Architect Charles E. King got his start in Belleville and left behind an impressive architectural legacy, from City Hall in the 100 block of South Illinois Street, on down the street including the Town House Motel to buildings at Belleville Township High School.
He worked here from 1947-61 and was responsible for 34 public and commercial projects and an estimated 100 custom-designed residences and home additions, according to information on the website of the Belleville Historical Society.
To honor him, the society is reprising an exhibit about King that will be on display at the Governor French Academy, 219 W. Main St., in downtown Belleville for the month of May.
The exhibit will open with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the school's art gallery.
"Most of it is up already," said Larry Betz, president of the historical society. "Architect Gary Karasek and I worked on it, getting his drafting table and some of his furniture in there."
He said the one-day run of the exhibit at Lindenwood University-Belleville last year drew a couple hundred people and a lot of interest.
"We heard from a lot of people who didn't get to come," Betz said. "They said if we ever do it again, to let them know. We're letting them know."
He said they thought King deserved more attention like he drew during his long and distinguished career.
King grew up in Kentucky and attended the University of Illinois School of Architecture before his training was interrupted by World War II. After the war he graduated and came to Belleville along with new wife, Audrey Marsh King.
He is known for his Mid-Century Modern style. He later worked in St. Louis and was head of design for the Westinghouse corporation before returning to private practice.
He won many awards and honors, including being named as one of the top 100 architects in America by Architectural Digest in 1991.
He died in 1993 at age 73.
He left behind many striking houses in town, including some I saw and thought were interesting without knowing their background.
Local architects often mention Belleville City Hall when talking about exceptional design in area buildings.
The society also will sponsor a house tour of seven homes King designed in Belleville, from 1 to 5 p.m., May 11. Tickets for the tour will be $15 for ages 12 and older.
They are available at the reception or through some Belleville retail stores. You also can visit any house on the day of the tour and buy a ticket.
You can find more information on King, the exhibit and the tour, including pictures of the houses, at the society's website: bellevillehistoricalsociety.org.
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