Happy 164th Birthday to Archt. Theodore C. Link!

Monday March 17th, 2014 was the 164th birthday of Mississippi’s New Capitol architect, Theodore C. Link. The biographical portrait that follows was published when Mr. Link was 56 years old and surprisingly does not mention his work in Mississippi.

TheodoreLinkTheodore C. Link. Architect. Born March 1 7, 1850, near Heidelberg, Germany. Son of Karl and Louise (Schneider) Link. His scholastic education was obtained in part at Heidelberg, in part at London, England, and he studied architecture and engineering at the Ecole Centrale, of Paris, France. Came to this country when he was twenty years of age; for three years thereafter practiced his profession in New York and Philadelphia, except one year was employed by the Texas Pacific Railroad Company at Sherman, Houston and Jefferson, Texas. Came to St. Louis in 1873 as an attache of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad Company. Soon after coming to St. Louis he quit his position and became assistant chief engineer at Forest Park; later appointed superintendent of the public parks of the city, holding this position until in 1876. After that he practiced his profession in Pittsburg, Philadelphia and New York until 1883, when he returned to St. Louis and opened an architect’s office of his own. He has designed and superintended the construction of many handsome buildings in St. Louis and neighboring cities. Among them we may mention that he was one of the architects who submitted designs for the union station in St. Louis, and the plan submitted to the board by Mr. Link was approved of and the construction of the building in accordance with his designs was committed to his charge. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and a member of the Architectural League of New York, and has served two terms as president of the Missouri State Association of Architects. Is a member of the St. Louis Club. September 22, 1875, Mr. Link married Miss Annie Fuller, of Detroit, Mich. Their children are Carl Eugene, Edwin Carey and Clarence Vincent. Business address, 308 North Sixth street, St. Louis, Missouri. ~The Book of Missourians

I found several publications that mention Link practicing architecture with his son Karl (sometimes anglicized as Carl) and the MDAH HRI database states that Edwin practiced architecture with his father also. Karl must have died rather young causing the c1912 dissolution of the firm Theodore Link & Son that had only started in 1910 (The Brickbuilder p.20). Karl was not mentioned surviving his father in the Sr. Link’s January 1924 obituary

In the same year as the above biography was published (1906) Link had been hired by the Arkansas State Capitol Commission to review the work completed to date of said building. In a 1907 testimony made before the Arkansas legislature Link gives insight to some of his work on Mississippi’s State House. Link comes across as a professional who has a thorough understanding of methods and materials, even if he was plagued by the pesky Pearl River.

In building the Mississippi State House I took unusual precautions, more than on the Union Station, in St. Louis, I used the same cement [Meier’s Puzzelano cement], the contractors were cautioned about being very careful, and after it was up there was spaces there that were as brown as Judge Oldham’s stockings. (The stockings referred to were a nut brown.) Of course, it was a great disappointment, we could not account for it. We tried to blame it on the sand that was used. We used Pearl River sand; and also the water, we used Pearl River water, I tried to get the makers to give me a reason but have never had any satisfactory explanation as to the two buildings where we used entirely the same materials. The stains have entirely disappeared. The stains remained longer on the northern corners, where the sun could not get to them. So that you see you cannot always tell what things will do. There may have been some little chemical composition in there that we did not use in St. Louis that caused that.

The whole of the Arkansas House of Representatives 36 Session Journal in regards to the capitol building’s construction is interesting and included Link giving his opinion on Mann’s original dome design for the Arkansas State House.

So scout out a piece of black forest cake to enjoy in honor of the birth of the architect who created the most imposing public building in our state!

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Theodore C. Link. The Book of Missourians. Edited by M L Van Nana. Published by T. J. Steele & Co. Chicago, St. Louis 1906 p. 154

Journal of the House of Representatives of Arkansas Thirty-Sixth Regular Session. Published by the SENTINEL-RECORD Hot Springs, Ark. 1907

The New Wabash Depot at Pittsburg. Fireproof Magazine, Vol 5 No. 4. Published by Fireproof Publishing Company. October 1904 p. 11

“In General”. The Brickbuilder, Vol 19 No. 1 Published by Rogers & Manson January 1910 p. 20

Obituary of Theodore C. Link. Journal of the American Institute of Architects Vol. XII No. 1. Published by The Press of the American Institute of Architects, Inc. January 1924 p. 44



Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson

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10 replies

  1. Theodore Carl Link had four sons and one daughter. Karl was the oldest and practiced with his father until his death from leukemia in 1912. Theodore was the second oldest and died in 1902. Edwin was the next oldest son and did work briefly with his father. Clarence was the youngest son and also worked with his father, moving with Link to Baton Rouge to supervise the construction of the Louisiana State University Campus, a project Link owed entirely to his experence building Mississippi insitutions from 1918 – 1921. Link’s daughter Louise died at eighteen in 1904. Both of Link’s children who died young, Theodore and Louise, were victims of tuberculosis. This must have been on Link’s mind as he designed and built the Mississippi Tuberculosis Sanitorium.

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    • Mr. Tetley, I know you’ve done quite a bit of research on Mr. Link so thank you for filling in some of the mystery of the lives of Theo. Link’s children. I was aware of his children but as to their lives and passings I was completely puzzled. I was surprised to see that even with his sons following his professional footsteps, they never joined the AIA.

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      • His sons never recieved any formal education in architecture and never became licenced architects so were not elegible for AIA membership. After Link’s sudden death in 1923 in Baton Rouge, Clarence continued project supervision on site until Louisiana AIA complained than a non-architect was in charge of construction of the largest university in the state. Clarence was then replaced by a New Orleans architect and he pursued a career in railroad managerment.

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        • Knowing the talent of their father, I’m sorry they never received a formal education. Though by some point having worked with him for so long a formal education might not have truly been necessary. It is a shame they did not apply or were not admitted to the AIA. A few of the founding members of Mississippi’s AIA chapter(who would be the same generation as Link’s sons) were not collegiately trained.

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    • Mr Tetley,
      I visited the remains of Theodore Link’s home just south of St. Albans, MO yesterday. I had accidentally found this site while hunting for morel mushrooms a few years ago but did not know it was in fact the remains of his home. The site can be viewed on Google Earth at the extreme south west corner of the “Engelmann Woods Natural Area” on the edge of an approximately 300 foot high limestone bluff. It would have been a wonderful site for a home. Mr Link did a large body of work for the Johnson family (International Shoe). Irene Walter Johnson, who left the land that is now “Englemann Woods Natural Area” to the Missouri Botanical Garden, was from Holly Springs, MS. There is a very impressive home in Holly Springs that I have toured that was Irene Walter Johnson’s family home. Theodore Link II, a grandson, occupied the St. Albans home until it burned to the foundation in 1960. I have attempted to find a photograph of this home on the Internet. There is nothing to be found and I am surprised by the paucity of information available on Theodore LInk. It appears that you may know of the his descendants. I suspect the only photograph of St. Albans home at the cliff edge would be in the family and hoped you might share a connection that I might research.
      See a photo gallery on my site at http://www.lightrainproductions.com/Photo%20Galleries/PhotoGalleryThirtyOne.htm for the Johnson Family show barn that Theodore Link designed. Sadly, the barn was demolished recently. Thank you

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  2. I was at the Old Capitol yesterday and learned that Mr. Link was also involved in its preservation. He was hired (for a fee of $100) to inspect the deteriorated building and present a report to the legislature that detailed repairs and conversion into office spaces. He presented his plan of restoration and renovation in March 1916 and within two weeks it was approved. After his proposed work was finished the Old Capitol had none of its previous structural problems. After reading this post I have to think that he was a remarkable architect!

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