Charles Wurdeman (1871-1961), Architect
Charles Wurdeman was born in Sherman Township, Platte County, Nebraska, on January 28, 1871. His parents were John Henry and Catherine Margaret Wurdeman. He was chosen at an early age, by the teacher of a rural school, to lead one of three groups of pupils to their homes when the famous blizzard of 1888 struck on January 12th. He became an architect “more or less by accident,” having left the family farm to do carpentry work in Columbus. He became interested in architecture in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair, where he observed an architectural exhibit by the University of Illinois; in 1893, the Illinois course was the only one of its kind, a two year course with no degree. He enrolled and finished the course in 1896; his diploma was a listing as a member of the Architects’ Club in the university’s 1896 year book.
Upon returning to Nebraska, Wurdeman became a builder and architect in Platte County, beginning in 1893, and in Columbus, from 1896. His first big job was a 1902 major addition to St. Mary’s Hospital in Columbus. He did not draw plans, but was superintendent of construction. He is also known for designing a reinforced concrete work using crushed flint rock mixed with cement.
Wurdeman survived the depression by drawing plans, as well as doing carpentry and other work. In the 1940s he went into the architectural and engineering business with his son, Henry, as Wurdeman & Wurdeman. In 1956 he was noted as one of the oldest professional men in Nebraska, having worked for sixty years as an architect. He was married on April 16, 1896 to Miss E. Wilhelmine Loseke, and they had three children. He passed away on July 1, 1961.
Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings
Fairbury, Nebraska, 1907
Columbus, Nebraska, 1907. 1909, 1938-1939, 1940-1948, 1950-1959, 1960
Educational & Professional Associations
1893-1896: Special Architecture Course, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois.
1896-1907: carpenter and superintendent, Columbus, Nebraska.
1907: architect and owner, Charles Wurdeman, Architect, Fairbury, Nebraska.
1907-1911: architect and owner, Charles Wurdeman, Architect, Columbus, Nebraska.
1911-1913: architect & partner, Wurdeman & Grabe, Architects, Columbus, Nebraska.
1914-1949: architect and owner, Charles Wurdeman, Architect, Columbus.
1929-1933: superintendent of construction, L.W. Weaver, Civil Engineer, Lincoln, Nebraska.
1932-1958: architect & partner, Wurdeman & Wurdeman, Architects, Columbus, Nebraska.
1933: Established 150 Bench Marks in Columbus, Nebraska.
1937-1938: County Highway Superintendent, Platte County, Nebraska.
1938: Registered Professional Architect, Nebraska, A-81, September 28, 1938.
1948-1958: architect & partner, Wurdeman & Reed Co., a joint firm between the Raymond Reed Co. and Wurdeman & Wurdeman, Architects.
1958-1961: retired consulting, Reed, Wurdeman & Associates, Architects and Engineers, Columbus, Nebraska. (the two firms merge into one)
Buildings & Projects
Superintendent of construction, Sacred Heart Church (1907-1908), Cornlea, Platte County, Nebraska.[11:525]
West Addition (fronting south) to St. Francis Academy (1909-1910), Columbus, Nebraska.[11:269][c]
St. Bonaventure Catholic Church III, front addition and steeple (1909-1910), Columbus, Nebraska.[11:235-236][d] (PT01-166)
Meridian Hotel annex (1910), Columbus, Nebraska.
Becher, Hockenberger, & Chambers Office Building (1911), Columbus, Nebraska.
St. Francis Hospital (1911-1913), Grand Island, Nebraska.
Public School (1912), Duncan, Nebraska.
Third Ward School (1912-1913), Columbus, Nebraska.
Public School (1913), Marquette, Nebraska.
Roth and Kula Building (1914), Silver Creek, Nebraska.
St Stanislaus Catholic School and Convent (1914-1915), Duncan, Nebraska.[11:419]
Lincoln Highway Garage Association Building (1915-1916), Columbus, Nebraska.
St. Anthony of Padua (Polish) Catholic Church (1916-1917), Columbus, Nebraska.[11:295-297
Dloughy Motor Company Garage (1917), Schuyler, Nebraska.
Public School District 83 (1917-1918), Madison, Nebraska.
East Addition to St. Mary’s Hospital (1920, 1923-1924), 15th St, Columbus, Nebraska.[11:280-281]
Remodel Montgomery Ward Store (1929), Columbus, Nebraska.
Designing and superintending Platte County Bridges (1934-1937) under L. W. Weaver, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Remodel Methodist Episcopal Church (1938), Central City, Nebraska.
Commercial Building (n.d.), 2307 13th St., Columbus, Nebraska. PT01-120
a. Trenton Building Company (Ernest Rokahr), Contractors, Lincoln, Nebraska. 
b. Superintendent of construction.
c. architect and superintendent.
d. Wurdeman may have been both architect and superintendent of construction; Hagedorn is not entirely clear on this.[11:235-236] This work encompassed another extension of the nave and the addition of the entrance tower; the original two constructions on the church were to designs made by Br. Adrian (Anthony) Wewer, O. F. M. (1836-1914), Carpenter-Architect.
f. Adapting a design of the Kaletta Brothers, St. Louis, Missouri.[11:407]
g. Last registered, 1960.
h. The Fremont Tribune described plans for the new theater in 1914, noting "Wurdeman & Newman of Columbus are the architects."
i. In 1914, Columbus Telegram noted that "P. B. Newman arrived Sunday from Sioux City and has gone into partnership with Charles Wurdemann [sic]. The firm name has been changed to Wurdemann & Newman. Mr. Newman has had many years of experience as a draughtsman in architects offices in New York, Omaha and Sioux City. He will move his family to Columbus as soon as he can find a suitable residence."
j. An solicitation for bids on constructing the Columbus Public Library in June 1914 noted that bids were to be "in accordance with the requirements of the plans and specifications of Wurdeman & Newman, architects."
k. American Contractor of May 2, 1914 listed five projects by "Wurdeman & Newman, Columbus" on page 116.
1. Margaret Curry, History of Platte Co., Nebraska (Murray & Gee: Culver City, California, 1950). Nebraska Historic Building Survey file PT01-177.
2. “From the Files: Harold Charles Wurdeman,” The Nebraska Professional (November, 1999): 3.
3. Nebraska State Library Commission, Architects and Buildings Card File.
4. Columbus Telegram (July 24, 1914), 1.
5. Oliver B. Pollak, Nebraska Courthouses: Contention, Compromise, and Community [Images of America Series] (Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2002), 92. [725.1.P771n]
6. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
7. “Charles Wurdeman, 90, Architect, Dies,” Lincoln Journal Star (July 2, 1961), 4B:4.
8. “One of First,” Omaha World Herald (August 12, 1956), 13G:1.
9. Application for Registration to Practice Professional Engineering and Architecture, Nebraska State Board of Examiners for Professional Engineers and Architects, July 13, 1938. Nebraska State Historical Society RG081 SG2.
10. Contract in Rokahr Family Collection, MS3584, S.2, f.1. Nebraska State Historical Society archives.
11. Eugene Hagedorn, O. F. M. The Franciscans in Nebraska. Humphrey, Nebraska: Humphrey Democrat and Norfolk Daily News, 1931.
12. Photo by David Murphy. “Commercial Building.” Columbus, Nebraska. PT01-120
13. "Completing Plans for Empress Theater--New Playhouse to be of Fine Modern Design--A Seating Capacity of 900," Fremont (Nebraska) Tri-Weekly Tribune (May 28, 1914), 6.
14. Columbus (Nebraska) Telegram (March 20, 1914), 1.
15. "New Public Library Building," Columbus (Nebraska) Telegram (June 12, 1914), 2.
16. "Clarkson, Nebr.--Opera House and Lodge," American Contractor (May 2, 1914), 38, 39, and 116
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D. Murphy & E. Zimmer, “Charles Wurdeman (1871-1961), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, April 9, 2023. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, December 3, 2023.
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