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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

13. Architects and builders,   pp. 227-248


Page 230

Kemp, Frank H.
Frank Kemp is the most well-known historic architect in the city of Janesville. His designs are
also noteworthy in Beloit. Kemp was born in Roxbury, Wisconsin, of parents who came to the
United States from France and Germany in 1854. Kemp lived on the family farm in Roxbury
until he was 20, when he entered architecture school in Milwaukee; he completed his training
in St. Louis. In 1890, he settled in Madison, where he practiced for approximately two years.
Between 1892 and 1896, he practiced in Janesville, and between 1897 and 1900, he practiced in
Madison again. In 1900, he relocated to Beloit, remaining there until his death in 1944. (Zellie
1986:6)
An extremely prolific and progressive architect, Kemp designed buildings in Janesville, Beloit,
Manitowoc, Milwaukee, and several smaller Wisconsin communities; he also worked in
Freeport, Illinois; Austin, Texas; and Waterloo, Iowa. His early work, especially in Janesville
and Edgerton, was broadly Queen Anne in styling, although his basic house form tended to be
more symmetrical than typical Queen Anne designs. His post-1900 work featured a combination
of Craftsman, Prairie, and Tudor details. In particular, he experimented with Craftsman
bungalows. In his later work, Kemp turned to more traditional period revival styles,
especially Colonial Revival. Yet, even then, his own architectural personality was evident-
details tended to be heavy, the corners were clearly delineated, and irregular facades
remained strong. He had a preference for dormers: most of his residential designs display
them, no matter the style. He also favored rusticated red brick and variegated masonry
exteriors. (Hartung 1982:n.p.)
In Janesville, some of Kemp's noted commissions included St. Mary's Catholic Church, the
London Hotel, the Schmidley Flats, and the Rock County Poorhouse (not extant). He designed
many residences in Janesville and Beloit. His other Wisconsin commissions included the
Stoughton City Hall and Library; the Carlton Hotel in Edgerton; and the Church of the
Nazarene, Bacon Flats, and Parker School (not extant) in Beloit. (Brown 1908:290; Architect's
File; National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Pre-World War I Masonry Flat
Buildings of Janesville, 1981; Hartung 1982: n.p.)
The following list includes designs that are on file at the Rock County Historical Society or
have been researched by its staff. Others on the list have been attributed to Kemp by former
Society director Richard P. Hartung, the foremost authority on Kemp's work; they are
indicated with an *
Designs:      Phillip Reuss House, 909 E. Centerway.
Mark Ripley House, 606 E. Court St., Courthouse Hill Historic District.
Frank Kemp House*, 305 Eisenhower, Prospect Hill Historic District.
Schmidley Flats, 15 N. High St., Look West Historic District.
George Simpson House, 502 E. Holmes St., Courthouse Hill Historic District.
Olaf H. Olson House, 630 E. Holmes St., Courthouse Hill Historic District.
G. Fred Ehrlinger House*, 211 Jackman St., Courthouse Hill Historic District.
Fred R. Jones House, 315 Jackman St., Courthouse Hill Historic District.
Charles E. Tallman House*, 426 N. Jackson St., Look West Historic District.
Stanley D. Tallman House*, 430 N. Jackson St., Look West Historic District.
Frederick Rau House*, 429 N. Jackson St., Look West Historic District.
Peters Block, 113-117 E. Milwaukee St., East Milwaukee Street Historic
District.
Architects and Builders
230


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