Calvin J. Bowell (1870-1937), Architect

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Omaha, 1912-1916; York, 1917; and Grand Island, Nebraska, 1921-1937

Calvin J. Bowell was born in Kansas in 1870.[3] He practiced architecture in Shenandoah, Iowa, and Omaha, York, and Grand Island, Nebraska. He married Emma E. Dissenger in 1897. She died in 1911.[24][35] By the time of the 1920 U. S. Census, he was married to Bernice and they had a nine-year-old daughter.[3] Bowell was last listed in the Grand Island directories in 1936-1937. He died in 1937 and is interred in Grand Island.[35]. His widow Bernice A. Bowell, resided in West Bend, Palo Alto County, Iowa in 1940 and was interred there in 1953. The 1940 enumeration also states that she was living in West Bend on April 1, 1935.[2][35]

This page is a contribution to the publication, Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. See the format and contents page for more information on the compilation and page organization.

Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings

Omaha, Nebraska, 1912-1916

York, Nebraska, 1917

Grand Island, 1921-1922, 1924-1927, 1929-1932, 1934-1937

Educational & Professional Associations

1900: partner in C. J. Bowell & Co., insurance and real estate, Shenandoah, Iowa.[3][8][a]

1906: architect, Shenandoah, Iowa.[7][b]

1909: partner in Independent Builders' Supply Co., Shenandoah, Iowa.[8][c]

1912: architect, 512 Brandeis Bldg, Omaha, Nebraska.[6][d]

1913: general agent, Hartford Life Insurance Company, Omaha, Nebraska.

1914-1915: District manager, Northwestern National Life Insurance Co., 594 Brandeis Bldg, Omaha, Nebraska.

1915: re-established his architectural practice, 626-8 Brandeis bldg., Omaha, Nebraska.[11][g]

1917: architect, York, Nebraska.[18][19][v]

1918-1937: architect, Grand Island, Nebraska.[3][28][30][33][39][ag][al][an]

Buildings & Projects

St. Mary's Catholic Church (1909), Shenandoah, Iowa.[4][10[e]

Charles Aldrich house (1910), Shenandoah, Iowa.[5][f]

Remodeling Daily Record office (1915), 318 South 19th Street, Omaha, Nebraska.[11]

Bungalow for Frank Linnemann (1915), Military Avenue and Decatur Street, Omaha, Nebraska.[12][h]

Bungalow for Hilsing Weather Strip Co. (1915), 43rd and Burt Street, Omaha.[13][i]

Residence for M. Flanagan (1915), Stuart, Nebraska.[14][k]

Residence for H. H. Allen (1915), 41st & Harney Streets, Omaha, Nebraska.[13][j]

Elkhorn Life & Accident Assoc. Office Building (1916), Norfolk, Nebraska.[15][l]

Angora School (1916), Angora, Nebraska.[15][m]

Reifenfoph Bros. Store Building (1916), Mapleton, Iowa.[15][n]

Residence for Mrs. Mary Goodland (1916), 2147 South 34th Street, Omaha, Nebraska.[15][o]

Residence for C. B. Esteel (1916), Bridgeport, Nebraska.[15][p]

Farmers' Security Bank (1916), Maywood, Nebraska.[15][q]

Day and Night Garage for H.C. Graves (1917), York, Nebraska.[1][16][r]

Residence for C. E. Sandall (1917), York, Nebraska.[17][s]

Residence for S. Burnham (1917), York, Nebraska.[17][t]

Milford High School (1917), Milford, Nebraska.[1][18][19][u]

Additions and improvements to Milford School (1917), Milford, Nebraska.[19][u]

Reynolds School (1917), Reynolds, Nebraska.[1][20][w]

Odd Fellows Lodge Building, with stores (1917-____), Palmer, Nebraska.[1][21][x]

Garage for Way and Fisk (1917), Surprise, Nebraska.[21][y]

Chapman School (1917), Chapman, Nebraska.[22][z]

Store Building for Elsa Ury (1917), Chapman, Nebraska.[22][aa]

Residence (1918), York, Nebraska.[25]|[ad]

Garage for B. O. Wells (1918), Merna, Nebraska.[25]|[ae]

Church (1918), Archer, Nebraska.[26][27]|[af]

C. J. Bowell House (1918), Grand Island, Nebraska.[29][ah]

Gimple residence (1919), Grand Island, Nebraska.[31][32][ai]

Three residences (1919), Ravenna, Nebraska.[32][aj]

Bank & Office Building for W. C. Wentz Co. (1919), Aurora, Nebraska.[23][ab]

Garage (1919), Gothenburg, Nebraska.[23][ac]

Preliminary design for Thomas County Courthouse (1920), Thedford, Nebraska.[34][ak] (TM05-022)

Residence for Ed McComas (1921), Broken Bow, Nebraska.[38][am]

Project for a bank (1922), Grand Island, Nebraska(?).[40][ao]]]

Bakery for S. Debus (1922), Hastings, Nebraska.[36][37][ap]

Bakery for Walter Ernst (1922), Grand Island, Nebraska.[36][aq]

Rasse Wholesale Grocery Company warehouse (1922), 300-310 D Street, Fairbury, Nebraska.[36][37][ar] (JF04-199)

Paul and Mary Hansen Anderson House, and Loup Valley Hatchery (1937), 1415 Howard Ave, St. Paul, Nebraska.[as] (HW11-040)


a. The Spectator of February 1, 1900 states: "C. J. Bowell, general manager for Iowa for the Hartford Life, has resigned, and will hereafter devote his entire time to real estate and insurance in Shenandoah, Ia., having formed a partnership with Earl Sheets, under the firm name of C. J. Bowell & Co."9]

b. National Builder of March 1906 contains the announcement: "A New Architect. C. J. Bowell, Shenandoah, Iowa, has opened an office as an architect in that city. He wishes catalogues and samples from manufacturers of goods that are likely to interest the architect."[7]

c. Clay Record of 1909 includes a notice: "T. B. Wright & C. J. Bowell have formed the Independent Builders' Supply Co. at Shenandoah, Ia., and will deal in all kinds of building materials. They would be glad to receive catalogues and samples of all kinds."[8]

d. Bowell's first directory listing in Omaha, Nebraska was in 1912. Western Architect of June 1915 contains the notice: "C. J. Bowell, architect, has opened an office at Omaha, Nebraska, in the Brandeis building and desires catalogs and samples."[6]

e. Improvement Bulletin of April 24, 1909 carries a request for sealed proposals "for the erection and completion of St. Mary's Church, in Shenandoah, Iowa, and according to the plans and specifications of C. J. Bowell, Architect, Shenandoah, Iowa..."[4]

f. Improvement Bulletin of April 23, 1910 states: "Shenandoah, Iowa.--C. J. Bowell has completed plans for Chas. Aldrich for a 2-story, 10-room house, 31x48, to be constructed of paving brick."[5]

g. American Contractor of June 5, 1915 states: "C. J. Bowell, architect, has opened an office at 626-8 Brandeis bldg., Omaha, Nebr., where he is re-establishing himself in the architectural...profession. He desires catalogs and samples."[11]

h. American Contractor of June 5, 1915 states: "Bungalow: 1 sty. & bas. 24x40. $2M. Military av. & Decatur st. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Owner Frank Linnemann, 1821 Miami st. Plans in progress. Siding, shingle rf."[11] In the August 14, 1915 edition, an announcement states the general contract was awarded to N. A. Yonker, "who desires bids on elec. wiring, ptg., plastering, mill wk."[12]

i. American Contractor of October 30, 1915 states: "Bungalow: 2 1/2 sty. & bas. 24x40. $2,500. 43d & Burt st. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Owner Hilsing Weather Strip co., 318 S. 19th st. On fdn. Gen. contr. let to L. A. Yonker...."[13]

j. American Contractor of October 30, 1915 states: "Res.: 1 1/2 sty. & bas. 24x26. $3M. 41st & Harney sts. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Owner H. H. Allen, Wellington Hotel. Plans in progress. Siding, shingle rf., cement blk. fnd."[13]

k. American Contractor of October 2, 1915 states: "Res.: 1 1/2 sty. & bas. $3,500. Stuart, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Owner M. Flanagan, Stuart. Plans in progress. Siding & stucco, shingle rf., brk. fnd."[14]

l. American Contractor of May 27, 1916 describes an "Office Bldg.: $5,000, 1 sty & bas., 32x32. Norfolk, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, 4218 Dodge st., Omaha. Owner Elkhorn Life & Accident Assoc....Plans in progress. Brk. & stone, gravel rf., struct. iron.[15]

m. American Contractor of May 27, 1916, states: "School: $4,000. 1 sty & bas. 32x64. Angora, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Plans in progress. Brk., gravel rf."[15]

n. American Contractor of May 27, 1916, describes a store building for Reifenfoph Bros. in Mapleton, Iowa. The cost was estimated at $3,000 for a 1.5 story, 28x30 brick and stone building.[15]

o. American Contractor of May 27, 1916 lists: Res.: $3,000. 1 1/2 sty. & bas. 28x30. 2147 S. 34th st., Omaha. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Owner Mrs. Mary Goodland, 2145 S. 34th st., Omaha. Archt. receiving bids. Brk. veneer & stucco, shingle rf."[15]

p. American Contractor of May 27, 1916 lists: Res.:$2,500. 1 1/2 sty. & bas. 28x30. Bridgeport, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Owner C. B. Esteel, ash., Nebraska State Bank, Bridgeport. Plans in progress. Siding, shingle rf." [15]

q. American Contractor of May 27, 1916 lists: "Bank: 1 sty. & bas. 25x50. Maywood, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Owner Farmers' Security Bank, Maywood, Gen. contr. let to Hall & Powell, Curtis, Nebr., at $8,645."[15]

r. American Contractor of September 16, 1916 lists: "York, Nebr.--Garage. $6,000. 1 sty. 50x141. Archt. C. J. Bowell. Owner H. C. Graves. Bids by archt. at once. Brk., terra cotta, comp. rfg., metal skylights, terra cotta cornice."[16]

s. American Contractor of January 6, 1917 lists: "York, Nebr. Res.: $6,000. 2 sty. 32x38. Archt. C. J. Bowell. Owner C. E. Sandall. Plans in progress; bids by archt. in early spring. Frame, brk. & stucco, 2 mantels."[17]

t. American Contractor of January 6, 1917 lists: "York, Nebr. Res.: $4,000. 2 sty. 26x36. Archt. C. J. Bowell. Owner S. Burnham. Plans in progress; bids by archt. in early spring. Brk. & stucco, shingle rf."[17]

u. American Contractor of February 17, 1917 lists "High School: $25,000. 2 sty. 60x78. Milford, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, York...Plans in progress; bids abt. April 1. Brk., comp. rf." In the May 5, 1917 edition, notice is given of two contracts being let for Milford High School (general contractor E. Rokahe [sic] of Lincoln for $27, 145 and "School (rebldg.)" contract for $5,000, also to E. Rokahr, "Wk. started."[18][19]

v. American Contractor of March 3, 1917 includes an advertisement: "Wanted Help--Architectural draftsman, familiar with school and church work; state age, experience, salary desired and submit samples of work. Prefer a man who can accept the position at once, and one that has had some experience in soliciting business."[19]

w. American Contractor of May 19, 1917 includes a formal request for proposals to build a "Public School Building" for Reynolds, Nebraska "in strict accordance with the plans and specifications as prepared by C. J. Bowell, Architect, 719 E. 7th St., York, Nebraska."[20]

x. American Contractor of June 2, 1917 includes a notice of a plan to build a "Lodge Hall & Bus. Bldg.: $15,000. 2 sty. & bas. 50x80. Palmer, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, York. Owner I . O. O. F. Lodge, Palmer. Brk. & stone trim, asph. rfg., struct. iron. Plans drawn."[21]

y. American Contractor of June 2, 1917 includes a notice of a plan to build a "Garage: 1 sty. & bas. 50x80. Surprise, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, York. Owner Way & Fisk, Surprise, Nebr. Brk. & stone trim, asph. rfg. Plans drawn."[21]

z. American Contractor of June 16, 1917 includes a notice of a plan to build a "School: $12,000. 2 sty. 36x58. Chapman, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, York....Bids by owner to June 29."[22]

aa. American Contractor of June 15, 1917 includes a notice of a plan to build a "Store Bldg.: $5,000. 1 sty. 25x70. Chapman, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, York. Owner Elsa Ury, Chapman. Brk. Bids by owner."[22]

ab. American Contractor of August 9, 1919 lists: "Bank & Office Building.: $30,000. 2 sty. & bas. 44x80. Aurora, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, Grand Island. Owner W. C. Wentz Co., Aurora. Brk. & stone trim. Bids by owner to Aug. 20."[23] In 1916, W. C. Wentz was president of First Saving Bank of Aurora, which had been founded in 1913, according to History of Hamilton and Clay Counties Nebraska, George L. Burr & O. O Buck, editors, Dale P. Stough, compiler, Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1921, I:471.

ac. American Contractor of August 9, 1919 lists: "Garage: $15,000. 1 sty. 75x140. Gothenberg, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, Grand Island. Owner withheld. Brk. & terra cotta trim, comp. rf. , galv. skylight. Archt. receiving bids."[23]

ad. American Contractor of February 9, 1918 mentions a $5,000 residence in York, 1 story, 35x60, of brick, frame, and stucco, with a shingle roof. Bowell is listed as architect but "Owner [name] withheld."[25]

ae. American Contractor of February 9, 1918 lists Bowell as architect for an $8,000 garge in Merna, Nebraska for B. O. Wells of brick and Bedford stone.[25]

af. American Contractor of March 30, 1918 identifies Bowell as architect for an $8,000 church, one story and basement, 52'x54', in Archer, Nebraska for Zion Congregational Church, to be of frame, with stucco, and a shingle roof.[26] A few months later (May 16), that periodical lists Bowell as architect for a $12,000 "M. E." (Methodist Episcopal) church of similar (50'x50') but not identical dimensions. This would appear to be a second, simultaneous project in the same small community, except that "F. C. Wegner" (or "Wagner") is listed as chairman in both listings, so it is more likely a single, evolving project.[27]

ag. American Contractor of June 22, 1918 contains the notice that "C. J. Bowell, architect, formerly of York, Nebr., has removed to Room 10, McAllister building, Grand Island, Nebraska." In July and August of 1919, Bowell advertised repeated for an "Architectural draftsman. Must be first-class man on general working drawings, detail and design. Permanent position to the right man. Give references, age, experience and salary wanted. Address C. J. Bowell, Architect, Room 7, Dolan Building, Grand Island, Nebr." He placed similar advertisements in American Contractor in April of 1920.[28][30][33]

ah. Soon after announcing Bowell's relocation to Grand Island, American Contractor contained a notice that he was designing a $5,000 residence for himself in that city, described as one story, 33'x53', of frame and stucco with a shingle roof.[29] The 1920 U. S. Census lists Bowell's Grand Island residence as 1521 West 1st St. A bungalow clad in brick and stucco stands at that address, presumably Bowell's 1918 home.

ai. American Contractor of Feb. 1, 1919 lists a Grand Island residence: "$4,000. 1 sty. 32x48. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Owner withheld. Bids will be taken at once." A March 1st listing with the same cost and dimensions identifies P. C. Gimple as the owner.[31][32]

aj. American Contractor of March 1, 1919 lists three residences designed by Bowell for "Ravanna [sic] Nebr.", all with "Owner['s name] withheld." All were described as "Frame & stucco, shingle rfg." but a single story house was estimated at $3,500 while two 1.5 story homes were listed at $8,000 each.[32]

ak. American Contractor of November 6, 1920 lists: "Court House: 2 sty. & bas. 60x80. Thedford, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, Grand Island. Owner Thomas County, care county clk, Thedford. Brk. & stone trim, comp. rfg. Prelim. plans.[34] The previous Thomas County Courthouse was destroyed by fire in October 1920. Bowell's preliminary plans were drawn by November 1920, but construction did not occur until 1923 and Bowell's design appears not to have been the one used. The 1923 courthouse was demolished in 2006, after being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. See the site file for the Thomas County Courthouse, TM05-022, Nebraska State Historical Society.

al. Last listing in Grand Island City Directories, 1936-1937.

am. American Contractor of April 23, 1921 lists: "Grand Island, Nebr.--Res.:$8,000. 2 sty. 26[x]30. Archt. C. J. Bowell, Grand Island. Owner Ed McComas, Broken Bow, Nebr. Frame & stucco. Drawing plans. Owner taking bids. Day work, by owner."[38]

an. Throughout October 1921, Bowell advertised repeatedly in American Contractor for "Draftsman, architectural, competent, efficient, having practical experience of several years on schools, churches and commercial work. State age, experience, give references and salary desired."[39]

ao. In the American Contractor of August 12, 1922, a brief entry lists "Grand Island, Nebr.--Bank & Office Bldg.: $20,000. 2 sty. 22x80. Archt. C. J. Bowell. Owner withheld. Brk. & stone. Drawing plans."[40]

ap. American Contractor of October 21, 1922 lists: "Bakery: $40,000. 2 sty. & bas. 75x125, Hastings, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell, Grand Island. Owner S. Debus, Exeter, Nebr. Brk. & stone. Owner & archt. will take bids to abt. Dec. 15. Drawing plans."[36] The bakery was announced to be under contract for construction in December 1922.[37]

aq. American Contractor of October 21, 1922 lists as a Grand Island project: "Bakery: $30,000. 2 sty. & bas. 44x132. Archt. C. J. Bowell. Owner Walter Ernst. Brk. & stone. Archt. & owner will take bids to abt. Oct. Drawing plans." A second note about this project, on the same page, adds: "Brk. & stone, re. conc. Draw. plans; archt. just sel."[36]

ar. American Contractor of October 21, 1922 lists: "House (wholesale): $125,000. 2 sty. & bas. Fairbury, Nebr. Archt. C. J. Bowell...Owner Rasse Wholesale Grocery Co., Fairbury. Archt. just selected, details later. Bids will be taken in spring 1923."[36] In December, this project was announced to be "Deferred until Dec. 1923."[37] The warehouse is within the Fairbury Commercial Historic District. National Register narrative

as. The citation to site number HW11-040 references the database entry, recording data "from owner's records" (accessed, February 17, 2016). A brief history of the Anderson house and of the Loup Valley Hatchery is found in Ron W. Sack, "Loup Valley Hatchery," Grand Island Independent (August 17, 2006); online, accessed February 17, 2016.


1. “Architect Bowell Gets Much Praise,” York Daily News-Times (May 5, 1917), 6.

2. U. S. Census, 1940, West Bend, Palo Alto County, Iowa, "Mrs. Bernice A. Bowell," Patton/Siebel2011. Accessed February 17, 2016, via

3. 1900 United States Census, s. v. "Calvin J. Bowell," Shenandoah, Iowa; 1920 United States Census, s.v. “Calvin J. Bowell,” Grand Island, Hall County, Nebraska, accessed through

4. Improvement Bulletin (April 24, 1909), 36.

5. Improvement Bulletin (April 23, 1910), 32.

6. Western Architect (June 1915), 51.

7. The National Builder (March 1906), 48.

8. Clay Record (July 15, 1909), 33.

9. The Spectator (February 1, 1900), 61.

10. W. L. Kershaw, "St. Mary's Catholic Church," History of Page County, Iowa, I:200-203 (including illustration of church), Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909. Accessed February 6, 2016:

11. American Contractor (June 12, 1915), 95.

12. American Contractor (August 14, 1915), 75.

13. American Contractor (October 30, 1915), 71a.

14. American Contractor (October 2, 1915), 94.

15. American Contractor (May 27, 1916), 79.

16. American Contractor (September 16, 1916), 32, 91.

17. American Contractor (January 6, 1917), 78-79.

18. American Contractor (February 17, 1917), 80B.

19. American Contractor (March 3, 1917), 121; (April 14, 1917), 80; (May 5, 1917), 92.

20. American Contractor (June 2, 1917), 85.

21. American Contractor (May 19, 1917), 82.

22. American Contractor (June 16, 1917), 76.

23. American Contractor (August 9, 1919), 71.

24., s. v. Calvin J. Bowell. Iowa, Select Marriages Index, 1809-1992 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2014.

25. American Contractor (February 9, 1918), 50.

26. American Contractor (March 30, 1918), 63.

27. American Contractor (May 16, 1918), 29.

28. American Contractor (June 22, 1918), 28.

29. American Contractor (July 20, 1918), 66H.

30. American Contractor (July 12, 1919), 70; (July 19, 1919), 84; (August 16, 1919), 72; (August 23, 1919), 61; (August 30, 1919), 59.

31. American Contractor (February 1, 1919), 75.

32. American Contractor (March 1, 1919), 82D.

33. American Contractor (April 3, 1920), 95; (April 10, 1920), 80; (April 17, 1920), 85.

34. American Contractor (November 6, 1920), 67.

35., s. v. "C. J. Bowell" or "C Bowell". Accessed February 18, 2016:

36. American Contractor (October 21, 1922), 60.

37. American Contractor (December 23, 1922), 61.

38. American Contractor (April 23, 1921), 79.

39. American Contractor (October 1, 1921), 84; (October 8, 1921), 78; (October 15, 1921), 74; (October 22, 1921), 74.

40. American Contractor (August 12, 1922), 54.

Page Citation

E. F. Zimmer and D. Murphy, “Calvin J. Bowell (1870-1937), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, February 16, 2016. Accessed, September 24, 2023.

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