Monday, September 22, 2008

J. K. Frick, Architect

Architect and builder of the Christian County (KY) courthouse

J. K. Frick, architect and builder of the Christian County courthouse in Hopkinsville, KY, had chutzpah. His name and title are displayed center front -- at the top of the arch above the main entrance.

A more typical placement of the architect's name would have been a stone set into the wall of the building, perhaps on a corner or at the side of the entrance. A motto about government or good citizenship might have been placed over the front door.

The book Hopkinsville & Christian County Historical Sites, published by the Kentucky Heritage Commission in 1982, says that the architect, J. K. Frick, was from Evansville, Indiana. He was surely Joseph K. Frick of Evansville, whose biography appears in the 1873 reference book, Evansville and Its Men of Mark.

Joseph K. Frick was born in Switzerland in 1823. His father was an architect and builder, and he wanted to his son to carry on the art. Young Joseph was sent to Munich, Bavaria, to study. He showed an aptitude for mechanical drawing at his two year apprenticeship in a drawing school.

Frick's father then placed Joseph in a Jesuit convent as an apprentice, but Joseph ran away after a year when he was expected to shave a portion of his head in the tradition of the order. Thereafter, he studied for eight years in the Alia Brarra Neli Belli Arti d' Architectura in Milan, Italy.

After a narrow escape from being shot in the streets as an insurgent in the Italian Revolution of 1847, Frick returned to Switzerland. In 1853, Joseph Frick, his brother Peter Frick, and nephews Kilian Frick and John Frick came to America. They lived in Chicago before moving to Evansville, Indiana, in 1857. Soon after the move, Joseph Frick was elected County Surveyor.

By 1860, the Fricks were drawn into the turmoil of America's Civil War. Killian Frick became a civil engineer for General Sherman and came home to die in 1864. John Frick became a captain in the 11th Indiana Volunteers and died from complications of a leg injury and amputation. Jacob Frick (another nephew?) died in the battle of Vicksburg as a soldier in the 11th Indiana Volunteers.

Joseph K. Frick's story concludes with the following description of his character and statement of his accomplishments:
[Joseph K. Frick] cared for his relatives from the time of their leaving Switzerland until they were dead. It took all his means for years to get them a practical education ; and, as he was not married, he gave up much of his time in attending to their wants while in the army. He often visited them, providing them with money, clothing, and other things, which showed the noble generosity of his nature.

Mr. Frick is recognized as one of the most scientific architects in this section; and many large and elegant public and private structures attest the force of his mechanical genius.

Source: Evansville and Its Men of Mark, by Edward White and Robert Dale Owen. Published by Historical Publishing Company, 1873, and digitized by Google in 2008.
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More posts about the Christian County Courthouse and downtown Hopkinsville:
Christian County Courthouse
Alhambra Theater in Hopkinsville, KY
Morning in Downtown Hopkinsville
Seen on Main Street
Prejudice and Segregation
Poll Worker's Day

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(Author unknown)

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