University of Michigan
News for Faculty and Staff

September 20, 2018

Obituary: Leonard Kimball Eaton

April 11, 2014

Obituary: Leonard Kimball Eaton

Topic: Obituaries

Leonard Kimball Eaton, emeritus professor of architecture, died April 1 at the age of 92.

He was born Feb. 3, 1922, in Minneapolis, Minn. He was the son of prominent lawyer Leo K. Eaton and Elizabeth Barber Eaton. He excelled as an intercollegiate swimmer at Williams College and graduated in 1943 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Eaton

During World War II he served in the U.S. Army as a medic with the 86th Mountain Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division. He received a Bronze Star for bravery in combat at Terre Iussi, Italy. He subsequently served in the U.S. Army Reserve where he rose to the rank of Major.

After the war he entered Harvard University where he studied with historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr. He received his Ph.D. in American civilization from Harvard in 1951.

In 1950 he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to a position in what became the College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He was named professor of architecture in 1964. In 1985 he became the Emil Lorch Professor of Architecture. He retired in 1988 and was granted emeritus status by the Board of Regents in 1989.

During his career at U-M he published extensively on architecture and architectural history. His books include “New England Hospitals” (1957); “Landscape Artist in America” (1964), a study of the work of landscape architect Jens Jensen, chief designer of the western section of the Chicago, Ill., park system; “Two Chicago Architects and Their Clients” (with Elizabeth Douvan) (1969), a study of the clients and work of architects Howard Van Doren Shaw and Frank Lloyd Wright; “American Architecture Comes of Age” (1972), an examination of European reaction to the work of Henry Hobson Richardson and Louis Sullivan; “Gateway Cities and Other Essays” (1989), a study of Midwestern warehouse architecture; and “Hardy Cross, American Engineer” (2006) a study of the groundbreaking work of structural engineer Hardy Cross. 

During his time at U-M he was active in numerous interdisciplinary activities with other faculty members. From 1979 to 1985 he served as an adviser about matters related to Frank Lloyd Wright to Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan. With Monaghan’s sponsorship he organized three significant conferences in Ann Arbor on Wright's work.

He also taught undergraduate and graduate students at Wayne State University, and in Flint, Grand Rapids, Port Huron and Dearborn for U-M. He was a visiting professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. In 1985 he was awarded the Frederic Lindley Morgan Chair of Architectural Design at the University of Louisville.

He was the recipient of numerous grants and awards to advance scholarship in architectural history from, among others, the Ford Foundation and the Fulbright Foundation.

He was a member of the Society of Architectural Historians for over 50 years. He retired to the Oregon coast and continued to publish book reviews and scholarly articles, participate in history conferences and write poetry and a novel. He carried on extensive correspondence with friends, colleagues and former students.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Mary Eaton Staples. His marriage of three decades to Carrol Kuehn ended in divorce. In 1979 he married Ann Valentine White. He is survived by Carrol and their children: Mark Eaton of Alexandria, Va., and his wife, Brooksie Koopman, Elisabeth Eaton of Brookfield, Wis., and her husband, Steven Ryan. He also is survived by Ann and her children: Kenneth White and his wife, Julie Revolinski; Alexandra White and her husband, Jeb Bishop, of Santa Cruz, Calif.; Pamela Kemp of Mauzac, France, and her husband, Martin F. Kemp. He also is survived by four grandchildren, two step grandchildren, and one step great-grandchild.

Donations to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Newport, Ore., are welcome at P.O. Box 1014, Newport, Ore. 97365.

— Submitted by Mark R. Eaton