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Ernest O. Brostrom

Architect (1889-1969)

Ernest O. Brostrom (1888-1969) was a respected Kansas City architect known especially for his church designs. He had no formal training in the field of architecture, and he began his career in 1907 as a draftsman with the Eisentraut-Colby-Pottenger Company Architects, in Sioux City, Iowa. Brostrom came to Kansas City that same year to help the firm establish another office. At 23 years old, he established his own office in Kansas City. Brostrom became a great admirer of the Chicago School and the work of Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. 

In 1919 Brostrom published the book Churches, which offered advice and design ideas to religious congregations considering building projects. His designs reflected traditional styles including the Gothic, Classical, and Tudor revivals, but also popular styles of the day such as Prairie. In his book, Brostrom stressed “the [church] building should express its purpose in its exterior form and structure; impressing the feeling ‘this is an Holy Place’; should lend assistance in the efficient administration of the educational work; providing proper facilities for the social life and community service; in a sentence should embody all that will make for an ideal and practical structure.” 
While his work in churches is notable, Brostrom completed commercial projects as well; both the Rushton Bakery and Jensen-Salbery Laboratories are excellent examples of the commercial prairie style.

As the economy of the Midwest declined in the 1920s so did Brostrom’s church commissions.  In 1927 he diversified his practice by organizing and becoming president of Con Tee Company, which made products for use in reinforced concrete construction. Though Brostrom continued to work on some individual projects out of his home he never returned to the same level of success that he had attained before the 1920’s. One of Brostrom’s last projects was for the St. Stephen Baptist Church.

In the mid-1960s Brostrom retired to Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. He died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on August 28, 1969. 

Find a list of Brostrum buildings listed on the State or National Register.

Entry: Brostrom, Ernest O.

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: January 2013

Date Modified: March 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.