James Whitehouse

Partners James Whitehouse & August Wirgler
1009 South 8th, Denver, Colorado
Sculptors & Wood Stone Carvers

Medallion Photos
 courtesy of the Brown Palace Hotel

 "Whitehouse & Wirgler" commissioned by Chicago architect Frank E. Edbrooke, designed sandstone carvings for the exterior of the Brown Palace Hotel. Construction of the hotel located at 17th and Broadway, situated on a triangular lot, began in the late summer of 1890 and was completed October 23, 1892.

Sandstone carvings gracing the exterior of the building included a relief bust of H. C. Brown, stone garlands, ornamental carvings in the arch above the entrance to the hotel, a classical frieze between the sixth and seventh floor, and 26 stone medallions depicting Rocky Mountain wildlife, situated between the windows of the seventh floor.

Much of the decorative sandstone sculptures were removed due to the fragile condition of the sandstone.  Today, the sculptures around the doors and medallions on the seventh floor remain on the building.



James M. Whitehouse, born in 1845 in Scotland, immigrated to the United States in 1869, settling in New York City, working as a brown stone cutter.  Mr. Whitehouse married Annie Sweeney in 1870 in New York City.  Annie, born 1849 in England, immigrated to the United States in 1864.  The couple had ten children of which eight were living by 1900: Annie, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Henry, Florence, Loretta, Alice, and Helen.   The family lived in New York City, in the 12th Ward near 1st Avenue and Harlem River for nearly 21 years. 

James Whitehouse and August Wirgler co-founded a wood and stone carving business called "Whitehouse & Wirgler" with two employees John Caster and Frank Walter, sometime before 1888, located at 114 East 19th Street in Kansas City, Missouri.  James lived at 3003 Locust while August lived next door at 3001 Locust in Kansas City.

877 South 9th Street, Denver, Colorado - Built 1889

Whitehouse and Wirlger moved to Denver, Colorado in 1890 establishing their wood and stone carving sculptor business first at 1449 South 7th then relocated their sculptor shop to 1009 South 8th in 1892.  James Whitehouse set up residence first at 1012 Colfax Ave West in 1891, then 1019 South 9th in 1892, and established a permanent residence at 877 S. 9th in 1893. Co-partner August Wirgler set up a residence at 860 S Water St. in 1892 and subsequently set up a permanent residence at 929 S. Water St.

Brown Palace Hotel

The company of "Whitehouse and Wirgler" was commissioned to design and cut sandstone carvings for the exterior of the Brown Palace Hotel in 1891.

 James Whitehouse and partner August Wirgler had a combined work experience of over 60 years stone carving experience by 1891.  James started his apprenticeship in 1860 in Scotland, while August, under the guidance of his father in Paris, France apprenticed in 1855. 

Stone carvers employed by Whitehouse & Wirgler on the project included John A. Aitken and Joseph Fechtner.


The Crucifixion - Last Project of James Whitehouse

Salt Lake Herald, September 23, 1906, page 34
Utah Historical Newspaper Archives

James Whitehouse designed and started  the preliminary  outlines of the granite stone sculptor group called "The Crucifixion" located above the entrance of the St. Mary's Cathedral in Salt Lake City, Utah in about the year 1900. Mr. Whitehouse died in 1904 before the project could be completed.  Sculptor Louis Kerber of Switzerland, finished the group of life-sized granite stone  sculptures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Apostle John, project in September of 1906.


Children of James Whitehouse and Annie Sweeney

Eldest daughter, Annie Whitehouse married in about the year 1890,  James Scott McGilvray, son of Alexander McGilvray and Jessie Duff .  James Scott McGilvray was a nephew of John Duff McGilvray, one of the largest stone contractors in Denver. James S. McGilvray was also a cousin of David Duff Seerie, who was a co-partner with William F. Geddes in the stone contracting business of "Geddes & Seerie," which supplied the various stone materials for the construction of the Brown Palace Hotel and the Colorado State Capitol.

James S. McGilvray died an untimely death in a construction accident in San Francisco on October 10, 1896.  Annie secondly married William Faircloth, July 7, 1909 in Denver. William died in 1932 in Denver while Annie died in 1952 in Los Angeles, California

Daughter Elizabeth Whitehouse never married and lived at 958 Lincoln Street; Charlotte never married and died at the age of 30 in 1904; Henry, a stone mason and contractor, never married and died at the age of 48 in 1926; Florence Rosalie lived with her mother Annie in 1900-nothing further is known; Laurette "Leona" Margret suffered a fatal shotgun wound in January 1903 after being mistakenly shot by a neighbor while she and her friends were playing pranks in the neighborhood ringing doorbells and running off; Alice Marisa married Arthur Verne Ferris in 1910 in Denver; and Helen married Wolfred John Gribble in 1922 in Boulder.














This biography made possible
by the contributions of Nancy Trude, California
written by Barbara Lewellen, and edited by Nancy Trude

August J. Wirgler (Vurgler), born 1850 in Paris, France immigrated to the United States about the year 1870, settling in Chicago, Illinois working as a stone carver. The surname Wirgler is the Swiss variant form of the French surname Vurgler/Vercler.  August Wirgler is found recorded in United States, birth, marriage, death, and census records under the variant spellings of Wirgler, Wigler, Wirglir, and Wergeler.

August married Adolphine Huys August 2, 1879 in Cook County, Illinois and established a residence at 448 Union Street, Chicago, by 1880.   Adolphine, born June 25, 1851, Enghien, Hainaut, Belgium, immigrated to the United States sometime before 1870 settling in Chicago, working as a servant for John Borden, a lawyer, wife Sarah and three children in the 20th Ward of Chicago.

Adolphine first married John Wester, November 21, 1871 in Chicago and had one son named John born in 1872.   John Wester, is enumerated in the 1880 Federal Census as "John W. Wirgler" in the household of August Wirgler and Adolphine Huys in Chicago.

August and Adolphine had six children: Three   children were born in Chicago- E. Adele (1881), August Julius (1883), and Lucie Julia (1886). Their fourth child,  Lisette Wirgler, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, September of 1888. Two children were born in Denver, Colorado: Henry J. (1891) and Louis A. Wirgler (1893).


Whitehouse & Wirgler

August Wirgler and co-partner James Whitehouse owned the sculptor company "Whitehouse and Wirgler" sometime before 1888 in  Kansas City, Missouri.  The Kansas City Directory indicates that the sculptor business was located at 114 E. 19th.  August and family lived at 3001 Locust Street.


Denver, Colorado

929 South Water St.
Built 1885

860 South Water Street -Light blue house in middle
Row houses sit on lots 25' across & 125' deep-built 1885

Mr. Wirgler and family arrived in Denver sometime near 1890 living first at 860 South Water Street then 929 South Water Street.  Whitehouse and Wirgler set up their sculptor shop at 1449 South 7th in 1891 then relocated to 1009 South 8th Street. Both shop locations were demolished in the 1950s and the streets were renamed in 1904.


Brown Palace Hotel

The sculptor company of "Whitehouse and Wirgler" was commission by Chicago architect Frank E. Edbrooke, to carve sandstone carvings for the exterior the Brown Palace Hotel.  Frank E. Edbrooke arrived in Denver from Chicago in 1879. 

August, apprenticed as a stone and wood carver in 1855 in Paris, France under the guidance of his father and had over 35 years experience as a stone carver, working in Chicago and Kansas City.

The Brown Palace Hotel was completed in 1892.  The silver mining industry in Colorado collapsed in 1893 shutting down the booming construction business in Denver for over a year.  Men employed in construction moved on to Salt Lake City and San Francisco in order to gain employment.  Whitehouse and Wirgler remained in Denver.

Brown Palace Hotel

The success of  the sandstone carvings and sculptures for the Brown Palace Hotel might possibly have led to future employment by Frank E. Edbrooke, on his other major projects in Denver including  the Majestic Building (1894),  Cooper Building (1895), Denver Dry Goods Company at 16th and California Street in 1896,  and the Central Presbyterian Church at 1660 Sherman Street (1899).


Adolphine Huys Wirgler

August's wife Adolphine died on a Sunday afternoon, in Denver, at their residence at 929 Water Street, February 18, 1900.  August, who was working on the Stanford Chapel in Santa Clara County, California,  returned to Denver to arrange her funeral, which was held on Saturday, at 2:00 p.m.,  February 24, 1900, with burial at Riverside Cemetery.

Adolphine Wirgler gravestone at Riverside Cemetery
Photo courtesy of Fairmount Cemetery-Gloria Lynch
Gravestone lettering is made more visible by filling in the engraved letters with snow.

August escorted his six children to the Denver Union Depot Station after the funeral to board a train to Mayfield Township, Palo Alto, California.  "According to my grandmother, the family left Denver very soon after her mother passed away.  They were quite a sight as her father marched the six children, all dressed in black, to the train station," states granddaughter Nancy Trude.


Union Depot Train Station, Denver, Colorado
Colorado State Archives, Historic Photos


Stanford Chapel-Palo Alto, California

August Wirgler left the partnership of "Whitehouse and Wirgler"  May of  1899 to work on the Stanford Chapel in Palo Alto, California under the construction management of John Duff McGilvray, who was recently hired by Mrs. Jane Stanford as the Stanford University's new builder.  John Duff McGilvray, was one of the largest stone contractors in Denver for 15 years from 1879-1892, moved to California in 1893 during the silver bust.


Stanford Chapel

Upon completing the Leland Stanford construction project August moved his family to San Francisco, where they witnessed the 1906 earthquake.  Subsequently the Wirgler family moved to Mateo County, California.  The Stanford chapel suffered damage during the earthquake of 1906.

 August Wirgler died on May 19, 1910 and was buried in Colma, in San Mateo County, California.  Colma became the burying grounds for citizens in the San Francisco Bay area after burials were banned due to limited land usage. There are 17 cemeteries in Colma with over a million burials as of 2007.

The children of August and Adolphine Wirgler all married in California:  Elise Adele married Charles F. Merkel; August Julius married Luella L. Barton, Lucie Julie married Wyman Evan Simpson; Lisette M. married Orlando Joseph Lemuel Byers; Harry married Vivian McDaniel; and Louis A. married Adra M. Lewis.


August J. Wirgler Jr. & son Lloyd A. Wirgler

August J. Wirgler and son Lloyd A. Wirgler, having apprenticed and mastered the art of stone carving became the third and fourth generation of Wirgler men to become master stone-carvers, following in the footsteps of August Wirgler Sr. and his father of Paris, France.  August and son Lloyd worked on many projects in Los Angeles and along the Monterey coast.

Clackamas County Courthouse - Oregon

August Wirgler, Jr., and his son Lloyd A. Wirgler, working with long-time friend Thomas Mullaney worked on the limestone stone-carved ornamental designs on the outside of the Clackamas County Courthouse, in Oregon City, Oregon. Their  fourth partner, carver, William Julien, returned  to San Francisco due to illness.

 Carvings completed for the Clackamas County Courthouse included huge eagles which stood guard over the 8th & Main Street entrances, an ornamental belt which girds the building just above the third story, a huge pair of stone scales measuring six feet across; and a statuary called "The All-Seeing Eye" which is seven feet tall with a man holding a stone eye in his hands.


All-Seeing Eye

Oregon Historical County Records, Gary Halvorson
Oregon State Archives, Scenic County Images

August Wirgler Jr., son Lloyd A. Wirgler, Thomas Mullaney and William Julien worked together for over 30 years. Examples of their work included the  Los Angeles Times Building, the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and the U. S. Mint in San Francisco.

San Francisco Grace Cathedral

San Francisco Hall of Justice



San Francisco U. S. Mint


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