John R. Smith (1870-1958), Architect

From E Nebraska History
Jump to: navigation, search
John R. Smith, 1915
Lincoln, Nebraska, 1909-1935

Page under construction.

John R. Smith was born May 4, 1870 in Wisconsin to Richard H. and Mary Smith. The U. S. Census listed his father as a lead miner in 1870 and as a farmer in 1880. The family moved in the 1880s to Pierce County, Nebraska, where John married Florence Watson on December 31, 1899.[1] John was identified as a farmer in Willow Creek, Pierce County, Nebraska in the 1900 census. Florence and John had three children, the last a daughter born in 1905, the year her mother Florence died and was interred in Pierce County. 1905 was also the first year John R. Smith was listed in a Lincoln, Nebraska city directory as a draftsman for architect J. H. Craddock. Smith was a draftsman for a Lincoln millwork company in 1906 and 1907, then in 1908 was a draftsman in the office of Fiske & Dieman. He married Inez Rose Sheetz in 1908 and in 1909 began to be listed as an architect in University Place (now Lincoln), Nebraska.[9][a] While his residence remained University Place, his office was in downtown Lincoln as early as 1911. He designed residences, several schools and other public buildings in University Place and elsewhere in Nebraska, and made a specialty of church design, publishing a brochure "Modern Church Architecture" that listed 100 churches in five Midwestern states "for which we have furnished architectural services." His son Roland practiced with him as John R. Smith & Son from 1923-1935.[10]

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, 1905-1918, 1920-1921, 1931, 1935

Educational & Professional Associations

1905: draftsman for J. H. Craddock, architect, Lincoln, Nebraska.[10]

1906-1907: draftsman, Curtis & Bartlett Millwork Company, Lincoln, Nebraska.[10]

1908: draftsman, Fiske & Dieman, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.[10]

1909-1910: architect, University Place, Nebraska.[4][10]

1911-1921: architect, Lincoln, Nebraska.[10]

1922-1934: architect and partner, John R. Smith & Son, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.[10]

Buildings & Projects

Dated Projects

Two-story school (1910), Brunswick, Nebraska.[5]

School, $10,000 (1911), Ainsworth, Nebraska.[6]

Eugene Levi house (1911), 1727 D, Lincoln, Nebraska.[3] (LC13:D07-361)

Fairmont Methodist Church (1911), Fairmont, Nebraska.[7]

Greybull School Building (1911), Greybull, Wyoming.[7]

Residence for J.M. Wildhaber (1911), Plymouth, Nebraska.[7]

North Bend Carnegie Library (1911-1913), 140 E. 8th, North Bend, Nebraska.[3] (DD09-010) National Register narrative

Theodore A. Kiesselbach House (1913), 3232 Holdrege, Lincoln, Nebraska.[3] (LC13:E11-013)

First Baptist Church (1913), Broken Bow, Nebraska.[2][c]

Welsh Congregational Church (1913), Carroll, Nebraska.[2][13]

Lutheran Church (1913), West Point, Nebraska.[2]

First United Presbyterian Church addition (1913-1914), NW corner 4th & Nebraska, Madison, Nebraska.[2][3] (MD03-021) National Register narrative

Methodist Church (1914), Windsor, Colorado.[2]

University Place Carnegie Library (1915), 2820 N 48th, Lincoln, Nebraska.[8]

Methodist Church (1915), Beatrice, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1915), Beaver City, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1915), Ewing, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1915), Galt, Grundy County, Missouri.[2]

Methodist Church (1915), Ponca, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1916), Louisville, Nebraska.[2]

Warren Methodist Church (1916), University Place (now Lincoln), Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1917), Allen, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1917), Alma, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1917), Belden, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1917), Big Springs, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1917), Carroll, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1917), Cozad, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1917), Crawford, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1917), Holdrege, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1917), Sidney, Nebraska.[2]

Riley School (1917), State & Dudley, University Place (now Lincoln), Nebraska. (survey form)

Methodist Church (1918), Alliance, Nebraska.[2]

Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church (1918), Cortland, Nebraska.[2][12]

Methodist Church (1918), Mullen, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1918), Nora, Nuckolls County, Nebraska.[2]

Lutheran Church (1918), Omaha, Nebraska.[2]

Baptist Church (1920), Casper, Wyoming.[2]

Baptist Church (1920), Douglas, Converse County, Wyoming.[2]

Methodist Church (1920), Gurley, Cheyenne County, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1920), Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1920), Neligh, Nebraska.[2]

Presbyterian Church (1920), Norfolk, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1920), Pacific Junction, Iowa.[2]

Methodist Church (1920), Stromsburg, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1920), Wynot, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1921), Mount Pleasant, Iowa.[2]

Presbyterian Church (1922), Bayard, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1922), Curtis, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church (1922), Wauneta, Nebraska.[2]

East Side Christian Church (1923), 27th & Y Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[2][14]

United Presbyterian Church (1927), 880 South 35th Street (at F Street), Lincoln, Nebraska.[2][15][16]

Zion Congregational Church (1927), 9th and D Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[2][17]

Calvary Lutheran Church (1928), 2788 Franklin Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.[2][18]

Undated Projects

Consulting architect for Baptist Church, Billings, Montana.[2]

Consulting architect for Presbyterian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma.[2]

Methodist Church, Ainsworth, Nebraska.[2]

Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, Nebraska.[2]

Federated Church, Aurora, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church, Benkelman, Nebraska.[2]

Methodist Church, Bluff City, Nebraska.[2]


a. The U. S. Census of 1910 listed John Smith, architect (age 40) and his wife Rosie (36), married two years, with children Everett L. (9), Roland H. (8), Florence (5), and step-son (to John) Durwood C. Sheets (6). The young Smiths were all born in Nebraska while Rose's son Durwood was born in Idaho.[9]

b. Reference [2] is an undated brochure issued by "J. R. Smith & Son, Architects" with a listed address of 138 N. Twelfth St., Lincoln, Nebraska. The 1921 Lincoln Directory lists Smith's office at that address. Later his location was described as "Peterson Building," which stood at 138 N. 12th in downtown Lincoln. Among the churches listed in the brochure are several Lincoln churches of the late 1920s, suggesting the publication may have been issued around 1930.[EFZ]

c. First Baptist Church in Broken Bow, Nebraska bears the date "1913" and "MCMXIII" on its parapets.


1. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch; and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.

2. J.R. Smith & Son, Architects, “Modern Church Architecture,” (Lincoln: N.P., n.d. [c1920]). (includes list of 100 churches designed by the firm)

3. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

4. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line], s.v. "Florence M. Smith" (with spouse s.v. "John Smith"), Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

5. School Board Journal (October 1909), 26.

6. School Board Journal (March 1911), 33.

7. "Lincoln, Nebraska," American Contractor 32:21 (May 27, 1911): 63.

8. Nebraska State Library Commission, card file on public library buildings.

9. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line],s.v. “John R. Smith” (with spouse s.v. "Rose I. Smith"), Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.

10. Lincoln city directories.

11. Nebraska, Marriage Records, 1855-1908 [database on-line], s.v. "J. R. Smith" (1899) and "John R. Smith" (1908), Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017;

12. "Contracts Awarded. Church: Cortland, Nebr. Archt. J. R. Smith...Owner M. E. Church, Cortland," American Contractor (March 20, 1918), 63.

13. "Carroll, Nebr.--Church," The American Contractor (April 19, 1913), 33.

14. City of Lincoln Building Permit #11055, issued 1923.

15. City of Lincoln Building Permit #16768, issued August 18, 1927.

16. "Church Structure Dedicated Sunday...New United Presbyterian Edifice," Lincoln (Nebraska) State Journal (January 30, 1928), 9.

17. City of Lincoln Building Permit #16562, issued 1927.

18. City of Lincoln Building Permit #18173, issued November 8, 1928.

Page Citation

D. Murphy & E. F. Zimmer, “John R. Smith (1870-1958), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, August 9, 2022. Accessed, September 25, 2022.

Contact the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office with questions or comments concerning this page, including any problems you may have with broken links (see, however, the Disclaimers link at the bottom of this page). Please provide the URL to this page with your inquiry.