Architect Lorenz Schmidt was born in Clyde, Kansas, April 25, 1884. He was the eldest of nine children born to Bernhardt and Magdalene (Gram) Schmidt. Typical for the time and being the eldest of nine children, Lorenz began working the farm at a young age. He left school after he completed the 7th grade to work full time on the farm. When he was a young man of 18, he lost his leg in a farming accident. No longer able to work the farm, he went back to finish high school. Schmidt soon found a job as a barber that provided room and board so he would not have to traverse the three miles between home and school twice a day. He finished high school in Emporia, Kansas and attended Kansas State Normal School (now Emporia State University) for one year. While attending the University of Illinois, Schmidt worked as a barber to fund his education. He graduated with a B.S. in architecture in 1913. He came to Wichita in 1915 and practiced there until his death in 1952. Schmidt was elected to the 1951 class of fellows of the American Institute of Architects. According to his obituary published on the front page of the Wichita Eagle, February 6, 1952, he was the only practicing architect from Kansas ever to receive a fellowship in the American Institute of Architects. The press release announcing his selection cited that he had been active in the passage of the Kansas Architectural Registration legislation; helped organize the Wichita Association of Architects in 1945 and served as its first president; helped organize the Kansas Builders forum; served on the Wichita Planning Commission; had been active with the Chamber of Commerce, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Community Chest and Boy Scout council and established annual scholarships at Kansas State and Kansas University.
Schmidt designed a wide array of structures that remain part of the Wichita landscape. He is most well known for his school buildings. A few of the schools he designed for the Wichita School District are: Horace Mann Elementary (demolished), Washington (demolished), Linwood (demolished), East High School, Hamilton Middle School, Blessed Sacrament School, James Allison, and Roosevelt. This association with the Wichita School District helped launch his career throughout the region.
Never shirking his civic duties, in addition to designing the Fresh Air Baby Camp, Schmidt did architectural work for the planned war housing projects during World War II at Hilltop Manor and Planeview in Wichita, as well as war housing projects in Great Bend, Independence, Liberal, Pratt, Victoria, Junction City and Independence.
Entry: Schmidt, Lorentz
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: March 2011
Date Modified: January 2013
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.