George W. Shaffer (1840-1917), Architect

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Lincoln, Nebraska, 1892-1907

George Shaffer was a native of Philadelphia, where he first commenced his architectural practice in the 1870s. In about 1882, Shaffer moved his practice to Abilene, Kansas, where he remained until 1890, coming to Lincoln, Nebraska, in that same year. [1][7] In 1890, Shaffer opened his practice in Lincoln, taking on a partner, A. W. Woods, in 1903. Shaffer had nine surviving children at the time of his death in 1917.[10]

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, 1892-1895, 1900-1901, 1906-1907

Educational & Professional Associations

1870s: in practice at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1]

1882-1890: in practice at Abilene, Kansas.[1][7][d]

1890-1903: G. W. Shaffer, Architect, Lincoln, Nebraska.[1][c]

1903-1907: architect and partner, Woods & Shaffer, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska

Buildings & Projects


First National Bank (1888), Hays, Kansas.[4]

McPherson Opera House (1888-1889), SE corner Main & Southerland, McPherson, Kansas.[1][4]

Project for United Presbyterian Church (ca. 1890-1891), SW corner 16th & R St., Lincoln, Nebraska.[4][a]

Electric Plant for Lincoln street railway system (1890), NE corner of 8th & K Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[13]

Saint Mark's (English) Lutheran Church (1890-1893), south side of Q, west of 16th, Lincoln, Nebraska.[7][13][d]

Faith Reformed Church (1892-1893), 22nd & Vine, Lincoln, Nebraska.[8][e]

Grace Lutheran Church (1893), 14th & F, Lincoln, Nebraska.[14]

Home for the Friendless (ca. 1893), Lincoln, Nebraska.[1][11]

Two-story stone business building (1896), location unknown.[4]

Proposal for Lincoln Public Schools Administration Building (1897), SE corner 15th & N Sts, Lincoln, Nebraska.[4][5][12][f]

T. H. Miller house (1899), 112 Grove Ave, Crete, Nebraska.[2][3] (SA01-001)

Dr. C. C. Moyer house (1905), SE corner 16th & M Sts, Lincoln, Nebraska.[4]


Grace Lutheran Church (n.d.), location unknown.[4]

Courthouse (n.d.), Ellsworth, Kansas [1]

Rush County Courthouse (n.d.), Kansas [1]

Garfield College and Normal Institute (n.d.), Enterprise, Kansas.[4]

McPherson College Dormitory (n.d.), McPherson, Kansas.[4]

E. G. Clark house (n.d.), McPherson, Kansas.[4]

McPherson College and Industrial Institute (n.d.), McPherson, Kansas.[1,4]

Institute of Feeble Minded (n.d.), Beatrice, Nebraska.[4][9][g]

E. P. Leonard house (n.d.), SE corner 17th & L Sts. Lincoln, Nebraska.[4]

Four frame cottages for George Cullen (n.d.), NW corner 13th & E Sts, Lincoln, Nebraska.[4]

Swedish Methodist Church (n.d.), Omaha, Nebraska.[4]

Wahoo City Hall (n.d.), Wahoo, Nebraska.[1]

C. J. Ernst house (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.[1]

Building for H. H. Keel (n.d.), Nebraska.[4]

Remodel for L. M. Raub (n.d.).[4]

Standard Plans

Like many architects of his time, Shaffer had prepared a set of standard plans for commonly sought-after commissions. These may have been used to interview for jobs, or as models for designs that were prepared for clients. The Nebraska State Historical Society has a number of these drawings as part of the Shaffer Collection (RG4258).[4] Most of the plans are for schools and churches, but a few residences and commercial buildings are included as well. The main collection is described here as they may provide clues to actual commissions.

Miscellaneous plans

Two-story frame residence with basement and finished attic; floor plans.[4]

Two-story stone business building (1896); elevations.[4]

Two-story residence; side elevation.[4]

Five designs for iron storefronts (c1890-1903); elevations.[4]

Design for a hotel (ca. 1890-1903); plans and elevation.[4]

Two-story building; plans and elevations.[4]

And other miscellaneous drawings.

Church plans

Small church No.1; floor plans and elevations.[4]

Small church No.2; floor plan and elevations.[4]

Small church No.3; floor plan and elevations.[4]

Grace Lutheran Church; dimensioned plan and two elevations.[4]

Design for a church, 34x56 feet; plan and elevations.[4]

Design for a church, $2600; plan and elevations.[4]

“Floor Sketch of a Church” [Akron plan]; floor plan.[4][b]

“North side elevation of Chapel;” elevation.[4]

Church; elevations.[4]

Church; plans [Akron plan].[4]

Large church; plans, elevations, and perspective.[4]

Large church; plans and elevations.[4]

School plans

“Sketch of New Franklin School House” (c1890-1903); elevations.[4]

Two-story, four-room schoolhouse F; plans and elevations.[4]

“Sketch for a four room school house P” (ca. 1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]

Two-story, four-room schoolhouse” R; plans and elevations.[4]

“Sketch for a four room school house” N (c1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]

“Sketch for a four room school house” E (ca. 1890-1903); plans and alternative elevations.[4]

Two-story, four-room schoolhouse D; plans and elevations.[4]

“Sketch for a four room school house” H (c1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]

Seven designs for one-room schoolhouses; plans and elevations.[4]

Two-story brick schoolhouse; plans, elevation, and perspective.[4]

“Sketch for an eight room school house” (ca. 1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]

“Sketch for an eight room school house No.3” (c1890-1903); plans, elevations, and perspective.[4]

Two-story, eight-room schoolhouse (c1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]

Eight alternative plans for a two-story, eight-room schoolhouse; plans.[4]

“Sketch for a six room school house No.1” (ca. 1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]

“Sketch for a six room school house No.2” (c1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]

“Sketch for a six room school house No.3” (c1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]

“Sketch for a six room school house No.4” (c1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]

Two-story, six-room schoolhouse No.5; plans and elevations.[4]

“Sketch for a six room school house No.6” (c1890-1903); plans and elevations.[4]


a. The church first shows at this location in the 1891 Lincoln City Directory, but the footprint of the building as indicated on the 1903 Sanborn Map does not match Shaffer’s drawings.[6] The Shaffer Collection, reference [4], includes specifications in addition to plans [Akron plan], elevations, and a perspective drawing.

b. Signed, “George W. Shaffer, Arch’t, Moberly, Mo.”

c. Documents in the manuscript files, reference [4], indicate that Shaffer signed his office location as Lincoln, in other cases as in Lincoln and Moberly, Missouri, and in one case, as in Moberly alone. There are no dates on these documents to illuminate this further.

d. Lincoln Evening Call of April 23, 1890 reports: "Mr. George W. Shaffer of Abilene Kansan [sic], who has been drawing plans for the new English Lutheran church, has decided to locate in Lincoln." Probably this was the same as St. Mark's Lutheran Church, the dedication of which was reported by Nebraska State Journal on July 3, 1893. In addition to a lengthy description of the dedication ceremonies, the building is described and an elevation drawing is provided, inscribed "Geo. W. Shaffer Archt."[7][13]

e. Nebraska State Journal of December 18, 1892 notes: "The congregation of the Faith Reformed church intend to begin building a most creditable church structure as soon as the weather permits. Plans have been prepared by Architect George W. Shaffer for a building to cost about $10,000." Further description follows, concluding "The church will be built on the lot owned by the society at Twenty-second and Vine streets."[8]

f. Lincoln Evening News of April 22, 1897 provides a lively account of a meeting of the Lincoln Board of Education at which seven architects presented plans for an additional building on the site of the existing high school. Architects included Nathan Bishop, J. H. Craddock, a representative of F. M. Ellis of Omaha, R. W. Grant of Llncoln and Beatrice, "Marquis" (Marcus) Leach, Artemas Roberts, George W. Schaffer, and James Tyler. Tyler received the commission.[5][12]

g. Nebraska State Journal of October 24, 1907 reports on the upcoming marriage of George W. Shaffer's daughter Cora Shaffer to Dr. Frank E. Osborne, "superintendent of the institute for the feeble-minded at Beatrice..."[]

See RCF#1 Forks Bldg. Listing ???


1. Pen and Sunlight Sketches of Lincoln (1893), 123.

2. T. H. Miller Residence, Manuscript Record, Nebraska State Historical Society, film MS314/RG4258.

3. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

4. “George W. Shaffer, Architect,” Nebraska State Historical Society Collection, MS4243/RG4258.

5. "Look Over the Plans. Board of Education will Push High School Building. Seven Sets Are Submitted," Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening News (April 22, 1897), 1.

6. Edward F. Zimmer, “George W. Shaffer (1840-1917),” TS. n.d. (rec’d July 7, 2011).

7. In "Personal," Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening Call (April 23, 1890), 1.

8. "Religious News of Lincoln...Expect to Build Soon," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (December 18, 1892), 23.

9. (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (October 24, 1907), 10.

10. Deaths and Funerals," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (January 2, 1917), 8.

11. "Cut Down Claims. The Claims Appropriation Bill Causes Dissension," Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening Call (March 25, 1893), 7, including balance due Shaffer "on supervision of the building of the home of the friendless building."

12. "Approves the Plans. The Board of Education Awards Architect's Bid For the New School Building. James Tyler Captures the Plum...," Lincoln(Nebraska) Evening News (April 23, 1897), 1.

13. "Location of the Electric Plant. K and Eighth Streets the Site Selected. Ground to be Broken Next Week and the System in Perfect Running Order by April 15," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (November 4, 1890), 6.

14. "Of Religion and Charity...Minor Notes of Interest to Church People...Grace Lutheran's New Church," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (March 12, 1893), 16.

Page Citation

D. Murphy & E.Zimmer, “George W. Shaffer (1840-1917), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, January 31, 2018. Accessed, June 1, 2020.

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