Pasadena Civic Center, Pasadena, CA
1924 - 1938

Bennett, Parsons & Frost

In 1914, William Parsons resigned from his position as Consulting Architect to the United States government in the Philippines and began working with architect and urban planner Edward Bennett in Chicago. Together they developed plans for such cities as Detroit, Denver, and Ottawa. After forming a business partnership under the name Bennett & Parsons in 1919, they created city plans for St. Paul (1920-1922), Phoenix (1921), and Milwaukee (1922). The City of Lake Forest, Illinois commissioned the firm for planning work through the 1920s, such as the creation of its first zoning ordinance in 1923 and a Plan Commission in 1929. The firm became known as Bennett, Parsons, Frost, & Thomas, Architects when Harry Frost and Cyrus Thomas joined the firm in 1922. In 1923, they developed a plan for Pasadena, California’s downtown core, which centralized the city’s most important civic institutions within a single district. Thomas left the firm in 1924, and it was renamed Bennett, Parsons & Frost. The partners designed public buildings and monuments in Chicago (1923-1925) and Palm Beach (1926), and proposed improvements for Northwestern University (1927-1930). Their Chicago commissions included the Buckingham Fountain in the center of Grant Park (which opened in 1927) and several buildings at the Century of Progress International Exposition held in Chicago in 1933-34. In 1933, the firm completed a master plan for New Orleans City Park which was implemented by the Works Progress Administration. Parsons left the practice in 1938 to become Associate Professor of Architecture at the Yale University College of Fine Arts, and the firm became known as Bennett & Frost. Due to the death of Frost in 1943, Bennett closed the practice the following year.