Today in History: Archimedes Russell is Born

Archimedes Russell

Archimedes Russell was born in Andover, Massachusetts on June 13th, 1840. Russell, the son of a carpenter (Moody Russell), apprenticed a local painter in Andover and, shortly after, a prominent Boston architect, John Stevens.  He moved to Syracuse on December 4th, 1862 and found a job in the office of respected architect Horatio Nelson White. White’s office designed many fixtures of Syracuse’s landscape, including downtown’s Gridley Building and Syracuse University’s Hall of Languages and did so in a number of different styles that range from Gothic to Victorian.

Russell established his own practice in 1868, taking advantage of the development boom of late 19th century Syracuse that occurred after the Civil War. He went on to work on nearly 800 commissions over the course of his life, the most of any architect according to Syracuse University. Some of his work includes the McCarthy Building, Dey Brothers, the Yates Hotel, Crouse College, Central High School, The Charles E. Lipe Machine Shop (today’s Gear Factory), and the fourth Onondaga County Court House.

In a 1979 paper by Evamaria Hardin at Syracuse University, “The very fact that a structure such as the Yates Hotel was built in Syracuse ‘gave a ton to its domestic economy, confidence in its business prosperity, and evidence that life is lively and progressive…’ suggested the Syracuse Daily Standard with pride.”

He was also a professor of Architecture at Syracuse University from 1873-1881. According to the Hardin paper, his colleagues included the likes of George Knapp, Sandford Thayer, Henry C. Allewelt, and Ward Ranger. Russell was also a member of the Board of Fire Commissioners, where he was president from 1883-1885 and a member of a Syracuse Masonic Order (lodge #305).

When Russell died in 1915, at age 75, partner Melvin King took over the firm. Today, the firm is known as King & King Architects, the oldest operating architectural firm in New York State and the fourth-oldest in the country.