Born and educated in Germany, Frederick Baumann arrived in New York in July, 1850, and had come west to Chicago by September of that same year. In 1851, he joined the office of Chicago’s first professional architect, John M. Van Osdel. The following year, Baumann formed a partnership with Edward Burling. With Burling, Baumann built Chicago’s first large office building, known as the Marine Building, located at Lake and LaSalle streets. The office building, with its cut stone front, rose to a height of seven stories. The Marine foreshadowed Baumann’s later expertise in designing proper foundations for erecting tall, heavy buildings in Chicago’s tricky lakeside soil. He is recognized for his contributions to the development of the skyscraper through the publication of numerous architectural treatises, including The Art of Preparing Foundations for all Kinds of Buildings (1872) and Improvement in the Construction of Tall Buildings (1884).
Frederick Baumann had an enduring, if intermittent, relationship with the Chicago Board of Education. Between 1857 and 1859, he actually served on the Board. About a decade later, he designed the now-demolished Franklin School at Sedgwick and Division and the Hayes School on the west side. Then mid-way through his long and prolific career, in early 1882, Baumann was named the first official Architect and Superintendent of the Chicago Board of Education. Baumann resigned only a few months later, however, having designed at least two more schools. It is unlikely that any of his Chicago school buildings exist today.