Lorenz Schmidt, Architect [1884-1952]
Architect Lorenz Schmidt [†] was born in Clyde, Kansas April 25, 1884. He was the eldest of nine children born to Bernhardt and Magdalene (Gram) Schmidt. Typical for the time and being the eldest of nine children, Lorenz began working the farm at a young age. He left school after he completed the 7th grade to work full time on the farm. When he was a young man of 18, he lost his leg in a farming accident. No longer able to work the farm, he went back to finish high school. Schmidt soon found a job as a barber that paid room and board so he didn't have to traverse the three miles between home and school twice a day. He finished high school in Emporia, Kansas and attended Kansas State Normal School (now Emporia State University) for one year. He worked his way through college using his barber trade, attending the University of Illinois and graduating with a B.S. in architecture in 1913. He came to Wichita in 1915 and practiced here until his death in 1952. Schmidt was elected to the 1951 class of fellows of the American Institute of Architects. According to his obituary published on the front page of the Wichita Eagle, February 6, 1952, he was the only practicing architect from Kansas ever to a fellowship in the American Institute of Architects. The press release announcing his selection cited his effort in the passage of the Kansas Architectural Registration legislation; helped organize the Wichita Association of Architects in 1945 and served as its first president; helped organize the Kansas Builders forum; served on the Wichita Planning Commission; had been active with the Chamber of Commerce, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Community Chest and Boy Scout council as criteria for his selection as an AIA fellow; and established annual scholarships at Kansas State and Kansas University.
Schmidt designed a wide array of structures that remain part of the Wichita landscape. He is most well known for his school buildings. A few of the schools he designed for the Wichita School District. This association with the Wichita School District helped launch his career throughout the region. His list of Kansas schools includes schools in Newton, Andover, Augusta, Belle Plain, Clyde, McPherson, Liberal, Hugoton, Clearwater, Ellinwood, Colwich and Dodge City. Schmidt also designed churches, hospitals, commercial buildings and residences. Some of the more well known commercial and religious structures in Wichita that were designed by Schmidt are Hillcrest Apartments, Ranney-Davis Warehouse, Petroleum Building (Ellis Singleton), Brown Building, St. James Episcopal Church and Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. A number of his significant residential structures are found in College Hill, Midtown and Riverside. Six of the houses on Belmont between Douglas and Central are his designs.
Never shirking his civic duties, in addition to designing the Fresh Air Baby Camp, Schmidt did architectural work for the planned war housing projects during World War II at Hilltop Manor and Planeview in Wichita, as well as war housing projects in Great Bend, Independence, Liberal, Pratt, Victoria, Junction City and Independence.
Schmidt died from cancer at his home in Wichita on February 5, 1952.
† Kathy L. Morgan, City of Wichita, 20th Century Club, Sedgwick County, Kansas, nomination document, 2005, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
The Gombach Group • 215-295-6555 • www.gombach.com