George Washington Maher (1864 – 1926) American furniture designer and architect

George Washington Maher
George Washington Maher

George Washington Maher (1864 – 1926) was a furniture designer and architect from the United States.


He worked as an apprentice in Joseph Lyman Silsbee’s architecture office alongside Frank Lloyd Wright and George Grant Elmslie.

Armchair c1914 designed by George Washington Maher
Armchair c1914 designed by George Washington Maher (The Met)


Early on in his career, Maher’s work was ornate and monumental. He started to work in a less ornate style after 1905, inspired by C.F.A Voysey.

The 1912 ‘Rockeledge’ house for E.L. King in Homer, Minnesota, was a prominent example of his later style. The segmented arch with its short flanges set on canted buttresses serving as the primary architectural device.

Motif-Rhythm theory

The arch, guttae, tapered stiles, and deep bases were all architectural features in his chairs. Throughout his homes, he used such architectural devices. Segmented arches, guttae, and stained glass motifs, for example, were used to link the lamps to the exterior landscape. To achieve design harmony throughout the building and its interior, Maher introduced the Motif-Rhythm theory as part of his design philosophy. This entailed repeating a decorative feature, such as a local flower, a geometric shape, or a combination of the two, throughout the design. “There must have evolved some leading forms that will affect the detail of the design,” Maher wrote. “These forms crystallise throughout the planning process and become the motifs that tie the design together.”

A leaded glass 'Poppy' window from the Winton House, Wasau Wisconsin. (Christies)
A leaded glass ‘Poppy’ window from the Winton House, Wasau Wisconsin. (Christies)

Maher was also commissioned to design the interior furnishings for Ernest and Grace King’s 12,000-square-foot (1,100-square-meter) summer house in Homer, Minnesota, built-in 1911. This enabled him to fully utilise the Motif-Rhythm theory. The house eventually fell out of favour, but Maher’s furniture, clocks, lamps, rugs, and even tableware were sold before it was demolished. Several items ended up in museum collections as examples of Arts and Crafts architecture.

He worked with Claude and Starck architects in the Wisconsin area as a Praire school architect. He was aware of Peter Behrens and other people.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, February 25). George W. Maher. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 06:44, April 6, 2021, from

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