Difference between revisions of "Olof Zacharia Cervin (1868-1949), Architect"

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  |[[Image: DM197609_SF-004_3w.jpg|thumb|right|upright=0.65|alt=DM197609_SF-004_3w.jpg|Salem Church, Wakefield, Nebraska.  (''D. Murphy'')]]  
  |[[Image: DM197609_SF-004_3w.jpg|thumb|right|upright=0.65|alt=DM197609_SF-004_3w.jpg|Salem Church, Wakefield, Nebraska.  (''D. Murphy'')]]  
  |[[Image: DM198505_SF-001_11.jpg|thumb|upright=1.8|alt=DM198505_SF-001_11.jpg|Adullam Church, Phelps County, Nebraska. (''D. Murphy'')]]
  |[[Image: DM198505_SF-001_11.jpg|thumb|upright=1.7|alt=DM198505_SF-001_11.jpg|Adullam Church, Phelps County, Nebraska. (''D. Murphy'')]]
  |[[Image: DM197906_SF-016_2w.jpg|thumb|upright=1.5|alt=DM197906_SF-016_2w.jpg|Zion Chapel, Bethphage Mission, Axtell, Nebraska. (''D. Murphy'')]]
  |[[Image: DM197906_SF-016_2w.jpg|thumb|upright=1.4|alt=DM197906_SF-016_2w.jpg|Zion Chapel, Bethphage Mission, Axtell, Nebraska. (''D. Murphy'')]]
  |[[Image:Bethesda 2.jpg|thumb|upright=1.7|alt=Bethesda 2.jpg|Proposed Home Bethesda, Bethphage Mission, Axtell, Nebraska.]]
  |[[Image:Bethesda 2.jpg|thumb|upright=1.7|alt=Bethesda 2.jpg|Proposed Home Bethesda, Bethphage Mission, Axtell, Nebraska.]]

Latest revision as of 11:12, 20 July 2020

Moline, and Rock Island, Illinois
Olof Z. Cervin, 1944.
Olof Cervin was born in Paxton, Illinois, October 18, 1868 to Anders Richard Cervin (1823-1900), an Augustana Synod pastor and editor, and Emma Charlotta Thulin (1833-1915). (Anders Cervin was the descendant of a Danish and Southern Swedish family with origins in the 1600s, and emigrated from Skane province in 1856; he served as a professor at Augustana College and Theological Seminary in Paxton, and later at Rock Island, from 1868-1879.)

Cervin received his A.B. from Augustana College in 1887 and his MArch from Columbia University in 1894. He was Chairman of the Rock Island City Planning Commission and served on the Zoning Commission. As an architect for the former Augustana Lutheran Synod he was responsible for the erection of many churches and buildings—one example being the Theological Seminary and Dormitory on the college campus at Rock Island. He was also responsible for the erection of banks, schools, business buildings, hotels, factories, theatres, hospitals, sanatoriums, and private homes in Rock Island, Moline, and vicinity. He published widely, and was a member of the Illinois Society of Architects and the American Institute of Architects, which named him a Fellow in 1930. Cervin died on December 1, 1949 at Champaign, Illinois.[19][20]

Olof Z. Cervin practiced architecture out of Moline and Rock Island, Illinois for nearly fifty years. His principal importance to Nebraska came as a result of his position as the official architect for the Augustana Synod of the Lutheran Church, a position he held for many years. Augustana was the synod formed to serve Swedish immigrants to America, many of whom established residence in Nebraska. Cervin also published numerous articles concerning the architecture of the Scandinavian lands, and was the leading theoretician and practitioner, via the Augustana Synod, of a movement we know today as National Romanticism. This movement was particularly evident in Nebraska among Swedish and Danish settlers in the post-settlement phase.

This page is a contribution to the publication, Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. See the format and contents page for details on the compilation and organization of the pages.

Zion Chapel (c.1930), Bethphage Mission, Axtell, Nebraska. (D. Murphy)

Professional Associations

1879-1883: student, Augustana Academy, Rock Island, Illinois.[21]

1883-1887: student, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois; degree, 1887.[21]

1892-1894: student, Columbia University, New York; architecture degree, 1894.[21]

1896-1909: principal, Olof Z. Cervin, Architect, Moline, Illinois.[21]

1909-1918: principal, Olof Z. Cervin, Architect, Rock Island, Illinois.[21]

1918-1924: principal, Cervin & Horn, Architects, Rock Island, Illinois.[21]

1920: Appointed Chairman, Rock Island City Planning Commission.[21]

1924-1925: Eighteen months of travel in Europe.[21]

1928-1949: principal, Cervin & Stuhr, Architects, Rock Island, Illinois.[21]

1949: retired.

Buildings & Projects

Salem Church, Wakefield, Nebraska. (D. Murphy)
Adullam Church, Phelps County, Nebraska. (D. Murphy)
Zion Chapel, Bethphage Mission, Axtell, Nebraska. (D. Murphy)
Bethesda 2.jpg
Proposed Home Bethesda, Bethphage Mission, Axtell, Nebraska.

Mission Tabernacle Church (ca. 1901), Moline, Illinois. (Cervin) [9]

Proposed High School Building (ca. 1901-02), Rock Island, Illinois.[11]

Moline Wagon Company Warehouse (ca. 1902), Moline, Illinois. (Cervin) [16]

Rock Island, Illinois, railroad station (ca. 1902). (Cervin) [10]

St Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church (1902), Orion, Illinois. (Cervin) [16]

Thabor Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church (1903-1904), Wausa, Nebraska. (KX16-001)

Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Salem Church (1906) , Wakefield, Nebraska. (DX09-001)

Home Tabor (1915), Bethphage Mission, Axtell [3]

H. S. Cable House (ca. 1917-1918), Rock Island, Illinois (Cervin) [8]

War Workers Housing (1918-1919), Rock Island and Moline, Illinois (Cervin & Horn) [12]

Fort Armstrong Theater (1920), Rock Island, Illinois (Cervin & Horn) [13]

Delta Phi House (ca. 1925), Urbana, Illinois [14]

Adullam Lutheran Church (1927-28), rural Phelps County, Nebraska. (PP00-001) [17]

Zion Chapel (ca. 1930), Bethphage Mission, Axtell, Nebraska. (KN00-001)

Augustana Synod Church in Omaha (1938-1939), Omaha [16]

Arsenal Courts Defense Housing (ca. 1940-1941), Rock Island, Illinois [15][21]

Victory Homes (1942), Rock Island, Illinois.[21]

U.S. Army Reception Center (1942), Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa.[21]

Franklin Junior High School (1944), Rock Island, Illinois.[21]

Heating Plant (1944), Augustana College, Rock island, Illinois.[21]

Nurses’ Home (1944), Lutheran Hospital, Moline, Illinois.[21]

Home Bethesda (1949-1950), Bethphage Mission, Axtell (Cervin & Stuhr) [2][3][23][a]


Augustana Seminary Building, Rock Island, Illinois. (D. Murphy)
Augustana Chapel, Rock Island, Illinois. (D. Murphy)
Masonic Hall, Rock Island, Illinois. (D. Murphy)
Weishar Apartments, Rock Island, Illinois. (D. Murphy)

Seminary Buildings, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois (Cervin & Stuhr) [7]

Masonic Temple, Rock Island, Illinois (Cervin) [16]

Weisher Apartments, Rock Island, Illinois (Cervin) [16]


a. Probably done in association with the local firm of Helleberg & Helleberg, Architects, Kearney, Nebraska.[22]


Olof Z. Cervin, “The City Hall at Copenhagen,” Architectural Record 18:4 (October 1905), 283-299.

_____. “Quaint Timber Churches in Norway,” Architectural Record 20:2 (August 1906), 93-102.

_____. “The So-Called Colonial Architecture of the United States,” American Architect & Building News 48:1012 (May 18, 1895), 63-65; 48:1013 (May 25, 1895), 75-77; 48:1014 (June 1, 1895), 87-88; 48:1015 (June 8, 1895), 97-99; 48:1016 (June 15, 1895), 107-108; 48:1017 (June 22, 1895), 115-118; 48:1018 (June 29, 1895), 130-131.

_____. “The Spanish-Mexican Missions of the United States,” Architectural Record 14:3 (September 1903), 181-204.

_____. “Sweden Today,” American Architect & Building News 88 (September 16, 1905), 91-95, plates.


1. "Bethphage Erects Church and Home: Both Structures Preserve Mission's Style of Architecture--Family Growing," Hastings Daily Tribune (January 17, 1931), Part 2, 12:6-8.

2. Bethphage Messenger 21:10 (October 1943), 1. (Cervin & Stuhr)

3. R. A. Turnquist, Bethphage Mission, correspondence with D. Murphy, Nebraska State Historical Society, June 21, 1979, in historic preservation file KN00-001.

4. Arthur A. Christenson, A Miracle of the Prairies: A Story of the Bethphage Mission at Axtell, Nebraska (Axtel: Bethphage Press, 1944), 26, 78-79.

5. Adolf B. Benson and Naboth Hedin, Americans from Sweden (Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1950), 237.

6. Paul A. Olson, "Scandinavians: The Search for Zion," in Paul A. Olson (ed.), Broken Hoops and Plains People: A Catalog of Ethnic Resources in the Humanities, Nebraska and Thereabouts (Lincoln: Nebraska Curriculum Development Center, 1976), 237-290 (Cervin, p 260).

7. John A. Nyden, "Swedish-American Architects in Illinois," in Erik G. Westman (ed.) The Swedish Element in America: A Comprehensive History of Swedish-American Achievements from 1638 to the Present Day Vol. 2 (1931), 377, 379 (plate), 380 (portrait).

8. Western Architect 27 (March 1918), 15-16.

9. Brick Builder 10 (September 1901), 195.

10. Brick Builder 11 (July 1902), 153.

11. American Architect & Building News 75 (January 11, 1902), 16.

12. Western Architect 28 (January 1919), 6-8.

13. Architectural Forum 32 (January 1920); 42 (June 1925), 392, 69, 70, 69.

14. Architectural Forum 43 (December 1925), 355-56.

15. Architectural Record 90:5 (November 1941), 80. (Cervin & Stuhr)

16. William Appier, Appier+Marolf+Associates, Architects, Rock Island, Illinois, conversation with D. Murphy, August 10, 1983, at Rock Island.

17. Plans dated September 23, 1927, courtesy of Appier+Marolf+Associates, Architects, Rock Island, Illinois.

18. David Murphy, “Swedish-American Romanticism: Cervin’s Church at Wakefiled, Nebraska,” Architecture Nebraska 4 (1983), 44-99.

19. Kermit B. Westerberg, Archivist, Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center, correspondence to David Murphy, January 27, 1983.

20. From Augustana College Alumni Register, 1924, 29.

21. Application for Registration to Practice Professional Engineering or Architecture, Nebraska State Board of Examiners for Professional Engineers and Architects, July 13, 1944. Nebraska State Historical Society, RG081.

22. “Project Listings,” TS ([Kearney, NE]: Rex S. Helleberg, Architect, [1985]), project 4901. Copy in Nebraska State Historical Society, Historic Preservation Division, Architect file.

23. “Olof Z. Cervin,” Bethphage Messenger Vol. 38 (January 1950), 3.


In addition to those cited above, thanks go to Mike Ward, Illinois Department of Conservation, Division of Historic Sites, for providing attributions on six of the Illinois buildings listed above, November 18, 1982; and to David R. Cervin, Amarillo, Texas, September 20, 1982, for leads to sources and information on his father.

Page Citation

D. Murphy, “Olof Zacharia Cervin (1868-1949), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, May 15, 2013. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, December 5, 2020.

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.