William Donald Schlaebitz (1924-2011), Architect

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Lincoln, Nebraska, 1954-1987


William "Bill" Schlaebitz was born in Lincoln, Nebraska on April 9, 1924, to William A. and Ruth Schlaebitz. Before studying architecture, Schlaebitz worked as a navigator for the U.S. Air Force from 1943-45, after which he became a student architect with Clark & Enersen until 1947. He received his Bachelor of Arts and his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1949.[3][5][6][a] He then became a draftsman for Clark & Enersen. In 1954, Schlaebitz was made an architect in the firm, staying there until 1956, when he opened his own practice, Wight & Schlaebitz, Architects. Schlaebitz left this firm to return to Clark & Enersen, with whom he stayed for the rest of his career. He reached the position of vice president of the firm's board before he retired. Schlaebitz specialized in designing schools, churches, and banks.

In his personal life, Schlaebitz was married for 53 years to Shirley Brigham, with whom he raised four children: Terri, Jodi, Carol, and Bruce.[7:41] Schlaebitz was a volunteer to many community organizations, including the Salvation Army, Lincoln Community Playhouse, YMCA, Nebraska Wesleyan, Lincoln Community Arts Council, the restoration of Old City Hall, and the Museum of Nebraska Art. He was also on the council for the Nebraska Wesleyan Arts Council, the Southeast YMCA, the Salvation Army, the United Way, Lincoln Arts Guild, Lincoln/Lancaster Landmarks, and the Lincoln section of the American Institute of Architects. At one point, Schlaebitz was the president of the Lincoln Community Arts. He was a talented artist (drawings and watercolors), even having an art studio at his home.[2] After retirement, he traveled to classrooms across Nebraska for the Nebraska Arts Council’s Artist-in-Residence program. Schlaebitz passed away in Lincoln on June 4, 2011. [6]

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

Lincoln, Nebraska, 1954-1955, 1958-1959, 1960-1969, 1970-1987, 2000

Educational & Professional Associations

1942: graduated from Lincoln High School, Lincoln, Nebraska.[6]

1943-1945: navigator, U. S. Air Force.[5][6][7:34]

1945-1947: student architect, Clark & Enersen, Lincoln, Nebraska.[1][5]

1949: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Architecture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.[3][5][6][a]

1949-1953: draftsman, Clark & Enersen, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1954-1956: architect, Clark & Enersen, Lincoln, Nebraska.[2]

1956-1958: architect and principal, Wight & Schlaebitz, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.[2][5]

1958-1963: architect, Clark & Enersen, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1963-1970: architect and partner, Clark & Enersen, Olsson, Burroughs & Thomsen, Lincoln, Nebraska.[2,6]

1971-1976: architect and partner, Clark & Enersen, Hamersky, Schlaebitz, Burroughs & Thomsen, Architects, Lincoln, Nebraska.

1977-1987: architect and partner, The Clark Enersen Partners, Lincoln, Nebraska.[1]

1988: retired consultant to The Clark Enersen Partners and an independent artist.[2]

Principal Works

Dated

Merle Beattie School (1951), Lincoln, Nebraska.[5][c]

Hastings High School (1954), Hastings, Nebraska.[5][c]

Chadron State College Men’s Dormitory (1955), Chadron, Nebraska.[5][c]

First National Bank Drive-in (1959-1960), Lincoln, Nebraska.[5][c]

First Congregational Church (1961), Norfolk, Nebraska.[5][c]

Scottsbluff High School (1961), Scottsbluff, Nebraska.[5][c]

City-County Building (1969), Lincoln, Nebraska.[5][7:34][d]

Undated

Lincoln Community Playhouse Children’s Wing (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.[2][7:34]

Salvation Army Center (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.[2]

Harvard Public High School (n.d.), Harvard, Nebraska.[5]

Children’s Theater Wing, Lincoln Community Playhouse (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.[2]

Museum of Nebraska Art (n.d.), Kearney, Nebraska.[7:34] [c]

Nebraska Book Company Store (n.d.), Lincoln, Nebraska.[7:34] [c][e]

Dunning School (n.d), Dunning, Nebraska.[7:34]

Halsey School (n.d), Halsey, Nebraska.[7:34]

Broken Bow School (n.d), Broken Bow, Nebraska.[7:34]

Alliance School (n.d), Alliance, Nebraska.[7:34]

Bridgeport School (n.d), Bridgeport, Nebraska.[7:34]

Bayard School (n.d), Bayard, Nebraska.[7:34]

Atkinson School (n.d), Atkinson, Nebraska.[7:34]

Bassett School (n.d), Bassett, Nebraska.[7:34]

Publications, Writings, & Visual Arts

Pen and ink drawing of Thomas P. Kennard house (1990).[8]

Honors & Awards

1948: AIA Design Award by Nebraska Chapter.[5]

1949: AIA award of merit for superior design.[5]

Notes

a. Citation [2] gives NU graduation date of 1950.

b. Registered Professional Architect, Nebraska, A-291.[4]

c. These projects were done on behalf of Clark & Enersen.

d. This building was designed on behalf of Clark & Enersen, Olsson, Burroughs & Thomsen.

e. Noted by Schlaebitz [7:34] as one of the Clark & Enersen firm's longest associations with a company; including remodeling, tieing onto other buildings, as well as additions. He also is quoted in this source, saying the book store was his first project with C & E as a part-time student.

References

1. Scheer, Dennis, and Kent Munster, “The Clark Enersen Partners: Six Decades of Design,” Preservation Association of Lincoln, Brownbag Lecture Series, Museum of Nebraska History, April 8, 2003.

2. Kelly, Gene, “Architect captured by new career in art,” Sunday Journal Star (June 18, 1989), 2C.

3. “An Interview with Lawrence Enersen,” Arch@UNL 6 (Fall 1976).

4. Sixty-second Annual Report, Nebraska State Board of Engineers and Architects: July 1, 1999-June 30, 2000 ([Lincoln: 2000]), 149.

5. The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects, s.v. “William Donald Schlaebitz,” (ahd1039563), http://public.aia.org/sites/hdoaa/wiki/Wiki%20Pages/ahd1039563.aspx (accessed February 3, 2017).

6. “Schlaebitz [obituary],” Lincoln Journal-Star (June 7, 2011), B4.

7. Ryan R. Horner, The Clark Enersen Partners: 50 Years of Design [in three parts]. [Lincoln: The Clark Enersen Partners, ca. 1996].

8. Ruthalee Holloway Jorgensen, Print, Kennard House, Nebraska State Historical Society Collections, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Page Citation

D. Murphy, “William Donald Schlaebitz (1924-2011), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects. Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, December 18, 2018. http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Place_Makers_of_Nebraska:_The_Architects Accessed, April 2, 2020.


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