Selmer Alfred Solheim (1912-1979), Architect
DBA: Selmer A. Solheim & Associates
Selmer Alfred Solheim was born April 12, 1912, in Fairfax, Minnesota to Emma G. and Oscar C. Solheim. He attended public schools in Watertown, South Dakota then went to the South Dakota School of Mines, which he left to join the Architecture department of the University of Nebraska. In 1938, three years after graduating from college, he married Ruth M. Bley, with whom he had four children, John, Frederick, Cheryl, and Robert. During World War II, Solheim was an architect on war housing projects in Sidney, Grand Island, Bellevue, Lincoln, Fremont, and Kearney, Nebraska. He later expanded his scope of work and licensed to practice architecture in 16 states, leading him to be involved in at least thirty-four projects spread across Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, and Texas. He formed Selmer A. Solheim & Associates in 1952; William D. Treadway was his partner for many years. Solheim focused on residential single family and multiple family units, and was known for using the modern ranch style: single-story; part basements; lots of glass to maximize sunlight; sliding partitions; and the use of modern technologies such as air conditioning, dishwashers, disposals, and intercommunication systems.
Solheim received four national recognitions for his work in architecture, including the National Building Honor for Neighborhood Building Design Development and the National Association of Home Builders Merit Award in 1948, for the Colonial Terrace Apartments. In 1946, he won the award for Meritous Design in Home Building, given by the National Association of Home Builders at Chicago, then, in 1962, he won the Interiors Award for outstanding achievement in interior design. On a state level, Solheim won the Nebraska Architects Association Award for his design of the Nebraska Center for Continuing Education, which was also recognized in Institutions Magazine. Solheim also wrote ten articles that were published in building trade magazines such as the American Builder (in 1948, 1950-1951) and the National Real Estate Journal.
Solheim continued his civic engagement into his leisure time, joining several organizations. He was on the Board of Directors for the Union Load and Savings Bank, and, served as secretary of the Nebraska Architects Association for two years. Solheim was on the Lincoln Airport Authority in the 1960s. He ran for Lincoln City Council in 1969, but was unsuccessful in that bid. Nevertheless, Solheim was engaged in the community: he was a member of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska Art Association, the Triangle Engineer Fraternity, the Elks Club, the Norden Club the American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Home Builders, the Nebraska Club, the University of Nebraska Alumni Association, the Nebraska Architects Association, and Christ Lutheran Church.
Solheim died December 4, 1979.
Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings
Lincoln, Nebraska, 1939-1976
Educational & Professional Associations
1918-1930: student, public schools, Watertown, South Dakota.
1928-1930: served in National Guard.
1930-1932: student, South Dakota School of Mines.
ca. 1931-1933: attended School of Mines, Rapid City, South Dakota.
1933-1935: Bachelor of Architecture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.
1939-1951: architect, Selmer A. Solheim, Lincoln, Nebraska.
1952-1975: Selmer A. Solheim & Associates, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.
____: employed Glen Stippich, as chief draftsman.
1960s: employed J. C. Graver.
Buildings & Projects
Lincoln Air Force Base housing (1940s), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Multi-family dwelling (1946), 2301 South St., Lincoln, Nebraska. (LC13:D05-050)
Colonial Terrace Apartments (late 1940s), 33rd & Starr, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Italian Village Restaurant (1952), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Wint & Base Headquarters Building (1953), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Air Terminal Building for Commercial Airlines (1954), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Military & Naval Science Building (1955), University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.
John J Pershing Elementary School (1955), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Nebraska Governor’s Mansion (1957), 1425 H St., Capitol Square, Lincoln, Nebraska.[10:17][11:104]
Marian E. and Ruth Dole house (1959-1960), 1908 4th St, Beatrice, Nebraska. (GA03-364)
Nebraska Center for Continuing Education (1959-1960), northeast corner 33rd & Holdredge, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Sky Manor (ca. 1962), downtown Denver, Colorado.
Cheesman Park Apartments (ca. 1962), downtown Denver, Colorado.
Union Loan and Savings Building (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Weaver Potato Chip Company Building (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Clare McPhee Elementary School (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Dawes Junior High School (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Pound Junior High School (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.
Honors & Awards
1946: Meritorious Design in Home Building, National Association of Home Builders.
1948: Merit (for design of Colonial Terrace Apartments), National Association of Home Builders.
____: National Building Honor for Neighborhood Building Design Development.
1962: Interiors Award (for outstanding achievement in interior design).
____: Nebraska Architects Association Award (for his work on the Nebraska Center).
a. Introduced new concept in circular schools to the Nebraska State Department of Education.
b. Solheim was co-winner with the Nebraska Center for Continuing Education.
c. Behlen “Dubl-Panl” buildings.
1. AIA Historical Directory of American Architects: A Resource Guide to Finding Information About Past Architects, accessed Junly 20, 2010, http://communities.aia.org/sites/hdoaa/wiki/Wiki%20Pages/ahd1042183.aspx
2. “Solheim,” Lincoln Journal (December 5, 1979), 44:1.
3. “New School Idea Proposed,” Lincoln Star (July 5, 1957), 18:3.
4. “National Recognition Not New For Young Lincoln Architect,” Lincoln Journal Star (February 26, 1950), 5:13.
5. “Award-winning architect, S. A. Solheim, dead at 67,” Lincoln Journal (December 5, 1979), 49:1.
6. Jill Dolberg, "Nebraska Governor’s Mansion,” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 2007).
7. Kay Logan Peters, "Nebraska Center for Continuing Education," An Architectural tour of Historic UNL (Lincoln: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, UNL Librries, 2005). Accessed March 4, 2016. http://historicbuildings.unl.edu/building.php?b=105
8. Janet Jefffries, "Sky Park Manor," National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (Lincoln: Berggren Architects, March 5, 2016).
9. Four-color offset promotional sheet, Behlen Manufacturing Company Collection, Nebraska State Historical Society, RG1595 Box 3.
10. Bahr Vermeer Haecker Architects, Historic Resources Group, Inc., & Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., State-Owned Buildings Survey Report (Lincoln, Nebraska: Nebraska State Historical Society, August 2013).
11. Jeff Barnes, 150@150: Nebraska's Landmark Buildings at the State's Sesquicentennial (Architectural Foundation of Nebraska, 2017).
D. Murphy, “Selmer Alfred Solheim (1912-1979), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, February 12, 2017. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, May 31, 2020.
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