Charles Emlen Bell (1858-1932), Architect
Charles Emlen Bell was born March 31, 1858, in McLean County, Illinois. He completed his education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the West Town Boarding School (Society of Friends), where he learned carpentry and building. He then studied architecture for seven years while working as a carpenter, one year of which was under the tutorship of his brother, Mifflin E. Bell. In 1883 or 1884, he went to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to work for the government on the post office building.  By 1887, he had established a local practice in with J. W. Allen in Council Bluffs, following which he was partnered with George A. Berlinghof, with offices in both Omaha and Council Bluffs, until the crash of 1893.[a] Following the recovery, Bell continued in practice in Council Bluffs and Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he is said to have designed many county courthouses in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.[5:25] Bell married his wife Helen(or Nellie) Wickham in 1880, and they had 5 children together. He died May 10, 1932.
This page is a contribution to the publication, Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. See the Format and contents of Nebraska architect entries page for more information on the compilation and page organization.
Compiled Directory Listings
Council Bluffs, Iowa, 1888-1892
Educational & Professional Associations
1890: Bell Creedon & Berlinghof, Architects, Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa.
1894-1904: Bell & Kent, Architects, Council Bluffs, Iowa and Montana.
1914-1932: Charles Emlen Bell, Architect. 
Buildings & Projects
Woodford County Courthouse (1897), 115 North Main St., Eureka, Illinois. 
Cass County Courthouse (1904-1906), S 9th Street btwn Second and Third Aves., Fargo, North Dakota.NRHP
South Dakota State Capitol (1905), bounded by Broadway, Washington, and Capitol Avenues, Pierre, South Dakota. [5:25]NRHP
Martin County Courthouse (1906-1907), 201 Lake Ave., Fairmont, Minnesota.NRHP
Gov. S. H. Elrod House (1908), 301 N. Commercial St., Clark, South Dakota. NRHP
Koochiching County Courthouse (1909), 4th St. and 7th Ave., International Falls, Minnesota. NRHP
Brin Glass Company Warehouse (1919), 600 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis, Minnesota.[5:25][5:104]
One or more works in Harlan Courthouse Square Commercial District (ca. 1880s-1890s) 6th, 7th, and Court Sts. & Courthouse Square, Harlan, Iowa. NRHP
a. Bell was probably in Council Bluffs to work on the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, a building his brother, Mifflin E. Bell, designed. His role was possibly that of superintendent. It was completed in 1887 or 1888. In one part of Bell's narrative he gives the year 1883 for the establishment of his practice in Council Bluffs; in another part, he states he came to the city in 1884.
b. These buildings were designed by the firm Bell & Kent, Architects.
c. These buildings were designed by the firm Bell & Dentweiler, Architects.
1. Biographical History of Pottawattamie County (Iowa) (Lewis Publishing Co., 1891), 485-86.
2. Council Bluffs, Iowa, City Directories.
3. “Charles E. Bell,” in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, accessed January 12, 2017, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_E._Bell
4. “Mifflin E. Bell,” in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, accessed January 27, 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mifflin_E._Bell
5. Rolf Anderson, Principal Investigator, Minneapolis Warehouse District Designation Study (Minneapolis: City of Minneapolis Community Planning & Economic Development Planning Division, October 28, 2009), accessed April 24, 2013, http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/groups/public/@cped/documents/webcontent/convert_264533.pdf
6. "Minnesota Death Index, 1908-2002" certificate no. 019208. Online at Ancestry.com, accessed April 24, 2013.
7. Kirby Lambert, Patricia Mullan Burnham, Susan R. Near, Montana's State Capitol: The People's House (Montana Historical Society, 2002), 10.
8. Brittany Noel Dieleman, "The historic rehabilitation of the E.E. Warren Opera House in Greenfield, Iowa: Design of a cafe, chamber of commerce, and art gallery focused on wayfinding and adaptability" (2014). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Paper 13741.
9. "Montana," American Architect and Architecture, Volume 95 (American Architect, 1909), 14.
10. Martin J. Kidston, "Family Affair: The Work and Life of Charles Emlen Bell" Independent Record (June 30, 2002). Accessed April 25, 2017 via http://helenair.com/news/family-affair/article_a2fbe8be-c990-5706-83df-94d9eeb17c34.html
11. "Images for Deer Lodge County, Montana" CourthouseHistory.com 2016. Accessed January 12, 2018 via http://courthousehistory.com/gallery/states/montana/counties/deer-lodge
12. "History of the Courthouse" Flathead County MT Accessed January 12, 2018 via https://flathead.mt.gov/courthouse/history.php
Return to Top of Page
D. Murphy & Catherine Cramer, “Charles Emlen Bell (1858-1932), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, January 12, 2018. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, December 9, 2018.
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