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 fathers 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 Sullivans
ornamentation. Shortly thereafter Sullivans 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 architects 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
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.