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Coolidge & Hodgdon (formerly Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge)


Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge were retained as official architects of the University of Nebraska in April, 1914. The firm was comprised of George Shepley (1860-1903), Charles Rutan (1851-1914) and Charles Coolidge (1858-1936). All of these men were employed by the celebrated Boston architect, Henry Hobson Richardson, at the time of his death in 1886. When Richardson died at the age of 47 his young staff inherited his tremendous popularity, his reputation and his unfinished commissions. Eventually they went on to become one the most successful architectural offices in the United States. One of their most widely known projects was the design of Stanford University. They went on to design many other educational/institutional buildings including work for the University of Chicago, Harvard University, Southern Methodist University, Vassar College, and many other schools, as well as the Chicago Art Institute and the old Chicago Public Library. When the University of Nebraska began its relationship with the firm only Charles Rutan and Charles Coolidge were living, George Shepley having died in 1903. In December, 1914 Rutan also died. Coolidge remained in the Boston office, and took Charles Hodgson, from their Chicago office, as his partner. They officially changed their name to Coolidge and Hodgdon in 1915. Their relationship with the University of Nebraska lasted until 1925, and produced many important buildings located on both campuses. In 1925, Chancellor Avery, facing pressure from the Regents to employ local architects for University buildings, notified Charles Hodgdon that the University wished to sever its relationship with his firm.

Early planning work done by Coolidge and Hodgdon included development of a style of architecture to be used for all future buildings. Classical in detail, the buildings on the city campus were constructed of red brick, with Bedford limestone trim. Nearly all of the larger buildings had imposing columns and pilasters, the Social Sciences building (CBA) being the most elegant example. The farm campus buildings were executed in the buff brick common to nearly all buildings constructed there after 1900. The firm also produced campus plans such as the 1914 plans and a later plan done around 1920 incorporating land purchased between 14th and 16th streets, and north to the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks. Eventually both of these plans were replaced by the Seymour plan of 1926.

Buildings by Coolidge and Hodgdon, including design date, are as follows:

Botany-Zoology Building, now called Bessey Hall; 1915.
Chemical Laboratory, now called Avery Hall; 1915.
Social Sciences, now called CBA; 1915
Teachers College high school building; 1916
Farm Campus Dairy Building, now called Filley Hall; 1914
Animal Pathology buildings, now called Forestry Hall; 1918, 1919
Agricultural Engineering, now called Chase Hall; 1915.

Source Information:
MacMillan Encyclopedia of Architects, see Shepley Rutan and Coolidge.
Encyclopedia of Architecture, Design, Engineering and Construction. John Wiley & Sons, 1988.