Louis Curtiss, Architect [1865-1924]
Louis Curtiss [†] was an eccentric individual who possessed outstanding architectural talent. He came to Kansas City, Missouri, around 1890 and formed a partnership with another young architect, Frederick C. Gunn. Their firm designed the Missouri State Building for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the Soldier's Home Chapel at Leavenworth, Kansas. How long the partnership lasted is not known. Curtiss was an early advocate of simplicity in design and the straightforward expression of structure. An imaginative "eclectic" architect, he was also a skilled innovator in areas of structure and construction. He designed the first metal and glass curtain-wall building, the Boley building in Kansas City (MO) in 1908. He pioneered in the development of reinforced-concrete construction. During his first year in Kansas City, he served as assistant superintendent of buildings for construction of the new city hall. At his suggestion caissons were used to support the structure instead of piles. This was the first known building in the United States to be so constructed. Louis Curtiss and his work are now attracting more professional and scholarly interest. An awareness and recognition of his contributions is increasing.
† Richard D. Pankratz, Director, Historic Sites Survey, Kansas State Historical Society, Westheight Manor District, Wyandotte County, KS, nomination document, 1974, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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