Hargis, Thomas Jr.
Born November 14, 1917 in Jackson, Kentucky, Thomas F. Hargis Jr. moved to Yakima as a young child in 1919. He graduated from Toppenish High School in 1935 and attended the University of Washington School of Architecture for a little over three years. Practical work experience was garnered in the offices of Naramore & Brady in Seattle, and John Maloney and Walter Rothe in Yakima. While in Seattle, Hargis also spent a short time working for the naval architectural firm of W.C. Nickum & Sons.
Upon receiving his architectural license (no. TL303), Hargis opened his own practice in Yakima in 1945. Among his early projects was Yakima’s first drive-in theater, Tower Drive-in; and the Hotel Chinook/The Tower (1949). As the tallest building in Yakima, the Hotel brought immediate prestige to Hargis and additional commissions.
Many of his projects were featured in a variety of local and regional publications such as the modern Lou Johnson’s Apparel Shop (1955) which was featured in Pacific Architect & Builder. Other publications included a house in PNW Book of Homes (1947); a fence design for Sunset’s Garden “Work Centers” (1960); and a circular house on Cowiche Creek featured in Sunset’s “Book New Homes for Western Living” (1956).
Projects by Hargis can be found throughout central Washington and include the Yakima Medical Center and the Yakima Country Club, the Camlin Cabanas (1956) in Seattle, and the Seattle First National Bank (1960) in Sunnyside. He was involved in many projects for the Vance Hotel Corporation and for the Catholic Diocese of Yakima. Among his ecclesiastical designs are Holy Family Catholic Church (1966) in Yakima; Church of the Resurrection (1966) in Zillah; and St. Joseph’s Parish Church in Sunnyside.
Throughout the years, Hargis was active in a variety of civic and community organizations. He chaired the Yakima Housing Authority for thirteen years and served on the Yakima Planning Commission for six years. He was an early advocate and participant in the development of the Yakima Greenway and was a major developer and designer of the Yakima Mall. In 1969, Hargis joined fellow investor James O. May to purchased the Great Western Building in an effort to save the building from the wrecking ball.
In 1980, longtime associate Clark Goldsworthy took over the firm. Hargis, then semi-retired, continued as an associate for a couple of additional years. He passed away in Yakima on February 10, 1994.
- Michael C. Houser