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John Moore Morse FAIA
August 23, 1911 - July 26, 2000
Jack Morse, the 1996 recipient of the AIA Seattle Medal, spent his young years in Massachusetts where he attended Harvard College and took the MArch from Harvard Graduate School of Design. He came to Seattle in 1942 to work with Boeing, and established his own firm in 1945. From 1947-62 he practiced with Bassetti & Morse, and kept an office until shortly before his death.
Representative projects include the Lake City Branch, Seattle Public Library; East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue; Glacier Bay Lodge, Alaska, for the National Park Service; University of Washington Social Work/Speech & Hearing Sciences Building; Master Plan for Keyport Naval Station; New Campus Development for University Prep, Seattle; and private residences in the greater Seattle area including Hilltop. An extensive portfolio of public service included service on the King County Planning Com-mission, the Mill Creek Design Review Board, and the Board of Trustees, Cornish College of Allied Arts. He served as AIA Seattle President in 1960, and in 1968 accepted the recognition of his peers represented by elevation to the College of Fellows of The American Institute of Architects.
When he received AIA Seattle's highest honor in 1996, testimony included this observation by his long-time partner and fellow Medallist Fred Bassetti FAIA: "Jack Morse is unique: a Yankee, a Fellow of The American Institute of Architects, a gentleman. In his mid-eighties he is still the urban warrior, carrying on the worthy battle that he, with so many other distinguished architects, began as an idealistic young man fresh from college, more than a half century ago. In his career he has brought together the complementary qualities of creativity and practicality, thus offering his clients the best of both worlds."
In other recollections, Bassetti also noted: "Almost sixty years have passed since John Moore Morse fled New England for Seattle and joined the Chapter. It was an illustrious group: J. Lister Holmes, Bill Bain, Joe Wilson, Ted Jacobsen, Benny Priteca, Vic Jones, Paul Kirk, Paul Thiry, Perry Johanson, Larry Waldron, Vic Steinbrueck, Jim Chiarelli, John Graham, Henry Bittman, Harlan Thomas, Floyd Naramore, Steve Richardson, AM Young, Ellsworth Story, Arthur Loveless and many others.
"Jack offered his services at once, civic warrior from the beginning, endlessly pressing for a more congenial, workable city. He served in several Chapter offices culminating in the presidency in the early sixties. He was awarded his Fellowship in 1968 and received the ultimate honor of Chapter Medallist in 1996.
"As architect he was an innovator, beginning with his partnership with Ralph Burkhard about 1945, continuing as Bassetti and Morse from 1947 and as John M. Morse, Architect and Planner, from 1962. His first school, Lakeview Elementary on Mercer Island, won national honors from the AIA and a cover for Progressive Architecture magazine. Much other recognition followed, including three [AIA Seattle Honor Awards] in one bounteous year (1966).
"It is said that another Bostonian, President Kennedy, was often remembered for his remarkably good manners. I remember Jack Morse not only for his courtly manner but also for his buoyant good humor, starting with his teaching me to make a good Old Fashioned. That great spirit endured to the very end; it will be sorely missed."
His friend 1989 Medallist Ibsen Nelsen added: "Jack was a fine architect, certainly one of Seattle's exemplars. He was a fine, decent person. I never heard him speak ill of another soul. He never complained of his discomforts nor his ailments, though he had an assortment not unusual for our age. Bassetti and I saw him in Virginia Mason Hospital a day or two before he died. He was smiling, and joked with us, and we spoke of lunching together soon. We agreed we would."
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