Charles Wheelock

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This article is about the architect. For the engineer and alderman, see Charles F. Wheelock.

Charles R. Wheelock (born December 12, 1833 in Charlestown, Massachusetts; died September 24, 1910 in Alameda, California) was a noted early architect in Birmingham. The partnership of Wheelock & Wheelock which he formed with his son Harry in 1887 lasted until 1939 and employed many younger designers, such as S. Scott Joy, Eugene Knight, James A. Lewis and Hugh Martin, who also contributed greatly to the city.

Wheelock worked as a carpenter and contractor before representing himself as an architect, with no apparent formal training. He married the former Eliza Manchester of Boonville, New York in 1853. They had five children, Charles F., George F. (1857), Jesse Manchester (1859), Harry Bert (1866), and Mary.

During the Civil War, Wheelock served as the Captain of Company I of the 117th New York Infantry through 1864, when he was given a discharge for disability. After the war, Wheelock moved to New York City and then to Kansas, where his fourth son, Harry was born. Soon he relocated to the newly-founded village of Emporia and was elected to represent the 3rd Ward in the first City Council upon its incorporation in 1870.

He moved to Texas in the early 1870s and partnered with Jacob Larmour on several important commissions there, including the Education Institute in Denison (1873), courthouses for Collin, Travis and Lamar counties (1875-1876) and Austin College in Sherman, Texas (1876). By the end of the decade he had relocated to Las Vegas, New Mexico where he established an office in the Jesuite Building. He encouraged a protégé, John Sorenson, to practice there before moving on.

In late 1882 Wheelock came to Birmingham and quickly established himself as the young city's first architect of note. He opened an office in the Elyton Land Company Building and, by 1884, was working from an office in the McConnell Building on 2nd Avenue North. Soon, he brought his son, Harry, into the partnership of Wheelock & Wheelock.

On July 26, 1894 Wheelock traveled to Brazos County, Texas to remarry, to the former Anna C. Warren. His stepdaughter, Ada Warren Josephnthal, died the following year. By 1895 Wheelock was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Alabama, Free and Accepted Masons.

Wheelock died while visiting Alameda, California in September 1910. His body was returned to Birmingham for burial at Oak Hill Cemetery. The Charles Wheelock Chapter No. 158 of York Rite Masons was named in his honor.


  • Wilson, H. T. (c. 1880) Historical Sketch of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Chicago, Illinois: Hotel World Publishing
  • "Jesse M. Wheelock" biography in An Illustrated History of New Mexico. (1895) Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company, pp. 448-49
  • Owen, Thomas McAdory and Marie Bankhead Owen (1921) History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. 4 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
  • "Charles R. & Harry Wheelock, Architects" typescript (August 3, 1950), in "Architects & Architecture", Vol. 2 of material compiled by Hill Ferguson for the cornerstone vault in Birmingham City Hall
  • Browne, Catherine Greene (1992) The History of Forest Park. Birmingham: Cather Publishing Company

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