John J. Kouhn (1854-1917), Architect

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Plattsmouth, York, and Lincoln, Nebraska; and Chicago and New York City

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According to his passport application in 1907, John J. Kouhn was born in Lemberg, Austria (now Lviv, Ukraine), on April 7, 1854, and emigrated to the U. S. in 1882.[6] He married Julia Louise Russell in New Orleans in 1883; she died in Chicago in 1896.[9][10][d] The passport application noted his places of residence in the U. S. as Chicago and New York. However, he also resided in Crete, Plattsmouth, York, and Lincoln, Nebraska, in the mid-1880s, [2][c] and after John remarried Anna in 1898, they resided at least briefly in Pittsburgh (at the time of the 1900 census). Living with them in 1900 were John and Julia's two daughters.[30]

He was a Fellow of the Western Association of Architects from 1884-1889 and a Fellow and Member of The American Institute of Architects (AIA), beginning in 1889 (on the merger of the Western Association of Architects with The American Institute of Architects in 1889, all AIA members were made Fellows because WAA members were known as Fellows).[1:302] He died in New York City July 15, 1917.[7]

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

1884: architect, Crete, Nebraska.[2]

1884: architect, Plattsmouth, Nebraska.[11][b]

1885: architect, York, Nebraska.[2]

1885-1886: architect, superintendent & civil engineer, Lincoln, Nebraska.[23][b]

Educational & Professional Associations

1885-1889: Fellow, Western Association of Architects.[1][22]

1889: Fellow, American Institute of Architects.[1][a]

1889-1899: Member, American Institute of Architects.[1]

1887-1891, 1909: architect, Chicago, Illinois.[1][4]

1893-1894: applicant for appointment as Supervising Architect of U. S. Treasury.[29][g]

1906: architect, Flushing, Brooklyn, New York.

1910-1917: architect, New York City.[5]

Buildings & Projects

Catholic school (1884), Plattsmouth, Nebraska.[8]

Plans for a Turn Halle for Oswald Miller (1885), Fremont, Nebraska.[28]

Festival hall for Saengerfest (1885), "Historical square," Lincoln, Nebraska.[12][15][f]

Two-story brick "tenement" (1885), north side of P Street between 12th & 13th Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[13][e]

Two-story residence with stone basement for S. G. Owen (1885), M Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.[14][17]

Stock Yards Hotel (1885), West (?) Lincoln, Nebraska.[16]

Owens Building (1885), northeast corner of Fourteenth & O Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[17]

Design for equestrian monument of General Grant (1885), Lincoln, Nebraska.[18]

Two two-story business buildings (1885), north side of O Street opposite 15th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.[19]

L. W. Billingsley house (1886), 10th & H Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.[3][24][c]

Remodeling upper floor above "Louie Meyer's Tenth street store" into nine "desirable office quarters" (1886), Lincoln, Nebraska.[20]

Three-story brick block for Dr. M. E. Jones (1886), corner of 12th & P, Lincoln, Nebraska.[21][24]

Business block (1886), Fifteenth & O Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[24]

Residence for D. Lauer (1886), Sixteenth & N Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[24]

Residence for John Gaiser (1886), Fourteenth & T Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[24]

Six "splendid cottages for Hon. Allen W. Field" (1886), Sixteenth & W Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[24]

Three-story brick block for Hall & Lansing (1886), "East O street," Lincoln, Nebraska.[25]

Design for remodeling "postoffice fountain" (1886), Government Square, Lincoln, Nebraska.[26]

Two-story, four-room, brick school house (1886), Long Island, Kansas.[27]


a. Upon the merger of the Western Association of Architects with The American Institute of Architects in 1889, all AIA members were made Fellows because WAA members were known as Fellows.[1]

b. In December, 1884, a Lincoln newspaper reported "Mr. John J. Kouhn, a talented architect, late of Chicago, is in the city with a view to location of the lookout suits him. He has spent some time and erected some buildings in Plattsmouth and Omaha where he has given perfect satisfaction."[11] The "outlook" apparently was not to Kouhn's immediate liking, because the next month the same newspaper reprinted a brief account from Plattsmouth Journal stating: "J. J. Kouhn, the architect, together with his estimable better half, will tomorrow take their departure to establish a residence for the future at York. Mr. Kouhn will, however, continue his business in this city, coming around occasionally to rake in any work that may be waiting for a first-class architect. Plattsmouth Journal. Mr. Kouhn is personally known to The State Journal folks as a careful and competent architect, as well as a No. 1 citizen in every respect. The citizens of York are to be congratulated." Kouhn began advertising in Lincoln newspapers early in 1885, listing his address as York, Nebraska; then in May, 1885, his advertisements for "John J. Kouhn, Architect and Superintendent," switched to a Lincoln address. His only entry in tthe Lincoln city directory was in 1886, listing "Kouhn John J., architect, supt., and civil engineer 1233 O, r. same," with the acronym: "F. W. A. A. C. E. M. E.," signifying "Fellow Western Association of Architects, Civil Engineers, Mechanical Engineers." (EFZ)

In November, 1886, Nebraska State Journal noted that "Architect Jno. J. Kouhn will leave in a few days for southern Alabama, where he has a number of buildings for the winter season planned in his Alabama office. He will return to Lincoln in the Middle of February, 1887, to all his building engagements for next year. Mrs. Kouhn will accompany her husband. Mr. J. Consoul will be Mr. Kouhn's sole agent in town during his absence.[23]

c. A note in Lincoln Daily News reported "Through the courtesy of Architect Kouhn, a News reporter was shown the plans for L W Billingsley's new residence, corner of H and 10th streets. It will be a beauty, or as our slangy contemporary would say--a dandy. It is in the modern renaissance style of architecture, and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000 or $30,000." A "Notice to Contractors" in March, 1886, listed the parcel as Lots 11 and 12, Block 128, [Original Plat]. [3]

d. A Julia L. Kouhn died in 1896 in Cook County, Illinois and is interred in Gilkes Cemetery in Livingston County, Michigan.[10]

e. Gerner's "tenement edifice" was describe in the Nebraska State Journal: "The BUilding will be a very substantial and rather handsome one. It will be of brick, two stories high and 24 by 64 in size. The plan will be nearly the same for the first and second floors, each of which will be divided into two completely separate parts, each containing parlor sitting room, bed rooms and kitchen. The different rooms will be connected by folding doors so that the whole can be thrown into one large apartment."[13] H. Gerner built on Lot 9 of Block 37, Original Plat of Lincoln, and the property was encumbered by numerous Mechanics' liens which were released in early 1886.

f. The "Historical square" location refers to the block bounded by 9th, 10th, Q and R Streets in downtown Lincoln, designated on the 1867 Plat of Lincoln as "Historical society & Library association." A long article on the opening of the 1885 Saengerfest noted that "The main audience room will seat four thousand people comfortably. This is most attractively arranged, and was the admiration and wonder of the visitors yesterday. The architect, Mr. Kouhn, well understood what was wanted of him when he designed this building."[15]

g. When Jeremiah O'Rourke was released from the post of Supervising Architect of the U. S. Treasury in 1894, "John J. Kouhn of Chicago" was among nine architects listed as applicants for the appointment in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. Kouhn had applied for the position a year earlier. Kouhn was mentioned again in a much longer list of 31 applicants for the job in 1895, when there were rumors of possible retirement of O'Rourke's successor, William Martin Aitken.[29]


1. The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects, s.v. “Kouhn, J. J.," (ahd1024742), Accessed October 18, 2017.

2. “Architect,” State Vidette (January 29, 1885), 5.

3. Lincoln (Nebraska) Daily News, (March 6, 1886), 1; "Proposals...Notice to Contractors," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (March 6, 1886), 7.

4. Chicago city directories include Kouhn as an architect in 1889, 1890, and 1891; and list his office in the Dexter Building in 1909.

5. New York City directories list Kouhn as an architect from 1910 to 1918, but not in 1920.

6. U. S. Passport Application, February 11, 1907; U.S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line], s.v. "John J. Kouhn" residing NYC. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007.

7. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948, s. v. "John Kouhn, [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

8. From Plattsmouth Herald in (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (October 5, 1884), 5.

9. New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., Marriage Records Index, 1831-1964, s.v. "John J. Kouhn," [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2002.

10. Web: Illinois, U.S., Select Deaths Index, 1877-1916, s.v. "Julia L. Kouhn" [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015; and U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current, s.v. "Julia L. Kouhn," [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

11. "Personal...Mr. John J. Kouhn...," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (December 19, 1884), 8; "J. J. Kouhn, the architect...", (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (January 15, 1885), 8.

12. "Proposals," Daily Evening News (Lincoln, Nebraska) (May 24, 1885), 8; and (May 25, 1885), 3.

13. "Henry Gerner's New Building," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (May 26, 1885), 7.

14. "Notice to Contractors," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (June 20, 1885), 7.

15. "The Saengerfest. A Grand Gathering of German-Americans for a Week's Season of Song," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (June 24, 1885), 5.

16. "The Stock Yards Hotel," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (July 28, 1885), 8; "Architect Kouhn asks us to correct the notice in yesterday's paper in regard to the stock yards hotel...," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (July 29, 1885), 4; "The Stock Yards Hotel," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (August 5, 1885), 8; "The Stock Yards Hotel," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (November 29, 1885), 8.

17. "Still Another. S. G. Owen Will Erect a Handsome Building on O and Fourteenth Streets," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (August 13, 1885), 5.

18. "Design for the Grant Monument," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (September 8, 1885), 7.

19. "The Building Boom. S. W. Little Will Join the Procession with Two Fine Business Houses," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (September 23, 1885), 7.

20. "Mere Mention...Workmen are changing the long hall...Architect Kouhn made plans for the improvement," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (March 9, 1886), 8; "Proposals...Notice to Contractors," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (March 17, 1886), 7.

21. "Mere Mention...The contract was let yesterday for a three story and basement brick block...," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (March 24, 1886), 8; "Mere Mention...From the plans which a reporter saw yesterday..." (column 2), (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (March 27, 1886), 8.

22. "Elected a Member," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (November 21, 1885), 8.

23. "Mere Mention...Architect Jno. J. Kouhn will leave in a few days for southern Alabama..." (column 2), (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (November 5, 1886), 4; "Personal...J. J. Kouhn, the architect, has returned to the city," Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening Call (February 17, 1887), 4; "Personal...John J. Kouhn was called to Chicago on an important mission yesterday. He expects to return at the close of next month." (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (February 25, 1887), 4.

24. "Building Notes. Structures That Architect Kouhn Has Under Way," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (May 16, 1886), 4.

25. "Messrs. Hall and Lansing will at once begin...," Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening Call (June 22, 1886), 4.

26. "Architect John Kouhn has completed plans for remodelling of the postoffice [sic] fountain. The architecture is gothic..." (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (August 27, 1886), 8.

27. "Long Island, Kansas...Bonds were recently voted for a two-story brick school house...," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Capitol (September 28, 1886), 4.

28. "Early Days in Fremont. Twenty-Three Years Ago," Fremont (Nebraska) Daily Herald (February 18, 1908), 4.

29. "Fear in Their Hearts--Illinois Democrats Are Very Anxious," The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) (March 18, 1893), 1; "O'Rourke is Fired. The Supervising Architect Was Too Big for His Office," Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Post-Gazette (September 19, 1894), 1; "Big Shortage Unearthed," St. Joseph (Missouri) Weekly Gazette (October 29, 1895), 1.

30. 1900 United States Federal Census, s.v. "John J. Kouhn," [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

Page Citation

E. F. Zimmer & D. Murphy, “John J. Kouhn (1854-1917), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, February 6, 2022. Accessed, December 4, 2022.

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