Clarence Blackall (1857–1942) was trained at the University of Illinois and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Blackall was influenced by Chicago architects such as Louis Sullivan and Burnham and Root whose stylistic trends are reflected in his most visible Lowell structure, the ten-story Lowell Sun Building (1912-1914, 2 Merrimack Street) in Kearney Square. As Lowell’s first steel frame commercial building and a prototypical skyscraper, Blackall designed the Sun Building with Louis Sullivan’s classical divisions on the exterior with a two story “base”, a distinct “shaft” that rises above it, and a crowning “capital” with a neo-classical entablature, cornice, and parapet. A veneer of yellow brick with granite and marble trim covers the façade.
Blackall, with the architectural firm of Blackall, Clapp and Whittemore, was also responsible for the design of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium (1922, 50 East Merrimack Street).
A noted architect, Blackall also designed Boston’s first steel frame building, the Carter-Winthrop Building (1894) on Washington Street and many theaters including Boston’s Colonial (1900) and Wilbur (1914) and Foellinger Auditorium (1907) on the campus of the University of Illinois. Along with New York architect Thomas Lamb, Blackall was considered among the foremost theater architects in the country and also established a reputation as an expert on fireproofing.