WHITEHOUSE & WIRGLER
Partners James Whitehouse & August Wirgler
1009 South 8th, Denver, Colorado
Sculptors & Wood Stone Carvers
courtesy of the Brown Palace Hotel
"Whitehouse & Wirgler" commissioned by Chicago
architect Frank E. Edbrooke, designed sandstone carvings for the exterior of the
Brown Palace Hotel. Construction of the hotel located at 17th and Broadway,
situated on a triangular lot, began in the late summer of 1890 and was completed
October 23, 1892.
Sandstone carvings gracing the exterior of the building
included a relief bust of H. C. Brown, stone garlands, ornamental carvings in
the arch above the entrance to the hotel, a classical frieze between the sixth
and seventh floor, and 26 stone medallions depicting Rocky Mountain wildlife,
situated between the windows of the seventh floor.
Much of the decorative sandstone sculptures were removed due
to the fragile condition of the sandstone. Today, the sculptures around
the doors and medallions on the seventh floor remain on the building.
James M. Whitehouse, born in 1845 in Scotland, immigrated to the United
States in 1869, settling in New York City, working as a brown stone cutter.
Mr. Whitehouse married Annie Sweeney in 1870 in New York City.
Annie, born 1849 in England, immigrated to the United States in 1864. The
couple had ten children of which eight were living by 1900: Annie, Elizabeth,
Charlotte, Henry, Florence, Loretta, Alice, and Helen. The
family lived in New York City, in the 12th Ward near 1st Avenue and Harlem River
for nearly 21 years.
James Whitehouse and August Wirgler co-founded a wood and
stone carving business called "Whitehouse & Wirgler" with two
employees John Caster and Frank Walter, sometime
before 1888, located at 114 East 19th Street in Kansas City, Missouri.
James lived at 3003 Locust while August lived next door at 3001 Locust in Kansas
877 South 9th Street, Denver, Colorado - Built 1889
Whitehouse and Wirlger moved to Denver,
Colorado in 1890 establishing their wood and stone carving sculptor business
first at 1449 South 7th then relocated their sculptor shop to 1009 South 8th in 1892. James Whitehouse set up residence first at 1012
Colfax Ave West in 1891, then 1019 South
9th in 1892, and established a permanent residence at 877 S. 9th in 1893. Co-partner August Wirgler set up a residence at 860 S Water St. in
1892 and subsequently set up a permanent residence at 929 S. Water St.
Brown Palace Hotel
The company of "Whitehouse and Wirgler" was
commissioned to design and cut sandstone carvings for the exterior of the
Brown Palace Hotel in 1891.
James Whitehouse and partner August Wirgler had a combined
work experience of over 60 years stone carving experience by 1891. James
started his apprenticeship in 1860 in Scotland, while August, under the
guidance of his father in Paris, France apprenticed in 1855.
Stone carvers employed by Whitehouse & Wirgler on the
project included John A. Aitken and Joseph Fechtner.
The Crucifixion - Last Project of James Whitehouse
Salt Lake Herald, September 23, 1906, page 34
Utah Historical Newspaper Archives
James Whitehouse designed and started the preliminary
outlines of the granite stone sculptor group called "The Crucifixion"
located above the entrance of the St. Mary's Cathedral in Salt Lake City,
Utah in about the year 1900. Mr. Whitehouse died in 1904 before the project
could be completed. Sculptor Louis Kerber of Switzerland, finished
the group of life-sized granite stone sculptures of Christ, the Virgin
Mary, and the Apostle John, project in September of 1906.
Children of James Whitehouse and Annie Sweeney
Eldest daughter, Annie Whitehouse married in about the
year 1890, James
Scott McGilvray, son of Alexander McGilvray and Jessie Duff .
James Scott McGilvray was a nephew of John Duff McGilvray, one of the
largest stone contractors in Denver. James S. McGilvray was also a cousin of David Duff Seerie,
who was a co-partner with William F. Geddes in the stone contracting
business of "Geddes & Seerie," which supplied the various stone
materials for the construction of the Brown Palace Hotel and the Colorado State
James S. McGilvray died an untimely death in a construction accident in San
Francisco on October 10, 1896. Annie secondly married William Faircloth,
July 7, 1909 in Denver. William died in 1932 in Denver while Annie died in 1952
in Los Angeles, California
Daughter Elizabeth Whitehouse never married and lived
at 958 Lincoln Street; Charlotte never married and died at the age of 30 in
1904; Henry, a stone mason and contractor, never married and died at the
age of 48 in 1926; Florence Rosalie lived with her mother Annie in
1900-nothing further is known; Laurette "Leona" Margret suffered a fatal
shotgun wound in January 1903 after being mistakenly shot by a neighbor while
she and her friends were playing pranks in the neighborhood ringing doorbells
and running off; Alice Marisa married Arthur Verne Ferris
in 1910 in Denver; and Helen married Wolfred John Gribble in 1922
This biography made possible
by the contributions of Nancy Trude, California
written by Barbara Lewellen, and edited by Nancy Trude
August J. Wirgler (Vurgler), born 1850 in Paris, France
immigrated to the United States about the year 1870, settling in Chicago, Illinois working as a stone carver.
The surname Wirgler is the Swiss variant form of the French surname
Vurgler/Vercler. August Wirgler is found recorded in United States, birth,
marriage, death, and census records under the variant spellings of Wirgler,
Wigler, Wirglir, and Wergeler.
Adolphine Huys August 2, 1879 in Cook County, Illinois and established a residence at 448
Union Street, Chicago, by 1880. Adolphine, born June 25, 1851,
Enghien, Hainaut, Belgium, immigrated to the United States sometime before 1870
settling in Chicago, working as a servant for John Borden, a lawyer, wife Sarah
and three children in the 20th Ward of Chicago.
Adolphine first married John Wester, November 21, 1871
in Chicago and had one son named John born in 1872. John Wester, is
enumerated in the 1880 Federal Census as "John W. Wirgler" in the
household of August Wirgler and Adolphine Huys in Chicago.
August and Adolphine had six children: Three
children were born in Chicago- E. Adele (1881), August Julius (1883),
and Lucie Julia (1886). Their fourth child, Lisette
Wirgler, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, September of 1888. Two
children were born in Denver, Colorado: Henry J. (1891) and Louis A.
Whitehouse & Wirgler
August Wirgler and co-partner James Whitehouse
owned the sculptor company "Whitehouse and Wirgler" sometime
before 1888 in
Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Directory indicates that the
sculptor business was located at 114 E. 19th. August and family lived at
3001 Locust Street.
929 South Water St.
860 South Water Street -Light blue house in middle
Row houses sit on lots 25' across & 125' deep-built 1885
Mr. Wirgler and family arrived in Denver sometime near 1890
living first at 860 South Water Street then 929 South Water Street.
Whitehouse and Wirgler set up their sculptor shop at 1449 South 7th in 1891
then relocated to 1009 South 8th Street. Both shop locations were demolished in
the 1950s and the streets were renamed in
Brown Palace Hotel
The sculptor company of "Whitehouse and Wirgler" was commission by Chicago architect Frank E. Edbrooke, to carve sandstone
carvings for the exterior the Brown Palace Hotel. Frank E. Edbrooke
arrived in Denver from Chicago in 1879.
August, apprenticed as a stone and wood carver in 1855 in
Paris, France under the guidance of his father and had over 35 years experience
as a stone carver, working in Chicago and Kansas City.
The Brown Palace Hotel was completed in 1892. The
silver mining industry in Colorado collapsed in 1893 shutting down the booming
construction business in Denver for over a year. Men employed in
construction moved on to Salt Lake City and San Francisco in order to gain
employment. Whitehouse and Wirgler remained in Denver.
Brown Palace Hotel
The success of the sandstone carvings and sculptures
for the Brown Palace Hotel might possibly have led to future employment by
Frank E. Edbrooke, on his other major projects in Denver including the
Majestic Building (1894), Cooper Building (1895), Denver Dry Goods Company
at 16th and California Street in 1896, and the Central Presbyterian Church
at 1660 Sherman Street (1899).
Adolphine Huys Wirgler
August's wife Adolphine died on a Sunday
afternoon, in Denver, at their residence at 929 Water Street, February 18, 1900.
August, who was working on the Stanford Chapel in Santa Clara County,
California, returned to Denver to arrange her funeral, which was held on
Saturday, at 2:00 p.m., February 24,
1900, with burial at Riverside Cemetery.
Adolphine Wirgler gravestone at Riverside Cemetery
Photo courtesy of Fairmount Cemetery-Gloria Lynch
Gravestone lettering is made more visible by filling in the engraved letters
August escorted his six children to the Denver Union Depot Station after the funeral to board a
train to Mayfield Township, Palo Alto, California. "According to my
grandmother, the family left Denver very soon after her mother passed away.
They were quite a sight as her father marched the six children, all dressed in
black, to the train station," states granddaughter Nancy Trude.
Union Depot Train Station, Denver, Colorado
Colorado State Archives, Historic Photos
Stanford Chapel-Palo Alto, California
August Wirgler left the partnership of "Whitehouse and
Wirgler" May of 1899 to work on the Stanford Chapel in Palo
Alto, California under the construction management of John Duff McGilvray,
who was recently hired by Mrs. Jane Stanford as the Stanford University's new
builder. John Duff McGilvray, was one of the largest stone contractors in
Denver for 15 years from 1879-1892, moved to California in 1893 during the
Upon completing the Leland Stanford construction project
August moved his family to San Francisco, where they witnessed the 1906 earthquake.
Subsequently the Wirgler family moved to Mateo County, California.
The Stanford chapel suffered damage during the earthquake of 1906.
August Wirgler died on May 19, 1910 and was buried
in Colma, in San Mateo County, California. Colma became the burying
grounds for citizens in the San Francisco Bay area after burials were banned due
to limited land usage. There are 17 cemeteries in Colma with over a million
burials as of 2007.
The children of August and Adolphine Wirgler all married in
California: Elise Adele married Charles F. Merkel; August
Julius married Luella L. Barton, Lucie Julie married Wyman
Evan Simpson; Lisette M. married Orlando Joseph Lemuel Byers;
Harry married Vivian McDaniel; and Louis A. married Adra M.
August J. Wirgler Jr. & son Lloyd A. Wirgler
August J. Wirgler and son Lloyd A. Wirgler, having
apprenticed and mastered the art of stone carving became the third and fourth
generation of Wirgler men to become master stone-carvers, following in the
footsteps of August Wirgler Sr. and his father of Paris, France. August
and son Lloyd worked on many projects in Los Angeles and along the Monterey
Clackamas County Courthouse - Oregon
August Wirgler, Jr., and his son Lloyd A. Wirgler, working
with long-time friend Thomas Mullaney worked on the limestone stone-carved
ornamental designs on the outside of the Clackamas County Courthouse, in Oregon
City, Oregon. Their
fourth partner, carver, William Julien, returned to San Francisco
due to illness.
Carvings completed for the Clackamas County Courthouse
included huge eagles which stood guard over the 8th & Main Street entrances, an
ornamental belt which girds the building just above the third story, a huge pair
of stone scales measuring six feet across; and a statuary called "The All-Seeing
Eye" which is seven feet tall with a man holding a stone eye in his hands.
Oregon Historical County Records, Gary Halvorson
Oregon State Archives, Scenic County Images
August Wirgler Jr., son Lloyd A. Wirgler, Thomas Mullaney and
William Julien worked together for over 30 years. Examples of their work included the
Los Angeles Times Building, the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Grace
Cathedral in San Francisco, and the U. S. Mint in San Francisco.
San Francisco Grace Cathedral
San Francisco Hall of Justice
San Francisco U. S. Mint
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