Robert H. Spurgeon Jr.
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Born in New York City. His parents, Robert Senior and Lillian Maguire had met and married in Chicago in 1891. Robert’s father had a successful legal career and moved the family to New York City, where he became the attorney for the US Steel Corporation. As a young man, Robert Junior studied in Europe and Asia. He attended Columbia University, rowed crew, was on the wrestling team, and he graduated in 1916 as an architect. He then studied in the Beaux Arts Institute in Paris, before joining the U. S. Navy during World War I. He was discharged with the rank of lieutenant in 1918 and went to Los Angeles, where he worked as an architect for two years. When his parents moved to Riverside to be with his recently widowed sister Grace, he joined them soon after.
Robert’s first architectural commission in Riverside was the design of employee houses for security firm heir, Allan Pinkerton. He immediately purchased millworks in westchester, NY to supply custom materials. Seeking a mild climate. Pinkerton purchased 46 acres near Central and Victoria Avenues, and G. Stanley Wilson designed a 7,000 square foot winter home for Pinkerton. Spurgeon’s commission was to design two 11-room caretakers’ houses, two 5-room cottages, and a stable with 55 stalls adjacent to the polo fields Pinkerton built.
Spurgeon built 33 houses in Riverside, some of which were commissioned and some of which he built on speculation and later sold. Noted among these are the Arthur Holden House on Magnolia; the rebuilding of the Porter house, originally designed by Arthur Benton and damaged by fire; and the Ladera Lane home he built for his father. After his father’s death, he designed another house across the street from the Ladera Lane home for himself and his mother. The home features twisted pilasters and a circular tower. From 1926 to 1928, Spurgeon completed several homes on speculation: 4864 and 4874 Park Avenue, 6895 and 6911 Magnolia, and 3080 and 3092 Chestnut Street. He continued with his custom designs, building the Elijah Parker House on Ladera Lane. In 1928, though home building had begun to decline, Spurgeon had completed 18 homes. That year, he designed a house for himself at 4736 Indian Hill Road, but he never lived in it.
In 1928, he met Elizabeth Van Rensselaer Delafield while he was designing an addition to her father Edward Henry Delafield’s property in Riverside. The two married in 1929 and moved to Santa Barbara, near where his sister Grace was living. Robert Henry Spurgeon and Elizabeth Van Rensselaer Delafield had two sons: Robert Delafield Spurgeon (born 1929) and Edward Van Rensselaer Spurgeon (born 1931). Robert H. Spurgeon Jr. designed two more Riverside homes and continued his practice in Santa Barbara. He died suddenly in 1931 of a ruptured appendix.
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- 2003 PALM HEIGHTS HISTORIC DISTRICT INTENSIVE SURVEY AND CONTEXT STATEMENT page 37
- Evergreen Historical memorial cemetery
- Year Book of the Columbia University Architectural Society 1915-1916
- Columbia Yearbook 1916-1917
- Proceedings of the County Board of Legislators of Westchester County, N.Y..
- The Press Enterprise june 26th 2011: "RIVERSIDE: Two homes reveal two totally different styles"
- The Riverside Homes of Robert H. Spurgeon Jr.