Difference between revisions of "John L. Latenser (1858-1936), Architect"

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Wright & Wilhelmy Company Warehouse (1905-1906), 513-23 S 10th, Omaha, Nebraska.[[#References|[11:207][12:42]]] (DO09:1-36)
Wright & Wilhelmy Company Warehouse (1905-1906), 513-23 S 10th, Omaha, Nebraska.[[#References|[11:207][12:42]]] (DO09:1-36)
[[:File:HB44.w.jpg|'''Jonas L. Brandeis & Sons Store Building (1905-1906)''']], 200 S. 16th/1615 Douglas St., Omaha, Nebraska.[[#References|[10][14][15]]]  (DO09:0124-009)  [https://web.archive.org/web/20160728163741/http://www.nebraskahistory.org/histpres/nebraska/douglas/DO09-JLBrandeisSons-Store.pdf National Register narrative]
[[:File:HB44.w.jpg|'''Jonas L. Brandeis & Sons Store Building (1905-1906)''']], 200 S. 16th/1615 Douglas St., Omaha, Nebraska.[[#References|[10][14][15]]][[#Notes|[]]]  (DO09:0124-009)  [https://web.archive.org/web/20160728163741/http://www.nebraskahistory.org/histpres/nebraska/douglas/DO09-JLBrandeisSons-Store.pdf National Register narrative]
[[:File:DMColl_SoOmHigh_D001_1w.jpg|'''South Omaha High School (ca. 1905-1907)''']], South 24th St, Omaha, Nebraska.
[[:File:DMColl_SoOmHigh_D001_1w.jpg|'''South Omaha High School (ca. 1905-1907)''']], South 24th St, Omaha, Nebraska.

Revision as of 13:09, 2 April 2022

John L. Latenser, n.d.
Omaha, Nebraska, 1885-1936

Born in 1858 into a family of architects in Liechtenstein, John Latenser emigrated to the United States after completing studies in architecture at the Polytechnic College in Stuttgart. For seven years he was employed as a draftsman in Chicago before setting up an architectural practice in Omaha in 1887. Even at this time, early in his career, Latenser was recognized as a capable architect. In 1887, The Omaha Herald had this to say on the subject: “John Latenser [1887] has…a large experience as head man in several prominent offices, and is an architect and practical draughtsman of great skill and well up in all the minutae of his profession.”[2] Latenser’s Omaha practice spanned more than 50 years with commissions for many of the city’s larger civic and commercial building projects, including Central High School, The Douglas County Court House and the J. L. Brandeis and Sons Store. In addition, Latenser served as construction superintendent of Federal Building for Omaha’s Federal Post Office Building beginning in 1891 and two years later was named superintendent of Federal Building for a six-state territory. Latenser was also appointed by President McKinley as superintendent of the construction of government buildings. He worked for many years as architect for the Omaha School Board and is credited with designing over thirty-five schools in Omaha as well as schools throughout Nebraska and western Iowa. In 1908, Latenser delivered an address on western school architecture at the annual conference of the National Teachers Association.[7][10]

Latenser was the patriarch of a dynastic architectural family in Omaha. He went into business with his sons in 1915, forming the prolific and long-lived firm John Latenser & Sons. Several of Latenser's grandsons and great-grandsons also became architects. Thus, his impact in the architectural realm carried on even after his death in 1936, both in the work of his family members and in the halls of the many buildings whose creation he shaped. In 1888 he married Irin Anna Nestor.[24:151] Latenser died in 1936.

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.

Douglas County Courthouse, 1909-1913 (Nathan L. Dewell, Nebraska State Historical Society)

Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings

Omaha, Nebraska, 1888-1895, 1900-1914

Educational & Professional Associations

1873: released from the school at Vaduz, Liechtenstein.[24:148]

ca. 1873-ca. 1878: summer supervisor for Heinrich Laternser, architect, Strasbourg, France; and winter student, Stuttgart Polytechnical College, Stuttgart, Germany.[24:148][a][b]

1879: graduated, Stuttgart Polytechnical College (later, Universität Stuttgart), Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.[7][10][18][24:148][25][26:6][a][c]

ca. 1879-1880: architecturally employed on the capitol building at Indianapolis, Indiana.[10][24:150][25][a][d]

ca. 1880- ca. 1885: practice in Chicago.[7][8][a][e]

ca. 1885: draftsman, F. M. Ellis, Architect, Marshalltown, Iowa.[9][24:150][a][f]

1886: draftsman, F. M. Ellis & Company, Architects, Omaha, Nebraska.[24:151][g]

1886: John L. Latenser, Architect, Omaha, Nebraska.[24:151]

1886-1887: architect and partner, Lietz & Latenser, Architects, Omaha, Nebraska.[2][h]

1887-1893: architect and owner, John L. Latenser, Architect, Omaha, Nebraska.

1891-1893: architect and partner, Voss & Latenser, Architects, Omaha, Nebraska.[h]

1892-1898: superintendent, Custom House (U. S. Post Office and Courthouse), Omaha, Nebraska.[24:152-53][i]

1898-1914: architect and owner, John L. Latenser, Architect, Omaha, Nebraska.

1915-1933: architect and partner, John Latenser & Sons, Architects, Omaha.

1934-1936: architect, president & treasurer, John Latenser & Sons, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska.

Other Associations

1902-1905: employed William E. Findley, architect.

Lineage of John Latenser's Sons

1. John L. Latenser (1858-1936), Architect (John L. Latenser, 1885-1914, and Latenser & Sons, 1915-1936)

2. John Latenser, Jr. (1888-1978), Architect and Engineer (John L. Latenser, 1912-1914, and Latenser & Sons, 1915-1970)
3. John F. Latenser, MD
3. William Banks Latenser (1926-____), Architect (Latenser & Sons, 1953-1978, and Latenser & Associates, 1978-1997)
4. William B. Latenser, Jr.
4. Robert L. Latenser
4. Paul Miller Latenser, Architect (other Omaha firms, ca. 1987-2000+)
4. Matthew A. Latenser
2. Frank J. Latenser (1890-1973), Architect (John L. Latenser, 1913-1914, and Latenser & Sons, 1915-1973)
3. James Seymour Latenser, Engineer (Latenser & Sons, 1949-1956)
3. Frank Nestor "Nes" Latenser (1925-2006), Engineer (Latenser & Sons, 1948-1978)
2. George Latenser (1903-1940), Builder (With Latenser & Sons, 1929-1932; independent builder thereafter.)

Buildings & Projects

Omaha Central High School, 1900-1912 (D. Murphy)

1880s Work

Small unidentified "Cottage Style" private residences (1886), Omaha, Nebraska.[24:151]

Three unidentified apartment buildings (1886), Omaha, Nebraska.[24:151][l]

Webster School (1887), Omaha, Nebraska.[24:151-52][26:6][m]

Commercial Building (1888), 1417 Davenport St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0125-016)

H. E. Cochrane House (1889), 1021 S 36th St, Omaha, Nebraska.[12:99][15] (DO09:0206-004)

Superintendent of construction, U. S. Post Office and Federal Building (1893-1898), 1602 Dodge St., Omaha, Nebraska.[10][13:121][15] Demolished. (DO09:0126-010)

Building (1889), 2305 Leavenworth St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0120-032)

1890s Work

Center Elementary School, 1893 (Lynn Meyer)

House (1890), 3846 Hamilton St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0327-018)

House (1890), 3848 Hamilton St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0327-019)

House (1890), 3850 Hamilton St., Omaha, Nebraska[15] (DO09:0327-020)

Windsor Elementary School (1892), 3401 Martha St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0198-001)

Columbian School (1892), 3819 Jones, Omaha, Nebraska.[14][15] (DO09:0317-045) National Register narrative

Center Elementary (Lincoln) School (1893), 1736 S. 11th St., Omaha, Nebraska.[11:31][15] (DO09:0115-005)

Train Elementary School (1893), 1615 S. 6th St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0064-007)

Gilinsky Fruit Co. Building (1897), 1009 Howard St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0121-022)

John Latenser House (1899), 3215 Poppleton Ave, Omaha, Nebraska.[12:164][15] (DO09:0204-093)

B. F. Thomas House (1899), 3225 Poppleton Ave, Omaha, Nebraska.[12:164][15] (DO09:0204-090)

Saunders School (1899), 415 N. 41st, Omaha, Nebraska.[10][11:24][14][15] (DO09:0323-021) National Register narrative

Dundee Elementary School (1899), 310 N. 51st St., Omaha, Nebraska.[11:451][15] (DO09:0433-001)

Old Central School (1899, 1929), W side 16th ½ blk, Blair, Nebraska.[11:7][14] cf. [11:203] (WN02-118) National Register narrative

Wilber School (ca. 1890s), Wilber, Nebraska.[11:2]

1900s Work

South Omaha High, ca. 1907 (D. Murphy Collection)
Brandeis & Sons Store Building, 1906 (Lynn Meyer)
Carpenter Paper Company, 1906 (Lynn Meyer)

Omaha (Central) High School (1900-1912, 1930), 124 N 20th, Omaha, Nebraska.[1][10][11:30][14][15] cf. [11:314] [11:375][29] (DO09:0126-008) National Register narrative

St. Claire Franciscan Monastery (1900), 1302-24 N. 29th St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15][k] (DO09:0217-003)

Cass School (early 1900s), Omaha.[10][11:25]

Pacific School (early 1900s), Omaha.[10]

Millard Block No 3 (1901), 1102 Harney, Omaha, Nebraska.[12:129]

W.D. Bancker House (1901), 111 S. 39th, Omaha, Nebraska.[14][15] (DO09:0319-021)

Great Western Stove Company - Dempster Building (1902), 908 Harney, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:152][14][15] (DO09:0123-093)

D.M. Visonhaler House, (1902), 115 S. 39th, Omaha, Nebraska.[14][15] (DO09:0319-022)

Hastings Carnegie Library (1902), Hastings, Nebraska.[6][11:148]

Portland Apartments (Barnard Apts.) (1902), 804 Park Ave, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:142][12:157][15] (DO09:0205-016)

City Auditorium (1903), 15th & Howard St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15]

George H. Lee Warehouse (1903), 1115-17 Harney, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:223][12:130][14][15] (DO09:0123-030)

Unitah Apartments (1904), 2934 Leavenworth, Omaha, Nebraska.[12:141][14][15] (DO09:0207-045)

J. B. Pierce Bldg (1905), 10th & Harney, Omaha, Nebraska.[5]

American Radiator Co. Building (1905), 417 S. 10th, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:205][14][15] (DO09:0121-053)

St. Claire Franciscan Monastery Boiler house, Infirmary Building and Sacristy Building (after 1905), 1302-24 N. 29th St., Omaha, Nebraska.[11:295] (DO09:0217-003)

Wright & Wilhelmy Company Warehouse (1905-1906), 513-23 S 10th, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:207][12:42] (DO09:1-36)

Jonas L. Brandeis & Sons Store Building (1905-1906), 200 S. 16th/1615 Douglas St., Omaha, Nebraska.[10][14][15][] (DO09:0124-009) National Register narrative

South Omaha High School (ca. 1905-1907), South 24th St, Omaha, Nebraska.

South Omaha Legion and City Hall (1906), 5002 S. 24th, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:238][14][15] (DO09:0096-005)

Parlin, Orendorff & Martin Warehouse (1906) 707-721 S. 11th, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:227][14][15] (DO09:0121-036)

Carpenter Paper Company Building (1906, 1928), 815 Harney, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:20][12:129][14][15] cf. [11:231][11:825][11:809][11:3103][11:3209][11:3211][11:3520][11:4101][11:4323][11:4408] (DO09:0068-007)

Addition to Home of the Good Shepherd (1906), 40th & Jackson, Omaha, Nebraska [4][11:273] cf. [11:460]

Stein Brothers Building (1906), 630 W. 2nd. Hastings, Nebraska.[14] (AD04-005) National Register narrative

Cleary Residence (ca. 1906-1907), Omaha (?), Nebraska.[11:242]

Arlington School (ca. 1906-1909), Arlington, Nebraska.[11:258]

Mt. Loretto Seminary (ca. 1906-1909), Council Bluffs, Iowa.[11: 260]

Norfolk High School (ca. 1906-1909), Norfolk, Nebraska.[11:261]

Depot (ca. 1906-1909), Green River, Wyoming.[11:279]

High School (ca. 1906-1909), Orleans, Nebraska.[11:283]

Superior High School (ca. 1906-1909), Superior, Nebraska.[11:286]

Bergman Residence (ca. 1906-1909), Omaha (?), Nebraska.[11:287]

School (ca. 1906-1909), Leigh, Nebraska.[11:291]

High School (ca. 1906-1910), Fairbury, Nebraska.[11:300]

Warehouse, Martha M. Ish (ca. 1906-1910), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:302]

High School (ca. 1906-1910), Beatrice, Nebraska.[11:303]

Central High School, South Wing (ca. 1906-1910), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:314] cf. [11:30][375]

Temple Israel (St Johns Greek Orthodox Church) (1907), 602-604 Park Ave, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:243][12:156][15] cf. [11:699] (DO09:0207-002)

Fred Davis Carriage House/Apt. (1907), 628 S 20th St, Omaha, Nebraska.[12:52][15] (DO09:0122-007)

Second Story Carriage House (1907), Drake district, Omaha, Nebraska.

Loyal Hotel (1907), 211 N. 16th St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0125-039)

Superior Public School (1908), Superior, Nebraska.[17][j]

Reinhold B. Busch House (1908), 604 N. 38th St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0323-007)

Kelly-Kittenbrink House (1908), 1304 Lake Ave., Gothenburg, Nebraska. (DS06-031)

J. F. Bloom Company Building (1909), 1702 Cuming, Omaha, Nebraska.[12:110][15] (DO09:0130-002)

School Building (ca. 1909-1910), Shelby, Iowa.[11:341]

Hoagland Block, Warehouse, 8th & Douglas (ca. 1909-1910), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:342]

Bloom Memorial Building (ca. 1909-1910), Omaha(?), Nebraska.[11:345]

School (ca. 1909-1910), Broken Bow, Nebraska.[11:350]

School (ca. 1909-1910), Buffalo, Wyoming.[11:364]

Douglas County Courthouse (1909-1913), 1701 Farnam, Omaha, Nebraska.[10][11:315][12:121][13:77][14][15][29] cf. [11:433][11:740][11:3526][24:153 (DO09:0124-015) National Register narrative

Louisville School (ca. 1900s), Louisville, Nebraska.[11:27]

Shenandoah High School (ca. 1900s), Shenandoah, Iowa.[11:33]

Saratoga School (ca. 1900s), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:48]

Hickory School (ca. 1900s), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:51]

Hartman School, Details (ca. 1900s), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:53]

Hastings School (ca. 1900s), Hastings, Nebraska.[11:82]

American News Co. (ca. 1900s), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:87]

Missouri Valley School (ca. 1900s), Missouri Valley, Iowa.[11:161]

Clarinda School (ca. 1900s), Clarinda, Iowa.[11:201]

Millard Warehouse (1905 or 1906), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:212]

Carleton School (ca. 1900s), Carleton, Nebraska.[11:218]

Omaha Lutheran Hospital - Wise Memorial Hospital (ca. 1900s), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:232] cf. [11:389]

Gymnasium (1914), Bellevue College, Bellevue, Nebraska.[33]

1910s Work

Scottish rite 2w.jpg
Scottish Rite Temple (1912). (Lynn Meyer)
Custer County Courthouse, 1911-1914 (Nebraska State Historical Society)

Benson West Elementary School (1910), 6652 Maple St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0560-001)

Ephraim W. Dixon House (1910), 426 N. 38th St., Omaha, Nebraska.[11:365][15][29] (DO09:0321-006)

Dufrene Building - Farnam Apartments (ca. 1910-1911), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:366]

Douglas County Health Center, Remodel Dining Room & Men's Dorm into City County Health Building (ca. 1910-1911), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:371] cf. [11:5015]

Central High School, North & West Wings & Boiler Room (ca. 1910-1911), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:375] cf. [11:30][11:314]

David Cole Creamery/John Deere Annex (1911), 423 S. 10th, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:382][14][15] cf. [11:5103][30] (DO09:0121-054)

Oscar Keeline Building (1911 - 1912), 319 S 17th, Omaha, Nebraska.[3][11:397][12:50][14][15] (DO09:0124-017)

Area under Sidewalk for J.L. Brandeis & Sons (1911-1912), NE Corner of 17th & Douglas St., Omaha, Nebraska.[30]

Custer County Courthouse & Jail (1911-1914), S. 10th Ave. between E, Broken Bow, Nebraska.[11:379][11:442][13:80][14] (CU05-056)

David Cole Creamery (1912), 1401 Jones, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:382][14][15] cf. [11:5103] (DO09:0121-080)

Miller Park Elementary School (1912), 2758 Ellison Ave., Omaha, Nebraska.[11:390][11:411][15] cf. [11:3511] (DO09:0237-001)

Scottish Rite Temple (1912), 202 S 20th St, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:252][12:51][15][28] (DO09:0124-007)

Castelar Elementary School (1912), 2314 S. 18th St., Omaha, Nebraska.[11:390][11:411][15] cf. [11:3511] (DO09:0112-002)

Central Park Elementary School (1912), 4904-06 N. 42nd St., Omaha, Nebraska.[11:390][11:411][15] cf. [11:3511] (DO09:0346-001)

School (1912), Randolph (?), Nebraska.[11:386]

Brandeis Store & Rooming House (1912), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:387]

Additions & Alterations, Omaha Lutheran - Wise Memorial Hospital (1912), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:389] cf. [11:232]

Elgin School (1912), Elgin, Nebraska.[11:160][11:401]

Storm Lake High School (1912), Storm Lake, Iowa.[11:409]

University Temple Building (1913), Lincoln, Nebraska.[10][11:215]

Studebaker Garage (1913), 2552-58 Farnam, Omaha, Nebraska.[11:420][11:511][12:122][15] (DO09:0209-018)

World Insurance Building (1913), 203 S. 18th St., Omaha, Nebraska.[15] (DO09:0124-036)

Albion High School (1913), Albion, Nebraska.[11:419][16]

Golden Hills Society Rest Home (ca. 1913-1916), Omaha (?), Nebraska.[11:421]

North Ward School (ca. 1913-1916), Wahoo, Nebraska.[11:425]

Hartington High School (ca. 1913-1916), Hartington, Nebraska.[11:426]

School (ca. 1913-1916), Falls City, Nebraska.[11:428]

Wahoo High School (ca. 1913-1916), Wahoo, Nebraska.[11:431]

Saunders & Kennedy Building (ca. 1913-1916), Omaha (?), Nebraska.[11:432]

School (ca. 1913-1916), Tennant, Iowa.[11:434]

Lohrville High School (ca. 1913-1916), Lohrville, Iowa.[11:443]

Madison High School (ca. 1913-1916), Madison, Nebraska.[11:448]

Remodel, 8 Room Building (ca. 1913-1916), Falls City, Nebraska.[11:450]

Power House, North Platte Light & Power Co. (ca. 1913-1916), North Platte (?), Nebraska.[11:452]

Addition, Columbus Power House (ca. 1913-1916), Columbus, Nebraska.[11:455]

Weston School (ca. 1913-1916), Weston, Nebraska.[11:456]

Fiske Building Tracings (ca. 1913-1916), Omaha (?), Nebraska.[11:457]

One Room School, (ca. 1913-1916), Sidney, Iowa(?).[11:459]

High School (ca. 1913-1916), Sidney, Iowa.[11:462]

Creston High School (ca. 1913-1916), Creston, Iowa.[11:463]

Firestone Tire & Rubber Company Building (ca. 1913-1916), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:467]

Bellevue Gymnasium (ca. 1913-1916), Bellevue College, Bellevue, Nebraska.[11:468][33]

Eastern Star, Masonic Home (ca. 1913-1916), Fremont, Nebraska.[11:471] cf. [11:5425]

School Addition (ca. 1913-1916), Tennant, Iowa.[11:474]

School (ca. 1913-1916), Wisner, Nebraska.[11:476]

University of Nebraska [Omaha], College of Medicine Hospital Building No.1 (ca. 1913-1916), Omaha, Nebraska.[[#References|[11:477] cf. [11:683]

Sommers Store (ca. 1913-1916), Omaha (?), Nebraska.[11:478]

Metro Water District (ca. 1913-1916), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:479]

Alterations, Metropolitan Utilities District (ca. 1913-1916), Omaha, Nebraska.[11:479A]

In 1915 Latenser brought his two architect sons, John, Jr. and Frank J.--both of whom had already been working for him--into the practice. The new firm became John Latenser & Sons, a name that remained prominent until 1978, through the practices of the second and third generation of Latenser architects in America (recall that the patriarch of the family had also come from a line of Latenser family architects in Liechtenstein). See the Latenser & Sons buildings and projects for more information.

Return to Top of Buildings & Projects


a. Here and elsewhere--and particularly where information is sourced from his own reminiscences rather than documents--the dates, names and other details for activities and associations concerning Latenser's life prior to his arrival in Nebraska are inconsistently reported in different sources. Information posted here, in these cases, carry this caveat, and are provided as best allowed where sequencing can be derived from the context of a source.

b. Latenser states that he "remained four or five years with my brother Heinrich," working summers and attending school in the winter; he spent four years in school. This raises questions about the exact date of his graduation, and the temporal relationship between graduation and emigration.[24:148] See also Notes [a][c]

c. There were two technical schools in Stuttgart when Latenser was in residence there, but records cannot be accessed as they were all destroyed, for both schools, during World War II.[24:148] Both held "winter" classes, which Latenser states he attended, but only one had a program in architecture rather than construction.[24:148] It is likely he attended the Stuttgart Polytechnic College, as architecture became a specialty program there in 1862; its senior faculty had achieved status equal to university professors at about the same time. This college eventually became the Universität Stuttgart.[19] cf. [24:155] Latenser's assertion that he had opportunity to do "doctorate" work there following graduation is consistent with the evolving university status of that institution. By comparison, the other technical school, the Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart, was always a college of construction, and became the largest construction school in Germany.[20]

The date for Latenser's graduation, 1879, is from Wakeley (1917), and is the date accepted by Kuhlman.[18][24:148] This is confirmed in general sequence by Latenser's statement, in Watkins, that he "at once emigrated to the United States" after completing his course of study in Stuttgart.[10] We note, however, that in 1924, Latenser gave the date of graduation as 1877, a date that appears to be in error given the other sequences in his career.[25] However, given the caveat described in Note [a] above, we cannot entirely dismiss this date; Kuhlman also notes that Latenser spent an entire winter in Nancy learning French, and tried his luck looking for jobs in Switzerland and the South of France before deciding to emigrate. These events are undated, but by context appear to have occurred between graduation and emigration.[24:148-49][a]

d. Watkins, in his History of Nebraska, provides the most specific information concerning the connection between Latenser and the Indiana capitol, stating that Latenser "was first employed in a professional capacity" in the United States on the Indiana Capitol.[10] A 1924 article also states that he began his carer in America as a draftsman in Indianapolis, in 1880.[25] And another, slightly conflicting source, states that Latenser found "a detail position" in Indianapolis on a construction project for the Federal government.[24:150]

These obscure references are intriguing for their implications regarding the young architect’s immigration and introduction to American architectural practice. The Indiana Statehouse was an active project in 1879-1880. It was originally designed by architect Edwin May, who died in February of 1880, prior to the laying of the cornerstone. May was replaced by his assistant, Adolph Scherrer (1847-1925), a Swiss-German architect who was trained in Vienna and Budapest. Scherrer immediately began revision of the elevations and details to reflect a more purely classical design, and then supervised the construction to completion in 1887-1888. He remained a prominent architect in Indianapolis until his death.[10][21][22][23]

Given that Latenser was not simply a newly minted graduate of German architectural training, but also that he was from a family of architects in Liechtenstein, neighboring Scherrer’s homeland, and worked summers on construction in Switzerland and France, it is conceivable that he had familiarity with, or even a letter of introduction to, the well-established Swiss-German architect.[24:148] If other sources are correct that Latenser settled in Chicago within the year 1880, he was likely in Indianapolis during the interval while Scherrer was revising the Statehouse designs. However Scherrer might have employed Latenser’s fresh training and considerable talents, the Statehouse work must have been an inspiring start for young Latenser in America. The connection warrants further investigation.

e. Very little is known of Latenser's work while in Chicago; he appeared in neither of the two city directories that bracketed his tenure there (1880, 1885). He stated in his memoirs that he worked for one (unidentified) architect for "several months," then took a position with "John A. MacMellon," an architect working primarily on warehouses and grain silos; he worked there for two-and-one-half years, then spent the rest of his time in Chicago working for "several" other (un-named) architects.[24:150]

No one by the name of "MacMellon," nor any similar name, appears in the Chicago directories as an individual, an engineer, or an architect during Latenser's tenure there. Latenser may have incorrectly recalled the name in his reminiscences (see Note [a]). A John A. McLennan is listed as an architect in the 1885 and 1892 business sections of the Chicago directories, so this may be the person for whom Latenser worked; unfortunately nothing else is presently known about him.

f. Latenser worked "for about a year" with F. M. Ellis, Architect, in Marshalltown, then moved with him to Omaha.[24:150] He continued to work for Ellis for a time in Omaha.[24:150] The Lincoln State Journal incorrectly recorded the Iowa town as Cedar Rapids.[9]

g. Kuhlman states definitively, based upon the Memoirs, that Latenser arrived in Omaha on New Year's Eve morning (Silvester-Morgen), 1886.[24:151] This must be inaccurate, as Latenser appeared for the first time in Omaha directories in 1886; such listing would have substantially preceded New Year's Eve of that year. The directory is the first independently recorded document to provide evidence of Latenser's presence in Omaha. We must, therefore, exercise caution whenever Latenser's memory is the source of a date.[a] Other memory-based sources give the "definitive" year of arrival as 1885[8][27], 1887[25], and even 1888[26]. (There is also an unverified association of Creedon & Latenser, Architects, for 1886-1887, the source for which remains unknown.)

Latenser's work for Francis M. Ellis (1837-1899), Architect in Omaha included drawing the blueprints for Brownell Hall, 1886, on the Grace Bible Institute campus.[24:151]

h. In later interviews and reminiscences, Latenser never mentioned his early associations with Creedon, Lietz, or Voss.

i. Willoughby J. Edbrooke was the architect of the Omaha post office, while Latenser superintended its construction. Latenser also served as superintendent for other government projects during his seven years of employment, including the successful structural underpinning of a post office building in Chicago, which was "sinking in marshy land near the Lake."[10][24:152][26:26][27]

j. Construction contract awarded to P. J. Creedon & Sons, Omaha, Nebraska.

k. Three architects in Omaha Architects database.

l. One of the apartment buildings counted among his first works in Omaha was located at 24th & Burt Streets.[26:6]

m. Webster is the school commission Latenser won in competition with several other architects, and its successful completion led to him essentially becoming the architect of the Omaha School Board for the next couple of decades, especially following his work on Omaha Central High School.[24:151-153][25][26:6][27


1. “Proposed New Omaha High School,” Omaha Sunday World Herald (June 10, 1900), 24.

2. “Lietz & Latenser,” The (Omaha) Herald (January 1, 1887).

3. “Oscar Keeline Bldg. Under Construction.” (Rendering) Omaha Excelsior (March 2, 1912), 15.

4. “Home of the Good Shepherd—brick addition,” Omaha Bee (January 1, 1906), 6:4.

5. “Warehouses & Factories,” Omaha Daily Bee (January 1, 1906), 6:2.

6. Nebraska State Library Commission, Buildings & Architects card file.

7. “John Latenser,” City of Omaha, Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission website. Accessed April 21, 2003. New site accessed June 29, 2016. <http://landmark.cityofomaha.org/architects/john-latenser>

8. “John Latenser’s Death Follows Long Illness,” Omaha Bee-News (December 7, 1936), 1-2.

9. “John Latenser, Sr., is Taken by Death,” Lincoln State Journal (December 7, 1936), 1:3.

10. “John Latenser,” in Albert Watkins (ed), History of Nebraska Vol. III (Lincoln: Western Publishing and Engraving Company, 1913), 617.

11. William Latenser, “List of Tracings in Vault of William Latenser & Associates,” TS. (May 29, 1979). A copy of the original document, posted here, was scanned and the individual entries reorganized into a chronological listing of buildings and projects. The project number follows the reference number in each citation. On-going work to specified buildings, or for individual clients, is reflected in the citation of multiple project numbers. In those cases, the specific project number for any given listing is cited, while other previous or subsequent project numbers are given following the “consult” notation (cf.), at the end of the citations. Jobs without recorded dates have been sequenced as best can, based on the numbers and proximity to buildings with dates known from other sources. Several of these, then, may list circa dates of an approximate span of time, sometimes as broad as a decade, to be corrected as better information becomes available. Please note that several projects of a strictly mechanical-, electrical-, code-, or surface parking-nature have been eliminated from these listings. Consult the original file for access to those.

12. Landmarks, Inc., An Inventory of Historic Omaha Buildings (Omaha: City of Omaha and Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission, 1980). [Citations include page number.]

13. Oliver B. Pollak, Nebraska Courthouses: Contention, Compromise, and Community [Images of America Series] (Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2002). [Citations include page number.]

14. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

15. City of Omaha Planning Department, Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission, Database, Query on Architects, May 20, 2002; courtesy of Lynn Meyer, Preservation Planner

16. Tom Kaspar, comp. Inventory of architectural records in the archives of Davis Fenton Stange Darling, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska. 1996. Nebraska State Historical Society, RG3748, Box 16.

17. “Contracts Let,” The Bricklayer and Mason 11:4 (April 1908), 59, Google Books, August 15, 2013, http://books.google.com/books?id=e3QtAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA249&lpg=PA249&dq=%22p+j+creedon%22+architect&source=bl&ots=XDFJBHqcUT&sig=d0b2UYwWguIjeAXrTkpJLr6-P5A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=a_sMUvS0Hqbq2gWzuID4Dg&ved=0CDkQ6AEwATgK

18. Arthur C. Wakeley, Omaha: The Gate City and Douglas County Nebraska: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement (1917). II:__. Accessed March 20, 2016. http://genealogytrails.com/neb/douglas/bios_002.htm

19. “Timeline,” Stuttgart Incentives, Universität Stuttgart, April 11, 2006. Accessed March 20, 2016. http://www.uni-stuttgart.de/impulse/zeit/liste.php?eid=1&lang=en ff.

20. “History,” Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart, (n.d.). Accessed March 20, 2016. https://www.hft-stuttgart.de/Hochschule/ProfilderHochschule/Geschichte/Gruendung/index.html/en ff.

21. IUPUI University Library Online Exhibit. “Shaping the Circle, German-Americans in Indianapolis: 1840-1918.” 4 April 2006. Accessed March 21, 2016. http://www2.ulib.iupui.edu/static/exhibits/circle/scherrer.html and "Adolf Scherrer Architectural Drawing OBC56." Accessed March 21, 2016. http://www.in.gov/library/fa_index/fa_by_letter/s/obc56.html

22. “Indiana Statehouse,” Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary: Indianapolis. NPS.gov, n.d. Accessed March 20, 2016. http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/indianapolis/indianastatehouse.htm

23. “In Clear Arrangement,” Indiana Department of Administration. IN.gov website (n.d.). Accessed March 21, 2016. http://www.in.gov/idoa/2434.htm

24. Florin Frick und Thomas Kuhlman, "Gentlemen, Sie kennen mich nicht und ich kenne Sie nicht, aber wenn Sie gestatten, trage ich meine Sache vor," Jansen Norbert und Schurti Pio. Nach Amerika! Geschichte der liechtensteinischen Auswanderung. Neuauflage. (Triesen: Historischer Verein für das Fürstentum Liechtenstein, und Zürich: Chronos Verlag, 1998), 147-160.

25. "Men Who Are Making Omaha," Bee News (April 13, 1924): 8.

26. Charles E. Hall, “John Latenser Was Largely the Architect of His Own Life,” Omaha’s Own Magazine and Trade Review (June 1928): 6, 26-27.

27. "John Latenser to Celebrate 50th Year in Omaha Jan. 1," Bee News (December 9, 1934).

28. Cindy Gonzalez, "Defining the city's image: Architect changed the face of Omaha with landmarks that endure 100 years later," World-Herald (AM) (February 27, 2013): 1-2.

29. "John Latenser, Architect, 628-632 Bee Building is Prepared to Furnish Plans and Specifications for All Classes of Buildings in any Part of the Middle West...," Omaha World-Herald (November 22, 1910): 7M.

30. "Omaha, Nebraska," American Contractor 32:21 (May 27, 1911): 63.

31. "Still No Site Selected," Omaha Daily Bee (April 4, 1899), 8

32. Omaha Daily Bee (April 30, 1905), 5

33. "New Gymnassium Plans," The Indian VIII (Bellevue College, 1914): 88; plans and elevation. Bellevue University Digital Archives. Accessed March 2, 2017. http://bellevueulibrary.cdmhost.com/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15010coll4/id/548/rec/7

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Page Citation

D. Murphy, “John L. Latenser (1858-1936), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, October 16, 2018. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, December 8, 2022.

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