" and had three daughters, Harriet, Margaret, and Zillah. In a 1976 Tacoma News Tribune article, his daughter Zillah Proctor Stevens recalled "During hard times in the 1890s there was no building activity so my father built a house on 40 acres of land on McNeil Island. My sisters and I would hobnob with the prisoners, who, I remember, wore black and white striped suits."
Proctor was very well known in the community, even designing the church which he was a member of, the Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church in Tacoma. Due to his prominence the city named a telephone exchange after Proctor. The city also honored him by choosing the name Proctor when Jefferson and Ester Streets were joined during surveying and grading the street system because his house stood on the south end of the street. Considered an "aggressive pioneer" in the field he also served for a period as Washington State Architect.
Proctor died on February 8, 1925 in Puyallup, Washington.
Pierce County Courthouse, 1890-92 (demolished)
West Coast Grocery Building, 1890-91, and Birmingham Hay & Seed Company Building, 1903
Western Washington Industrial Exposition Building, 1890-91 (destroyed)
Western Washington Hospital for the Insane, 1886-1916
"Architect examining" Tacoma Daily Ledger, page 8. October 3, 1886.
"Architect and Contractor for asylum project" Tacoma Daily Ledger, page 5. October 17, 1886.
"Addition by John G. Proctor" Tacoma Daily Ledger, page 2. April 5, 1899.
"Court House Plans" Tacoma Daily Ledger, page 4. January 29, 1890.
Felker, Helen. "A lifelong Tacoman recalls early days." Tacoma News Tribune May 23, 1976.
"Fort Steilacoom residence" Tacoma Daily Ledger, page 16. July 21, 1907.
Gallacci, Caroline & Evans, Bill. Tacoma's Proctor District. Arcadia Publishing, 2008.
Historic Western State Hospital, Western State Hospital Historical Society, 2013. <http://www.facebook.com/pages/Historic-Western-State-Hospital>
Hunt, Herbert. Tacoma: Its History and Its Builders; a Half Century of Activity, Volume 1. Tacoma, WA: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1916.
Long, Priscilla, HistoryLink.org Tacoma's Western Washington Industrial Exposition Building burns down on September 18,1898. 25 August 2003. <http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=5533>
National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet, pages 8-9, www.TacomaNorthSlope.com PDF document
Mineral Industries. The Northwest Mining Review, Volume 1. N.G. Snow & L. K. Armstrong, Spokane, WA, June 1, 1892.
"More Rooms Wanted" Tacoma Daily Ledger, page 4. December 10, 1889.
"Mortuary Bldg. Design" Tacoma Daily Ledger, page 17. May 5, 1907.
"Ornamental stone fence around Western State Hospital" Tacoma Daily Ledger, page 23. January 16, 1916.
Pacific Coast Architecture Database (PCAD) University of Washington. Alan Michelson 2005-2013. <https://digital.lib.washington.edu/architect/architects/5245/>
Tacoma Historic Register Property Search. 2012 Tacoma Culture. <http://wspdsmap.ci.tacoma.wa.us/website/HistoricIs/viewer.htm>
Tacoma Public Library Clippings File & Image Archives
University of Washington Tacoma <http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/campus-map/buildings/birmingham-hay-seed-bhs> Birmingham Hay & Seed
University of Washington Tacoma <http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/campus-map/buildings/west-coast-grocery-wcg> West Coast Grocery Building
Washington State Historical Society and Partners Featured Collections <http://digitum.washingtonhistory.org/cdm/search/searchterm/proctor/order/nosort> Pierce County Courthouse Architectural drawings
Research completed in August 2013 by Sarah Hilsendeger for Historic Tacoma