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George Croll Nimmons

George Croll Nimmons, Architect [1865-1947]

Born in Wooster, Ohio, in 1865, George Croll Nimmons [†], FAIA, was a prominent Chicago architect, mostly known for his innovative industrial designs. After graduating from the local academy, Nimmons traveled to Europe where he began his study of architecture. In 1885, he returned to the United States and entered the firm of Burnham & Root, where he was employed as a draftsman for ten years. In 1897, Nimmons formed a partnership with William K. Fellows. During this thirteen-year association, the firm became best known for their large commercial and industrial designs, most notably the mail order plant headquarters for Sears, Roebuck and Company (1905-06, with several additions). One of their most successful works, this commission led the firm to design several more warehouses, mail order plants, and retail stores for the company throughout the United States. Residential designs from that period included the R. W. Sears home located in Grayslake, Illinois (1906), and the twenty-room Prairie-style mansion built for Sears, Roebuck and Company president Julius Rosenwald in Chicago (1903).

After leaving Nimmons and Fellows, Nimmons practiced alone from 1910-1917 (George C. Nimmons & Company); subsequently, he continued his practice as principal of his firm, Nimmons & Company, until 1933.30 Some of the projects from these two periods include The Sears, Roebuck and Company Building, North Kansas City, Missouri (1912-13) and several works in Chicago including the Franklin Building (1912), the C. P. Kimball & Company Building (1913), the Reid, Murdoch & Company Building (1913), the Adams Schaaf Building (1916), the Union Special Machines Company Building (1918), the Kelley Building (1921) and the American Furniture Mart (1923, 1926).

In the final phase of his career, Nimmons continued practice as senior partner of the firm of Nimmons, Carr & Wright from 1933-1945, where their work in designing buildings for Sears, Roebuck and Company continued. Nimmons, who married Justine V. Wheeler in 1898 (they had three children), retired in 1945. After being active in practice for nearly half a century, Nimmons died on June 17, 1947.

In addition to his architectural practice, Nimmons also published extensively. He was the author of articles on several of the Sears, Roebuck buildings which he or his firm designed. He also wrote essays on the future of concrete and an introduction to a college textbook entitled "The Significance of the Fine Arts." Quite possibly, his most important writing a series of well-illustrated articles on "Modern Industrial Plants" appeared in Architectural Record from 1918-1919. In these articles, Nimmons outlined and discussed the various types of industrial plants, the essentials of securing the best location, and factors to consider in the overall planning and design.

† Cydney E. Millstein, Architectural & Art Historical Research, Sears Roebuck and Company Warehouse Building, Clay County, Missouri, nomination document, 1997, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.