Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

SCHWARZ, JOSEPH (1858-1927)

Born in New York City on February 22, 1858, Joseph Schwarz moved with his family to La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1861. He trained in the family firm as a cabinetmaker and later worked for a contracting company. Schwarz moved to Dakota Territory in the early 1880s. By 1887 he was a practicing architect in Sioux Falls.

A devout Catholic, Schwarz was long associated with the Diocese of Sioux Falls. Between 1895 and 1924 he designed at least twenty Catholic churches in South Dakota and Nebraska as well as schools and parish houses. Schwarz preferred the Gothic style for his churches, a design aesthetic that met with approval from the mostly German and Czech parishioners. His most notable church buildings include St. Mary's in Salem, South Dakota (1896); St. Wenceslaus' in Tabor, South Dakota (1898– 99); Saints Peter and Paul in Bow Valley, Nebraska (1903); and Holy Family in Mitchell, South Dakota (1903–6).

Two of Schwarz's sons, both trained architects, joined the firm after 1900, and their designs began to shift toward classical motifs. Also at this time the firm began to receive significant public commissions. Several of the most noteworthy are the Carnegie Library in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (1903); Sioux Falls High School (1906); the Lyon County Courthouse in Rock Rapids, Iowa (1915); and the administration building at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota (1912– 18). Joseph Schwarz died in Sioux Falls on December 26, 1927.

Michael Bedeau Idaho State Historic Preservation Office

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