Daniel “Dan” R. Kirkhuff

1889 - 1958


Their Story

Daniel “Dan” R. Kirkhuff was born April 12, 1889 in Fairview, Illinois, to Marshall N. Kirkhuff and Anna D. Parks Kirkhuff. His father was a patternmaker at Rock Island Plow and a plow designer before that.[1] Dan had two siblings who both died at an early age – Dean as a newborn in 1880, and Jesse M. at the age of 2 in 1890.[2] Dan’s mother also died early, at age 32, in August 1896 when Dan was just 7. His dad remarried Jeanette Myers in 1901 and they had a child, Willis D. Kirkhuff, in 1905, a drafting engineer for 20 years at the Rock Island Arsenal.[3]

During the 1900 U.S. Census, Dan was living with his grandparents, David A. and Margaret J. Parks, in Fairview Village, where he was attending school.[4] In 1910, he was living with his great-uncle and aunt, Elija C. and Margarite E. Parks, and grandfather David, in Santa Barbara.[5]

Daniel registered for the draft in June 1917 and was living in Santa Barbara, California, and employed as a draftsman.[6] He enlisted September 6, 1917, and served in the Army during WWI.[7] He was assigned to Hq. Co., 364th Infantry. He was a corporal in June 1918.[8]

Dan was wounded slightly by shrapnel in the Battle of Argonne.[9] On November 12, 1918, he was reported as recovering in a base hospital, where his knee was healing nicely. He said many of the men were wounded much more badly than he was.[10] The Meuse-Argonne offensive was a major part of the final Allied offensive of WWI that stretched along the entire Western Front and fought from September 26 until the Armistice of November 11, 1918. It was the largest offensive in U.S. military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers, and the deadliest battle in the history of the U.S. Army, resulting in over 350,000 casualties, including 26,277 American lives.[11]

On February 29, 1919, he was with 212th Co., Military Police Corps in St. Dizier, France H-M.[12] In May 1919, he was transferred to 296th Co. Military Police Corps from the American E.F. Art Training Center in Bellevue, Seine-ET-Oise, France.

The art school was organized as an independent post of the American Expeditionary Force in the Hotel at Bellevue. It was there Dan studied architecture from March 5 through June 1.[13] There were 160 students in the architecture program. The three-month expedited course was to be the study of the fine and applied arts of France, with specialization in their various branches, as well as the study of the French language. He would study advanced, intermediate, and elementary design, following problems issued by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and city planning, with forty minutes of French daily. The students were encouraged to visit artistic interests within easy distance of Paris on weekend afternoons.

“Our army of citizen-soldiers found itself at the end of the campaign in a foreign land which is a veritable treasure house of art of every description, whose whole history is intricately interlaced with the history of art, a land which for ages has been producing masters and master works, a land replete with museums, schools and instructors of great gifts. To our citizen artists, who are momentarily soldiers, the Army authorities granted the high privilege of dropping their arms and taking up the instruments of their arts. Such were the extraordinary conditions under which this school came into existence, and such were the opportunities which the Educational Director so ably molded to his purpose. The reports of the instructors and the work of the students presented in the body of the report bear testimony of the versatility of our soldiers and to the fidelity with which they have availed themselves of their opportunities. Their real work is ahead of them. It cannot be doubted that the influence of this opportunity will make itself felt in many communities.”  Signed: Geo H. Gray, Major, Engineers

In June, Dan wrote home to friends telling them of his experiences at the training center saying that they make trips twice per week to Paris and once per week to Versailles for the purpose of studying architecture.[14]

On the monthly roster of the 296th Military Police Company Adv. Sec., S.O.S. A.P.O. 952 ending midnight June 30, 1919, Dan, now a sergeant, was listed as being at the AEF Tr. Center, Bellview, Paris since May 1st, 1919.[15] In July, he was at Mitchell Field, Long Island, New York, listed on the Final Roster of Brest Casual Co. #1750, and was discharged July 17, 1919.[16]

During the 1920s, Dan had an architectural firm called Kirkhuff and Schaaf, and was practicing in Santa Barbara, California. The firm was chosen to design the additions to the San Marcos building, a building that was originally designed by the architectural firm Hunt & Chambers.[17] The San Marcos building was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1925 and it was rebuilt and, later, additions were made to it.

Dan obtained a passport to travel to England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium in November 1922. He was again living in Santa Barbara and planned to return from traveling abroad within one year.[18] He returned from that trip in March 1923, sailing from Le Havre, France on the Roussillon, to the Port of New York, arriving April 12. Dan made yearly trips to France after that, at least through 1928.[19] During these five years he was living in either Scarborough or New York, New York.

During the 1930 U.S. Census, Dan was residing in Reno, Nevada. He was 40 years of age, single, an architect, and a guest lodger at the home of William B. and Janet N. Johnston.[20] The Johnstons were well known and wealthy; Janet Johnston being the granddaughter and daughter of U.S. Senators and the president of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Dan designed their chateau in the French Eclectic style. Janet Johnston also hired Dan to design their French Chateau-style houses along Newlands Circle.[21]

In 1934, Dan was designing a “new departure in community planning” in Chevy Chase, Maryland, for the Chevy Chase Land Company. It had inner court planning, fringed with houses of varying early American design, that had not been seen in Washington before.[22] Dan, at that time, was known for originality of plan and arrangement. He believed that American home design needed unusual but well-thought-out architecture to break “the monotony that is apparent in suburban sections of the cities.”

Another development he created, The Hamlet in Washington, D.C. added another home in September 1935, one Dan, the architect, said was one of the finest houses in the group. It was made of brick with wide lawns on all sides.[23]  In October, two more houses were opened in the Hamlet, each about 8,000 square feet with a kitchen with all-electric equipment that overlooks a garden.[24]

Dan registered for the World War II draft in 1942 while living in Washington, D.C.[25] He was a self-employed architect with Kirkhuff and Bagley Architects in Chevy Chase, Maryland. In 1944, Dan was a registered voter in Washoe County, Nevada, for the November 7, 1944, general election.[26]

During the 1950 U.S. Census, Dan was living in Los Angeles, California, with his partner, Theodor H. Gilbert, who was four years younger. Theodor was a template maker for an aircraft factory and a music teacher.[27] They had been together at least since 1925, when they both traveled to France together. Theodor was also a lodger at the Johnston House in Reno in 1930.

Dan died December 3, 1958, in Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, of a cerebral hemorrhage (stroke) that occurred six days before his death. He was 69. He had had generalized arteriosclerosis for 15 years. He had been an architect for 40 years in the general building industry and last worked for the Paul R. Williams office. He never married. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects and at one time held commissions from New York Banker Frank Vanderlip and former president of the Carnegie Foundation, William B. Pritchett. Frank Vanderlip is known for his part in founding the Federal Reserve System and for founding the first Montessori school in the United States.[28] Dan was cremated and buried at Rock Island National Cemetery on December 29.[29]


[1] 01 Feb 1932, 7 – The Rock Island Argus at Newspapers.com

[2] Anna D Parks Kirkhuff (1864-1896) – Find a Grave Memorial

[3] Willis D Kirkhuff (1905-1991) – Find a Grave Memorial

[4] United States Census, 1900

[5] 1910 U.S. Census, Santa Barbara

[6] United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

[7] Kirkhuff, Dan in U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2019 – Fold3

[8] United States, Enlisted and Officer Muster Rolls and Rosters, 1916-1939

[9] 04 Dec 1918, 8 – New York Herald at Newspapers.com

[10] 12 Nov 1918, 8 – The Santa Barbara Daily News and the Independent at Newspapers.com

[11] Meuse–Argonne Offensive

[12] United States, Enlisted and Officer Muster Rolls and Rosters, 1916-1939

[13] Report of the American E. F. art training center, Bellevue, Seine-et-Oise, March-June, 1919 : United States. Army. American Expeditionary Forces. Art Training Center (Bellevue, France)

[14] 07 Jun 1919, 14 – The Santa Barbara Daily News and the Independent at Newspapers.com

[15] United States, Enlisted and Officer Muster Rolls and Rosters, 1916-1939

[16] United States, Enlisted and Officer Muster Rolls and Rosters, 1916-1939

[17] Finding Aid for the Kirkhuff & Schaaf drawing of the San Marcos building addition (Santa Barbara, Calif.)

[18] United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925

[19] Ancestry.com – New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957, Ancestry.com – New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957, New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957, New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957, New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957

[20] United States Census, 1930

[21] Johnston House | Reno Historical

[22] 26 May 1934, 18 – Evening Star at Newspapers.com

[23] 28 Sep 1935, 20 – Evening Star at Newspapers.com

[24] 05 Oct 1935, 15 – Evening Star at Newspapers.com

[25] Page 1 WWII “Old Man’s Draft” Registration Cards – Fold3

[26] 28 Oct 1944, Page 7 – Reno Gazette-Journal at Newspapers.com

[27] 1950 United States Federal Census – Ancestry.com

[28] Frank A. Vanderlip – Wikipedia

[29] California, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994