John G. Cordner (1857-1939), Architect

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J. G. Cordner
Lincoln, Nebraska, 1890-1925

DBA: John G. Cordner, Architect; J. G. Cordner, Architect

John Gilmore Cordner was born in Ohio in March 1857.[6] He and his wife Adella were living in Keokuk County, Iowa in 1880, and in Oskaloosa, Iowa in 1885. At both locations he was identified as a carpenter,[9][10] but in 1885, he was also a charter member of the Western Association of Architects.[7:302] Cordner relocated to Lincoln by 1889.[17][g]. Lincoln city directories listed him as both a carpenter and an architect in 1890, then as an architect through 1930, sometimes alone and occasionally in partnerships. With six children to support by 1900, he was also listed in the 1900 census as a farmer, on ten acres of land east of Lincoln where the family resided from 1898-1937. He was active as a poultry man and was also superintendent of the Sunday School at the State Penitentiary. [11][37][d] He moved with his wife, M. Adella, to California around 1937 to be nearer to two of their several children.[6] Cordner died on June 12, 1939 in Alta Dena, California.[3][36]

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, 1889-1937

Educational & Professional Associations

1880-1885: John Cordner, carpenter, Keokuk County and Oskaloosa, Iowa.

1889: John G. Cordner, carpenter, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1890-1898: J. G. Cordner, Architect, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1891: Placey & Cordner, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1898-1902: architect, for J. H. Craddock, Architect, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1904: draftsman, Lincoln Sash & Door Co., Bethany, Nebraska.

1905-1906: J. G. Cordner, Architect, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1906-1912: Woods & Cordner, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1913-1930: J. G. Cordner, Architect, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Buildings & Projects


While he is know to have been associated with architects Otis Placey and J. H. Craddock in his early years in Lincoln, no specific projects associated with Cordner have been firmly documented dating from his first decade and a half in the capital city. He apparently lived in the suburban college town of Bethany Heights in that period [h] and real estate transactions from that time hint that he may have been combining his occupations of carpenter and architect on residential projects in Lincoln and Bethany.

Nance House (ca. 1889), 1848 C St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[17][g]

House (ca. 1889), 1235 N 66th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[35][h]


In 1906 Cordner entered into a highly productive partnership with A. W. Woods that lasted a half-dozen years and resulted in dozens of residences and commercial buildings in Lincoln and several churches across Nebraska. See Woods & Cordner, Architects for their projects. Cordner's obituary lists the first two projects cited below, but other, out-of-town architects are known to be the designers for each. Presumably Cordner's service was as local associated architect or superintendent of construction. The third listing below is for Cordner's own home, built on property the family had occupied from the 1890s. Presumably Cordner designed his own house.

Superintendent or associated architect for Entrance, Wyuka Cemetery, Lincoln, Nebraska.[3][a]

Superintendent or associated architect for Bankers Life Building (1910), Lincoln, Nebraska.[3][m]

John and Adella Cordner residence (ca. 1911-1914), 325 S 55th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.[56]


Cordner apparently resumed a solo practice around 1913 and completed numerous commissions before World War I. While he continued to be listed in Lincoln directories as an architect through 1930, no subsequent projects by him have been identified after 1917.

Christian Church (1913), Elwood, Nebraska.[44]

Store and Masonic Building for Blue Valley Lodge No. 64 A.F.&A.M. (1913), 208 W 4th St, Wilber, Nebraska.[8][45][l]

Fred Gardner House (1913), 1956 F St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[18]

C. F. Howard House (1913), 1435 C St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[24] (LC13:D07-0387)

Mark Woods house (1913), 2501 South St/2101 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln, Nebraska.[19]

R. E. Mattison House (1913), 2222 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln, Nebraska.[20] (LC13:D05-516)

First Christian Church (1913), Alliance, Nebraska.[46]

Emerson-Brantingham Implement Company (1913), 401 N 9th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[5] (LC13:C09-101)

House for A. O. Rule (1914), Harlan, Iowa or Lincoln, Nebraska.[43][k]

Farm home (1914), six miles north of Lincoln, Nebraska.[48]

High School (1914), Hansell, Iowa.[47]

College View Carnegie Library (1914), 3800 S 48th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[1][2][21] (LC13:F03-282)

Burton A. George house (1914), 1826 S 26th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[22][b]

Lancaster County Poor Farm house (1914-1916), 7000 NW 27th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[23][42]

Garage for Mrs. C. C. White (1915), University Place (now Lincoln), Nebraska.[41][j]

Project for Ted Anthony house (1915), 1707 S 16th St. Lincoln, Nebraska.[40[i]

Residence (1915), 126 N 14th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[50]

Bennett Hotel (1915), 700 P St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[25][39]

Hotel and store (1915), 1520 L Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.[49]

Alex Wekesser house (1915), 1821 S 13th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[26]

Paul Holmes Building (1915), 1339 O St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[27][38]

George Gann house (1916), 2474 Park Ave, Lincoln, Nebraska.[14][29][f] (LC13:D05-257)

Charles Meyer Storefront (1916), 1228-1234 O St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[15][30]

Beatrice Craig House (1916), 2521 Sumner St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[31] (LC13:D06-0183)

Storefront (1916), 1235 O St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[51]

Branch Brothers Building (1916), 1010 P St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[12][28][e] (LC13:C09-011)

Garage for E. R. Ellen (1916), Oak, Nebraska.[16]

Garage for W. H. Irland (1916), Berlin (now Otoe), Nebraska.[54]

Remodeling and addition to residence for W. A. Harding (1916-1917), South and 26th Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[55]

Building (1917), 1015-1025 P St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[32]

Remodeling and addition to S. M. Fogelson Store (1917), 144-146 N 10th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[13]

E. G. Bonahan Building (old Bowl-Mor) (1918), 302 S 9th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[33] (LC13:C08-316)

Building (1918), 212-220 S 10th St, Lincoln, Nebraska.[34]


a. Cordner's obituary [3] lists the entrance to Wyuka Cemetery among his projects, without date. The cemetery improvements made between 1908-11 (entrance, barn, superintendent's house, administration building) were all designed by Minneapolis architect, Lowell Lamoreau. Cordner was likely the local associated architect or superintendent of construction.[52]

b. Cordner is listed as the contractor in the building permit.[22]

c. See Woods & Cordner, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.

d. According to the U. S. Census of 1900, John and Adella's three older children were all born in Iowa between 1882 and 1887, and the three younger in Nebraska, between 1889 and 1899. From 1898 to 1937, the family resided east of Lincoln in the vicinity of 56th and L Streets, where the family home still stands (2016) at 325 S. 55th St.[11][37]

e. American Contractor lists this project as a $3000 storefront, 2 stories and basement, 50 ft. front.[12]

f. American Contractor lists "Res.: $5,000 2 sty. 7 bs. 26x76. Sheridan blvd. Archt. J. G. Cordner, 519 Bankers' Life bldg. Owner Geo. Gann, care Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph Co. Bldr. Wm. Parks, will build on percentage basis. Taking bids. Excavating. Brk. veneer, shingle rf." Presumably this is the same project as listed on City of Lincoln Building Permit 6480 as the George Gann house at 2474 Park Ave.[14][29]

g. John and M. Adella Cordner were involved in real estate transactions in Lincoln in 1889. They were listed as buying Lot 11 of Block 7 of Capitol Addition and reselling it two days later to the same party for a profit of $4000, perhaps reflecting payment for services rendered in building a house on the property. A large Queen Anne style house on that lot (1848 C St.) was later (1894) owned and occupied by businessman and former Nebraska Governor Albinus Nance. In 1918 the Nance house was remodeled by F. C. Fiske in the Tudor Revival style for C. H. Swallow. Nebraska State Historical Society has a photograph of the early appearance of the house (photo L741-2347).[17]

h. The 1890 Lincoln city directory lists Cordner both as an architect and as a carpenter, residing in the vicinity of 17th & C Streets. An addendum at the back of that volume (p. 270) again identifies him as an architect, but gives his home as "r. Bethany Hts.," suggesting he may have moved while the directory information was being gathered and updated. John and Adella purchased two lots in Bethany Heights in October 1889 for $7250.[35].

i. American Contractor of June 1915 lists "Res.: 2 sty. & bas. 32x38. $6M. Archt. J. G. Cordner, 533 Banker Life bldg. Owner Ted Anthony, 1707 S. 16th St. Plans in progress. Brk. veneer, shingle rf." An updated report notes "Plans ready for bids. Owner will build by day work. Frame & brk. veneer, shingle rf., wood cornice."[40]

The small cottage extant at that location (2017) does not match the description, suggesting the project was not built.

j. American Contractor of August 7, 1915 lists "Garage: 2 sty. & bas. 26x32. $2M. University Place (Lincoln P. O.), Nebr. Archt. J. G. Cordner...Owner Mrs. C. C. White, University Place. Archt. taking bids. Press & common brk. & stucco." An update on August 14, 1915 notes: "Plans ready for bldg. Day work. Brk. & stucco, metal cornice, 2 skylights."[41]

k. American Contractor of August 8, 1914 lists "Harlan, Ia.--Res.: 2 sty. & bas. 42x55. Lincoln, Nebr. Archt. J. H. [sic] Cordner, 529 Bankers' Life bldg., Lincoln. Owner A. O. Rule, Harlan. Plans in progress. Brk. veneer, press & common brk., Bedford cut stone, wood cornice, struct. iron." An updated listing (on August 29, 1914) lists "J. C. Cordner" and "[Note correction in archts. name.]" No mention is made in that listing of Lincoln as the building's location, only as Cordner's place of business.[43]

l. American Contractor of March 1, 1913 lists "Lodge & Store Bldg.: 2 sty. & bas 30x82. Wilber, Nebr. Archts. J. G. Cordner, 109 S. 10th st., Lincoln. Owner Masonic Lodge, Mr. Whipple, secy., Wilber. Plans in progress. Press & witrified brick, Bedford stone, composition roof, galv. iron cornice, struct. iron, pine finish, pine, cement & tile floors, gas & electric features."[45]

m. The Bankers' Life Building was designed by Chicago architect S. S. Beman in 1910.[53]


1. State Library Commission files.

2. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

3. “J. G. Cordner, Early Architect, is Dead,” Lincoln Evening State Journal (June 16, 1939) [includes portrait].

4. “J. G. Cordner, Early Lincoln Architect, Dies,” Lincoln Star (June 17, 1939).

5. City of Lincoln Building Permit #4877, issued January 29, 1913, and associated drawings.

6. 1900 United States Census, s.v. "J. G. Cordner," Lancaster Precinct, Lancaster County, Nebraska, accessed through

7. Industrial Chicago: The Building Interests Vol. 1 (Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1891), accessed August 2, 2012,

8. Blueprints (ca. 1913?) on file at the Wilber Museum; Janet Jeffries to D. Murphy, email communication, with snapshots attached, May 14, 2013.

9. 1880 United State Census, s.v. "John G. Cordner," Prairie Township, Keokuk County, Iowa. Accessed through and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.

10. 1885 Iowas State Census, s. v. "John Cordner," Oskaloosa, Iowa. Accessed through Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.

11. 1900 U. S. Census, s.v. "J.G. Gardner" in, but clearly "Cordner" in enumerator's page. Accessed through 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

12. American Contractor (January 13, 1917), 64F.

13. American Contractor (May 19, 1917), 80B.

14. American Contractor (April 15, 1916), 92; (April 22, 1916), 85.

15. American Contractor (May 6, 1916), 102.

16. American Contractor (June 3, 1916), 51.

17. Lancaster County Register of Deeds, 48:77 and 49:256, 1889.

18. City of Lincoln Building Permit 4974, issued April 12, 1913.

19. City of Lincoln Building Permit 5006, issued April 28, 1913.

20. City of Lincoln Building Permit 5073, issued June 6, 1913.

21. College View Library National Register Nomination Form. Accessed: July 16, 2013. Online at:

22. City of Lincoln Building Permit 5360, issued January 1, 1914.

23. City of Lincoln, Change of Zone application H.P. 43, Ordinance # 15334.

24. City of Lincoln Building Permit 4980, issued April 4, 1913.

25. City of Lincoln Building Permit 5977 with associated drawings, 1915.

26. City of Lincoln Building Permit 6140, issued August 4, 1915.

27. City of Lincoln Building Permit 6342 with associated drawings, issued November 29, 1915.

28. City of Lincoln Building Permit 6851 with associated drawing, issued November 8, 1916.

29. City of Lincoln Building Permit 6480, issued April 1, 1916.

30. City of Lincoln Building Permit 6698, issued July 21, 1916.

31. City of Lincoln Building Permit 6710, issued July 27, 1916.

32. City of Lincoln Building Permit 7065, issued April 28, 1917.

33. City of Lincoln Building Permit 7434, issued May 13, 1918.

34. City of Lincoln Building Permit 7464, issued May 27, 1918.

35. Lancaster County Register of Deeds, Deed 51:157, Mortgage 57:431, 1889.

36. Interred at Whittier, California, Rose Hills Memorial Park. See Accessed December 26, 2016.

37. Application for Lincoln landmark designation of the John and Adella Cordner House, 325 S. 55th Street, Lincoln, 2016. Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Dept. Item 4 on Accessed December 26, 2016.

38. American Contractor (November 20, 1915), 74.

39. American Contractor (May 1, 1915), 36, 107.

40. American Contractor (June 19, 1915), 97; (June 26, 1915), 88.

41. American Contractor (August 7, 1915), 101; (August 14, 1915), 75.

42. American Contractor (July 11, 1914), 69; (August 28, 1915), 76.

43. American Contractor (August 8, 1914), 73, 75, 76; (August 29, 1914), 67.

44. American Contractor (January 25, 1913), 24.

45. American Contractor (March 1, 1913), 94.

46. American Contractor (July 5, 1913), 45.

47. American Contractor (August 29, 1914), 67.

48. American Contractor (June 13, 1914), 83.

49. American Contractor (February 13, 1915), 16.

50. American Contractor (July 24, 1915), 81.

51. American Contractor (May 6, 1916), 102.

52. Penelope Chatfield, Wyuka Cemetery National Register narrative, 1981.

53. "From Last Evening's News," Nebraska State Journal {March 6, 1910), 4.

54. American Contractor (November 18, 1916), 34.

55. "Contracts Awarded," American Contractor (December 30, 1916), 61.

56. "John G. & Adella Cordner House," application for landmark designation, 2016; accessed December 7, 2020 on-line at

Page Citation

E. Zimmer and D. Murphy, “John G. Cordner (1857-1939), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, December 7, 2020. Accessed, September 28, 2022.

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