Roberts & Woods, Architects
Artemas Roberts (1841-1944), Architect, Lincoln, Nebraska
Alfred Wilderman Woods (1857-1942), Architect, Lincoln, Nebraska
A quarter century into his four-decade long architectural career in Lincoln, Artemas Roberts entered into a partnership with Alfred Wilderman Woods, who at 30 years old was 16 years younger than Roberts. They commenced their partnership in a period of dynamic growth in Lincoln, as the city's population quadrupled in the 1880s from about 13,000 to over 55,000. The "boom" years of the 1880s and early 1890s were followed by the Panic of 1893, which saw the capital city's population drop by one-quarter between 1890 and 1900. Roberts and Woods were among the few architects who remained in Lincoln throughout those lean years, into the recovery in the late 1890s and early 1900s. A few years after their partnership ceased around 1903, Roberts retired to Florida, though he farmed and carried out architectural work there. Roberts also occasionally undertook later projects in Lincoln, but only for his sons. Woods continued to practice in Lincoln for three more decades, sometime in partnerships and often independently. Churches became a particular focus of Woods' work, for a range of congregations throughout the U. S.
Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings
Lineage of the Firm
Artemas Roberts, architect, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1870-1887.
A. W. Woods, penmanship teacher at Lincoln Business College, 1884-1885.
A. W. Woods, architect, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1885-1886.
Roberts & Woods, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1887-1903.
A. W. Woods, architect and partner, Woods & Shaffer, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1903.
Artemas Roberts, architect, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1904-1907.
A. W. Woods, architect, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1904-1906.
Artemas Roberts, citrus farmer and architect while "retired" in Dade City, Florida, 1907-1944.
A. W. Woods, architect and partner, Woods & Cordner, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1906-1912.
A. W. Woods, architect, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1912-1918.
A. W. Woods, architect and partner, Woods & Anderson, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1918.
A. W. Woods, architect, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1918-1933.
Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings
Lincoln, Nebraska, 1890-1893, 1903
Buildings & Projects
Andrew J. Sawyer Residence (1887), 1718 F Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Hamer Building (1887), N between 11th and 12th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Herpolsheimer’s Department Store (1890), 12th & N Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Haish (1891-1892), Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Lindell Hotel (1892), 13th & M Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Two-story frame school house (1892), Roca, Nebraska.
Park Hill (1896), 1913 S. 41st Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Methodist Episcopal Church (1902), southeast corner of 3rd and Pearl Streets, Lyons, Nebraska. (BT04-011)
C. F. McCain House (1902), 26th and R Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Bowers House (1902), 20th and R Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Henry Grosshans House (1902), Sutton, Nebraska.
J.I. Case Office Building (1902), 620 L Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Methodist Episcopal Church (1902), Geneva, Nebraska.
George H. McCain house (1902), 16th & R, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Martin Wagner Grocery Store (1903), 10th & Plum, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Oakdale Methodist Church remodel (1903), Oakdale, Nebraska.
Prof. Emerson cottage (1903), Lincoln, Nebraska.
C. J. Bell house (1903), David City, Nebraska.
a. The National Register nomination and other sources give credit for Fairview to Roberts, alone. Similarly, references to the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming, mention only Woods as its designer. Improvement Bulletin of November 2, 1901 reports under "Hotels and Hospitals...Cody, Wyo.--A. W. Woods, architect, of Lincoln, Neb., has plans for a brick and stone hotel building for Col. W. F. Cody, to cost $20,000."
It may have been that the partners each acted as principal-in-charge for one of their high-profile clients in 1902, or these two projects may foreshadow the approaching cessation of the Roberts & Woods partnership. However, the drawings for the duplex designed for Alice Constant in 1902 are inscribed "ROBERTS AND WOODS, ARCH'TS," indicating the partnership remained active.
b. This congregation lost their original, 1890 church at 26th & P Streets in Lincoln to fire in 1902. Lincoln Trade Review  credits Woods (alone) with a new design. Woods apparently did not receive this commission as the rebuilding which commenced in 1903 and was dedicated June 26, 1904 was credited by the church to Fisher & Lawrie, Architects of Omaha, Nebraska.
c. Improvement Bulletin in November 1901 lists under "Business Buildings" in "Lincoln, Neb.--Miller & Paine will erect a 2-story brick store building to cost $18,000. A. W. Wood [sic], architect."
d. The cornerstone for the Glenville School bears only Woods' name as architect.
e. Improvement Bulletin of June 24, 1899 states: "LINCOLN, NEB.--Roberts & Wood (sic), architects, of Lincoln, were successful in the competition for plans for an experimental station on the state agricultural farm. The building will be 2-story, modern. Cost $20,000."
f. Improvement Bulletin of June 24, 1899 notes: "LINCOLN, NEB.--Roberts & Wood (sic), architects, have prepared plans for remodeling and improving the Lindel (sic) hotel. Cost $10,000."
g. Woods' obituary mentions Second Methodist Church as one of his designs. Second Methodist was located at the southwest corner of 15th and M Streets in Lincoln (301 S. 15th). The Second Church is first listed in the 1920 directory but had been preceded by German Methodist Episcopal Church on that site. The building details match on the 1903 and 1928 Sanborn Map Co. atlases of Lincoln, indicating Second Methodist occupied the German Methodist building. First German M. E. Church replaced its early frame church with "a beautiful brick structure" in 1902.
h. Lincoln newspapers of 1890 reported extensively on a planned hotel and opera house designed by Roberts & Woods for Lincoln businessman George B. Bigelow. On April 13th, the project then under design was described as having 140 feet of frontage on 14th and 200 feet on P Street, and seven stories in height. On April 20th, it was reported the excavation had begun and the building would be completed by January 1, 1891. Numerous stories through the summer of 1890 intimated that construction was delayed, and Lincoln Evening Call of October 23 published a note from Geo. B. Bigelow indicating "The delay is occasioned by the fact that an estimate of cost exceeds in amount about $70,000 the supposed cost either of myself or architect." At the end of the year, a long article in Nebraska State Journal on hotel building in Lincoln featured the new Hotel Lincoln, including an illustration, and concluded with mention of the "Bigelow Project." The paper noted "operations stopped abruptly" when "the estimates of the architects were found to be too low by $75,000." The hotel and opera house were not constructed.
i. Lincoln Normal University's main building has long and credibly been attributed by Lincoln historian Jim McKee to Artemas Roberts, who lived nearby on a farm northeast of the campus when Lincoln Normal was built. Matt Hansen has identified conclusive evidence--a signed rendering published in 1890--that young architect George W. Peters was instead responsible.
The attribution to Roberts may have arisen from an 1891 newspaper column entitled "Lincoln Normal University" which provided faculty updates and newsy items about residents around the Normal "village," including that "Mrs. Roberts, wife of our architect, A. J. [sic] Roberts, is visiting friends and during her absence Mrs. Johnson will act as superintendent of the village Sunday school." The reference to "our architect" may indicate that architect Roberts was a familiar and active resident of the "village," rather than that he designed the University building."
1. Who's Who in Nebraska, Lincoln: Nebraska Press Assn., 1940.
2. “Artemas Roberts, 102, Early Lincoln Architect, is Dead,” Lincoln Star (May 8, 1944).
3. Kay Logan-Peters, “Roberts & Woods; Architects,” Historic Buildings of UNL. Accessed June 21, 2013: http://historicbuildings.unl.edu/people.php?peopleID=20&cid=14
4. “Charlton House National Register Nomination,” 1996, by J. S. Stumpff. Accessed June 21, 2013: http://www.nebraskahistory.org/histpres/nebraska/lancaster/LC00-127-Charlton-Hse.PDF
5. Elder John M. Jones, History of Second Presbyterian Church, 1889-1961, pamphlet, 4-6. Photocopy at Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Department.
6. Building Specifications, in Ellis P. Hamer Collection, MSS, Nebraska State Historical Society, Archives (copy in Architects file).
7. “The Lindell Hotel, Corner M and Thirteenth Streets,” Lincoln Daily Call (January 1, 1893), 3:3-4.
8. Jim McKee, Personal Correspondence with E. F. Zimmer, March 6th, 1998. On file at the City of Lincoln Planning Department.
9. "Ruins of the Haish Building." Accessed June 25, 2013: http://memories.ne.gov/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/nwu&CISOPTR=22&CISOBOX=1&REC=19.
10. Gosen, Sister Loretta, History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, 1887-1987. Lincoln, Nebraska: Catholic Bishop of Lincoln, circa 1986, 214.
11. "Will dedicate the new church. Second Presbyterians will occupy one of the prettiest buildings in the city," Lincoln Saturday Star (June 25, 1904), 5.
12. Improvement Bulletin (November 2, 1901), 21.
13. Park Hill National Register Nomination, E. F. Zimmer, 2010. See .
14. Kay Logan-Peters, “East Campus 1896: Agriculture Experiment Station Building,” Historic Buildings of UNL. Accessed June 21, 2013: http://historicbuildings.unl.edu/building.php?b=24
15. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. See NRHP form and photos.
16. Ruth Roberts Sorenson, “An Account of the Roberts Homestead, Lancaster Co., Nebraska,” Section 1. July 6, 1968. (Typescript at Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Department.)
17. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. See NRHP form and photos.
18. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. See NRHP form and photos.
19. “Irma’s Place in History,” Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel. Accessed March 8, 2016: http://www.irmahotel.com/about-buffalo-bills-irma-hotel-cody-wy.php
20. Lincoln Trade Review 1:11 (1902), 4.
21. Lincoln Trade Review 1:12 (1902), 3. ($6,000)
22. Blueprints for this project are inscribed "Roberts & Woods." Copies at Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Dept.
23. Lincoln Trade Review 1:21 (1902), 4.
24. Lincoln Trade Review 1:11 (1902), 4.
25. Lincoln Trade Review 1:3 (1902), 4.
26. Lincoln Trade Review 1:11 (1902), 4.
27. Lincoln Trade Review 1:14 (1902), 3. (plans, 2 s fr., $2,500)
28. Lincoln Trade Review 1:14 (1902), 3.
29. Lincoln Trade Review 1:21 (1902), 3. (plans, 2 s fr., $2,500)
30. Lincoln Trade Review 1:21 (1902), 4.
31. Lincoln Trade Review 1:3 (1902), 4.
32. Improvement Bulletin (November 16, 1901), 16.
33. Improvement Bulletin (June 24, 1899), 16.
34. Improvement Bulletin (June 24, 1899), 13.
35. Lincoln Trade Review 1:11 (August 16, 1902).
36. Lincoln Trade Review (December 13, 1902): 9.
37. Lincoln Trade Review 1:52 (1903): 10.
38. Lincoln Trade Review 1:3 (1902): 4.
39. Lincoln Trade Review 1:5 (1902): 4.
40. Lincoln Trade Review 1:48 (1903): 9.
41. Lincoln Trade Review 2:4 (1903): 3.
42. Lincoln Trade Review 1:40 (1903): 3.
43. “A. W. Woods, Architect Who Planned 100 Churches, Dies,” Lincoln Star (December 29, 1942): 1, 10.
44. A. J. Sawyer, ed., Lincoln: The Capital City, and Lancaster County, Nebraska, Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1916, I:224.
45. James L. McKee (with E. F. Zimmer & Lori K. Jorgensen), Havelock: A photo history and walking tour, Lincoln: J & L Lee Co., 1993, 17.
46. James L. McKee, Lincoln: The Prairie Capital, Northridge, California: Windsor Publications, Inc., 1984, 70.
47. "Out Among the Builders. Great Activity in Prospect for the Summer. A Brief Description of Plans Drawn for a New Hotel and Opera House," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (April 13, 1890), 9; "The Second Grand Hotel. Work to begin to-morrow morning. Fourteenth and P Streets Secures a Quarter of a Million Dollar Building," (April 20, 1890), 6; "The Bigelow Hotel," Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening Call (October 23, 1890), 1; "An Era of Hotel Building...The Bigelow Project," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (December 28, 1890), 10.
48. "Excavation Haish Manual Training School," Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening News (March 11, 1891), 4.
49. "Notice to Contractors--Bids Will be received at the office of A. Roberts, architect...," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (April 17, 1892), 7.
50. "The Wesleyan University New Building," (Lincoln, Nebraska) Sunday Morning Call (April 19, 1891), 1 (illustrated).
51. "Ground has been broken at Fifteenth and M streets for the new church which will be erected by the German Methodist congregation." (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (May 21, 1901), 6.
52. "Imposing House of Worship. German Methodist of Lincoln Dedicate to the Cause of Christianity Their Handsome New Church Building," The (Lincoln, Nebraska) Courier (March 22, 1902), 8 (illustrated with photo).
53. "Lincoln Normal University Geo. W. Peters--Architect," Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening News (October 30, 1890), 1 (illustrated with signed rendering).
54. "Lincoln Normal University," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (November 22, 1891), 6.
55. "Condemned as Unsafe. The High School Building Deserted.--Architects Selected to See That It is Put Into Condition for Service as Quickly as Possible," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (September 25, 1891), 8; "The High School Building.--Roberts & Fiske Declare That the Structure is Unsafe," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (September 26, 1891), 5.
E. F. Zimmer, “Roberts & Woods, Architects,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, October 27, 2022. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, February 1, 2023.
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