Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue

Lead Architect

Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue

Image Courtesy: Nebraska Capitol Collections

Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue was born on April 28, 1869 in Connecticut. Goodhue spent much of his youth studying classic arts and humanities, a factor that would later serve as a central foundation for his design for the Nebraska State Capitol.

As a general philosophy, Goodhue believed that architecture was meant to be inspirational and enriching. While many of his contemporaries in the US and abroad had started to abandon ornamentation for modernism and strict geometry, Goodhue stuck to his classical background as he made a name for himself.

Goodhue was awarded the contract for the third and final Nebraska State Capitol and enjoyed full creative freedom when designing the building. He quickly assembled a team to inspire and execute his artistic vision for the Capitol. One of these individuals was Hildreth Meière, who recognized Goodhue’s genius and remained thankful for the opportunity to work with him.

The opportunity to work for the Nebraska Capitol is the sort of thing that doesn’t come more than once in an artist’s lifetime, and then only if he’s lucky. It was a new type of architecture, and it meant really creative work as well as pioneering in materials. Bertram Goodhue believed that the great building would result from the architect who had found the right sculptor and the right painter. He had his sculptor in Lee Lawrie, but he had no regular painter, and he said to me when I first worked for him, “I’ve been looking for you for years.” I only did three jobs for him, but the association with him and his ideas were a determining factor in my work and career.

Meière, letter to Mr. Thompson (probably a reporter), May 23, 1936, Hildreth Meière Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

The Nebraska State Capitol is considered his greatest work and the pinnacle of his career. Goodhue’s other great works include St. Thomas and St. Bartholomew’s Churches in New York, the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington DC, the campus design of West Point, The U.S. Military Chapel, and the downtown Los Angeles Public Library. Bertram Goodhue suffered an unexpected and untimely death in 1924.


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