Parker Noble Berry


Parker Noble Berry was born in Hastings, Nebraska in 1888 and was raised in Princeton, Illinois, the son of a building contractor. He decided at an early age that he wanted to become an architect and while attending Princeton High School designed a house for his father’s business. After graduating as the class valedictorian in 1906 he entered the school of architecture at the University of Illinois. He left the program after 2 years and headed for Chicago obtaining work with Louis Sullivan in the fall of 1909 through Kristian Schneider, an ornament modeler for the American Terra Cotta Company, the company that modeled much of Sullivan’s ornamentation. Shortly thereafter Sullivan’s chief draftsman, George Elmslie, left the office to go into a partnership with William Purcell and George Feick. Impressed with his work, Sullivan made Berry his chief draftsman and designer at age 21. In 1912 Berry received his architect’s license, he was free to practice on his own but chose to stay with Sullivan since he was permitted to accept his own commissions.

The commissions that he accepted were primarily the same as the designs that he produced for Sullivan, banks and residences. In 1917 he accepted a commission to design the Adeline Prouty Old Ladies Home in his hometown of Princeton, Illinois. However, with the decline of work in his office and the increase in the independent commissions by Berry, Sullivan objected to Berry accepting this project. And under similar circumstances, as with former chief draftsman Frank Lloyd Wright, Sullivan fired another talented architect. With confidence and the commissions to sustain him, Berry opened his own office in Chicago.

His first truly independent commission was the Interstate National Bank of Hegewisch, Illinois (now part of Chicago). In 1918, when he was working on plans for a new hospital in Princeton, Illinois, he contracted influenza which lead to pneumonia, ending his life at age 30.