Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects

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B E T A . . V E R S I O N . . 9 . 2 6 . 2 0 1 2

Compiled and edited by David Murphy, Senior Research Architect, Nebraska State Historical Society, 1975-2012; associate editors, Edward F. Zimmer, Preservation Planner, City of Lincoln, Nebraska, ____-2012.

HellebergJohnPJr 1948portrait RG081w.jpg
John P. Helleberg, Jr, 1948.
George A. Berlinghof, 1937.

This topic is a contribution to the larger theme of Architecture in Nebraska.

This portal to the The Nebraska State Historical Society Wiki provides access to Nebraska history by the names of architects and listings of their buildings. As one group of professionals responsible for the design and construction of places in Nebraska, these pages contribute to the larger topic of The Settlement of Nebraska, linking to the many places that have been created here to facilitate settlement. Because of the role Architecture in Nebraska plays in habitation, the cumulative postings will reach into every locale, and connect to most of the state's major historical themes.

A strong material culture and place-based focus initiated the research for this project, and produced an emphasis on the design and construction of buildings and related concerns. Buildings are listed on the pages of each known contributor or participant in its production, delineating, where possible, the roles of each practitioner. The listings include dates, locations, and citations, and will ultimately include links to images, or links to descriptive pages with multiple images. Others will provide access to National Register of Historic Places narratives. Images and other enhancements will be added as the postings mature.

In addition to production, architect pages present background, training, and personal associations that inform the creative, practical, and intellectual relations among architects. The firms and individuals included here prominently reveal the heterogeneity of backgrounds and priorities that characterize practice over the course of the state's first century. The evolution of architectural practice generally follows that of the nation as a whole, as influenced by technological developments and the changing dynamics of apprenticeship, education, professional organization, and business practice. Readers, then, will note the inclusion of carpenters, masons, builders, engineers, superintendents, and others who advertised and functioned as architects in the earlier years alongside those legally defined as architects after passage of the state's registration law in 1937. It is hoped that, in time, other of the aligned architectural trades and professions will be researched and posted in this wiki.

Biographical and other historical information is included as available, with some architects being well-represented in biography. Others will display only the outlines of the practioner’s career. Research is complicated by the need to access local sources, which are scattered all over a very large state. Further complications arise from the national and international nature of the research, not only due to the emigration of foreign-born architects in the early years, but by the establishment of national and international practices by some Nebraska architects in the twentieth century. The establishment of the world wide web is changing access to many sources, but has not and perhaps will not eliminate the need for research in local space.

Readers using this publication will uncover professional genealogies more than personal ones, and while the ultimate goal is the concise profiling of each practioner, users will generally find the entries more a guide to the current knowledge base and a primer for further research than a definitive historical work. It is hoped this publication will spur further interest in the topics presented or implicit here, and lead to additional research and publication.

Scope and content

The core of this publication is a compilation of individual Nebraska architects and architectural firms, both those that were self-defined in the early years, and those regulated by registration in later years. The focus on places designed and built by them, however, takes these pages beyond the local to include others who designed and built here. The terminal date for inclusion in the initial listing is registration by the year 2000, producing pages for about 2000 entities. This surprisingly large figure reflects work done over a 150-year period, the numbers of non-Nebraska architects who built here, the dynamic evolution of local architectural firms over the years, and the expansion of architectural practice, especially since 1950, as the state’s population became increasingly urban. The inclusion of the more recent registrants opens a window to the next generation of research.

Individual pages range from those with only skeletal levels of information to those that are quite extensive. In addition to buildings, background, associations and biography, posted data potentially includes education, study travel, publications, exhibitions, and honors and awards, with notes and references to support the data. Better information is generally available for architects and firms who practiced in earlier times, those who have designed buildings that have been selected for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or those that have been subject of other scholarly research. More is likewise known about contemporary firms that have widely promoted their output.

Please refer to the TITLE IN REVISION AND SEE ? ABOVE Format and contents of Nebraska architect entries in the Nebraska State Historical Society Wiki for important details on scope and content, and on how the compilation was assembled and arranged.


The content of this wiki publication began as a working file initiated by the principal investigator in 1975. That effort was supplemental to the establishment of a systematic Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey for the state historic preservation division. No source on architectural practice in Nebraska was then available. The compilation began as a humble card file. Information was added as it came to light until about 1990, when the project languished; all active participants in the effort had by then taken other jobs. The cards were retrieved early in 2005, beginning an effort to put the material into a more useful and publicly-available form. Work since that time has been more systematic in nature, as time has allowed; the final push to bring this to publication began again in 2011.


Add Tom Mooney...Karen Keehr...Von Innes...Carlos Velasco...Anna Poudel...Kara Harms

Multiple contributors have enhanced this project. Work benefitted greatly in the 1970s and 1980s from contributions made by historic preservation historians Penelope Chatfield Sodhi and Janet Jeffries, and historic preservation intern architect James D. Fagler. Building data was significantly expanded due to the research and contributions of Lincoln and Omaha historic preservation planners, Edward F. Zimmer and Lynn M. Meyer, respectively, the former of whom is a contributing editor to this publication. State historic preservation staff have also embraced the recent work, and thanks go to Bob Puschendorf, Jill Dolberg, Patrick Haynes, and Grant Landreth for assistance and additional contributions. Former NSHS board member, John Schleicher, also provided valuable information. Other contributors are acknowledged in citation on individual pages of this wiki.

Many have provided assistance in data entry, collation of materials, library research, and other support. These include Nebraska State Historical Society volunteers Ray Tiemeyer, Jason Gilmore, James Schurr, and Alan and Mary Lou Eastman, Kara Harms, and master scanner, Von Innes; and work study students Kylie Morrison-Sloat, Kylie Kinley, Kelly McIlvride, Karla Pick, Samantha Hogan, Carlos Velasco, and Anna Poudel. Dale Bacon and Dell Darling, digital imaging specialists at the historical society, did much of the image scanning for the project. In addition, historic preservation staff assistant Teresa Fatemi has been most helpful in producing the final publication. David Bristow was instrumental in giving the project publication priority, and Lynne M. Ireland facilitated its movement into publication. Finally, Nick Hennecke set up and customized the wiki site and provided links to the best tutorials for use by wiki participants.

Index - Contents

Browse architects

Browse architects by firm or surname

Sample pages

The following selections are illustrative of the scope of this publication, from fully developed sample pages through those that vary widely in terms of their stage of preliminary development. These include pages that may be considered minimalistic, but which nonetheless represent the current, and in some cases terminal, state of research on the subject. The samples will give readers a better idea of what to expect while navigating the publication.

Bell & Berlinghof, Architects

Bell Creedon & Berlinghof, Architects

Charles Emlen Bell (1858-1932), Architect

Berlinghof & Davis, Architects

Berlinghof & Grant, Architects

George A. Berlinghof (1858-1944), Architect

Olof Zacharia Cervin (1868-1949), Architect

Frederick L. Clark (1829- ), Architect-Builder

Cecil Calvert Coursey (1898-1956), Architect

Creedon & Berlinghof, Architects

Ellery Lothrop Davis (1887-1956), Architect

Gilbert H. Ellsworth (1864-1947), Superintendent

Richard W. Grant (1862-1939), Architect

L. Hobbs, Architect-Builder

Jacob M. (James) Nachtigall (1874-1947), Architect

Heinrich Ernst Wagner (1849-1887), Architect

John Keys Winchell (1841-1877), Architect

Contribute to this work

The public is invited to contribute knowledge, images, and narratives to this work, and to submit corrections to the data listed here. For more information, see Contribute to the Nebraska State Historical Society Wiki.