Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Clarence Hatzfeld was the son of a German immigrant father and an American-born mother. When he was a child, Hatzfeld’s family moved to Chicago and his pharmacist father soon opened a drug store on the city’s North Side. Hatzfeld attended college, and then trained in the office of Chicago architect Julius Huber. After working for Huber for several years, Hatzfeld was promoted to partner in 1899, and the firm became known as Julius Huber & Co. During this period, Hatzfeld became an active member of the Chicago Architectural Club, where he became acquainted with several aspiring designers who contributed to the Prairie School of Architecture, including Irving K. Pond, Robert Spencer, and Dwight Heald Perkins. In 1901, Hatzfeld left Huber’s firm and accepted a position of draftsman for the Chicago Board of Education, first under head architect William B. Mundie, and later under Perkins (with whom he was already associated through the Chicago Architectural Club).
Early in his tenure with the Board of Education, Hatzfeld also established a private practice. The Board of Education’s architectural division operated out of offices in the Tribune Building at 143 Dearborn Street, and in 1902, Hatzfeld opened his own office in Room 546 of the same building. Clarence’s wife, Laurette Haentze was a music teacher and the daughter of a prominent German family that helped him launch his private firm. Hatzfeld’s brother-in-law Albert Haentze and his partner Charles M. Wheeler were real estate speculators who hired Hatzfeld to design many Northwest side residences, including a number of homes for their development known as the Villa District.
According to the Proceedings of the Board of Education, Hatzfeld took a leave of absence from his position in the architecture department in 1909. The following year, he resigned from this position and formed a partnership with Arthur Howell Knox, a fellow Board of Education draftsman. Hatzfeld & Knox practiced from 1910 until 1915. Despite this relatively short period, the firm was prolific and its projects included the Independence Park Field House, two Masonic temples , Easterly Theater, Jefferson Park State Bank and many houses. After the partnership dissolved, Clarence Hatzfeld continued practicing on his own. He designed dozens of park buildings, additional Masonic temples and banks, auto show houses and other commercial buildings, and many residences including apartment buildings. During the Great Depression, Hatzfeld had to close his architectural office, but was hired by the Chicago Park District in 1935 as Recreation Plants and Equipment Technician. He was forced into mandatory retirement in 1939, and then moved to Washington, D.C. to accept the position of Recreation Technician for the Federal Works Administration. Clarence Hatzfeld died in Washington, D.C. in 1943.
Hatzfeld’s extant work includes numerous park field houses including Indian Boundary, Jefferson Park, and Eugene Field, the Logan Square Masonic Temple (now Armitage Baptist Church), the Dirks Building (nicknamed Powder Puff Building) at 1157 W. Diversey Parkway, Hoyne Savings Bank (was previously Jefferson State Bank) and several houses in the Villa District. Many of Hatzfeld’s buildings have been designated as landmarks.