For sixty-five years, Edmund Eckel was the leading architect in St. Joseph, Missouri. He was born 1845 in Strasburg, Alsace, France and studied in Paris at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts. He arrived in St. Joseph in 1869. Immediately impressed by the post-Civil War building activity he saw, he decided to settle and work there rather than continuing on to Kansas City as originally planned. During his career, he and his associates designed approximately 75% of the city’s buildings. The Eckel and Aldrich Architectural Firm organized in 1910, consisting of Edmund, his son George, and Will S. Aldrich. This talented and prolific firm designed dozens of buildings in St. Joseph, across Missouri, and in surrounding states. Their designs included schools, residences, churches, hospitals, businesses, government buildings and banks. The Eckel and Aldrich firm was one of only two Missouri firms in the final group of ten architects involved in the competition to design the new Missouri State Capitol. Their design finished second to the New York architectural firm of Tracy and Swartwout. The firm, later known as Brunner and Brunner, is credited with designing Columbia, Missouri’s Municipal Building; Union Station in Hannibal, Missouri; St. Louis City Hall; the National Biscuit Company plant in Los Angeles; Council Bluffs, Iowa Courthouse and Jail and St. Joseph’s own City Hall.
The Edmund Eckel/Otto Brunner Architectural Collection was donated to the St. Joseph Museum in 2008 by River Bluffs Architects, a direct descendent of the Eckel and Aldrich firm. The collection contains approximately 20,000 architectural drawings, 12,000 tracings, 9,000 magazines and cut sheets, 1,000 photographs, 500 books, 65 glass negatives, and 200 renderings, as well as correspondence dating to the 1870s, financial records and some furniture. The images presented here are a small portion of that larger collection. These sixty photographs and architectural drawings illustrate one project undertaken by Eckel and Aldrich: the construction of St. Joseph City Hall, which was completed in 1927. The building design is in the Italian Renaissance revival style and is built of stone and concrete. Its south façade faces St. Joseph’s Civic Center Park. The photographs illustrate each step in the construction process as well as interior and exterior details and decoration. The City Hall building reflects the talent of the architects of Eckel and Aldrich as well as the culmination of the City of St. Joseph’s growth period, which ended with the Great Depression of the 1930s.
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How to Use This Collection
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Additional information about St. Joseph and its City Hall can be found at: St. Joseph Museum and City of St. Joseph Missouri.
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