William August Fiedler (1842–1903)

William August Fiedler
Ca. 1880 by Burnham and Root (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

A native of Elbing, Germany, William August Fiedler (who generally went by the name August Fiedler) received his architectural training in Germany. He immigrated to America in 1871, stopping first in New York, where he married the following year. Within a few years, he relocated to Chicago, where he practiced both architecture and interior design. Fiedler’s most notable building, the 1889 Germania Club, became an important gathering place for Chicago’s German community as the home of the Germania Maennerchor, a men’s choral club. Now a Chicago Landmark, the monumental brick building sits atop a two-story rusticated limestone base, and its rich ornamentation includes terra cotta lyres resting upon Ionic capitals. Fiedler’s noteworthy interior designs include those at the Hegeler-Carus Mansion in LaSalle, Illinois, a National Historic Landmark designed by W.W. Boyington in 1874. Fiedler also contributed to the interior of Chicago’s 1879 Nickerson Mansion, designed by Burling & Whitehouse, which now houses the Driehaus Museum.

In 1893, the Chicago Board of Education chose Fiedler to serve as its Architect and Superintendent of Construction. During his four-year tenure, he supervised the construction of 58 school buildings, including the Burley, Goethe, Kozminski, Nash, Schneider (now Alcott College Prep West Campus), Smyth and Yates schools. Like his Germania Club, Fiedler’s schools often featured a rusticated stone base and upper floors of brick with fanciful cut-limestone details. Although Fiedler never achieved the same level of prominence as some of the other architects who served the Board of Education, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.