J. Constantine Hillman

Pasadena architect c. 1904-1932

John Constantine Hillman was born in 1865 in Portland, Oregon. The oldest son of George and Anna (Meigs) Hillman, he may have acquired his earliest artistic sensibilities from his father who began his working career as a joiner and later became an art dealer. The Hillmans were reasonably well off, but that home life was cut short when Anna died in the late 1870s. John and his sister, Nellie, were sent to boarding school in Portland.

The record on Hillman fades to black until he resurfaces in the 1890s in New York state. How he acquired his skill as an architect is unknown; however, by 1896, he entered into a partnership with Claude Bragdon in Rochester, New York. They enjoyed a fruitful practice for about eight years before they dissolved their partnership in 1904. Buildings designed by Bragdon & Hillman included the Rochester Athletic Club, the Cutler Building, and the Livingston County Courthouse among others, including numerous residences.

Bragdon was clearly the more colorful of the two, but it is certain that the Arts & Crafts influence penetrated the emerging designs of Hillman. Through the well-connected Bragdon, it's likely that he was introduced to a number of the designers and architects of the day, possibly including Charles Ellis (the brother of Harvey Ellis who eventually designed furniture for Gustav Stickley). Bragdon entered a variety of drafting and design competitions of the period under the Bragdon & Hillman name.

Hillman moved west in about 1904 to California, where he established an architectural practice in Pasadena, married, and raised a family. For the next thirty years, he continued his craft building a number of Arts & Crafts style residences, several of which are still in use. In 1932, John Constantine Hillman died at his home in Pasadena.

J. Constantine Hillman House

"A Pasadena, California house of the Chalet type planned and designed for Mrs. Mary W. Hamlin by J. Constantine, Architect, Pasadena" Published in American Homes & Gardens, October 1914.

Architectural Drawing of Hamlin House
Source: American Homes and Gardens, October 1914.

Pasadena Homes by J. Constantine Hillman

  • Pillsbury Houses ~1910, 373 and 405 Mira Vista Terrace
  • McPherson House ~1928, 337 Markham PLace

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