John R. Kruse (1860-1944), Builder & Architect
John Rudolph Kruse was born in 1860 at Clayton, Iowa to John H. and Louise Kruse. In 1880 the family was farming in Otoe County, Nebraska. John R. married Grace A. Warner in Nebraska City in 1885 and the young family was still farming in Otoe County in 1900, with one daughter, Edith. The family moved to Lincoln by 1905, when Grace's role as an active Baptist churchwoman began to be frequently mentioned in Lincoln newspapers. John built homes for his family at 3110 Kleckner Court in 1907 and nearby at 428 N. 28th Street in 1908, the latter remaining the family's home through 1920. He was identified as a carpenter in Lincoln city directories soon after the family came to Lincoln, then as a foreman and subsequently manager of an architectural millwork factory. When Nebraska Building and Investment Company (NBIC) was formed in 1916, Kruse was listed in the directory as a draftsman, but was identified as "architect" on several residential building permits of 1916 for NBIC-built homes.
Nebraska Building and Investment Company incorporated in February 1916 as a vertically integrated company for purposes of the financing, design, and construction of "Better Homes" and other buildings. Advertisements by NBIC stated "Our architect is at your service free of charge, in case we construct your building." Two other designers in addition to Kruse were subsequently named as the company's architect--Arthur Bandy and J. W. Salmon. Only Salmon is known to have had an extensive architectural practice separate from his brief tenure with this company. Kruse was listed as an architect in the 1919 Lincoln city directory, but in 1920 was a draftsman for a Lincoln firm that built commercial car and truck bodies such as hearses, ambulances and buses. Kruse and his family relocated to the Des Moines area in 1920. He was identified as a contractor in Pleasantville, Iowa in 1930 and he died and was interred in Pleasantville in 1944.
Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings
Lincoln, Nebraska, 1906-1920
Educational & Professional Associations
1909, carpenter, Lincoln
1911, foreman, Schaaf Manufacturing Company, Lincoln[b]
1912-1915, manager, Schaaf Manufacturing Company, Lincoln[b]
1918, architect, Lincoln
1920, draftsman, Camp-Hallett Company (manufacturer of auto & truck bodies), Lincoln
1930, contractor, Pleasantville, Iowa
Buildings & Projects
Kruse family house I (1907), 3110 Kleckner Court, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Kruse family house II (1908), 428 North 31st Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Birkner house (1916), 2009 Sewell, Lincoln, Nebraska. (LC13:D05-227)
Sorensen house (1916), 2451 Park Ave., Lincoln, Nebraska. (LC13:D05-360)
Capron house (1916), 2810 Cable, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Lucy Mary Sarge house (1916), 1944 Holdrege, Lincoln, Nebraska.
a. A 1916 article on the Nebraska Building & Investment Company mentions J. H. Krause [sic] as the firm's architect. One of the projects listed (and illustrated) in a 1918 advertisement for the Company is a bungalow at 3052 R Street, for which a building permit of 1916 for a remodeling lists the contractor as J. R. Kruse. The Lincoln city directory of 1916 lists John R. Kruse (wife Grace) as a draftsman. By 1930 John and Grace had relocated to Pleasant Grove, Iowa, where he worked as a building contractor.
b. Schaaf Manufacturing Company produced architectural millwork in Lincoln in the 1910s. Its founder and president was Conrad A. Schaaf, a Lincoln contractor. John Kruse worked for Conrad Schaaf from about 1910 to 1915. Nebraska Building and Investment Company was founded in 1916 and led by Frank E. Schaaf, for whom John Kruse worked in 1916. Both Conrad and Frank were born in 1868, the former in Indiana and the latter in Iowa. It can be established through census records that Conrad and Frank were not brothers; whether they had any other kinship tie is not known.(E. F. Zimmer)
1. Ancestry.com. Nebraska, Marriage Records, 1855-1908 [database on-line], s.v. "J. R. Kruse" and spouse "Grace." Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2017.
2. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line], s.v. "John Kruse." Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Also Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line], s.v. "John R. Kruse" and spouse "Grace." Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
3. "Builds Homes and Loans on Realty--Nebraska Building and Investment Firm Operates in Broad Field," Lincoln (Nebraska) Star (August 12, 1917), 10 (State Fair Section).
4. "Financial Statement February 28, 1917 The Nebraska Building and Investment Company" (advertisement), Lincoln (Nebraska) Star (March 11, 1917), 3.
5. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census, s.v. "John R. Kruse" and spouse "Grace," [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. See also Find a Grave website illustrates the gravestone of John R. Kruse (1860--1944) and Grace A. Kruse (1865-1953) in Pleasantville Cemetery, Pleasantville, Iowa. Accessed April 21, 2018 at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/141843065 via Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
6. City of Lincoln Building Permit #6655, remodeling, J. R. Kruse, contractor; $2000.
7. City of Lincoln Building Permit #1519, issued March 13, 1907; J. R. Kruse, contractor & owner; $1400.
8. City of Lincoln Building Permit #2807, issued December 7, 1908; J. R. Kruse, contractor & owner; $2500.
9. City of Lincoln Building Permit #6602, issued May 29, 1916; NBIC, contractor; J. R. Kruse, architect; $4000.
10. "Nebraska Building and Investment Company" advertisement, Sunday State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) (March 3, 1918), A6-7 (illustrated, two-page spread).
11. City of Lincoln Building Permit #6701, issued July 25, 1916; NBIC, contractor; J. R. Kruse, architect; $3600.
12. City of Lincoln Building Permit #6742, issued August 24, 1916; NBIC, contractor; J. R. Kruse, architect; $3000.
13. City of Lincoln Building Permit #6800, issued October 2, 1916; NBIC, contractor; J. R. Kruse, architect; $2500.
E. F. Zimmer “John R. Kruse (1860-1944), Builder & Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, July 5, 2018. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, October 20, 2019.
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