Francis W. Spencer (1868-1941), Architect

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Lincoln, Nebraska, 1891-1895; Saint Louis, Missouri, 1895; Chicago, Illinois, 1900; Albuquerque, New Mexico, c. 1900-1909; Trinidad, Colorado, 1909-1941

Francis W. Spencer was born in Wisconsin in 1868. He was listed as an architect in 1891, in Lincoln, and as a draughtsman for F. C. Fiske from 1891 to 1895. Then he relocated to Saint Louis, where Fiske had also resettled. In 1900 Spencer was listed as a draftsman in Chicago and Fiske was practicing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Around 1900, Spencer relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico with Chicago architect C. F. Whittlesey, designer of depots and hotels for the Santa Fe Railroad system, including El Tovar Hotel of 1905 on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Spencer began nearly a decade of practice as an architect in Albuquerque, New Mexico, then by 1909 settled in Trinidad, Colorado for the rest of his life, dying there in 1941.[1][22][26]

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

Lincoln, Nebraska, 1891-1895

Educational & Professional Associations

1891-1895: draftsman for F. C. Fiske, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1900: draftsman, Chicago, Illinois.[2]

c. 1900-1902: draftsman/architect in office of Charles F. Whittlesey, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[9][22]

1902-1909: architect (in association with V. O. Wallingford, 1905-1906), Albuquerque, New Mexico.[10][14][23]

1907-1909: architect & partner with S. T. Miller as Spencer & Company.[24]

1909-1941: architect (in association with R. W. Vorhees, 1938-1939), Trinidad, Colorado.[3][27][28]

1920: draftsman, Rapp & Co., Trinidad, Colorado.[4]

1932: architect, receives certificate of registration from State of New Mexico.[5]

Other Associations

1905: S. T. Miller was a draftsman in Spencer's Albuquerque office before they partnered as Spencer & Company.[13]

Latta Building. (Lincoln City Directory, 1893)

Visual Arts

Delineator of perspective drawing of Latta Building by F. C. Fiske, 1892, a.k.a. Brownell Block, Lincoln, Nebraska.[29]

Buildings & Projects

New residence for Mrs. Sidney Houghton (1903), West Lead avenue, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[11]

Residence for Bernard Ilfeld (1905), West Tijeras Road between 11th & 12th Streets, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[12][25]

Staab Building (1905), Railroad Avenue, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[15][25]

Hotel building for J. F. Luthy (1905), First Street and Railroad Avenue, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[25]

Addition to Whiting Block (1905), West Gold Avenue, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[25]

Highland (Hudson) Hotel (1905-1906), 204 Central SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[6][16][25]

Residence for J. F. Pearce (1905), Eighth and Railroad Avenue, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[25]

Residence for Sol Weilier (1905), Eleventh and Tijeras Road, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[25]

Residence for Robert Rogers (1905), Arno and Gold Avenues, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[25]

Residence for J. T. McLaughlin (1905), Eleventh and Marquette, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[25]

Residence for Sol Benjamin (1905), Eleventh and Roma, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[25]

Residence for R. H. Greenleaf (1905), Fourth and Granite, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[25]

Residence for I. A. Dye (1905), Second and Fruit, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[25]

Albuquerque Woman's Club building (1906), 6th Street and Gold Avenue, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[17]

Two-story brick building for Frank Steffhus (1907), near the corner of Railroad Avenue and Fifth Street, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[19]

Modern five-room cottage for Rafael Garcia (1907) Albuquerque, New Mexico.[20]

Plans for hall for Irrigation Congress (1907), Albuquerque, New Mexico.[21]

Buildings for Gross, Kelly Wholesale Grocery Company (1907), along Santa Fe yards near Railroad Avenue, Albuquerque, New Mexico[24]

Eddy County Courthouse (1938-1939), Carlsbad, New Mexico.[28]

Questionable attributions

Albuquerque Public (now Special Collections) Library (1925), 423 Central NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico.[6][7][8][18][b]


a. Not found in federal census in Nebraska in 1880 or 1900. Francis W. Spencer, an architectural draughtsman, was listed in Chicago in 1900. Born in Wisconsin in Jan. 1868, he was married to Emma Spencer (age 33) and they had children Richard (6, b. Nebraska) and Howard (2, b. Missouri). His sister Mary (23), a stenographer, and his sister-in-law Caroline Newell (30) were also in the household.[2]

b. Albuquerque Public Library attributes the Old Main Library of 1925 to builder Arthur Rossiter and artist Gustave Baumann.[7] Spencer may have had a hand in an earlier library as he was referred to as "the architect" when "The clock for the new library building" was installed in 1907.[18]

c. Albuquerque Journal mentioned in 1901 that "Mrs. F. W. Spencer" was "wife of one of the architects of Charles F. Whittlesey's office..."[9]

d. Albuquerque Journal in 1902 wrote of a "Bungalow Barracks" to house the employees of "the studio and offices which adorn the grounds of the Alvarado on Railroad Avenue," apparently a reference to Whittlesey's practice. Spenser is described thus: "Everybody in town knows F. W. Spencer. He has been Whittlesey's right bower in Albuquerque for two years, in fact he came from Chicago with him when the Alvarado [hotel] was first begun. He is "Johnny on the spot,' a thoroughbred draftsman and never makes a mistake. We are forced to explain, however, that he is outlawed [from living at the 'Barracks'] from the fact that he is married and a family man. Of course, he didn't foresee what he was to miss in the future or he wouldn't have done it." A brief version of the story was reprinted in a 1922 "Albuquerque Twenty Years Ago" feature that in 1902, "Up on the Highlands where West Gold mingles with the foothills will shortly be erected an odd structure of logs and rough stone with broad low roofs and verandas. The house will be occupied by a party of young bachelor architects who will live in the bungalow, which will be an architectural triumph. Architects Whittlesey, W. S. Burrows, F. W. Spencer, George P. Hill, Samuel Fisk and Ed Hart are the men who will occupy the place, which has been given the name of bungalow Barracks."[22]

Whittlesey (1867-1941) was a native of Illinois who worked as a draftsman for Louis Sullivan before establishing his own practice in Chicago. In 1900 Whittlesey was hired by the Santa Fe Railroad system and designed hotels and depots throughout the southwest, including the Santa Fe depot and Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque. He moved to San Francisco in 1907.[26]

e. Albuquerque Daily Citizen of December 30, 1905 included a "year in review" summary of building activity including thirteen projects by Spencer and Wallingford, totaling a reported $93,200 in construction costs.[25]


1. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], s. v. "Francis Wayland Spencer." Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

2. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line], s. v. "Francis W. Spencer." Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

3. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line], s. v. "Francis W. Spencer." Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.

4. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line], s. v. "Francis W. Spencer." Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010; 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line], s. v. "Francis Spencer." Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002.

5. "Architects of State Receive Certificates from State Board," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (May 19, 1932), p. 6.

6. Bart Ripp, "Old Hudson a Survivor," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (February 12, 1983), B-1.

7. "423 Central Avenue NE--Old Main Library, now Special Collections Library," the Public Library--Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, website accessed on-line May 9, 2020;

8. "Opening of New Public Library is Huge Success," Alburquerque (New Mexico) Journal (March 24, 1925), 1.

9. All the following in Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal: "Local Paragraphs," (June 6, 1901), 4; "Local Items of Interest," (June 6, 1901), 8.

10. Albuquerque, New Mexico city directories, 1904, 1905 (advertisement p. 7), 1907, 1908 (Spencer not listed).

11. "Local Items of Interest," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Morning Journal (October 18, 1903), 8.

12. "Handsome New Residence. To Be Built on Tijeras Road for Bernard Ilfeld," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (June 29, 1905), 8.

13. "Local and Personal," resignation of draughtsman Miller, Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (July 1, 1905), 6.

14. "Local and Personal," announcement of association with V. O. Wallingford, Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (July 29, 1905), 8; "Architects. F. W. Spencer" (advertisement without mention of Wallingford), Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (October 2, 1906). 4.

15. "Local Items of Interest," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (September 12, 1905), 8.

16. "On Site of Old Highland Hotel--J. S. Raynolds Will Erect Building to Cost $30,000." Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (November 25, 1905), 6.

17. "Work on Woman's Club Building Commenced," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (September 6, 1906), 4; "Woman's Club to Occupy New Building on Jan. 1...Club House the Finest of Its Kind in Southwest," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (December 29, 1906), 5.

18. "New Library Clock Placed on Building. It Arrived Wednesday and Architect and Time Expert Expect to Have it Up Tomorrow," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Citizen (January 25, 1907) 5.

19. "About Town," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Citizen (May 23, 1907), 5.

20. "About Town," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Citizen (September 26, 1907), 4.

21. "Irrigation Congress Preparations in Hand...Plans Discussed at Committee Meeting," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Citizen (November 1, 1907), 1.

22. "Bungalow Barracks--Asylum of the Scintillating Satelites [sic] or the Story of a Palace--Where Bachelors Reign," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (November 16, 1902), 8; see also "Albuquerque Twenty Years Ago," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (November 16, 1922), 8.

23. "Architect--F. W. Spencer," last advertisement seen for F. W Spencer in Albuquerque, Albuquerque (New Mexico) Citizen (April 2, 1909), 7.

24. "Albuquerque Twenty Years Ago," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (March 3, 1927), 4.

25. "Prosperous Albuquerque--Wonderful Growth of the City in the Construction of Handsome and Substantial Business Houses and Residences--A Few Illustrations Showing the Character of Buildings Erected," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Daily Citizen (December 30, 1905), 4.

26. "Charles Frederick Whittlesey" in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, accessed on-line May 12, 2020 at

27. Trinidad, Colorado city directories, 1909-1935, F. W. Spencer listed as "architect."

28. "Advertisement for Bids," Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal (September 22, 1938), 11; "Commission Okays Contract Changes," Carlsbad (New Mexico) Current-Argus (August 8, 1939), 1.

29. "Unexcelled Office Facilities: An Elegantly Appointed Building in a Good Location," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (December 18, 1892), 23; with illustration of Brownell Block inscribed "F. C. Fiske, Architect" and "F. W. Spencer, del." Reprinted in Lincoln City Directory, 1893; again in 1894, 5.

Page Citation

E. F. Zimmer & D. Murphy, “Francis W. Spencer (1868-1941), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, May 19, 2020. Accessed, August 19, 2022.

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