Joseph Nathaniel French

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Joseph Nathaniel French
File:Joseph Nathaniel French in 1931 in Moscow.jpg
French in Moscow in 1931
Born (1888-10-24)October 24, 1888
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died February 28, 1975(1975-02-28) (aged 86)
Livonia, Michigan U.S.
Other names Joseph Nathaniel French, Sr.
Education Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1911)
Occupation Architect
Employer Albert Kahn Associates
Spouse(s) Amie Gertrude Lathe (m. 1912–21)
Yolanda Christina Tandberg (m. 1926–75)
Children Joseph Nathaniel French, Jr.
Parent(s) Joseph Brown Morse French
Erlenia H.M. Faulkner

Joseph Nathaniel French, Sr. (October 24, 1888 – February 28, 1975) was an architect with Albert Kahn Associates from 1914 to 1967.[1][2] He was the chief architect for the Fisher Building in Detroit, Michigan.[3][4]


He was born on October 24, 1888 in Boston, Massachusetts to Joseph Brown Morse French (1854-1928) and Erlenia H.M. Faulkner (1857-1939). He had four sisters: Frances Gertrude French (1877-1878) who died of cholera, Emma Matilda French (1879-1884), Nettie Eveline French (1886-1896) and Marion Ruth French (1897-1982). French attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and graduated in 1911.[5]

He first married Amie Gertrude Lathe (1885-1921), May 14, 1912 at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Boston.[6] He was put in charge of the last stages of construction on Henry Ford's Fair Lane residence in Dearborn, Michigan in 1913.[3][7] In 1914 he started work for Albert Kahn's firm in Detroit as a draftsman, and then as an architect.[8] By 1916 he was living at 2098 Woodward Avenue in Detroit.[9] On June 10, 1921 his wife Amie died.[10] On June 8, 1926 he married Yolanda Christina Tandberg (1902-2003).[11] Yolanda was the daughter of Thorvald Martin Tandberg (1874-1970) and Alvilde Marie Magdalene Naess (1875-1933) of Norway. She was 14 years younger than Joseph. They had several children, including Joseph Nathaniel French, Jr.[12] While at Kahn he was chief architect for the Fisher Building in 1928.[3]

From 1930 to 1932 he worked at the Albert Kahn Associates Moscow office with twenty-four other Kahn engineers and architects.[3][13] One of his projects was the steel work of the General Motors Futurama building at the 1939 New York World's Fair.[4] He worked on the design of the Chrysler plant near Kansas City.[14]

He died on February 28, 1975 in Livonia, Michigan. He was buried in Roseland Park Cemetery at 29001 Woodward Avenue, Berkley, Michigan.[3]


  1. Bucci, Federico (2002). Albert Kahn. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1-56898-343-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. The Society. Michigan Society of Architects. 1952. Joseph N. French ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Joseph N. French, Fairlane Architect". Detroit Free Press. March 2, 1975. p. C16. Retrieved 2011-03-21. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he came to Detroit in 1913 to work as an architect on Henry Ford's home, Fairlane. He joined the architectural firm of Albert Kahn Associates in 1914 and retired from that company in 1967. In the meantime he had served as chief architect for the Fisher Building, taught methods of industrial construction in Russia and during World War II, designed installations for the Army and Navy throughout the world.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Joseph Nathaniel French". American Architects. Third edition. Edited by John F. Gane. New York: R.R. Bowker. 1970.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. The Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni Association. Joseph Nathaniel French, '11<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. The Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni Association. 1912. Along with the invitation to Dick's wedding, came the announcement from Joseph N. French, a Course IV man, of his marriage with Miss Annie [sic] Gertrude Lathe of ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. The Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni Association. 1913. Joseph N. French, Course IV, patriotically wrote to the secretary on Independence Day. At present he has charge of construction work on Henry Ford's new ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Ferry, W. Hawkins (1968). The Buildings of Detroit. Wayne State University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. The Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni Association. 1916. Joseph N. French, 2098 Woodward Ave., Detroit, Mich.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. The Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni Association. 1921. Here is the story as written by Joseph N. French in Detroit: 'I have met with the worst of sad blows and have not recovered from it and probably never will. My pal and wife died June tenth and the two kiddies and myself are trying to find a way to live without our teacher and guide.' ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. The Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni Association. 1925. It is a pleasure to announce the engagement of Miss Yolanda Christina Tandberg and Mr. Joseph Nathaniel French of Detroit. But wait, you ain't heard nuthin' ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. French, Jr., Joseph Nathaniel. Customs and Manners of Elizabethan London as Reflected in Thomas Dekker's ... Columbia University. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Industry's Architect". Time (magazine). June 29, 1942. Retrieved 2008-04-04. In 1928 the Soviet Government, after combing the U.S. for a man who could furnish the building brains for Russia's industrialization, offered the job to Kahn. Twenty-five Kahn engineers and architects went to Moscow.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Ferry, W. Hawkins (1968). "The Buildings of Detroit: A History". Joseph N. French of Albert Kahn Assoc.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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