Pacific Coast Architecture Database (PCAD)


Hanson, Olof

ID: 3222
Full Name: Olof E. Hanson
Occupation: Architect
Gender: M
Birth Date: 1862-09-10
Death Date: 1933-08-08
Family: Spouse: Olof Hanson married Agatha J. Tiegel (1873-1959) 07/03/1899; (Sources on the date of her birth disagree, with some indicating it to have been in 1872, 1873 and 1878. 1873 appears to have been the correct date.) Her father was from Germany and her mother from Switzerland or PA, the U.S. Census data disagrees. Hanson met Tiegel at the Minnesota Institute for Defectives (this was the unfortunate name of the institution between 1887-1902), where she was a deaf teacher. Agatha Tiegel was the first female graduate of Gallaudet University with a B.A. in 1893, and was Valedictorian of her class. She was a poet and teacher of note, whose papers, like those of her husband's were donated to Gallaudet, comprising the "Agatha Tiegel Hanson Collection" of 4,000 items.
Parents: Olaf Hanson's parents came from Sweden. His father, Hans Larsson Hanson (d. 1874), occupied an influential place in their small Swedish hometown. He owned a farm, held a county government job and assisted the railroad in establishing track in the area. On the eve of relocating to a farm near Willmar, MN, Hans died. This delayed the family's resettlement to MN until 1875; just after settling in America, Olof lost his hearing. His mother was Nilla Rasmusdotter, who maintained the household.
Children: The Hansons had three daughters: Marion F. (born c. 1901 in MN), Alice C. (born c. 1905 in WA) and Helen (born c. 1907 in WA).
Relocation: Born in Fjälkinge, on the southern tip of Sweden, Hanson came to the U.S. in 1875, and had been naturalized in 1886. When first married, Olaf and Agatha Hanson lived at 4th Avenue West in Faribault City, MN, in 1900; they lived with a boarder, Edith Vandegrift, a teacher, in their house. They moved to Seattle, WA, in 1902 and lived with their three daughters at 545 Brooklyn Avenue, Seattle, WA, in 1910; apparently, Hanson moved back to the Midwest in c. 1917-1918, working as a draftsman in Saint Paul, MN, and Omaha, NB. Hanson returned to Seattle in 11/1918. His family lived at 4747 16th Avenue NE from at least 1913 until after 1930; the value of the Hanson residence was $10,000 in 1930, according to the U.S. Census.
Biographical Information: Education: Graduate, Minnesota Institute for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind, (now known as the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf), Faribault, MN, 1878-1881; B.A., Gallaudet College, Washington, DC, 1886; M.A., Gallaudet College, Washington, DC, 1889; Special Student, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France, 1889-1890;
Work History: Draftsman, E. Townshend Mix, Architect, Minneapolis, MN; Draftsman, I.H. Hodgson and Sons, Minneapolis, MN, and Omaha, NB, -1889; Draftsman, Wilson Brothers and Company, Philadelphia, PA, 1890-1891; Wilson Brothers was designing the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Mount Airy, PA, at the time Hanson worked there. Principal, Olof Hanson, Architect, Faribault, MN, 1895-1901; Partner, [Frank] Thayer and Hanson, Architects, Mankato, MN, 1901-1904; Principal, Olof Hanson, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1902-1917. He leased Office #50 in Seattle's Downs Building in 1913. Periodic Draftsman, James H. Schack, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1906-1911; Draftsman, University of Washington (UW), Department of Buildings and Grounds, Seattle, WA, 1919-1931;
Teaching: Teacher, Minnesota Institute for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind, Faribault, MN, c. 1891-1893.
Miscellaneous: A childhood illness at age 10, left Hanson deaf; Hanson is credited by some as America's first deaf architect. (See "Discover Owatonna's Place in History," brochure, accessed 05/30/2008.) After graduation from Gallaudet in 1889, Hanson embarked on a grand tour of Europe for 10 months, seeing England, Scotland, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Italy. The street on which the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (established in 1863) is located at "615 Olof Hanson Drive." Hanson actively promoted the rights of the deaf, serving as President of the National Association of the Deaf, 1910-1913, and was a member of the Puget Sound Association of the Deaf in 1913. In 1909, Hanson started a Bible class for deaf children at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Seattle, WA; religion developed into an increasing interest to Hanson; in 1924, he was ordained as an Episcopalian deacon in 03/1924 and a minister in 1929. The U.S. Census of 1930 indicated that Hanson worked as an "architectural draftsman." Member, Swedish Club, Seattle, WA.
Archives: Hanson's papers were donated to the University Archives, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC; some of his papers are also lodged at the Rice County Historical Society, Faribault, MN, where Hanson went to school; there is also some other archival information on Hanson at the Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. The University of Washington, Seattle, Libraries, Department of Special Collections, has material on Hanson related to his work in the UW Department of Buildings and Grounds; these include a drawing of Steam lines on campus, 1929, University of Washington, revised to Jan. 1931, July 1931.
Countries: Sweden
United States
Locations: Architect's Birth:
Architect's Death:
Seattle, WA

Portrait of Olof Hanson, 1898; from Wikimedia Commons, scanned by Clercfan