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GIESECKE, BERTRAM ERNEST
GIESECKE, BERTRAM ERNEST (1892–1950). Bertram E. Giesecke, architect, was born on July 2, 1892, in New Braunfels, Texas, to Hulda (Gruene) Giesecke and Frederick Ernest Giesecke. His father was a professor of architectural engineering at Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (present-day Texas A&M University) and then chairman of the department of architecture at the University of Texas in Austin (UT). Following in his father’s footsteps Bertram received his bachelor of science degrees in architecture from Texas A&M in 1911 and from the University of Texas in 1913; he had the honor of being the first graduate from UT’s architectural school.
Giesecke married Lois Yett in Austin on June 14, 1917. Later in life, they had two sons, Bertram Jr. and William. During World War I Giesecke served in the Signal Corps of the United States Army, where he achieved the rank of first lieutenant. The 1918 Austin City Directory listed him as a member of the architectural firm of Kuehne, Chasey & Giesecke. In 1920 he was an architect in the firm of Walsh & Giesecke.
Bertram Giesecke and former UT classmate, August Watkins Harris, Sr., formed the architectural firm of Giesecke & Harris in 1921. The firm was active throughout the state of Texas and designed residential, commercial, and public buildings. Three of their buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a number of others are Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks. In 1941, with the impending threat of American entry into World War II, the partnership dissolved after Harris joined the United States Army.
In 1942 Giesecke formed the firm of Giesecke, Kuehne and Brooks. Major projects included the supervision of the building of the Commodore Perry Hotel and Perry office building in Austin. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Texas Society of Professional Engineers, and served as president of the Texas Society of Architects in 1946. He served in the federal and state government in various positions: charter member of the board of governors of the National Association of Housing Officials (1933), chairman of the Texas Relief Commission (1933–34), consulting architect for the United States Treasury Department (1935), member of the Texas Postwar Planning Commission (1943), chairman of the Texas Roadside Council, member of the Texas Centennial Commission, and member of the administrative committee of the Texas Safety Association. At the time of his death he was chairman of the Department of Defense Housing Commission and a gubernatorial appointee to the State Hospital Advisory Council.
Giescke served as the Third Division Commander of the American Legion (1942–43), commander of the Travis County Post No. 76 of the Legion (1920, 1940), and Commander of the American Legion Texas Department (1946). He also held memberships in the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Sons of the Republic of Texas, and Sons of the Confederacy. He was a Methodist. Bertram E. Giesecke, at the age of fifty-eight, died of a heart attack on December 6, 1950, in Austin, Texas. He was buried in Austin Memorial Park Cemetery.
Austin American-Statesman, December 7, 1950. “Bertram E Giesecke,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/40470982/bertram-e-giesecke), accessed April 11, 2019. August Watkins Harris Papers, 1959, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. August Watkins Harris Records and Drawings (AR.2009.43). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Cherise J. Bell, "GIESECKE, BERTRAM ERNEST ," accessed July 20, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgies.
Uploaded on April 16, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.