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William Martin Aiken


Centurion, 1902–1908

Born 1 April 1855 in Charleston, South Carolina

Died 7 December 1908 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina

Proposed by Russell Sturgis and William Rutherford Mead

Elected 6 December 1902 at age forty-seven

Century Memorial

William Martin Aiken had enjoyed his membership here for only six years when he died at fifty-three. He was born in Charleston, educated in the University of the South and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and studied architecture with Richardson. Of this art he was a teacher first at Cincinnati and later in Columbia University. He was for two years supervising architect of the Treasury Department and for Mayor Low’s term consulting architect of this city. He designed many Federal buildings, among them the Mints at Denver and Philadelphia. Among his fellow-artists he found high appreciation, being a member of four important technical associations. Modest, genial, kindly, he now seems a man of almost pristine force. It has been publicly asserted and accepted without contradiction that he thoroughly reformed the greatest architectural office in the world during his short term of office, that of the Treasury: demanding and exacting artistic quality in design, efficiency in execution, and faithfulness of service, defying the insolence of political influence, and routing abuses which were secure in an unhappy tradition. Uniting taste and judgment with administrative capacity, he inaugurated a new era in public art and deserved well of his profession and his country.

William Milligan Sloane
1909 Century Association Yearbook