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In Memoriam, Professor Emeritus Harold Clark Kirker

UCSB Emeritus Professor of History, Harold Clark Kirker, died in San Francisco on May 30, 2018, just a few days before his 97th birthday.  Professor Kirker, who served in the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army from 1943-45, received his PhD from U.C. Berkeley in 1957.  After teaching at M.I.T. for nine years, he served on the faculty at UCSB from 1966 to 1991.  The recipient of both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fellowship from the National Humanities Institute at Yale University, Professor Kirker was the author of five books, beginning with California’s Architectural Frontier; Style & Tradition in the Nineteenth Century, which was first published by the Huntington Library in 1960. Bulfinch’s Boston 1787-1817, co-written with his twin brother James and first published by the Oxford University Press in 1964 had a total of thirteen editions. Professor Kirker’s best known book, The Architecture of Charles Bulfinch (Harvard University Press) appeared in 1968 and had another twenty editions by 2014. Bulfinch (1763-1855), a Bostonian, was the first native-born American architect, and he contributed many buildings as his native city grew. He later went on to take over the completion of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Kirker’s book on The Bulfinch Drawings in the American Antiquarian Society was published by the AAS in 1976.  In his last book, Old Forms on a New Land: California Architecture in Perspective (Roberts Rinehart, 1991), Professor Kirker showed how architectural traditions from Siberia, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and other regions of the US come to be employed in California. No wonder that his friend, art historian Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr, described Kirker as “one of the great architectural historians of his day, and the most learned person I ever knew.”

From the June 3, 2018 San Francisco Chronicle: