Robert Lyle Murphy (1914-1994), Architect

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North Platte, Nebraska, 1955-1971; Omaha, Nebraska, 1972-1977; McCook, Nebraska, 1978-1981
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Robert Murphy, 1970.

DBA: Robert L. Murphy, AIA

Robert Lyle Murphy was born at the Brittan Ranch, Broken Bow, Nebraska, on July 23, 1914, to Harry Alfred and Zola Maude Baldwin Murphy. Raised at Omaha, Grand Island, Polk, Kearney, Gandy, Arnold, North Platte, Brady and Stapleton, Nebraska, he attended engineering classes one semester each at Cotner College (1932) and Nebraska Wesleyan University (1933), both in Lincoln.[8][9] Robert Murphy apprenticed principally to C. C. Coursey, Architect, North Platte, then acquired the firm after Coursey’s death in late 1956.

Murphy was married on June 23, 1936 to Alice Louise Lehmkuhler (d. June 18, 1988). Together they had four children, Anita Harms Ross, Barbara Jergensen, an infant son Ronald Lynn, and Cheryl Forster. He was a Member of the First Christian Church in North Platte, then later, the First Presbyterian Church. He was also a Member of Platte Valley Lodge 32 AF & AM, all Masonic bodies, Tehema Temple of the Shrine in Hastings, Signet Chapter 55 OES, Knights Templar, BPO Elks 985, and the American Institute of Architects. He died on October 3, 1994 in North Platte.[5]

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

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U. S. Post Office and Courthouse, 1963-1964 (D. Murphy)

Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings

North Platte, Nebraska, 1942, 1954-1971, 1982-1993

Omaha, Nebraska, 1972-1977

McCook, Nebraska, 1978-1982

Educational & Professional Associations

1931: graduate, Logan County High School, Stapleton, Nebraska.[5][9]

1932: engineering student at Cotner College, Lincoln, Nebraska.[8][9][g]

1933: engineering student at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, Nebraska.[8][9][g]

1941: draftsman, C. C. Coursey, Architect, North Platte, Nebraska.[9]

1941-1943: draftsman, Platte Valley Public Power & Irrigation District, North Platte, Nebraska.[9]

1943: estimator, Temple Hoyne Buell, Architect, Denver, Colorado.[4][8][9][e]

1943-1945: rodman and instrumentman, Platte Valley Public Power & Irrigation District, North Platte, Nebraska.[9]

1945-1955: chief draftsman, C. C. Coursey, Architect, North Platte, Nebraska.[9][b]

1955: Registered Professional Architect, Nebraska, February 17, 1955; A-310.[5][6][9]

1955-1956: chief designer and architect, C. C. Coursey, Architect, North Platte, Nebraska.[8][9] [b]

1956-1969: architect, Robert L. Murphy, Architect, North Platte, Nebraska.[7][8][d]

1970-1971: architect and partner, Murphy-Nelson Architects, North Platte, Nebraska.[7]

ca. 1970-1971: drafting instructor, Mid-Plains Community College, North Platte, Nebraska.[5]

1972-1974: architect, Leo A. Daly Company, Omaha, Nebraska.

1975-1978: architect, Dana Larson Roubal Associates, Omaha and Hastings, Nebraska.[i]

1978-1980: architect, Paul W. Mousel & Associates, Engineers & Architects, McCook, Nebraska.

1981: architect, Dana Larson Roubal Associates, McCook, Nebraska.[15]

1982-1994: retired, North Platte, Nebraska.

1993: last year of registration.[9]

Other Associations

1961-1969: employed Tracy M. Nelson (1937-2014), Architect, as draftsman.

1962: employed Guy Richard Dunn, Jr. as draftsman.

1964: employed David R. Murphy, summers, as office boy and apprentice draftsman in 1964; and as draftsman, 1967 and 1968.

Buildings & Projects

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Lewellen Rural High School, 1957-1958 (Robert Lyle Murphy)
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Federal Land Bank Association & Production Credit Association Offices, 1959-1961 (D. Murphy)
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Project for McDonald State Bank Drive-in, “umbrella bank,” ca. 1959 (Robert Lyle Murphy)

1950s Work

Methodist Church (ca. 1956-1957), Winner, South Dakota.[7]

School District #23 (1957), Welfleet, Nebraska.[1][7:573][8]

Lewellen Rural High School (1957-1958), Lewellen, Nebraska.[1][7:574][8]

Bowen & Ellis Office Building (1958), 111 N. Dewey, North Platte, Nebraska.[7:582][8]

Beatty & Clarke Office Building (1959), North Platte, Nebraska.[8]

Addition and Alterations (1959), Haigler Public School, Haigler, Nebraska.[7:595]

Federal Land Bank Association & Production Credit Association Offices (1959-1962), 121-23 West D., McCook, Nebraska.[7:5910][8][14]

Project for McDonald State Bank Drive-in, “umbrella bank” (ca. 1959), North Platte, Nebraska.[1]

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Logan County Courthouse, 1962-1964 (D. Murphy)
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North Platte Monument Company Building, 1960 (D. Murphy)
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U. S. Post Office and Courthouse, 1963-1964 (D. Murphy)
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McDonald State Drive-in Bank, 1960 (Robert Lyle Murphy)
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Lexington State Bank Building, 1968 (D. Murphy)

1960s Work

McDonald State Bank Drive-In (1960), North Platte, Nebraska.[1][7:601][8]

North Platte Monument Building (1960), 920 W. 12th (Highway 30), North Platte, Nebraska.[7:602][h]

North Platte Fire Station (1961), North Platte, Nebraska.[7:611]

Addition and Alterations (1961), St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Bridgeport, Nebraska.[7:614]

Addition and Alterations (1961), McDonald State Bank, North Platte, Nebraska.[7:615]

Addition and Alterations (1962), Chase County High School, Imperial, Nebraska.[7:6201]

Logan County Courthouse (1962-1964), Stapleton, Nebraska.[3:110][7:6301][8]

State Bank of Trenton (1963), Trenton, Nebraska.[7:6302]

Ogallala City Building (1963), Ogallala, Nebraska.[7:6303][8]

U.S. Post Office and Courthouse (1963-1964), North Platte, Nebraska. Henningson, Durham & Richardson, associated architects and engineers.[1][3:124][5][7][8][10][f]

Union State Bank Building (1963), North Platte [?], Nebraska.[7:6304]

Salvation Army Citadel (1963), North Platte, Nebraska.[7:6305]

Addition and Alterations (1964), Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Bayard, Nebraska.[7:6403]

Addition and Alterations (1966), McDonald School, North Platte, Nebraska.[7:6603]

Proposed Addition [not built] (ca. 1967), First Presbyterian Church, Stapleton, Nebraska.[16]

Proposed remodel (1967), McDonald State Bank, North Platte, Nebraska.[16]

Proposed alterations (ca. 1967), Platte Valley Products Co., Lexington, Nebraska.[16]

Methodist Church (1967), Mullen, Nebraska.[7:6701]

Centennial Building (1967), Lexington, Nebraska.[7:6703] [8]

Proposal for First Methodist Church sanctuary addition (1967), North Platte, Nebraska.[11]

Lexington State Bank Building (1968), Lexington, Nebraska.[7:6801][8][12][16]

Good Samaritan Center (1968), Scribner, Nebraska.[7:6806]

Addition and Alterations (1969), Administration Building, Lee Bird Field, North Platte, Nebraska.[7:6902]

1970s Work

Bank of Stapleton (1970), Stapleton, Nebraska. [7:7001][a]

Addition (1970), mountain home of M. F. Shickley.[7:7002][a]

Administration Building Annex, FAA and Weather Bureau (1971), Lee Bird Field, North Platte, Nebraska.[7:7102][a]

First Christian Church (1972-1974), 12th & Crane, Hastings, Nebraska.[2][c]

Sketch for Lincoln County Western Heritage Center (1973), 2400 N. Buffalo Bill Ave., North Platte, Nebraska.[13]

Undated Work

First Baptist Church (n.d.), North Platte, Nebraska.[1][5]

Addition (n.d.), First Presbyterian Church, North Platte, Nebraska.[5]


a. Murphy-Nelson Architects, North Platte, Nebraska.

b. 1942 is the first North Platte directory available at the Nebraska State Historical Society; no earlier North Platte listings were found in telephone books.

c. Unknown role; work probably performed for Leo A. Daly Company, Architects, Omaha, Nebraska.

d. Successor firm to C. C. Coursey, North Platte, Nebraska. Member, American Institute of Architects, 1961

e. Working on the Modification Center, Denver Municipal Airport.[9]

f. Murphy describes the exterior wall surfaces as pre-cast exposed aggregate concrete panels. The structure is entirely of concrete frame construction.[10]

g. One semester of engineering classes.[9]

h. A concrete frame structure with concrete tilt-up walls.

i. The Hastings connection comes from two DLR business cards, both from the D. Murphy Collection, now in the Nebraska State Historical Society, Historic Preservation Division, Architect files. On the reverse of one card, Murphy wrote his then Hastings address; on the reverse of the other is written the 1977-78 date, in pencil.


1. Robert L. Murphy, photographs, D. Murphy collection (negatives received, 1982).

2. Dedication Program given to D. Murphy by the architect, 1974.

3. Pollak, Oliver B., Nebraska Courthouses: Contention, Compromise, and Community. (Images of America Series) Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2002, pp. 110, 124.

4. Horn, Dwight, Arvada, Colorado; conversation with D. Murphy, North Platte, October 6, 1994. Dwight Horn is the architect’s brother-in-law. “Buell, who died in January, 1990, at the age of 94, was a leading architect and real estate developer in Denver, well-known for promoting the Western style in architecture, which made extensive use of ornamental brick. He also has been described as ‘the father of the modern shopping center’ because his Cherry Creek Shopping Center, constructed in Denver in the early 1950s, became a national prototype.” Online, Accessed March 24, 2003. See also Cf. Kalev Leetaru, “Buildings: Temple Hoyne Buell Hall,” U I Histories Project: A History of the University of Illinois, University of Illinois Website, 2004-2011. Accessed January 12, 2017. .

5. “Robert L. Murphy,” North Platte Telegraph (October 5, 1994): 5:2.

6. “Searchable Roster of Licensees: Former Licensees,” Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects, CD, 2003.

7. “List of Projects: Robert L. Murphy and Murphy-Nelson Architects,” Robert L. Murphy, McCook, Nebraska, to David Murphy, Lincoln, Nebraska, March 27, 1979.

8. The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects, s.v. “Murphy, Robert Lyle,” (ahd1031894). Accessed June 6, 2016.

9. “Robert Lyle Murphy,” Application for Registration to Practice Professional Engineering or Architecture, September 2, 1952, and September 20, 1954. Nebraska State Board of Examiners for Professional Engineers and Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.

10. Bob Ogg, “New $1.5 Million Post Office Is Outstanding Landmark,” North Platte Telegraph (July 17, 1964): 5; and “1963 Has Been a Year of Valuable Construction Progress in North Platte,” North Platte Telegraph-Bulletin (December 30, 1963): 14.

11. Perspective drawing by David R. Murphy, September 13, 1967 (D. Murphy Collection).

12. Photos in Dawson County Herald (April 8, 1968): 8 and (June 17, 1968): 5; The Lexington Clipper (June 27, 1968): 4; Dawson County Herald (July 22, 1968): 1; and The Lexington Clipper (September 19, 1968): 1.

13. See “G. Richard ‘Dick’ Dunn: Architect, Community Leader, Educator,” Taped interview by Keith Blackledge, TS. September 22, 1996, 27. North Platte Public Library.

14. “Bank, Credit Expansion Announced,” McCook Daily Gazette (September 11, 1959): 1; photo, McCook Daily Gazette (June 16, 1961): 4; advertisement, McCook Daily Gazette (January 29, 1962): 8; “Production Credit Ass’n Take Big Jump in 1961,” McCook Daily Gazette (January 29, 1962): 10; and “Federal Land Bank in New Building,” McCook Daily Gazette (January 29, 1962): 12.

15. "The Nebraska Society of Architects, 1981 Directory," Dimensions: Journal for Architecture and Planning 2:1 (January 1981): 37.

16. Prints of drawings, D. Murphy Collection.

Page Citation

D. Murphy, “Robert Lyle Murphy (1914-1994), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, January 13, 2017. Accessed, August 15, 2022.

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