Louis Christian Mullgardt was born in Washington, Missouri in 1866. While he was raised and worked for many years in the Midwest, his most influential designs were in the San Francisco Bay Area. At fifteen years old, Mullgardt apprenticed with architectural firms in St. Louis. Six years later, he went to work for the firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidgein Brookline, Massachusetts, where he worked on plans for Stanford University. In 1889, Mullgardt enrolled as a special student at Harvard College for a brief period of formal training that was cut short by. By 1891, he was back to work in Chicago for Henry Ives Cobb, here Mullgardt was recognized for his versatile design skills. Primarily an architect, he was also a painter, a printmaker, and a sculptor.
Mullgardt formed his first partnership--Stewart, McClure, and Mullgardt--in Chicago in 1892, and the firm lasted for two years. He then went on a yearlong European tour. In 1899 he formed a short-lived partnership with John M. Dunham. From 1903 to 1904 Mullgardt worked as a structural consultant in England, where he encountered the Arts and Crafts style. In 1905, Mullgardt arrived in San Francisco. Shortly after his arrival, he joined the office of Willis Polk and George Alexander Wright.
After the great earthquake in 1906, Polk, Wright, and Mullgardt went their separate ways. With his former colleagues busy with the reconstruction of San Francisco, Mullgardt may have felt left out of this opportunity. Instead, he began doing sketches for developers of suburban houses in the east bay area. He opened his own office in early 1906. He designed houses in the Oakland and Piedmont Hills. These were mainly speculative houses of frame construction. He also designed houses in Mill Valley and the Berkeley Hills. His synthesis of residential styles was considered appropriately Californian.
In addition to houses, Mullgardt designed a San Francisco Juvenile Home (1914-1916), a 9-story reinforced concrete building, and the Durant School in Oakland. He also designed the entrance gates and the ornate lamp posts for the Westwood Park district in San Francisco. In 1912, Mullgardt was appointed to the board of the Panama Pacific International Exposition. For the Exposition, he designed the "Court of the Ages," an ornate courtyard that included an "altar tower" on one side. Mullgardt designed the President's house for Stanford University (1915-1918), the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park (1916-1921), and a block-long business center in Honolulu (1919-1921). After a world tour in 1922-1923, Mullgardt returned to San Francisco. It was a difficult period, and he did not adapt well to the new architectural trends. Mullgardt died in a state hospital in Stockton, California, in 1942. Most of his drawings were reputedly destroyed after his death.
Carmel Mission print Sunlit Laurels and Brown Earth in the Redwood Grove of Bohemia
Robert Winter. Toward a Simpler Way of Life, The Arts & Crafts Architects of California" University of California Press. 1997