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New York Architect: David Dell Kieff

  Biographical Volume: Pages: 247-248

Architects, whose dreams metamorphose into beautiful and sturdy structures of brick and steel and stone, thus build for themselves enduring monuments to their lives and labors, and assure their names of perpetuity. David D. Kieff has had a noteworthy career in his architectural field of endeavor, and throughout Watertown and its environs stand many tangible evidences of his genius and prevision. Practically seventy per cent of all the substantial buildings in that city have been designed by Mr. Kieff, and all of them bear the mark of his proved ability, efficiency and skill. In this very real and constructive way is Mr. Kieff giving an added impetus to local progress and advancement, and is thus fulfi8lling man's chief destiny: to leave this world a better place than he found it.

David D. Kieff was born in Franklin County, New York, on July 3, 1865, a son of Michael and Bridget (Ward) Kieff, both natives of Franklin County, and both of whom are now deceased, the father's death occurring in 1866, the year after his son David's birth, while the mother lived until the year 1904. The father was a well-known and successful farmer of Franklin County.

David D. Kieff received his early education in the public and high schools of his native county, following which he took a special course in architecture at college. From his early boyhood days he had been deeply interested in designing and building, and true to his convictions he overcome all obstacles in order to obtain a comprehensive architectural education. His first practical knowledge of the profession was obtained in the offices of John Hose, a well known architect of Watertown, under whose expert tutelage Mr. Kieff learned to combine and correlate the theoretical with the practical. He remained associated with Mr. Hose until the latter's death in 1900, at which time Mr. Kieff took over the business and continued it under his own name, in which he has been increasingly successful and in which he has remained active up to and including the present time (1926). At least seventy per cent of all the finest structures in the city of Watertown have been designed by Mr. Kieff, some of the most important in this vicinity being the Jefferson County Surrogates' Building, New York Trust Company Building, the Empsall Building, the Jefferson County Sanitarium, Mercy Hospital, some churches, and many other buildings of similar type. Mr. Kieff, aside from the consistently high quality of his work, is also the oldest architect in Jefferson County in point of service. In addition to the many duties devolving upon him from his own profession, Mr. Kieff has found the time to participate in various other local interests. He is a member of the board of directors for Thomson Gardens; a director of the Watertown Community Building Association; and a director of the Watertown Community Chest.

During the late World War, Mr. Kieff gave a great deal of his time to assuring the success of the various governmental and humanitarian drives for funds in the Watertown area. He was also prominent as a "four-minute" speaker, for which he was given a certificate of honor. Politically, he is a staunch Democrat, and has served his chosen party ably and well as commissioner of the city of Watertown, New York. Fraternally, he is an active member of the Knights of Columbus, being a charter member of the local lodge, which he has served as a Grand Knight at seven different times. He also holds membership in the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Black River Valley Club, the National Architectural Association, and the Watertown Chamber of Commerce, of which he was president for two years. His religious affiliation is given to St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church of Watertown, of which he is a regular attendant and a liberal supporter. In 1925, Mr. Kieff was honored by the Holy Father in being made Sir Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory.

David D. Kieff was married, in Watertown, New York, on June 22, 1907 to Rosalie Van Namee, a daughter of Eugene and Margaret Van Namee, well-known residents of Watertown. Mr. and Mrs. Kieff are the parents of the following children: 1. Ambrose E., born June 21, 1910. 2. David, Born in 1914, died at the the age of seven. 3. George F., born on May 5, 1920.


Website: The History
Article Name: New York Architect: David Dell Kieff
Researcher/Transcriber: Miriam Medina


From my collection of books: History of New York State 1523-1927; editor in-chief, Dr. James Sullivan, Publisher: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. (1927)
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