Kamrath, Karl, 1911-1988Alternative names
Karl Kamrath (1911-1988) was born in Enid, Oklahoma on April 25, 1911. The Kamrath family, including father G.A. Kamrath and mother Martha Kreplin Kamrath, moved to Austin, Texas while Karl Kamrath was a young boy. He excelled at tennis from an early age and continued to play throughout his life. Karl Kamrath attended the University of Texas, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1934. That year he married fellow tennis champion Eugenie Sampson, and moved to Chicago to work as an architect. Turning down an opportunity to play tennis professionally, he worked for Pereira and Pereira, the Interior Studios of Marshall Field and Company, and the Architectural Decorating Company. During this time in Chicago, Kamrath decided to open a firm in Houston with fellow University of Texas graduate, Fred MacKie.
Kamrath and his family moved back to Texas in 1937. MacKie and Kamrath opened an architectural firm in Houston the same year and Kamrath became a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1939. During World War II, Kamrath served as captain in the United States Corps of Engineers. After his release from duty in the military, MacKie and Kamrath reopened the Houston firm in 1946. Kamrath had an opportunity to meet Frank Lloyd Wright when he visited Taliesin in June of 1946. This trip had a profound effect on Kamrath’s architectural designs as he committed himself to creating organic architecture following Wright’s Usonian principles.
Kamrath was a founder and board member of Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum from 1948 through 1952. From 1949 through 1955, he served as a visiting critic at several universities, including the University of Texas, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Oregon, and the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. Kamrath was elected an AIA Fellow in 1955, served as president of the Houston AIA chapter in 1960 and as chairman of the Frank Lloyd Wright Memorial Committee from 1960 to 1962. He was elected to the University of Texas Longhorn Hall of Fame in 1978 and the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame in 1984.
Karl Kamrath and his first wife Eugenie, had four children and divorced in 1975. He married Gardina McCarthy in 1977. Karl Kamrath died on January 29, 1988 in Houston, Texas.
Fred MacKie Jr. (1905-1984) was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on August 13, 1905. While his family moved several times during his childhood, by high school years, he settled in San Antonio with his parents, Fred MacKie Sr. and Mayme Beacher. In 1924, MacKie entered the School of Architecture at the University of Texas. He earned his degree in 1928 and moved to Chicago to work in the design department of the architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White. In 1936, MacKie left Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White to become the chief designer at the Architectural Decorating Company. Both he and Kamrath, while working for the Architectural Decorating Company, decided to open a firm together in Texas. Fred MacKie moved his family to Houston, where he opened the MacKie & Kamrath firm with Karl Kamrath in 1937.
During World War II, Fred MacKie served as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He was stationed in Alamogordo, New Mexico from 1942 through 1946. The firm was closed during this time. At the end of the war, MacKie and Kamrath returned to Houston to reopen their architectural partnership. Fred MacKie was an American Institute of Architects Fellow and served as the Texas Society of Architects President in 1957. In 1977, MacKie entered a period of semi-retirement due to health problems. Shortly thereafter, Fred MacKie and his wife, Helen, moved to Palm Desert, California.
MacKie & Kamrath, one of the first Houston firms credited with creating modern architecture, opened in 1937. Both Fred MacKie and Karl Kamrath were raised in Texas and educated at the University of Texas School of Architecture. After working in Chicago following graduation, the two young architects decided to return to Texas to open a firm. Houston was the best option for a new architecture firm, given its larger size and wealth from the oil and gas industry. Fred MacKie and Karl Kamrath each had their strengths and roles in the firm. Kamrath was in charge of design, while MacKie was primarily responsible for planning and business. Lloyd Borget, a graduate of the University of Michigan, joined the firm in 1949 and became an associate in 1954. Borget was primarily in charge of planning and production. In 1977, Fred MacKie went into partial retirement and Lloyd Borget became a partner, along with Ross Belle Gillette, Pete Brunson, and Vincent Hughes.
MacKie & Kamrath’s most significant projects in Houston include the Kamrath residence, 3448 Locke Lane (1939), Phyllis Wheatley Senior High School (1948), the Contemporary Arts Association Museum (1949, demolished 1989), Temple Emanu-El (1949), St. John the Divine Episcopal Church (1951, with H.A. Salisbury), Kamrath residence, 8 Tiel Way (1951), and the M.D. Anderson Hospital for Cancer Research and Tumor Institute (1954, with Schmidt, Garden, and Erikson). Other notable projects outside Houston include the Pasadena State Bank (1963, Doughtie and Porterfield) in Pasadena, Mackie & Kamrath’s only high-rise built work, Temple Rodef Sholem (1962) in Waco, and the Commercial Standard Insurance Company Building (1956), in Fort Worth.
From the guide to the Karl Kamrath collection, KAM Accession numbers: 1987021, 1990004, 2001010, 2005023, 2006013., 1918-2004, (Alexander Architectural Archive, The University of Texas at Austin.)
- Architecture--20th century
- Architecture-20th century--Texas
- Architecture, Modern
- Architecture, Modern--Texas
- Texas (as recorded)
- Houston (Tex.) (as recorded)
- Houston (Tex.) (as recorded)