Beman, Solon Spencer

BEMAN, Solon Spencer (1853-1914), was a Chicago architect best known for his design of buildings in Pullman, Illinois, 1879-84, a company town developed by George Pullman, the wealthy industrialist who devised the railway sleeping car bearing his name. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on 1 October 1853, Beman was educated there and served as apprentice and associate to Richard Upjohn from 1870 until 1877 when he established his own office in New York City. He moved to Chicago in 1879 and maintained a successful practice there, designing several significant works such as the Studebaker Building (1885), Chicago Grand Central Station (1888), and the Mines and Mining Building at the Chicago Exposition of 1893. One of the last commissions which Beman completed before his death on 23 April 1914 was the First Church of Christ Scientist, St. George Street at Lowther Avenue, TORONTO, ONT., 1914-15, a civilised and refined classical building with a cavernous assembly hall seating 650 persons (C.R., xxix, 8 Dec. 1915, 1251-53, illus. & descrip.; Const., ix, Dec. 1916, 421-23, illus. & descrip.) This work was modelled on his earlier design for the Merchant Tailors Exhibition Building erected for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and it was this pavilion which had particular appeal for the Christian Scientists who asked Beman to adapt it as a prototype for their churches in several cities in the United States as well as in Canada (see illustration in H. Bancroft, The Book of the Fair, iii, 1893, 229).

Beman subsequently designed seven churches in Chicago for this sect, as well as the First Church of Christ Scientist at Grand Rapids, Mich., Lincoln, Neb., Milwaukee, Wisc., Portland, Ore., Pittsburgh, Penn., Cincinnati, Ohio, and churches in several smaller centres in the United States. Beman died in Chicago on 23 April 1914 (obituary & port. Chicago Daily Tribune, 24 April 1914, 7; obit. Journal of the American Institute of Architects, ii, July 1914, 348; biography in National Cyclopedia of American Biography, xiv, 1917, 304-05; Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects, i, 1982, 175-76).