Solon Spencer Beman (1853-1914), Architect

From E Nebraska History
Jump to: navigation, search

Chicago, Illinois

Born in 1853 in Brooklyn, New York, Beman began his career in the New York office of Richard Upjohn.[10][11][a] He moved to Chicago in 1879, and began design work in the town of Pullman, Illinois. In 1894 Beman designed the Mines and Mining Building, and the Merchant's Tailors Building, at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He also designed the Mines and Mining Building for the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition at Omaha, Nebraska, 1897-1898, where he also served as a member of the Architectural Board.[3][8] He was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1885.[6]

Beman’s Merchant’s Tailors Building at the Columbian Exposition was renowned for its design, and became the prototype for Christian Science Churches around the country. He designed six churches in Chicago, and was the architectural consultant and advisor for the Mother Church in Boston, built in 1906. He is likewise credited with the 1905-1906 design of the First Church of Christ Scientist building in Lincoln, Nebraska, no longer extant. He died in Chicago in 1914.[1][7][8][11][13]

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

First Church of Christ Scientist, Lincoln (Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office)

Educational & Professional Associations

1897-1898: member, Architectural Board, Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, Omaha. [3:134]

Buildings & Projects

Bee Publishing Company Building (1887-1888), 17th & Farnam, Omaha, Nebraska.[5] (DO09:0124-055)

Insurance Building (1888), Omaha, Nebraska.[2]

Mines and Mining Building (1898), Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, Omaha, Nebraska.[3][4]

First Church of Christ Scientist (1905-1907, 1911-1912), Lincoln, Nebraska.[1][2][12][13][b] (LC13:C8-017)

Bankers' Life Insurance Building (1910), 14th & N Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska.[9][d]


a. Upjohn's obituary in the Inland Architect notes that "His office was the schoolroom from which many architects graduated into professional life to which they have, in several cases, given more than usual evidence of their early training in securing, through their works, exceptional professional honor; among these being Mr. Clinton, of Clinton & Russell, and Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz, of New York, and Solon S. Beman, of Chicago."[10]

b. An article in Nebraska State Journal of October 6, 1911, on the occasion of the laying of the cornerstone, details the multiple phases of the construction of Beman's design. The Sunday school portion was built first, beginning in February of 1907 and was first used on Thanksgiving of that year. The stone foundation for the balance of the structure was constructed in 1908, and when the cornerstone was laid in 1911, "A. D. 1908" as inscribed as the date of construction. Completion was expected in 1912.[13]

c. Thanks to architectural historian Catherine Cramer of Tucson, Arizona for Reference # [11].

d. Nebraska State Journal of March 6, 1910 reported "Preliminary sketches of the new Bankers' Life insurance building which will be erected at the southwest corner of Fourteenth and N streets show a structure of classic Ionic style two stories and a basement in height. The general construction will be of the monumental type. Architect S. S. Beman of Chicago was in the cit today conferring with President Wilson of the Bankers' Life in regard to the detailed plans and arrangement."[9]


1. Tom Kaspar, comp. Inventory of architectural records in the archives of Davis Fenton Stange Darling, Lincoln, Nebraska. 1996. Nebraska State Historical Society, RG3748, Box 16.

2. “Architects in Nebraska to be Covered in Our Survey,” WPA Writers Project, RG515, subj. 611.

3. James B. Haynes, History of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of 1898 ([Omaha]: Committee on History, 1910), 107, 121-23.

4. “Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition,” Omaha Public Library website, accessed July 7, 2003, Images at

5. City of Omaha Planning Department, Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission, Database, Query on Architects, May 20, 2002; courtesy of Lynn Meyer, Preservation Planner.

6. AIA Historical Directory of American Architects: A Resource Guide to Finding Information About Past Architects, accessed April 13, 2010,

7. Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., Brief Biographies of American Architects Who Died Between 1897 and 1947,” Transcribed from the "American Art Annual, accessed through the Society of Architectural Historians website on September 14, 2011,

8. Henry F. Withey, A.I.A., and Elsie Rathburn Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased) (Los Angeles: New Age Publishing Company, 1956). Facsimile edition, (Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc., 1970), 49-50.

9. "From Last Evening's News," Nebraska State Journal {March 6, 1910), 4.

10. "Death of Richard M. Upjohn, Architect," The Inland Architect and News Record (March 1903), XLI:2, 21.

11. "Solon S. Beman and Spencer S. Beman Collection, 1892-1959", Ryerson and Burnham Archives Finding Aids, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2001.

12. "New Church for Lincoln. Christian Scientists to Erect Fine Building. Plans Have Been Adopted. Classical Style Will Be Followed and Edifice Will Cost $60,000--Temporary Building to Be Erected." (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (July 9, 1905), 5 (illustrated with perspective drawing).

13. "Corner Stone Will Be Laid--First Church of Christ, Scientist, Celebrates an Event. An Early Morning Service--Impressive Ceremony at Laying of Corner Stone for the New Church at Twelfth and L Today," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (October 6, 1911), 5.

Other Sources

"Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects", (New York: Macmillan, 1982).

Return to Top of Page

Page Citation

D. Murphy & E. F. Zimmer “Solon Spencer Beman (1853-1914), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, May 2, 2018. Accessed, August 20, 2019.

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.