William Manly King

2015 Gold Medal Recipient

William Manly King was born in Macon, Mississippi on May 19, 1886. His family moved to the Atlanta area when he was quite young, where he attended the University School for Boys at Stone Mountain, Georigia. Mr. King received his architectural education at Georgia Tech, where he was graduated in 1908. He moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and opened an architectural office in partnership with Harry B. Wheelock, in the Steiner Bank Building. When the associated experienced only token success, he dissolved that firm and entered into a partnership named King and Burnham, in the Jefferson County Bank Building in Birmingham. That partnership also experienced limited success.

Sensing a future in South Florida, Billy King came to West Palm Beach in 1921 and found work with the fledgling architectural office of Addison Mizner. Mizner had designed Via Mizner on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach across the street from his Everglades Club design. When Mizner was commissioned to design Eva Stotesbury's "El Mirasol" mansion, he moved is office to Via Mizner. At this time, King opted to practice alone and opened his office in the Seward Building in West Palm Beach.

On June 7, 1921, King applied for Florida licensure as an architect and was awarded certificate no. AR0000182 four days later on June 11, 1921. Aggressively active in the pursuit of commissions and artistically prolific in architectural design creations, William Manly King was quickly established as a master of the creative architectural craft. Leaving Palm Beach to Addison Mizner, King designed many Mediterranean Revival style homes in West Palm Beach.

King was never jealous of another architect's talent or success instead forming one alliance partnership after another. When colleague Kenneth Campbell received his license in 1924, the two formed a partnership in the Citizens Building In West Palm Beach which turned out to be little more than the sharing of office space with Campbell passing in 1930.

By 1934, both King and Mizner had become dominant players on the Palm Beach and West Palm Beach Beach design scene. On March 11, 1934, the two attempted to consolidate their practices. The association ultimately fell by the wayside.

King's talents directed him toward commercial and institutional projects. He was appointed School Board architect in 1922 and at one time was credited with the design of 90% of the public schools in Palm  Beach County.  Designs include the original Palm Beach High School complex, "on the hill" at the western end of Hibiscus Street.The "Glades" agricultural area of western Palm Beach County was in need of schools with many of the original designs assigned to King.

King's work with the School Board and other civic leaders led to commissions for designs of city halls, fire stations and other governmental structures around Palm Beach County and Florida. He is credited with the design of all of the West Palm Beach fire stations, including the original central downtown fire station on North Dixie Highway which was demolished to make way for a courthouse complex parking garage.

Flexible and creative among many architectural styles, King moved easily from the Mediterranean Renaissance Revival to the Art Deco style of the 1930s and 1940s. Many of his city halls, fire stations and schools remaining today show King's mastery of the Art Deco motif.

King was married to Essie Rivers Lovelace. The couple had one daughter, Barbara. King was 55 when World War II broke out in 1941 making him too old for military service. He did not close his office during the "war years" period from 1941 to 1945. King eeked out living performing essential architectural services locally in spite of critical building material shortages.

During the 1930s, King acquired and ongoing contract to design nursing homes and hospitals for the Seventh Day Adventist Church national organization and become an expert in health care facility design. He was also commissioned to design educational facilities and the University of Florida and Florida State University.

King was active in the business community and AIA Palm Beach. He was elected president of the West Palm Beach Kiwanis Club and Vice President of AIA Florida. King served on the West Palm Beach Zoning Board of Appeals for several years.

King died on February 4, 1961 at the age of 74.

On November 19, 2015, AIA Palm Beach awarded William Manly King, AIA, the Gold Medal for his profound impact on architecture in Palm Beach County. Jeremy W. Johnson, CAE, President  and CEO of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County accepted the award on King's behalf. King's medal will be housed at the Historical Society.

King's biographical information courtesy of the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.