George P. Washburn

George P. Washburn was born in 1847 on a farm in Ohio. At age 16, he found himself fighting in the Civil War on the Union side next to his father. After the war, he moved to Quincy, Ill., where he worked in the construction industry and studied math and architecture at Bryant and Stratton's Commercial College.


He moved his family to Ottawa, Kansas in 1879, earning a living as a carpenter. He began his trade as an architect by making some doors for a church and helping a friend build a storefront for his commercial building. In 1880, Washburn went to work for Cross & Taylor, pioneer architects in Kansas City, superintending the construction of railroad depots across the Midwest.

As his talents grew, Washburn would contribute many key buildings in Ottawa: the Franklin County Courthouse, former City Hall at Fourth and Walnut, Ottawa's Carnegie Cultural Center, Ottawa University's Administration Building, the First Baptist Church, the County Infirmary and 12 noteworthy homes.

When Washburn died in 1922, he had been responsible for over 60 structures including houses and commercial buildings. He was best known for designing 13 Kansas courthouses, one in Illinois and one in Oklahoma.

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