Copper Country Architects

Biographical Dictionary of Copper Country Architects

Frank W. Hessenmueller

by A. K. Hoagland
with additions by Steven A. Walton.

Frank Hessenmueller had a brief but varied career in the Copper Country. He designed a range of commercial buildings and at least one residential building before departing for unknown reasons.

Biography

Little is known of Frank Hessenmueller, who appeared in the 1907-08 and 1910 Polk’s Directories, but not in the 1912 one. His office was in the Calumet State Bank building in Calumet, and he lived in a neighboring suite, suggesting that he was not married.  In 1908 he was on the committee to investigate the potential and site for a new Elks lodge building, though it is not clear that anything came of this plan.1

He seems to have been a fan of governmental process in construction and argued for “the commission form”: “It is my belief that under the commission form of government we might arrive at a more equitable and fairer imposition of the burdens of taxation, among other beneficial results. I am heartily In favor of a change in the form of our municipal government along the lines of the commission system, or any other system that will serve to afford us the…”2 What seems to be under discussion here is a type of Progressive-era commission system that municipalities had just begun to adopt that brought together a group of experts as a commission, to develop a master plan for the task at hand.  The system developed out of the Daniel Burnham-era Chicago reforms and was particularly strong in the upper midwest.

In 1906 he was practicing in Chicago at 225 Dearborn St. and received the commission to build a four-story warehouse for Elsie Kirchner.  The $50,000 building at Ohio and Kingsbury Streets (on the east side of the north branch of the Chicago River in RiverNorth, just north of Grand Ave.) was to be “of mill constructor, have pressed brick and stone front, and have two electric elevators.”  It appears that that building would have been demolished for the highway spur from I-90/94 that leads to Ohio and Ontario Streets.3 Previsouly he seems to have been part of the firm of Hessenmueler & Meldal  of Chicago that designed and built pressed brick and stone multi-story apartment blocks in Chicago.4

Buildings

Notes

  1. Duluth Evening News, 8 Feb. 1908, p. 20, col. 6.
  2. Duluth Evening News, 29 Nov. 1910. See also “The Charter Commission Acts” and “The Commission Plan: No. 14. It is Good for Chicago, It Is Good for Duluth,” ibid., 30 Nov. 1910, p. 3, col. 1.
  3. American Architect and Building News, vol. 89, no. 1587 (26 May 1906), p. vi.
  4. The Economist, 22 July 1899 , p. 117.

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