Gilbert H. Ellsworth (1864-1947), Superintendent
DBA: G. H. Ellsworth
Gilbert Ellsworth was born in Windsor, Connecticut in 1864. In 1880, his family moved to a farm in Nance County, Nebraska. He graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1890 in civil engineering. From 1896 to 1901 he was superintendent of buildings and grounds for the University, then served in the same capacity for University of Iowa until 1908. He returned to Lincoln as architect for the Lincoln Public Schools board of education until around 1914. Throughout his career, “superintendent of building” or “superintendent of construction” were his most frequent titles, but he was also called an architect and structural engineer. He became associated with George A. Berlinghof on the Rudge & Guenzel Department Store in 1917 and drawings for that building were inscribed by “Berlinghof & Ellsworth, Architects.” Berlinghof and then partner, Ellery L. Davis, ended a seven year partnership just as the Rudge & Guenzel project began. While Ellsworth was involved in the department store project with Berlinghof, from 1920 until 1932 he was “supt. of constr.,” first for Davis’s independent practice, and then for the new partnership of Davis & Wilson, Architects. Ellsworth died in 1947 and is interred at Wyuka Cemetery.
This page is a contribution to the publication, Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects, and to Place Makers of Lincoln, Nebraska. See the format and contents of Nebraska architect entries page for details on the compilation and organization of the pages.
Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings
Lincoln, Nebraska, 1887-1947
Educational & Professional Associations
1890: student, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; degree in civil engineering.
1896-1901: superintendent of buildings and grounds, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
1901-1908: superintendent of buildings and grounds, University of Iowa, Iowa City.
1908-ca. 1914: architect, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, Nebraska.
1913: superintendent of building, Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Company, Lincoln, Nebraska.
1917-ca. 1920: partner, Berlinghof & Ellsworth, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Buildings & Projects
Brick Store (1913), 1518-20 N, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Frame residence (1914), 1300 Wood (later called Garfield), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Remodel store for Rudge & Guenzel (1918), 132 S 12th, Lincoln, Nebraska.
a. Park Elementary School was constructed in the 1890s and suffered a fire in May, 1914, severe enough that the center and south portions “would require practically total reconstruction.” The 1914 Lincoln City Directory identifies Ellsworth as “supt. of construction” for the Board of Education; while his obituary states he became “architect for the Lincoln school board” in 1908.
b. The Lincoln City Directory of 1913 lists Ellsworth as “superintendent of building, Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Co.” His obituary calls him “architect of the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph building.” At the time of Ellsworth’s death in 1947, “the” LT&T Building probably referred to the company headquarters at the NW corner of 14th and M Streets in Lincoln. However, the drawings for the original 1912 construction of that building identify Ferdinand Fiske as the architect. The building permit (City of Lincoln Building Permit #4822) lists the owner as “Lin. Tel. & Tel. Co. By G. H. Ellsworth,” probably reflecting his role as superintendent of building for the company.
A phone company building for which Ellsworth can be credited as architect was a one-story storefront at 132 S. 13th, immediately south of the Nebraska Telephone Co. building by Thomas Rogers Kimball. A series of Lincoln Building Permits for the structure document a single-story structure for Lincoln Telephone “Drawn by G. H. Ellsworth” in 1914 (City of Lincoln Building Permit #5714) and addition of a second story in 1920 for Woods Bros. Companies, designed by Nebraska Building & Investment Company (City of Lincoln Building Permit #8836). However, the façade illustrated in the drawings accompanying the latter permit does not match the Woods Bros. Companies Building as completed before 1923, so the authorship of the executed design remains unclear.
c. The project drawings bear the legend "Berlinghof & Ellsworth, Architects." The 1917 and 1918 Lincoln City Directories list Ellsworth as “supt. Rudge & Guenzel.” No other joint projects by Berlinghof and Ellsworth are currently known.
d. Lincoln City Directories list Ellsworth as “supt of constr, E. L. Davis” in 1920 and “supt Davis & Wilson” in 1922, 1923, and 1926. Ellsworth’s obituary noted an association with Davis & Wilson lasting until 1932.
e. Building by Davis & Wilson, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska. Ellsworth’s specific role is unknown, but he was construction superintendent for the firm at this time.
1. 1880 U. S. Census, roster of Nance County, Nebraska.
2. Lincoln City Directories.
3. Record of burials, Wyuka Cemetery website, (Lincoln, Nebraska), accessed December 15, 2002, Wyuka.com.
4. City of Lincoln Building permit (and application) #5318, 1913, Building & Safety Department, listing a 30x142’ building, two stories, brick, estimated cost $8000, Architect: Ellsworth.
5. City of Lincoln Building permit (and application) #5554, 1914, Building & Safety Department, listing a one story frame residence, estimated cost $2500, Architect: Ellsworth.
6. City of Lincoln Building permit (and application) #5661, Building & Safety Department, listing $15,000 “Rebuild Brick Building” between Aug. 6 and Sept. 1, 1914. Architect: Ellsworth.
7. Carl Yost, “Excerpts from minutes of Lincoln Board of Education,” TS (1932), 163; copy at Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Department.
8. City of Lincoln Building permit (and application) #7249, 1917, Building & Safety Department, listing $400,000 estimated cost, Architect “Berlinghof & Ellsworth.”
9. City of Lincoln Building Permit (and application) #7542, 1918, Building & Safety Dept. Architect: “Ellsworth.”
10. 1910 U. S. Census, roster of Johnson County (Iowa City), Iowa. Ellsworth was listed as “superintendent, University building.”
11. “G. H. Ellsworth Dies; Architect for Coliseum,” Lincoln Evening Journal (January 27, 1947), 8.
12. “UNL City Campus: Historic Buildings—Coliseum,” An Architectural Tour of Historic UNL accessed December 16, 2012, http://historicbuildings.unl.edu/building.php?b=19
E. F. Zimmer, “Gilbert H. Ellsworth (1864-1947), Superintendent,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, December 9, 2014. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, December 9, 2018.
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