Obituary of Newton J. Tharp

May 13, 1909
San Francisco, California

San Francisco Chronicle

THARP, NEWTON J. An architect, died in New York City, May 12, 1909. He was born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, July 28, 1867, and with his parents moved to California in 1874. He spent four years at the San Francisco School of Design and in 1896 went to Europe to study. At the time of his death, he was City Architect of San Francisco. Among the public buildings designed by him in this capacity are the Hall of Justice, the Infirmary, and a group of hospital buildings.

Sudden Death of City's Architect, Newton J. Tharp
Succumbs After Brief Illness While in New York City

Stricken with pneumonia while in the full vigor of manhood, Newton J. Tharp, city architect of San Francisco, succumbed to the disease yesterday at the Knickerbocker hotel in New York city, and gloom now pervades his home in this city, the municipal offices, where he was respected as an honorable and able official, and the Bohemian club, where he had been styled a "prince of good fellows." Engaged in the study of modern eastern municipal structures, the knowledge from which he was to use for the benefit of San Francisco, the deceased thought little of his own personal comfort or health, and as a result he leaves a widow prostrated with grief, and a host of friends stunned by the news of his death.

It seems like the irony of fate that when he was attacked by the disease which caused his death Newton Tharp was engaged in the work of studying the modern hospitals of New York and gathering data for use in drawing plans for a hospital where San Francisco's poor could be restored to health.

Studying Hospitals

Having completed the plans for all of the other municipal buildings contemplated, Tharp was sent east by the board of supervisors April 25 to gather data on the construction of hospitals. He was accompanied by his son, Laurence, 13 years of age. Prior to his departure he talked enthusiastically of his plans with friends at the Bohemian club, of which he was a member.

The architect wrote daily to his wife, who remained at their home, 1600 Lyon street until a week ago, when the letters ceased. The next heard from him was a telegram to Mrs. Tharp, received Saturday night, which read:

"Have been slightly ill, but will be all right tomorrow. Do not mind Laurence's letter."

The letter referred to was written by his son, and stated that Tharp was very ill. The first warning of real danger came Tuesday evening in a telegram from Ernest Peixotto of this city, but now in New York, to his brother, Edgar Peixotto, well known local attorney and lifelong friend of Tharp.

Widow Is Overcome

Mrs. Tharp was told that her husband was seriously ill and was preparing to go to him yesterday, when messages announcing his death were received simultaneously at the office of the board of supervisors and by Edgar Peixotto. The shock proved too much for the widow's strength, and she collapsed. She is attended constantly by her sister Mrs. E. M. Polnemus of Los Angeles, who is here on a visit.

Flags were lowered to half mast on all municipal buildings as soon as the news reached here, as well as at the Bohemian club. Grief and astonishment were expressed on all sides.

Edgar Peixotto, at the request of Mrs. Tharp, took charge yesterday of the disposition of the remains. It was decided last night to have the body cremated in New York, and have the ashes brought home.

Newton J. Tharp was born in Petaluma [Iowa] 42 years ago, and was one of eight children. He spent his early years in that town [Petaluma], and was a playmate of Luther Burbank, the renowned scientist. During his youth he went to Chicago, where he took up the study of architecture and painting. Later he went to Paris, where he attended the institute of Beaux Arts. Having traveled in Europe for two years he returned to the United States and practiced his profession as an architect in New York and Chicago, but decided to settle in San Francisco in 1889.

Tharp was married to Miss Laura Hanna in Los Angeles in June, 1892, and is survived by her and their young son.

Well Known as Architect

The deceased architect was first employed by the late Edward R. Swain in this city; and on the death of the latter perfected the plans for the present ferry building. He became the senior member of the firm of Tharp & Holmes and designed the Dewey monument in Union square, as well as the Grant building, the Sloane building, the Whittier residence, the beautiful Martin home in Ross valley and other well known structures. He became city architect in October, 1907, and planned all of the new municipal structures now under course of erection.

Tharp was one of the most beloved members of the Bohemian club, of which he was a prominent member. He acted as sire of the midsummer jinks of 1904, when the "Quest of (unreadable)" was the theme. He was also a member of the American Institute of architects and a director of the San Francisco art institute.

Funeral Services for Newton Tharp: Throngs of Friends of the Late City Architect Crowd Grace Episcopal Church: Ashes Laid to Rest in Columbarium Odd Fellows' Cemetery

In the presence of a large gathering, which included Mayor Taylor and the city officials, funeral services were read over the remains of Newton J. Tharp, the late city architect in Grace Episcopal church, yesterday afternoon.

Besides the officials there were present many of his old friends from the Bohemian club and from among the ranks of his profession, who completely filled the church and, by their numbers gave evident indication of the esteem in which Tharp had been held.

The funeral oration, delivered by Rev. David Evans the rector of the church, was extremely brief. "He shall be remembered as a man by his virtues and his characteristics," said the speaker, "and as a laborer and workman by the material monuments of his profession."

The services opened with the playing of Mendelssohn's "Funeral March" by H.J. Stewart, the church organist. The Bohemian club quartet sang, "Lead Kindly Light" and "Abide With Me." The urn containing the ashes was surrounded by a wealth of flowers, among them being wreathes from Mayor Taylor, Tharp's office and from the classmates of Laurence Tharp. At the conclusion of the services the ashes were removed to their final resting place in the columbarium at Odd Fellows' Cemetery.

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