December 16, 2012

Architect designed, constructed iconic buildings in Kansas

For most Kansans, the name Erasmus T. Carr probably doesn’t have a familiar ring.

For most Kansans, the name Erasmus T. Carr probably doesn’t have a familiar ring.

But talk about the buildings he constructed and his place in state history becomes evident: Anderson Hall at Kansas State University in Manhattan; the Kansas State Capitol Building in Topeka, and the Kansas State Penitentiary, which later became the Lansing Correctional Facility.

He was born in Greenville, N.Y., on Oct. 28, 1824. He started out as a bricklayer, mason and carpenter and, in time, became an architect. He moved to Kansas in 1855. He had been offered the position of superintendent of buildings at Fort Leavenworth, constructing the Arsenal and Ordnance Depot.

He then opened an architectural office in Leavenworth and began work on designing the state penitentiary building in 1863. In 1876, Carr designed the Kansas exhibit building for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

His work on Anderson Hall at K-State was done in pieces, according to the building’s application form for the National Register of Historic Places. The Victorian Gothic building design was completed in 1878. It was built in stages based on each year’s appropriations from the state legislature. At the time it was completed in 1884, it was one of the largest school buildings in the state.

As his reputation grew, Carr designed buildings for the State Normal School in Emporia, the Insane Asylum at Topeka, the Institute for the Blind in Wyandotte and courthouses for Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Brown, Nemaha, Dickinson and Morris counties. He also designed other school buildings throughout the state.

Carr served as the state architect for Kansas from 1879 through 1885. He was one of three architects to design the Capitol Building in Topeka.

He and his family left the state in 1902 and moved to Montana where he continued his work as an architect. It is unknown when he died.

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