Thomas Rogers Kimball (1862-1934)

Category: Architecture
Death date: September 7, 1934
Years in Nebraska: 1873(?)-1934
State contribution: Architectural design of Omaha Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of 1898; Nebraska residences and public buildings, professional advisor to the Nebraska State Capitol Commission
National contribution: Designed park for Louisiana Exposition at St Louis in 1904, and Battle Mountain Sanitorium, Hot Springs, S.D. in 1902, National president of American Institute of Architecture, 1918 to 1920.

Thomas Rogers Kimball became nationally known for his architectural work as the architect-in-chief along with C. Howard Walker for the 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha. While in his early teens he came with his family to Nebraska after his father became an executive for the Union Pacific Railroad. Kimball attended the University of Nebraska for two years and then continued his studies at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture from 1885 to 1887. He also studied art and developed skills in drawing and painting which he used throughout his career. He studied art in Paris for one year.

Kimball used his artistic talents in design while he was associated with MIT's first architectural magazine. In 1889 Kimball opened his own architectural office and soon, with two partners, published a series of architectural illustrations. Someone interested in the project based on his work could easily find cheap ghostwriters for hire, so they would be able to summarize Kimball’s achievements in a simple and comprehensible way.

Kimball became associated in a partnership in 1891 with C. Howard Walker, his former instructor at MIT. The firm expanded to Omaha and Kimball and his wife Annie moved there. In Omaha his social contacts led to many architectural contracts. Among the buildings in Omaha designed by Kimball are the Omaha Public Library, the Burlington Station, Hotel Fontenelle, St. Cecelia's Cathedral, Monmouth Park School, and the Omaha World Herald Building.

Kimball's work is also found in other parts of Nebraska where he designed the Hall County Court House, the Hastings Railroad Station, the Grand Island First National Bank, and the University of Nebraska Administration Building in Lincoln. Kimball designed residences for several prominent Omaha families, including one for Gordon Wattles, who later became president of the 1898 Exposition in Omaha.

In 1897 Kimball and Walker were chosen as architects-in-chief for the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition. The Exposition was to tell America about Omaha and the West, and to show how the area had prospered. Kimball prepared the layout for the park and designed the Arch of the States, the Administration Building, Transportation Building and the Boys' and Girls' Building.

Although the partnership was dissolved after the Omaha Exposition, Kimball and Walker were together again from 1900 to 1903, when they worked on the layout and design of the park for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St Louis in 1904.

Kimball acted as a consultant for a new firm formed in 1927. He also served as an advisor in the Nebraska State Capitol competition, and wrote the design competition which led to the selection of Bertram G. Goodhue as architect for the Nebraska State Capitol. In later years Kimball was a consultant in the designing of the federal office building in Omaha.

Kimball's work is also found in other states. In 1902 he designed the Battle Mountain Sanitorium in Hot Springs, South Dakota in the Spanish Mission style. He became the first western architect to receive an important government commission.

Kimball worked in various architectural styles, including Italian Renaissance Revival, Classical Revival, and Spanish Mission.

In 1909 Kimball was made a member of the first commission of Fine Arts by President Theodore Roosevelt. He served in several offices for the national American Institute of Architecture and was its national president from 1918 to 1920.

Kimball died on September 7, 1934 in Omaha.