IT seems appropriate in presenting this the last work from the pen of Mr. Kidder that a brief sketch of his life should be given. His work is so well known to architects and architectural students that we believe all will appreciate the portrait here presented and this brief outline of his life and work.
Mr. Kidder had only arrived at that time in his life when most men are doing their best work, but even in the few years allowed him he has given to his profession a series of books that will make his name memorable for all time, and this notwithstanding serious and continued illness.
Frank Eugene Kidder was born at Bangor, Me., Nov. 3, 1859.
As a boy he was always interested in building operations, and at the age of fifteen he determined to become an architect. With this aim in view, he took the course in Civil Engineering at the Maine State College, now the University of Maine, this coming the nearest to a coursein Architecture that the College afforded. During his last year in college, he attended one term at Cornell University, taking the studies of the third year men in Architecture, and returned to Maine to graduate.
The Fall following his graduation he acted as instructor in drawing at the Maine College, and the following winter he entered the office of Ware & Van Brunt, in Boston, as a student. From this office he went to the office of H. J. Hardcnbergh, in New York City, where he worked until the following summer.
At this time, Mr. D. W. Willard, now of the firm of Babb, Cook & Willard, was working for Mr. Hardenbergh, and on his recommendation Mr. Kidder determined to take a special course in Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
At the Institute, Mr. Kidder was associated with the classes of '81 and '82, taking the architectural studies of both the Junior and Senior years.
Leaving the Institute in 1881, he entered the office of A. H. Vinal of Boston, but his health had been undermined by too close application at the Institute, so that early in the Fall he was obliged to make a change. During this Fall he was employed to conduct a series of tests on fireproof materials, the most elaborate that had been made up to that time, for the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics' Association. After completing these tests, he entered the employ of Norcross Bros., the well-known builders, whom he served as draughtsman, clerk and engineer, and where he obtained an insight into the practical details of building construction, which proved of the utmost value to him in after years.
In 1884 Mr. Vinal was appointed City Architect of Boston, and Mr. Kidder accepted the position of head draughtsman under him, and for about two years he held this important position, resigning to start in practice for himself.
He maintained an office at 54 Devonshire street, Boston, until the spring of 1888, when he suffered severe hemorrhages from the lungs, and was obliged to seek the healing climate of Colorado, where he was so fortunate as to regain his health.
As a practicing architect in Denver, Mr. Kidder has made a very creditable reputation, but it is as an author and structural engineer that he is best known to the profession at large.
Being of a mathematical and constructive turn of mind, he early took a special interest in the engineering problems of architecture, and his writings on these subjects date back to the year 1880. At College he learned to appreciate the great value of Trautwine's Pocket Book for Civil Engineers, and while a draughtsman, he determined to write a similar book for the use of architects. With this aim in view, at the age of 24, Mr. Kidder entered into a contract with Messrs. John Wiley & Sons for the publication of the "Architects and Builders Pocket-Book."
Encouraged by the success of this book, be began to devote his attention to writing, and in 1895 published "Churches and Chapels," now in its 3rd edition. The next year he brought out Part I of "Building Construction and Superintendence" and two years later Part II of this same work. In 1901, Mr. Kidder, though hampered by ill health, undertook the stupendous task of thoroughly revising and almost entirely rewriting the "Architects and Builders Pocket-Book," then in its 13th edition. After three years of constant labor and study, he has given to the world in the latest edition of this book a work of inestimable value to all architects and builders.
In the summer of 1905 Mr. Kidder brought out his last book; a volume on the "Strength of Beams, Floors and Roofs." For the last two years Mr. Kidder has been engaged on the present work which he contemplated making the most complete and elaborate work on roof trusses ever placed before American architects and at the time of his death had just finished the first section which now appears as Part IIIof "Building Construction."
While engaged on this last work his illness assumed a serious turn and under the advice of his physician he underwent an operation in the hope of recovery but which resulted in his death which took place at Denver the twenty-seventh of October, 1905.
Mr. Kidder was well known as a "consulting architect," being, we believe, the first architect to assume that title in this country. In this capacity and through his later works and frequent papers in technical journals, Mr. Kidder came in touch with more of his professional brethren than usually falls to the lot of an architect.
Although he had accomplished so much, Mr. Kidder had barely reached his prime, when death cut short a career of great usefulness. No one can over-estimate the value of the services he rendered his profession, and in his death it has suffered an irreparable loss.