The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989

The Designing Architect: Elijah E. Myers
PAUL GOELDNER*
E LIJAH E. MYERS, ARCHITECT OF THE TEXAS CAPITOL, LEFT A LEGACY
of impressive public buildings, but as a biographical subject his
middle initial might well stand for Enigma. His childhood and youth
can be traced to Philadelphia, but there are no reminiscences of family,
teachers, or friends.' We know of no religious or philosophical creed
that directed his actions or sustained him in adversity. His wife and
children are shadowy figures-even the son who became his profes-
sional partner. Our principal sources of information on the man behind
the buildings are the business correspondence and official minutes in
the archives of the cities, counties, and states that were his clients in one
of the most geographically extensive architectural practices of the late
nineteenth century. Although these papers are formal in tone, as suits a
contractual relationship, they cannot conceal the strained tempers and
frustrations of dealing at a distance with a man whose arrogance and
deviousness so frequently betrayed his genius. Much that might have
been said was probably withheld as improper or embarrassing.
Myers's career coincides with a period of revolutionary changes in
the profession of architecture in the United States. In I863, when he
first advertised himself as an architect in Springfield, Illinois, there was
no academic training in any American university to provide profes-
sional credentials, and no Americans had yet returned from formal ar-
chitectural studies in Europe.2 Apprenticeship was not monitored by a
professional guild and in most cases was not thought necessary. At the
*Paul Goeldner is chief of the Historic Resource Services Division in the Office of Profes-
sional Services in the National Capitol Region of the National Park Service. A registered archi-
tect in Texas, Goeldner received his doctorate from Columbia University and served on the
architecture faculty at Texas Tech University. He is the author of the Texas Catalog: Historic
American Buddngs Survey (1974) and the Utah Catalog: Historic American Buddmgs Survey (1979)-
'Martha Ann Kuepper Koellner, "Elijah E. Myers (1832-1909), Architect" (M.A. thesis,
Western Illinois University, 1972), 2.
2Ibid.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed December 24, 2014.