Gordon Oakley Chadwick (1915-1980)
Gordon Oakley Chadwick was born in New Jersey on November 1, 1915. After earning a degree in architecture from Princeton University in 1938, he continued his studies under legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright at the Taliesin Fellowship (today, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture). In 1939, after two years as Wright’s apprentice, Chadwick was placed in charge of completing two projects, the Pope-Leighey House in Falls Church, Virginia (relocated to Alexandria, Virginia in 2001), and the Joseph Euchtman Residence in Baltimore, Maryland. During these projects, he managed the concrete work, masonry, carpentry, plumbing, and electrical with the occasional visits of Wright.Today, the Pope-Leighey House is included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. Chadwick worked with Wright until 1942, when he began working with the architect R.B. O’Connor on a project to renovate the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Chadwick enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 1943 and trained with the U.S. Army Specialized Training Program. He applied for a position with the MFAA upon the recommendation of his friend, Monuments Man Pfc. Lincoln Kirstein, but did not receive an assignment until the war’s end. In September 1945 he was assigned to the MFAA as an enlisted officer with the Office of Military Government for Wurttemberg-Baden in Stuttgart, Germany. There, he worked alongside Monuments Men Lt. Robert A. Koch, Lt. Dale V. Ford, Lt. Leslie Poste, and Sgt. Harry Ettlinger. In January 1946 he attended a conference of MFAA Officers in Germany to discuss the reorganization of the MFAA under the Office of Military Government. In March of that year, he compiled a collection of photographs entitled “War Damage in Baden: A Selection of Photographs” The photo album, which was circulated across the U.S. Zone of Occupation, featured side-by-side before and after photographs of local churches, buildings, and monuments damaged by bombings.
Following his return to the United States, Chadwick resumed his career as a successful architect. He became well-known for his residential designs in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Other projects included the information center in Colonial Williamsburg and the remodeling of Barney’s department store in Lower Manhattan. In the 1950s, Chadwick shifted his focus to industrial designs. He joined George Nelson & Associates in New York, an influential industrial firm whose name was changed to Nelson & Chadwick with Chadwick’s promotion to partner in 1953. The firm completed commissions across the Northeast, including Exhibition Hall at the James Madison Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., and the James and Sarah Kirkpatrick House in Kalamazoo, Michigan. By the 1960s, the firm had grown to include more than seventy staff members.
Gordon Chadwick died in New York City in October 1980.