Final Stage of Competition for the Selection of an Architect to Design and Supervise the Construction of a Capitol for the State of Nebraska


  • Bliss & Faville, Balboa Bldg. San Francisco
  • Ellery Davis, Security-Mutual Bldg. Lincoln
  • Bertram G. Goodhue, 2 West 47th New York City
  • John Latenser & Sons, Peters Trust Bldg. Omaha
  • H. Van Buren Magonigle, 101 Park Ave. New York City
  • John McDonald and Alan McDonald, Omaha National Bank Bldg. Omaha
  • McKim, Mead & White, 101 Park Ave. New York City
  • John Russell Pope, 527 Fifth Ave. New York City
  • Tracy & Swartwout, 244 Fifth Ave. New York City
  • Paul P. Cret, and Zantinger, Borie and Medary, 112 So. 16th St. Philadelphia.


  • To be appointed in latter part of competition.

Nebraska Capitol Commission

  • Samuel P. McKelvie, Chairman, Governor of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • William H. Thompson, Attorney at Law, 201 Third St. Grand Island
  • William E. Hardy, Merchant, 1304 ‘0’ St. Lincoln
  • Walter W. Head, Banker, Omaha National Bank, Omaha
  • George E. Johnson, State Engineer, Acting Secretary, State House, Lincoln

Professional Advisor

  • Thomas R. Kimball, 826 World-Herald Bldg. Omaha


  • Approval of House Roll #3 February 20, 1919
  • Appointment Capitol Commission February 21, 1919
  • Appointment of Professional Advisor June 24, 1919
  • Preliminary Stage Competition Begun September 30, 1919
  • Preliminary Stage Competition Judgment December 2, 1919
  • Conference-Commission and Competitors at Lincoln January 10, 1920
  • Final Stage Competition Begun March 1, 1920
  • Answering questions by Professional Advisor ceases April 1, 1920
  • Final Stage showings to be received June 15, 1920
  • Final Judgment Announcement July 1, 1920

Program Exhibits (Each exhibit is an essential part of the program)

  • A-House Roll No. 3
  • B-Preliminary Stage Report of Jury
  • C-Survey
  • D-“A Responsible Form of Government”
  • E- Preliminary Stage Program
  • F- Map of Lincoln, Nebraska
  • G-Fee Plus Cost Contract
  • H-Basic Rate Contract

Statement by the Nebraska Capitol Commission

As recited in the program for the preliminary stage of this competition, the ultimate object of the Commission is to secure to the citizens of Nebraska the best Capitol that is obtainable under present conditions. In adopting a competition as the best means of selecting an architect, the Commission is following what it believes to be the best custom, and in detail is being guided by the usage of the American Institute of Architects, and in accord therewith has appointed Thomas R. Kimball, Architect, of Omaha, Nebraska, its Professional Advisor, and has conducted the preliminary stage of this competition under his guidance. A copy of the program of the preliminary stage of this competition is marked Exhibit “E’ and is enclosed herewith, and in so far as it is not in conflict with this program of the final stage, is to be considered part of it. The Commission agrees with its advisor that the best result in any building operation is only attainable through the closest and fullest collaboration between the Owner and the Architect during the solving of the building problem. To that end, it seems in this competition not to buy a plan with the expectation that the new Capitol will be built from it, but wholly with the expectation that the showings made shall serve as means of selecting an architect. To this end, the Commission desires that there shall be a clear understanding in the matter, and that whoever is finally selected as its architect shall look forward to a complete study of the Capitol problem in close touch with this Commission which has been charged with the task of creating a new Capitol for the State of Nebraska.

As to plan, scope, style, type of material, the Capitol Commission will offer no suggestion. Even in the matter of tradition it is clearly the desire of the Commission that each competitor shall feel free to express what is in his heart, unmindful of what has been inherited in this regard, willing even that the legacies of the Masters should guide and restrain rather than fetter.

While the Commission is very anxious not to handicap the competitors, or to limit the possibilities, it is nevertheless quite clear on much that it seeks to realize in the final result, and is certain to be disappointed should the Capitol finally erected not prove to be.

Aims Summarized

  • First: A practical working home for the Government machinery of the State; adequate not only for present needs, but with provision made or anticipated for development and growth for a century to come.
  • Second: An inspiring monument worthy of the State for which it stands; a thing of beauty, so conceived and fashioned as to properly record and exploit our civilization, aspirations and patriotism, past, present and future; intelligently designed, durably and conscientiously built, and of worthy materials, and all beautifully and fittingly set, surrounded, embellished and adequately furnished.
  • Third: The whole accomplished without friction, scandal, extravagance, or waste, a work calculated to inspire pride in every Nebraskan.

The Commission believes that the following memorandum (New Capitol Requirements) quite accurately represents the requirements of the offices and departments for which provision is to be made, and offers it and the accompanying pamphlet by Governor S. R. McKelvie, entitled.

Observations on Arrangement:
Should a separate housing be suggested for some of the large and growing, though less conspicuous departments, it is pointed out that the monumental or more distinguished group or groups, should still include in addition to the legislative halls, Supreme Court, and Library, the offices and quarters for all the elective officials of the State, and a War Memorial Room. However, the Supreme Court, State Library, and Attorney General’s office might function perfectly as an independent unit. It is desired that each competitor charge himself with sufficient study of the requirements of state governments in general and of Nebraska in particular to enable him to offer a solution based on his original research and understanding of the whole problem; particularly is this desirable in the groupings of important departments with relation to each other, and of accessory elements with relation to the important units with which they are intended to function.

Purposes of Competition:
Here, however, competitors are again reminded that in their solutions they are not asked to make working drawings or even sketches for any purpose other than to aid in the selection of an architect, and that the study of the broad problem is far more important at this time than striving for the exact disposition of minor detail.

New Capitol Requirements
(Representing the latest thought by members of the Nebraska Capitol Commission and the present occupants of the old building.)

  • Senate Chamber (thirty-three senators): For the Senate there should be provided about twelve committee rooms with proper dependencies, and reasonable space for visitors.
  • House of Representatives (one hundred members): For the House of Representatives there should be provided about twelve committee rooms with proper dependencies, and reasonable space for visitors.
  • Legislative Reference Bureau: For this Bureau, which functions only while the Legislature is in session, there should be provided at least three rooms; Reading Room, Reference Library, and Stenographers’ Room.
  • Supreme Court (seven judges and three commissioners): For the Supreme Court there should be provided two court rooms, two consultation rooms, ten judge’s rooms, with stenographers’ rooms attached, one lawyer’s retiring room, all with proper dependencies.
  • One Clerk’s Room to function with main court room and to accommodate Clerk, Deputy Clerk, Journal Clerk, Opinion Clerk, and Stenographer.
  • An adjoining bookkeeper’s room, and receiving and storing room for briefs, blanks, etc. A connecting vault and two reporter’s rooms adjacent to the State Library.
  • State Library (in same building with Supreme Court): A law library of 80,000 volumes, increasing at the rate of 2000 per year (400 feet of shelving added per year). The State Library should have an adequate reading room with separate rooms for receiving and forwarding, cataloguing, preparation for binding, and correspondence, with five or six small private rooms for dictation and a stack room with adequate ultimate shelving capacity.

Additional Requirements
In addition to the above requirements, about 80,000 square feet of floor space seems to be advisable.

The Old Capitol
The present Capitol is a four story and basement building, of local limestone, in a very bad state of repair; it was erected in 1886, and is today wholly outgrown and inadequate. Its total length is three hundred twenty feet; the central portion measures one hundred by a depth of one hundred eighty feet; the wings are ninety-five feet deep by one hundred long.

Miscellaneous Notes, Site, etc.
The site is practically level (sloping sightly from the building in all directions), and is generously covered with well grown trees. Prevailing winds are from the south in summer and northwest in winter. Even with the surrounding trees, the exposure is hot, dry and glaring in summers. Manifestly, the power plant should not be located on the building site proper; suitable locations on trackage and within practical distances are available and need not be given much consideration at this time.

It is estimated that about three quarters of the traffic approaches from the northwest at present, with the major part of that coming from the west; also that fully one half of those entering the old building do so by the west door, and about one quarter by the east door, a distribution likely to continue indefinitely.

Present property lines, topography, neighboring traffic arteries, with car lines and other public service contracts, will be shown in the Survey (Exhibit “C” herein) and the location in the city is shown on the map of Lincoln (Exhibit “F” herewith).

Lincoln Statue
Attention is directed to French’s bronze statue of Lincoln at present on the site. Solutions should consider this monument and suggest for it a proper part in the ensemble, preferably but not imperatively on the building site proper.

Local Materials
Nebraska produces practically no coal, and only minor lines of building material, thus relieving the problem of home production complications and handicaps.

Nebraska Capitol Commission
By George E. Johnson, Acting Secretary