Omaha, Nebraska, 1902-1914; St. Paul, Minnesota, 1914-1949; Los Angeles, California, 1950-1963
Cap Wigington was one of America’s great architects. He was the country’s first black municipal architect, as well as one of Minnesota’s first black registered architects. He designed several of St. Paul’s most iconic fetes of architecture, such as the Highland Park Water Tower and the Harriet Island Pavilion (renamed the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion). Though he is most well-known for his work in Minnesota, he started his career in Omaha.
Wigington was born April 21, 1883, in Lawrence, Kansas. Following his birth, his family moved to Omaha. While there, he quickly showed a talent for drawing; at the 1899 Trans-Mississippi World’s Fair, he won three first-place awards. A family friend, recognizing Wigington’s intelligence, offered to pay for him to go to dentistry school, but Wigington declined. Instead, he became a clerk for the formidable Omaha architect Thomas R. Kimball in 1902, moving up to student draftsman and then junior draftsman. In 1908, Wigington started his own firm, and during this time he designed the Isaac Bailey house, thereby earning the distinction of being the first black architect to design a house in Omaha. The following year, Wigington packed up his practice to move to Wyoming, where he hoped to find more work. However, business was scarce, so Wigington moved back to Omaha in 1910. Sometime in this period, Wigington married Viola Lessie Williams. Their first daughter, Muriel Elizabeth, was born in 1911, and their second daughter, Sarah Mildred, was born in 1912.
Meanwhile, the Great Migration was just getting underway, causing a lot of growth in St. Paul, Minnesota. These circumstances created demand for architects in the city. Seeing opportunities there, Wigington moved with his family to St. Paul in 1914. At his wife’s suggestion, Wigington sat for the exam to become an architectural draftsman on May 25, 1915. He had the highest score of all the people who took the exam the same day and was thereafter appointed to the City Architect’s Office. After briefly leaving Minnesota to work as a designer for some companies in Davenport, Iowa, Wigington returned to St. Paul’s City Architect’s Office in 1916. Two years later, as America formally entered World War II, he tried to join the Minnesota National Guard, but was refused. Wigington responded by creating the Home Guards of Minnesota, giving black men an opportunity to join the war effort. It was at this time that he got the nickname “Cap”, as he was the group’s captain. Wigington continued to be a leader for black communities by becoming a founder of the instantly-popular Sterling Club, a social group for black men.
In 1922, Wigington resigned from the City Architect’s Office to start his new firm, The Complete Service Co., Architects and Engineers. Unfortunately, this was a short-lived enterprise, and, later the same year, Wigington returned to the City Architect’s Office, where he stayed for nearly thirty years, designing well over 100 commissions. He also designed several ice palaces, traditional attractions for the St. Paul Winter Carnival, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He set his eyes on a sunnier locale during the late 1940s, travelling to California to research architecture. Then, in November 1949, Wigington moved with his wife to Los Angeles, where he continued to practice architecture until he was eighty. He did not retire until 1963, when he and his wife moved in with their daughter Muriel, at her house in Kansas City. Wigington died July 7, 1967.
The above text can be found here: http://www.e-nebraskahistory.org/index.php?title=Clarence_Wesley_(Cap)_Wigington_(1883-1967),_Architect
Address: 3717 Harney Street Year Built: 1966 Architect: Edward J. Sessinghaus Builder: Unknown Style: Post Modern Danish Historicist Listed in the National Register of Historic Places: 7/22/2016
Address: 3717 Harney Street
Year Built: 1966
Architect: Edward J. Sessinghaus
Style: Post Modern Danish Historicist
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places: 7/22/2016
Year Built: 1888
Architect: John McDonald
Style: Richardsonian Romanesque
Designated Omaha Landmark: 06/14/2016
Architect: Charles W. Rosenberry
Builder: James D. Kazakes
Style: Four-plex Apartment
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places: 7/22/2016
The Atlas Apartments located at 1609 Binney were designed by local architect Charles W. Rosenberry in 1903. The building was constructed in 1919. The design is a four-plex flat of two story construction with symmetrical units on each floor. The structure features load bearing brick walls on the exterior wood joist framing on the interior. The windows are single hung. There is one main entrance on the north side which features the name of the building and the year it was constructed over the doorway. An alley to the west of the building leads around the back to the south to a balcony and stair that provides rear entrance to the four-plex units.
The interior is divided by two by two separate masonry interior walls. The entrance foyer contains a mosaic tile floor, a wood staircase and hardwood floors throughout. The apartments have oak trim wood between the living room and bathroom and original oak crown molding in the living rooms and dining rooms.
The Atlas Apartments have historic significance with the Garden City Movement and Apartments of 1905-1962 in Omaha community. It was built along the 16th corridor which had efficient transportation in the dense urban core. Its U-shape construction and rear entry common area stairs leading directly into the apartments are typical of the Garden City Movement and mentioned in other historical property documents. The Atlas Apartments were previously nominated for the National Historic Register along with historic property The Apartments at 2514 N 16th St., but no determination was made for the Atlas Apartments. It is the only standing four-plex in North Omaha which represents the Garden City Movement. Also, its architect Charles W. Rosenberry is known locally for his works including homes in the Happy Hollow and the Historic Country Club District. Still extant along 16th and Binney, The Atlas Apartments retains sufficient architectural integrity and remains a significant structure in the North Omaha.