Porter, Cyrus Kinne

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PORTER, Cyrus Kinne (1828-1910), a leading architect of Buffalo, N.Y., was born in Cicero, N.Y. on 27 August 1828 and learned the trade of a joiner. He began to study architectural drawing, and was initially tutored by an itinerant teacher and architect located in Detroit. In 1853 he obtained a position as a draftsman with the Chicago Water Works, and remained there for two years. For unknown reasons he moved Brantford, Ont. in 1855 and was invited to form a partnership with John Turner (see list of works under Turner & Porter). Their collaboration appears to have been a successful one, but apparently short-lived; by October 1856 Porter was advertising his services under his own name as an architect with an office on Colborne Street in Brantford (Semi-Weekly Expositor [Brantford], 3 Oct. 1856, 3, advert.). Nothing is known of his activity in Ontario during the following eight years, but he is likely the same 'C.K. Porter, architect & planing mill proprietor' living in Villa Nova, Norfolk Co., in 1864 (Mitchell's Canada Gazetteer & Business Directory, 1864-65, 863). In late 1865 he left Canada and moved to Buffalo, N.Y. where he was active under his own name, and in several partnerships including:
C.K. Porter (1865)
Wilcox & Porter (1866-67)
C.K. Porter (1868-71)
Porter & Watkins (1872-75)
C.K. Porter (1876-79)
Porter & Percival (1880-81)
C.K. Porter (1882-85)
Porter & Son (1886-1910)
He developed a successful career there; with Harlow M. Wilcox he received Second Prize of $2,000 for his design of the War Building in Washington, D.C. in 1867. They opened a branch office in Bay City, Michigan where their works included the Bay City Courthouse (1867; demol. 1932), and the Baptist Church. In Buffalo, his best known works include Coal & Iron Exchange (c. 1882; demol.) and Trinity Episcopal Church, 1886 (R. Banham, Buffalo Architecture: A Guide, 1981, 126-7, illus.). In 1890 he entered the competition for a new City Hall at QUEBEC CITY, P.Q, and received Second Prize for his effort, with the commission being awarded to Elzear Charest. Porter died in Ransomville, N.Y. on 30 January 1910 (obit. Buffalo Evening News, 31 Jan. 1910; biog. National Cyclopedia of American Biography, ii, 1892, 390; biog. H. Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects, 1956, 481-2; inf. Christopher N. Brown, Buffalo). His son Jesse (1861-1929) continued the work of C.K. Porter & Sons until after 1925.

COMPETITIONS

QUEBEC CITY, P.Q., City Hall, 1890. Porter was among several competitors from Canada and United States who submitted plans for this major public building (C.A.B., iii, Dec. 1890, 134). Under the pseudonym 'Ecusson', Porter was awarded Second Prize for his bold Romanesque Revival design (L. Noppen & M. Grignon, L'art de l'architecte- Three Centuries of Architectural Drawing in Quebec City, 1983, 92, illus.). A copy of his perspective drawing survives and is now held in the collection of Archives of the City of Quebec. (ACQ, Acc. L.C. CPH A13, Neg. FC910-26)