Joseph Stillman Blake (1835-1898), Architect

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Des Moines, Iowa, 1868-1887; Omaha, Nebraska, 1887-1898

DBA: J. S. Blake; Blake & Company; and others

J. S. Blake was born September 3, 1835 Vermont, where he began his career as a carpenter and builder, after which he studied architecture in New York.[2][7] His first office was in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and then in 1868 he moved to Des Moines, Iowa. Blake practiced in Des Moines, where he was a member of the Architectural Association of Iowa, for nineteen years before opening his office in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1887.[1][2][3] He formed a short-lived partnership with O. M. Zander in Omaha on November 13, 1890.[2] After the dissolution of the partnership with Zander, Blake remained in practice until his death in Omaha, on July 1, 1898.[7]

Blake was a member of Crocker Post No. 12, G. A. R.[1] He was married in Vermont to Mary Louise Blake, who died in 1887. They had five children.[8][9]

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

Omaha, Nebraska, 1888-1890, 1896-1898

Educational & Professional Associations

1861-1862: soldier and Sergeant Major, Company B, Wisconsin 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Civil War.[6]

____-1868: architect, La Crosse, Wisconsin.[1][2]

1868-1887: architect, Des Moines, Iowa.[1][2][5]

1887: architect, Blake, Miller & Company, Architects, Omaha, Nebraska.

1888-1890: architect, Blake & Company, Architects, Omaha, Nebraska.

1890-1895: architect and partner, Blake & Zander, Omaha, Nebraska.[2]

1895-1898: architect, Omaha, Nebraska.[c][d]

Buildings & Projects


Building (1888), 2564-66 Marcy, Omaha, Nebraska.[4][a] (DO09:0205-107)


Murray Hotel (n.d.), Omaha, Nebraska.[2]

Women’s Industrial Home (n.d.), Milford, Nebraska.[2]

Boyd’s New Opera House (n.d.), Omaha, Nebraska.[2][e]

Baptist State University (n. d.), Des Moines, Iowa.[1][b]

Court House (n. d.), Guthrie, Iowa.[1][b]

Soldiers Home (n. d.), Marshaltown, Iowa.[1][b]


a. Architect on permit, Blake & Company, Omaha.

b. Presumed to be commissions belonging to Blake prior to locating in Omaha. Cf. the conflicts and confusion in different listings.[1][2]

c. Last directory listing in Omaha, Nebraska, 1898.

d. Directories between 1893 and 1896 are not available, and between those years is when he splits from Zander.

e. Superintendent of construction.[2]


1. “Blake & Zander,” Pen and Sunlight Sketches of Omaha and Environs (Chicago: Phoenix Publishing Co., 1892), 135.

2. “Blake & Zander,” John Lethem, Historical and Descriptive Review of Omaha (Omaha: John Lethem, [1892?]), 112.

3. “Societies,” American Architect & Building News 19:528 (January 2, 1886), 9. Accessed August 7, 2013. Google Books.

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

5. 1870 United States Census, s.v. “Joseph S. Blake,” Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa. Accessed April 19, 2016, through

6. Historical Data Systems, comp., "U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865" [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.

7. “Died,” "Omaha World-Herald" (July 2, 1898): 8.

8. 1880 United States Census, s.v. “Joseph S. Blake,” Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa. Accessed April 19, 2016, through

9. “Schroeder Family Tree.” Accessed April 19, 2016.


Compilation of this page benefited from substantial research contributed by Patrick Thompson, architectural historian, Restoration Exchange Omaha, May 16, 2016.

Page Citation

D. Murphy, “Joseph Stillman Blake (1835-1898), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, May 28, 2016. Accessed, August 18, 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.