Article by Newton J. Tharp, Architect
Newton Tharp, the fourth child of Joseph and Amanda Tharp, was born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa on July 28, 1867. When Newton was seven, the family moved to Sonoma County, California, where he spent his formative years.
At the age of 17, Newton entered the San Francisco School of Design where he studied architecture and painting for four years. He then went to Paris where he attended the institute of Beaux Arts. Having traveled in Europe for two years, he returned to San Francisco in 1889 and began working as an architect for the firm of Edward R. Swain at 1182 Main Street.
After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, he was named City Architect and charged with rebuilding the city's municipal buildings. He had a brief, but significant tenure designing a number of number of schools, police stations, fire houses and other public buildings.
He was just 42 when he fell ill with pneumonia and died while on a business trip to New York City. Ironically, he was there gathering data on the construction of modern hospitals, which he was going to use in drawing plans for a hospital for San Francisco's poor. At the time of his death he was a member of the Bohemian Club, the American Institute of Architects, and a director of the San Francisco Art Institute.