E. Brielmaier & Sons, Architects

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1887-1960

Erhard Brielmaier was born January 7, 1841 in Neufra, Wurtemburg, Germany, to John and Crescentia Brielmaier. In 1850 he and his family immigrated to Ohio to join his father, a carpenter. Young Erhard first worked as a carpenter, sculptor, and altar builder in the Cincinnati area. He married Theresia Haag in 1860 and together they had thirteen children. The family was in Piqua, Ohio (north of Dayton) in 1870, where the U. S. Census listed Erhard as a manufacturer, carpenter, and joiner.[6][a] The family moved to Milwaukee in 1873, where his altar building evolved into an architectural practice, specializing in Catholic ecclesiastical projects.[7][a] Several of his sons (Joseph, Bernhard, and Leo) joined his business and in 1887 he renamed the firm "E. Brielmaier & Sons." The firm had a prolific nationwide practice designing churches, seminary buildings, and other structures, mostly for Catholic institutions.

E. Brielmaier and Sons were hired by the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln early in 1906 to design the remodeling of Central Christian Church as the Catholic cathedral. A fire in August 1906 destroyed most of the structure, which had been designed in 1888 by O. H. Placey. The Brielmaier firm designed the rebuilding as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, which was dedicated in 1911. Erhard Brielmaier died August 30, 1917 at Milwaukee. His sons continued the family architectural practice as E. Brielmaier & Sons until 1960.[1][2]

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.

CatholicStMarysPostcard2 1w.jpg
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption/now Saint Mary's Church (1906-1911), Lincoln. (Wisconsin Architectural Archive)

Nebraska Buildings & Projects

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption/now Saint Mary's Church (1906-1911), 14th & K Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[3][4][5][b]


a. The 1870 census suggests Brielmaier was quite successful in Ohio, listing his real estate as valued at $5,000 and his personal property at $3,000, constituting over 40% of the total real estate held by the eight households listed on his census roster page, and over 70% of the value of personal property. Four years later Erhard Brielmaier was first listed in the Milwaukee city directories as an "architect and altar builder." In 1875, his listing was simplified to "architect," but in 1876 he was instead called a "stair-builder" and in 1877-1883, an "altar builder" or "church altar builder." In 1884-1885 he was identified as an "architect and carpenter," but was listed among carpenters and builders in business directory (1885), not among "Architects." "E. Brielmaier & Sons" first appear in the 1887 Milwaukee directory as altar builders and continued to be so listed into the 1890s, while Erhard himself was often named as an architect. Finally in 1895, E. Brielmaier & Sons (Erhard, Alphonse, Bernard and Joseph) began to be listed in business as "architects and church furniture."[6][7]

b. Prior to the rebuilding and 1911 dedication of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption at 14th & K Streets in Lincoln, the diocese's "cathedral" was the much smaller Saint Theresa's Church at 13th & M Streets in downtown Lincoln. Bishop Bonacum acquired the former Central Christian Church in 1904. Improvement Bulletin of December 22, 1906 noted "E. Brielmaier & Sons, architects, have been engaged to prepare plans for a cathedral for the Roman Catholic diocese of Lincoln, Neb., for Bishop Bonacum. No price has been fixed and the building will be an elaborate one in every way." In the February 2, 1907 issue of Improvement Bulletin, it was further reported: "Milwaukee...E. Brielmaier & Sons Co., architects...are at work on plans for the $50,000 cathedral to be erected at Lincoln, Neb. for the St. Theresa Catholic congregation."[5][8]


1. "Brielmaier, Erhard," Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950 Accessed March 27, 2018 on-line at http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/1199

2. Stephanie Trevino, "Erhard Brielmaier/E. Brielmaier & Sons," in Copper Country Architects website of Michigan Tech University, Department of Social Sciences, 2007-2013. Accessed March 27, 2018 on-line at http://www.cca.ss.mtu.edu/be.htm

3. “Wisconsin Architectural Archive” at Milwaukee Public Library holds a plan (or plans) for “St. Theresa’s Provisional Cathedral–Remodeling,” (Archive Number 031-0233) in Lincoln, Drawing date 2/7/1906 thru 6/4/1907. https://mpl.org/archives/wisconsin_architectural_archives.php Accessed March 27, 2018.

4. City of Lincoln Building Permit #1995, issued August 30, 1907; contractor: Timothy G. Kelly.

5. Improvement Bulletin (December 22, 1906), 40; (February 2, 1907), 25.

6. Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. s.v. "Edward Brielmcar" or "Thersa Brielmcar." Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Accessed on-line March 28, 2018 at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=7163&h=38597247&tid=&pid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=jRj365&_phstart=successSource

7. Milwaukee city directories, 1873-1895.

8. Lancaster County Deed 121:4, signed March 23, 1904.

Page Citation

E. F. Zimmer, “E. Brielmaier & Sons, Architects,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, April 5, 2018. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, August 19, 2022.

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