Alfred R. Dufrene (1836-1898), Architect
Alfred Dufrene was born in New York City in 1836. He was a carpenter and joiner by trade in Detroit, Michigan, where he practiced for ten years. After this time, Dufrene entered architecture as a profession in Portland, Oregon, with W. W. Pfeifer. He practiced there for seven years, coming to Nebraska in 1867. Defrene settled in Omaha and began by exercising his architectural skills with Thomas Butler Borst for three years. Dufrene worked independently for a while, then he entered into a partnership with Louis Mendelssohn.
During his career as an architect, Dufrene designed many houses and helped further expand the railroad by working on the depots and headquarters buildings. Later in life, he left the architectural business in favor of real estate and banking. He died December 9, 1898.
Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings
Omaha, Nebraska, 1874-1881, 1886
Educational & Professional Associations
ca. 1850-ca. 1860: carpenter and joiner, Detroit, Michigan.
ca. 1860-ca. 1867: architect, W. W. Pfeifer, Portland, Oregon.
1868-1870: architect and partner, Borst & Dufrene, Architects, Omaha, Nebraska.
1874-1881: architect, Omaha, Nebraska.
1886: architect, Omaha, Nebraska.
1887: real estate agent, Omaha, Nebraska.
1888: employee, McCague Bros Bank, Omaha, Nebraska.
Buildings & Projects
Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Headquarters Building (1879, ca. 1886), 1004 Farnam, Omaha, Nebraska. (DO09:0123-008) National Register narrative
A. J. Poppleton house (1879-1880), Sherman Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska.
Trinity Cathedral (supervise construction) (1880-1883), Omaha, Nebraska. (DO09:2-14)
"Government corral" of "one mammoth storehouse and office and three additional [brick] buildings" (1880), Shull's addition, Omaha, Nebraska.
Three-story brick block for John Horbach (1880), NE corner of 13th & Harney, Omaha, Nebraska.
George A. Hoagland house (1880), 16th & St. Mary's Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska.
Mrs. S. C. Sherman house (1880), Sherman Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska.
Union Pacific Depot (n.d.), Council Bluffs, Iowa 
Union Pacific Headquarters Building (n.d.), 816 Farnam, Omaha, Nebraska. (DO09:20-13)
Smith's Building (n.d.), ns Farnam between 12th & 13th, Omaha, Nebraska.[3 & illus]
Masonic Hall (n.d.), Omaha, Nebraska.[3 & illus]
Herman Kountze house (n.d.), Omaha, Nebraska.[3 & illus]
Byron Reed house (n.d.), Omaha, Nebraska.
C. H. Hamilton house (n.d.), Omaha, Nebraska,
Judge Lake house (n.d.), Omaha, Nebraska.
S. B. Johnson house (n.d.), Omaha, Nebraska.
a. Omaha Bee credits the Poppleton house to Dufrene in 1879 but Omaha Herald of 1880 names the architect of Poppleton's house as C. A. Alexander of Chicago, while also mentioning Dufrene's design services for a business block for Poppleton. Dufrene is known to have superintended construction in Omaha of out-of-town architect's designs (such as Trinity Cathedral) and perhaps that was the case in this instance as well. (E. F. Zimmer)
b. When W. J. Edbrooke was working on the U. S. Courthouse and Post Office in Omaha in the 1890s, Dufrene told Sunday (Omaha, Nebraska) World-Herald in 1891 that he was "well acquainted" with Edbrooke. "When Mr. Dufrene had the contract for putting up the buildings along the line of the Union Pacific Mr. Edbrooke supervised the construction of the buildings. 'He is a first class architect,' said Mr. Dufrene, 'and a practical architect, and I have no doubt the new federal building is Omaha will be a fine one. Edbrooke built the Georgia state house, which is a model structure of its kind.'"
1. A.T. Andreas, History of the State of Nebraska (Chicago: The Western Historical Company, 1882), 767.
2. “Mendelssohn & Laurie,” The [Omaha] Herald (January 1, 1887).
3. Omaha Bee, Annual Supplement (January 2, 1879).
4. Omaha Bee, Annual Supplement (January 1880), 3.
5. Copy of contract to construct Trinity Cathedral, dated Jan 27, 1880. (DO09:2-14)
6. John T. Bell, Omaha & Omaha Men (Council Bluffs, Iowa). [978.238 B41]
7. City of Omaha Planning Department, Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission, Database, Query on Architects, May 20, 2002; courtesy of Lynn Meyer, Preservation Planner.
8. "The Superintendant [Omaha’s New Post Office],” Omaha Excelsior (March 12, 1892), 4.
9. Omaha City Directory, 1878.
10. "Transformation. Opening Wonders of 1880 in Omaha's Internal Development. A Long List of Important and Substantial Buildings Contracted for or Under Way...," Omaha (Nebraska) Herald (May 4, 1880), 8.
11. "Died...Dufrene," Detroit (Michigan) Free Press (December 12, 1898), 5. "Died...At Omaha, Neb., December 9, Alfred R. Dufrene, Sr., brother of Geo. W. Dufrene, of this city." See also "Funeral of Alfred R. Dufrene. Impressive Services Over Remains of Late Omaha Pioneer," (Omaha, Nebraska) Morning World-Herald (December 12, 1898), 3.
12. "Architect Edbrooke. He Was Once with Dufrene and Supervised Union Pacific Buildings," Sunday (Omaha, Nebraska) World-Herald (May 10, 1891), 14.
D. Murphy & E. F. Zimmer, “Alfred R. Dufrene (1836-1898), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, January 13, 2018. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, May 27, 2020.
Contact the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office with questions or comments concerning this page, including any problems you may have with broken links (see, however, the Disclaimers link at the bottom of this page). Please provide the URL to this page with your inquiry.