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Sullivan, Maurice Joseph (1884–1961)

Stephen Fox Biography Entry

Maurice Joseph Sullivan, architect, was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 21, 1884, the son of Maurice and Margaret S. (Fitzsimon) Sullivan. He attended Detroit College (1901–03) and the University of Michigan (1904–06), where he trained as a civil engineer. He worked as an engineer for the Fort Worth architects Waller, Shaw, and Field and for the Waco architects Scott and Pearson before moving to Houston in 1912. From 1912 to 1919 Sullivan was city architect for the city of Houston. During this time he educated himself informally in architectural design. In 1919 he began independent practice as an architect. Beginning with his first important work, the Villa de Matel in Houston (1923–28) for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Sullivan specialized in the design of churches, schools, convents, and hospitals for Catholic religious orders and institutions of the Diocese of Galveston (see GALVESTON-HOUSTON, CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF). Like most American architects of his generation, Sullivan was stylistically eclectic. The genres in which he most frequently worked were Lombard Romanesque, Mediterranean, and neo-Gothic. Among his best-known buildings are Eastwood Elementary School (1916); the Kirwin Memorial Chapel, La Porte (1927); St. Anthony's Church, Bryan (1927); Sacred Heart Dominican Convent (1927, demolished); St. Anne's Church and School (1929–40); St. Mary's Hospital, Port Arthur (1931); Houston Negro Hospital School of Nursing (1931); Incarnate Word Convent, Bellaire (1931); St. Patrick's Church, Crockett (1931); Holy Rosary Church (1933); St. Thomas High School (1940); St. Mary's Church, Texas City (1945); and St. Mary's Seminary (1954). With Birdsall P. Briscoe (with whom he shared an office from 1919 until 1955), Sullivan collaborated on James Stephen Hogg Junior High School (1926), Jefferson Davis Senior High School (1926), Stephen F. Austin Senior High School (1936), and Ripley House (1940). Sullivan also served as associate architect for the Petroleum Building (1926, with Alfred G. Bossom of New York) and for the First Presbyterian Church (1949, with Hobart Upjohn of New York).

Sullivan joined the American Institute of Architects in 1921 and was elected to fellowship in 1951. He served as president of the South Texas chapter of the AIA in 1924 and again in 1933–34. From 1951 to 1954 he was treasurer, the first Texas architect to be elected to national office in the AIA. Sullivan belonged to the Houston Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Serra Club, and the Houston Yacht Club. He served on the executive committee of the Sam Houston Council of the Boy Scouts of America; he was a trustee of the Houston Negro Hospital of America and a Decorated Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He was a parishioner of Holy Rosary Catholic Church. On October 24, 1911, Sullivan married Anne Winston King. They had four sons and three daughters; one son, Charles Fitzsimon Sullivan (b. 1919), joined his father in partnership in the firm of Maurice J. Sullivan-Charles F. Sullivan in 1946. Maurice Sullivan died in Houston on December 15, 1961, and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. His papers are deposited at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center of the Houston Public Library.

American Architects Directory, 1955. Houston Post, December 16, 1961. Maurice Joseph Sullivan Papers, Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 4.


  • Architecture
  • Architects

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II


  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Stephen Fox, “Sullivan, Maurice Joseph,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 21, 2020,

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