Kelton, William S.

(1885 - 1966)

Born February 17, 1885 in San Francisco, California, William Sutherland Kelton began his career as a civil engineer (1910). While his formal education is unknown, documents show that he rose to the rank of First Lieutenant during his service in the Army engineers division during WWI.

Before the war he had formed a successful construction business. Among his more notable early projects was the Swiss Chalet style James Dyer House (1922) designed by Ellsworth Story.

After WWII Kelton noted that profits were to be made in the pending post WWII building boom and he reformatted his business. In his new business plan he would offer stock and “tailored to order” house plans with complete working drawings for reasonable prices; a fairly unusual practice at the time. He heavily advertised in the Seattle Times, four, five and six-room models with plan sets sold from $50 to $170 dollars. While it is unknown how many plans Kelton sold, advertisements reported that by 1953 the firm had designed over 1,800 buildings in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. These included stores, warehouses, commercial buildings, and single-family homes.

Known projects are limited to a house near Denny Park (1953); a split level home in Manhattan Village (240 S. 182nd St., Normandy Park (1956); and the Pacific Diesel Co. Warehouse & Office (1956). Later Kelton focused on apartment construction. Known designs in Seattle include an apartment building at 2030 Eastlake (1956); the Boston Apartments (1957); a 13-unit apartment building at 412 W. Mercer St. (1958); the Evergreen Apartments (1960); a 7-unit apartment at 4301 Whitman (1960); and an apartment at 501 NE 73rd St (1965).

Kelton died on March 8, 1966 and is buried at the U.S. Soldiers and Airman’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

- Michael C. Houser

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