Albert Kelsey (1870-1950), Architect
Albert Kelsey was born April 26, 1870 in St. Louis, Missouri to Albert and Jeanette Kelsey. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and won the Fourth Traveling Scholarship in Architecture of the University of Pennsylvania, allowing him to travel in Europe in 1896. He attended the Fourth International Congress of Architects, which was held in 1897 in Brussels, as a delegate and continued to travel extensively throughout his life. Early in his career, Kelsey apprenticed with Philadelphia architects and often won prizes in drafting competitions held by the T-Square Club of Philadelphia. He continued cultivating his career by participating in municipal art conferences. In June 1899, Kelsey was elected President of the Architectural League of America. He formed architectural partnerships from 1896-1905, then associated with Paul P. Cret in architectural competitions for a few years beginning in 1908, when they won the competition for the Pan-American Union Building in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he founded and edited The Architectural Annual, was a member of the American Institute of Architects, and was president of the Pennsylvania State Association of Architects. In 1908, Kelsey was appointed a member of the Columbus, Ohio Plan Commission. Kelsey is best known for his involvement in professional organizations, but he also had an active architectural practice. A small sample of his projects and buildings is listed below, including some of his projects around the time of the Roscoe Smith house in Lincoln, his only known Nebraska work. Kelsey married Henrietta Latitia Allis (1878-1942) in 1899; they had two sons and a daughter. Albert Kelsey died in 1950.
Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings
Educational & Professional Associations
1895: University of Pennsylvania.
1895: T.P. Chandler.
ca. 1896: Cope and Stewardson.
1896-1900: architect and partner, Kennedy, Hays & Kelsey.
1900-1905: architect and partner, Kennedy & Kelsey.
ca. 1908-1910: Association with Paul P. Cret.
ca.1910-1950: architect, Philadelphia.
Architectural Study Travel
1896: Traveled abroad on scholarship.
Buildings & Projects
Selection of Buildings, Nationwide
Pan-American Union Building (1908-1910), Washington, D.C.
Haddington Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia (1915), 446 N. 65th St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Carson College for Orphaned Girls/later called Carson Valley School (1917), Flourtown, Pennsylvania.
University Baptist Church (1921) Austin, Texas.
J. E. Johnson residence, garage, farmhouse & implement sheds (1921), Leonardstown, Maryland.
Jay Cooke residence (1921), Chestnut Hill (Bethlehem Turnpike), Pennsylvania.
Cloister Inn Club (1921), Princeton, New Jersey.
Superintendent's residence for Northern Ore Company (1922), Edwards, New York.
Convert residence to club house for Franklin Inn Club (1922), Camac St. & Saint James Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Sole Known Nebraska Project
a. Roscoe Likes Smith (1884-1944) was a 38-year old physician and recent veteran of WWI service in the U. S. Army when he commissioned Lincoln builder Peter Hansen to construct a large, Spanish colonial revival "hacienda" southeast of 27th and Van Dorn Streets in Lincoln. The building permit estimated the cost of the house as $29,000. It included a large, glass-roofed "patio" surrounded by an arcade and lushly planted with tropical plants. The current address of the extant (2018) house is 2745 Eastgate. Kelsey's involvement in the project is documented on the Lincoln building permit and in American Contractor, both in 1922. The latter describes "Res. (bungalow, Spanish mission style): $40,000. 1 sty. & bas. 78x91. Lincoln, Nebr. Architect W. Kelsey, 1530 Chestnut st., Philadelphia. Owner Dr. Roscoe L. Smith, Lincoln. Brk. & stucco. Drawing plans."
b. A Lincoln newspaper gossiped in 1921 that Dr. Smith "recently purchased a large tract [and] has been in California with his 'Packard' and wife, presumably to get plans." A few years after Smith's death in 1944, a feature story on the "Highlander Place" development that subdivided Smith's original estate noted that the plans for Smith's house "were designed by a man whose name eluded us thru several attempts to uncover it. He was associated with Mr. Goodhue, the man who designed the Nebraska state capitol. Originally the plans were exhibited at the International Architectural exhibition in New York City. They won first prize in the Spanish architecture division. Dr. Smith purchased the plans and built his house in 1922." Kelsey is not known to have been associated with Goodhue, but he collaborated with Paul Cret, one of Goodhue's competitors for the Nebraska Capitol design.
1. John Reps, “A Municipal Exhibit: Albert Kelsey,” "Cornell University" http://urbanplanning.library.cornell.edu/DOCS/kelsey.htm.
2. "Haddington Branch The Free Library of Philadelphia," The Architectural Record 40 (July 1916), 44-62 (illustrated).
3. “Albert Kelsey. From an Old New England Family--An Eminent Architect and Authority in his Profession,” The Successful American (magazine) (The Press Biographical Company: New York, 1900), I:4, 40 (illustrated with portrait).
4. Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia (Oxford University Press: New York, 1991), 209-210.
5. Map of Lincoln (New York: Sanborn Map Company), (1928).
6. City of Lincoln, Building Permit #10476 and associated application, issued September 25, 1922; contractor: Peter Hansen; architect: Albert Kelsey; estimated cost: $29,000.
7. “Where No Three Orphans May Dress Alike,” The New York Times (June 11, 1916).
8. "Kelsey, Albert (1870-1950) Architect," in Philadelphia Architects and Buildings, on-line resource accessed December 20, 2018 at https://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/ar_display.cfm/25033
9. Lincoln (Nebraska) State Journal (September 18, 1921), 11.
10. "They're Talking About...In Highlands Addition," Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening Journal (August 26, 1949), 10.
11. "Albert Warren Kelsey" in Brandt Family Tree, on-line at https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/101044592/person/360006557763/facts?_phsrc=jRj776&_phstart=successSource Accessed December 21, 2018.
12. American Contractor (March 26, 1921), 56.
13. American Contractor (June 4, 1921), 64.
14. American Contractor (January 14, 1922), 61.
15. American Contractor (April 15, 1922), 62.
16. American Contractor (July 1, 1922), 56.
Return to Top of Page
D. Murphy & E. F. Zimmer, “Albert Kelsey (1870-1950), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, January 1, 2019. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, August 11, 2022.
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