Truman Dudley Allen (1829-1897), Architect-Builder

From E Nebraska History
Jump to: navigation, search

Grand Island, Nebraska, 1879-1882; Lincoln, Nebraska, 1882-1884; Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1887-ca. 1895

Truman Dudley Allen was born in Greenwich, New York, April 16, 1829 to Oliver and Liddy Allen. He began his studies of architecture in western Pennsylvania in 1848, and continued those studies in Medina County, Ohio, where he designed the courthouse and high school buildings. He moved to Cleveland in 1872, and from there to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he advertised his services as an architect and superintendent.[1][7][53][s] Allen later moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa; to Grand Island, Nebraska, in 1879; then to Kearney; and by 1882, had settled in Lincoln, Nebraska, working as an architect-superintendent.[1][15]

Allen was married to Harriet E. Hinkley in Warren County, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1866. She died in Grand Island, May 17, 1880, leaving four children.[1][47][n] He married Mrs. Lucinda Thorspeckan in Omaha in 1882.[11][23][e] Allen moved to Anoka, Minnesota by 1885. He married again in Saint Paul in 1886 and resided in Minneapolis by 1887, where he continued his career as an architect-builder until around 1895, when ill health curtailed his activities. He died at the home of his daughter in Racine, Wisconsin in 1897.[12][20][52][f][q]

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.

Compiled Nebraska Directory Listings

Grand Island, Nebraska, 1879-1882

Lincoln, Nebraska, 1882-1884

Educational & Professional Associations

1870s: carpenter and architect, Ohio and Wisconsin.[1][7]

1879-1882: architect, Grand Island, Nebraska.[1]

1882-1884: architect, Lincoln, Nebraska.[13]

1887-ca. 1895: architect-builder, Minneapolis, Minnesota.[20][29][f][g][q]

Other Associations

In partnership in Haley & Allen, unknown place and unknown dates.[8]

Buildings & Projects

Medina County Courthouse (1872-1873), Medina, Ohio.[8]

Fraker's Hall (1875), Oshkosh, Wisconsin.[54][t]

Kearney High School (1880), Kearney, Nebraska.[1][14][a]

Polk County Courthouse (1881), Osceola, Nebraska.[1][2][9]

Red Cloud High School (c. 1881), Red Cloud, Nebraska.[1][21]

Ledwith Block (1882), NW corner of 11th & P, Lincoln, Nebraska.[16][c]

Exeter Grade School (1882), Exeter, Nebraska.[1][17]

Masonic Temple (1882), NE corner of 11th & M, Lincoln, Nebraska.[18][d]

Masonic Hall (1882), Grand Island, Nebraska.[1][22]

Stanton County Courthouse (1883), Stanton, Nebraska.[8][9]

Blue Earth County Courthouse (1886-1887), Mankato, Minnesota.[7][35]

Prescott High School (1886-1887), Prescott, Wisconsin.[26]

Hudson High School (1887), Hudson, Minnesota.[27][45][l]

Rock County Courthouse (1887-1890), 204 E Brown, Luverne, Minnesota.[6][7][8][35]

Brick school building (1888), Le Sueur, Minnesota.[28]

Rebuilding Fergus Falls High School (1888), Fergus Falls, Minnesota.[29][g]

City Hall (1888), Merrill, Wisconsin.[30]

Project for rebuilding Dakota University (1888, since 1903 Dakota Wesleyan University), Mitchell, South Dakota.[31][h]

School house (1888-1889), Worthington, Minnesota.[32][33][34][35][i]

School house (1890), Parker Station, Minnesota.[36]

School house (1890), Lansing, Minnesota.[37][38][j]

Proposal for a high school house (1890), Kaukauna, Wisconsin.[39]

Proposal for Murray County Courthouse (1890), Minnesota.[8]

Proposal for Cass County Courthouse (1890), Plattsmouth, Nebraska.[8]

Dickinson County Courthouse (1890-1891), SE corner Hill & IA 9, Spirit Lake, Iowa.[4][7][8][10:435]

Franklin County Courthouse (1890-1891), northeast corner Central & Federal, Hampton, Iowa.[8][10:397-98]

Proposal for Grundy County Courthouse (1891), Grundy Center, Iowa.[8]

Steele County Courthouse (1891), Owatonna, Minnesota.[3][8][40]

Eau Claire High School (1891), Eau Claire, Wisconsin.[25][43][44]

Columbus City Hall (1891-1892), Columbus, Wisconsin.[57]

Hardin County Courthouse (1891-1892), southeast corner IA 175 & IA 215, Eldora, Iowa [5][7][8][10:381][42]

Proposal for Clinton County Courthouse (1892), Iowa.[8][46][m]

Completion of State Normal School (1893), Mayville, North Dakota.[49]

Proposal for Racine High School (1893), Racine, Wisconsin.[50][p]

Undated Projects

Richland County Courthouse (1889?), Richland Center, Wisconsin.[35][r]

Willmar school house (n.d.), Willmar, Minnesota.[44][k]

School house plans for Saint Louis Park (n.d.), Saint Louis Park, Minnesota.[48][o]


a. Nebraska State Journal of September 2, 1880 advertises for bids for the Kearney school, noting: "The plans and specifications can be seen and examined at More's Hall, Kearney, from the first to the fifteenth of September, 1880, where the architect, T. D. Allen, will be present."[14]

b. Nebraska State Journal of February 5, 1882, notes: "Mr. T. D. Allen, architect and superintendent, recently of Kearney, has removed to Lincoln and will open an office here. Mr. Allen has made plans and superintended the construction of some of the best buildings in the western part of the state." On February 7, that newspaper reported further: "T. D. Allen, the architect, has located his office in Kelley's block, opposite THE STATE JOURNAL block.[15]

c. Shortly after opening an office in Lincoln, Allen secured a significant project in the Ledwith Block, a commercial building which was later the Merchants Hotel, then the Savoy, and eventually the Sam Lawrence Hotel. Nebraska State Journal reported on February 24, 1882: "James Ledwith, now in earnest, and preparing to immediately commence the erection of a substantial double brick two story block, at corner of P and Eleventh streets, made an examination yesterday of plans for the structure at rooms, in Kelly's block, of T. D. Allen, architect."[16]

d. Nebraska State Journal of September 26, 1882 notes that the board of directors of the Masonic Temple "after an examination of the various plans presented adopted the plans of architect T. D. Allen, of this city, with the proviso that the building can be erected for $19,500." The article also provides a lengthy description of plans for both the exterior and interior, including the third floor lodge room "which is 48x56 feet and is a magnificent room..." and mentioning "the perspective view of the room as shown by the architect is a beauty."[18] The newspaper reported on April 11, 1883 that "Portions of the foundation walls for the Masonic building are being torn down, by order of the architect, who condemned it as inadequate to support the weight of a three-story structure." A letter from Allen to the editor published two days later disagreed, stating "Allow me to correct your local in yesterday's paper in regard to the wall of the Masonic temple. The wall was not taken down because it was inadequate to support the superstructure, or from any lack of strength, but because the mechanics had made a mistake in locating the pilasters and windows in their proper places. The dimensions of the basement walls, as called for by the plans, are abundantly strong to carry the superstructure."[19]

e. The marriage was reported as taking place in Omaha on November 25, 1883, between Truman D. Allen of Lincoln and Mrs. Lucinda Thorspecken. "Mr. Allen is a prominent architect of Lincoln, being the successful competitor for the magnificent Masonic temple that is now building in this city. Mrs. Thorspecken has for some time kept one of Omaha's popular boarding houses, and will be much missed by her numerous friends."[23]

f. Allen apparently left Lincoln precipitously. Nebraska State Journal reported in November 1883 that "A miscellaneous lot of property belonging to T. D. Allen, the contractor who disappeared a few months ago, was sold...yesterday afternoon, to satisfy a judgment...the goods brought just $5.35."[20] Mrs. Allen was not listed with T. D. Allen and his children in Anoka in the Minnesota census of 1885. Truman D. Allen and Carrie E. Mullekin were issued a marriage license in Saint Paul, Minnesota, as reported in Saint Paul Globe of May 16, 1886.[12][24]

g. Saint Paul Globe of June 2, 1888 advertised for "Sealed proposals...for Rebuilding the High School" in Fergus Falls " accordance with the plans and specifications prepared by T. D. Allen, architect, which may also be seen at his office, No. 38 Collom block, Minneapolis....the contractor to take the walls and materials now on the ground..."[29]

h. The Mitchell Daily Republican reported on August 29, 1888: "T. D. Allen, a well-known architect of Minneapolis, is in the city in conference with the university directors." A month later, an update noted: "T. D. Allen, the university architect from Minneapolis, is in the city in connection with opening the bids for rebuilding the same."[31]

i. The Worthington Advance noted visits by Allen to Worthington, mentioning in 1889 that "Mr. T. D. Allen, the architect of the Worthington school building, was in town over Sunday, looking over the work done and being done on the structure. His son has been here all the time overlooking the work as it has progressed."[33] A notice in the Saint Paul Globe, added "Worthington, Minn., Oct. 20--Glen H. Allen and Nellie Anderson were married here last night. The groom is the son of T. D. Allen, an architect of Minneapolis, and the bride the daughter of Sheriff Anderson, of this place. Mr. Allen has been superintendent of the beautiful school building, which has been erected here the past summer, and his father, the architect, drew the plans." The roles of father and son are again described in a long and laudatory description (and illustration) of the building in the town paper of October 31, 1889.[34][35]

j. In May 1890, Allen was one of four architects to present sketches at a special meeting of the Lansing, Minnesota school board. Three others mailed in their plans. In June, bids were invited from contractors "for the erection of school building as shown by plans and specifications...att the office of T. D. Allen, Architect, Hampton, Ia." A nearly identical listing in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune also identified Allen's location as "Hampton, Iowa," where Allen was building the county courthouse in 1890-1891.[8][10][37][38][39]

k. Allen was sued in 1892 by a heating company for goods supplied by the firm. He filed a counterclaim for a larger amount for services. The Minneapolis Star Tribune explained that "A couple of years ago he [Allen] was architect for the School Board, at Willmar, in the erection of a schoolhouse, and says the firm...agreed to pay him $50 forgetting [sic: for getting] the board to adopt their heating apparatus. Earle denied this bargain, but...objected that the counter claim could not be received, if such was the bargain, on the ground that it was a corrupt transaction and against public policy. Allen testified that it is the regular thing, and that he always gets pay from contractors for advocating their wares. The thing did not strike court as proper, and Earle will get a judgment."[44]

l. A brief note in the Saint Paul Globe of May 11, 1892 reports that "Architect Allen, of Joliet" would visit Minneapolis to meet with the board of education regarding plans for a school, as "Building Inspector Hazen" would not "allow the construction of the building according to the present plans." That "Architect Allen" probably was Frank Shaver Allen (1860-1934), a prominent Joliet practitioner. See The Globe article goes on to say that "Architect T. D. Allen, of Minneapolis, says that he is the architect of the Hudson school building that is said to be falling down. He drew the plans, but had nothing to do with supervising the construction. He says the building would be all right, and in not need of repairs had the building been put up according to his plans." A Minneapolis newspaper on the same date clarifies that Allen of Joliet was architect of Minneapolis' South Side high school, then commencing construction, while T. D. Allen was architect of the Hudson school house. The story details some of the differences T. D. Allen identified between his plans and the actual construction.[45]

m. "T. D. Allen & Sons" of Minneapolis was among a dozen architectural firms invited to prepare plans and specifications for a $100,000 court house for Clinton County, Iowa. William Gray of Lincoln was among the dozen. [46]

n. A note in the Racine (Wisconsin) Journal-Times in 1892 suggests Allen had another son who was also an architect: "David R. Davis, an architect who opened an office in this city [Racine] several months ago, has made many fine plans. The gentleman is a son of T. D. Allen, of Minneapolis, Minn., a well known architect. Mr. Davis came here from New York."[47] However, Davis was probably Allen's son-in-law, as a notice in the same newspaper in 1897 indicates "T. D. Allen, one of the oldest and best known architects in the northwest, is lying dangerously sick at the home of his daughter, Mrs. D. R. Davis, on Center Street. Mr. Allen formerly resided in Minneapolis, Minn., and has made plans for and superintended the construction of sixty-three public buildings."{{#References|[51]]]

o. Allen sued the village of Saint Louis Park and its board of education for $300, based on a claim that "his plans for a school building were copied by other architects, presented as original and accepted by St. Louis Park."[48]

p. Allen was among over two dozen architects who presented plans for a high school in Racine, Wisconsin. He was among seven given further consideration.[50]

q. The Racine Journal reported a week after the fact that "T. D. Allen died at his home, 1331 Villa street, this afternoon at 1:30, of lung trouble. He was an architect by profession, but was obliged to give up active work two or three years ago on account of poor health. He formerly lived in Minneapolis and came here from Florida about a year ago....He leaves a wife and five children to mourn his death, one young son and a daughter, Mrs. D. R. Davis, living in this city...."[52] There was a carpenter in Spokane, Washington named Truman Allen (recorded in the 1900 census in Spokane as "Trueman Ellen", married since c. 1874 to Fannie), born in New York State around 1833 and died in Washington State in 1928. His death record notes his parents as Ira and Rebecca, whereas Truman D. Allen, the architect, was born in 1829 to Oliver and Liddy.[55][56]

r. T. D. Allen is associated with the Richland County (Wisconsin) Courthouse of 1889 by a single mention in an article on the Worthington, Minnesota school which he designed and for which his son Glenn was superintendent of construction. That courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places within the Court Street Historic Commercial District in Richland Center, Wisconsin, as the work of "J. D. Allen" of Madison. A William E. Allen is listed in Madison directories of 1888 and 1890 as an architect and contractor. See (accessed November 23, 2017).

s. Allen advertised repeated in 1875 and 1876 in the Oshkosh Northwestern as "T. Dudley Allen, Architect and Superintendent," offering "Elevations, Plans and Specifications Made for all classes of buildings. A large and varied experience as a practical and master workman and draughtsman in all classes o [sic] building enables me to give entire satisfaction to parties desiring the services of an architect. All Plans Warranted Correct."[53]

t. A satisfied client published a letter to the editor of the Oshkosh Northwestern on December 9, 1875: "Editors of the Northwestern.--In your notice in Tuesday's Daily you neglected to give due credit to Mr. T. Dudley Allen, as the architect of Fraker's Hall. Mr. Allen has had entire charge of the architectural details of my building and everything has gone up like clock work. So well pleased am I with his services and talents in his line, that I most cheerfully recommend him to any party desiring the services of an architect. Yours Truly, E. L. Fraker." A few months later, a disgruntled competitor wrote in the same paper: "Mr. Tifferman, of Neenah, wishes to state that the advertisement published in regard to him by T. Dudley Allen, is false in every particular. He declares that he is an educated architect and that Allen on the contrary knows nothing of the business. The plan of Fraker's Hall he says was stolen from the Chicago Land Opener, and palmed off as Allen's own. The plan of John F. Morse's building was made by a Cleveland architect, and that of Mrs. Bailey's block by Tifferman. A. L. Tifferman."[54]


1. A. T. Andreas, History of the State of Nebraska (Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1882), 1057.

2. Program for the Dedication of the Polk County Courthouse, October 10, 1922; copied into Nebraska Ancestree 1:4 (Spring 1979), 188, accessed February 5, 2003,

3. “National Register of Historic Places – Minnesota, Steele County,” accessed February 5, 2003,

4. “National Register of Historic Places – Iowa – Dickinson County,” accessed February 5, 2003,

5. “Hardin County Courthouse,” accessed February 5, 2003,

6. “A Minnesota Sampler: Courthouses: Rock County Courthouse and Jail,” Minnesota Historical Society, accessed February 5, 2003,

7. Northwest Architectural Archives data (unconfirmed), Alan Lathrop to Jack Porter, October 24, 2003, forwarded to D. Murphy by Jack C. Porter, Preservation Consultant in Iowa, via email, October 27, 2003. Nebraska State Historical Society, Architects files, AllenTD_20031027_b.doc.

8. Iowa State Historic Preservation Office data, Jack C. Porter, Preservation Consultant, email to D. Murphy, October 27, 2003. Nebraska State Historical Society, Architects files, AllenTD_20031027_b.doc.

9. Oliver B. Pollak, Nebraska Courthouses: Contention, Compromise, and Community (Images of America Series) (Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2002), 37. [725.1.P771n]

10. David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim. Buildings of Iowa. (Society of Architectural Historians, Buildings of the United States) New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

11., Nebraska Marriage Records, 1885-1908 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017.

12. Minnesota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.

13. (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (April 30, 1883), 3.

14. "To Contractors and Builders," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (September 2, 1880), 1.

15. (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (February 2, 1882), 4; (February 7, 1882), 4.

16. (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (February 24, 1882), 1.

17. "Notice to Builders," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (March 19, 1882), 4.

18. "Masonic Temple," (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (September 26, 1882), 2; "Notice to Contractors," (October 22, 1882), 4.

19. The Lincoln Daily News (April 11, 1883), 2; (April 13, 1883), 1.

20. (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (November 25, 1883), 4.

21. (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (September 16, 1881), 3.

22. (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (July 30, 1882), 3.

23. (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal (December 8, 1882), 8.

24. Saint Paul Globe (May 16, 1886), 2.

25. "The High School: The Plans Drawn Respectively by C. L. Brown of Eau Claire and Mr. Allen of Minneapolis Seem to Meet the Approval of the Board," and "Accepted Plans," (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) Weekly Leader (July 13, 1891), 6.

26. "Prescott," Saint Paul Globe (November 17, 1886), 5.

27. "A Difference of Opinion," Saint Paul Globe (January 5, 1887), 5.

28. "Notice to Builders," Saint Paul Globe (March 17, 1888), 17.

29. "Notice to Builders...[re] Rebuilding the High School," Saint Paul Globe (June 2, 1888), 5.

30. "Notice to Builders," Saint Paul Globe (August 5, 1888), 15.

31. Mitchell (South Dakota) Daily Republican (August 29, 1888), 3; (September 29, 1888), 3.

32. Saint Paul Globe (November 5, 1888), 5.

33. The Worthington (Minnesota) Advance (December 6, 1888), 4; (July 27, 1889), 4.

34. "Married a Minneapolis Man," Saint Paul Globe (November 5, 1888), 5.

35. "New School Building. A Full Description," The Worthington {Minnesota) Advance (October 31, 1889), 1 (with illustration).

36. "Notice to Builders," Saint Paul Globe (February 8, 1890), 3.

37. Mower County (Lansing, Minnesota) Transcript (May 21, 1890), 5; "Notice to Contractors," (June 18, 18990), 4.

38. (Minneapolis) Star Tribune (July 3, 1890), 7.

39. Oskosh (Wisconsin) Northwestern (August 7, 1890), 1.

40. "Notice--To Contractors and Builders," Saint Paul Globe (February 1, 1891), 17.

41. "Notice to Contractors," (Minneapolis) Star Tribune (March 1, 1891), 8.

42. Alden (Iowa) Times (July 17, 1981), 9.

43. "School Commissioner Appointed," Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Weekly Leader (August 10, 1891), 6; "Our High School. The New High School and How It Will Look as Shown by the Architect's Drawings," (August 10, 1891), 5; "Ready for the Workmen...One of the Handsomest Educational Structures in the Northwest--Placed in a Central and Desirable Location on the West Side," (October 26, 1891), 5 (with excellent illustration).

44. "The School Board Involved. A Peculiar Allegation Is Made in a Justice of the Peace Suit," Minneapolis Star Tribune (January 15, 1892), 8.

45. "Allen and His Plans. He Will Come to Minneapolis Monday," Saint Paul Globe (May 11, 1892), 3. See also "Mr. Allen Heard From. He will be in Minneapolis Next Monday to Defend his Plans," {Minneapolis) Star Tribune (May 11, 1892), 5.

46. "Clinton's New Court House," (Davenport, Iowa) Daily Times (May 11, 1892), 4.

47. "We Are Growing. Some of the Handsome Residences and Large Factory Buildings Erected in Racine This Year....Those Designed by the Racine Architects are Given...," Racine (Wisconsin) Journal-Times (November 23, 1892), 4.

48. Saint Paul Globe (March 22, 1893), 3.

49. "Notice to Contractors and Builders," (Minneapolis) Star Tribune (April 16, 1893), 3.

50. "Board of Education," Racine (Wisconsin) Journal-Times (August 15, 1893), 4; "There was no row...There is not scheme on foot...To Adopt a Certain Plan for the Proposed New High School--It Will Take Sometime to Decide Upon a Plan," (August 19, 1893), 4.

51. Racine (Wisconsin) Journal-Times (January 30, 1897), 5.

52. "Obituary. From Daily of Oct. 7....Allen," Racine (Wisconsin) Journal (October 14, 1897), 9.

53. Oshkosh (Wisconsin) Northwestern (September 1, 1875), 2; (June 2, 1897), 2.

54. "A Card," Oshkosh (Wisconsin) Northwestern (December 9, 1875), 4; "A. L. Tifferman, Architect," (April 5, 1876), 4.

55. SV "Truman Allen" in 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

56. SV "Truman Allen" in Washington, Select Death Certificates, 1907-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

57. "National or State Registers Record: 105 N. Dickason St.," National Register listing date 1979, Wisconsin Historical Society, on-line at Accessed November 24, 2017.

Return to Top of Page

Page Citation

E. Zimmer, “Truman Dudley Allen (1829-1897), Architect-Builder,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, August 13, 2018. Accessed, May 19, 2024.

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.