(Apr. 29, 1882-Mar. 29, 1942). Jacob Edwin Kopf was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He studied architecture in Milwaukee with several leading firms of the time before joining the Bureau of Public Buildings of the U.S. Department of the Interior headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, he oversaw the design and construction of government and public buildings, schools, and institutions.

Kopf arrived in Indianapolis in 1909, where he worked with local architect Herbert Foltz and the firm of Anton Scherrer. With Scherrer, he worked on the Burdsal Units at City Hospital from 1911 to 1914. He also wrote several series of articles for the Indianapolis Star about “Modern Home Design,” “Country Bungalows,” “Garages,” and various home beautification design topics from 1912 to 1912.

In 1913, Kopf formed the J. Edwin Kopf & Woolling partnership with Kenneth K. Woolling, a native of Bluffton, Indiana. The firm briefly halted business at the beginning of World War I, when Kopf served in the United States Army Construction Division of the Air Service and Woolling served as a pilot in the Army Signal Corps. Upon return to Indianapolis, the partners designed several significant buildings, including the Manufacturers Building (now called the Exhibition Hall), Horse Show Barn, Sheep Pavilion, Cattle Barn, Swine Pavilion, and Women’s Building for the Indiana State Fairgrounds; the Knights of Columbus McGowan Hall; the Steinhart Building; the Buick Building; and the Holy Rosary Catholic Church.

Steinhart Building (designed by J. Edwin Kopf & Woolling), 1918 Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

Though Kopf & Woolling won the contract to design the new Shortridge High School in 1923, the School Board awarded the contract to Herbert Foltz a year later, leading to litigation between the two parties. A compromise resulted in Foltz as the consulting architect and Kopf & Woolling as the primary architects on the contract in 1925. The partnership between Kopf and Woolling dissolved in 1925, before the 1928 completion of the design when Woolling left the profession to work in brokerage.

With the departure of Woolling, Kopf announced his partnership with John A. Deery in the Indiana Construction Recorder in November 1925. Kopf & Deery finished the final architectural drawings for Shortridge High School, allowing for the completion of the school’s construction in 1928.

Shortridge High School building, ca. 1940s Credit: Indianapolis Public Library View Source

Kopf & Deery designed the Carmelite Monastery (see Monasteries and Retreat Houses); the Indianapolis Flower Mission Memorial Hospital; several Indianapolis Public Schools; Dartmouth Apartments; the Schwitzer-Cummins Stokol Store, which sold coal-burning furnaces; the residence of automobile engineer and race driver Louis Schwitzer; and several important buildings at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, including the Better Babies Building, which now houses Hook’s Drug Store Museum.

During World War II, Kopf also served as the chairman for Draft Board No. 7 from October 1940 to Kopf’s death in 1942. In this role, Kopf oversaw compliance with the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 requirement for men between the ages of 21 and 45 to register with their local draft board. Indianapolis registration locations included Crispus Attucks High School, Cathedral High School, and School No. 32.

Kopf was a member of the Indianapolis and Indiana Societies of Architects, the American Legion, the Columbia Club, and the Athletic Club.

Revised July 2023

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