• IdentificationPUBLIC "-//The Art Institute of Chicago::Ryerson and Burnham Art and Architecture Archives//TEXT(US::ICA::1986.6::PETER J. WEBER (1863-1923) PAPERS, 1882-C.2000 (BULK 1893-1922)//EN)" "ica198606.xml"
  • TitleWeber, Peter J., (1863-1923) Papers, 1882-c.2000 (bulk 1893-1922)
  • PublisherArt Institute of Chicago Archives, Research Center, The Art Institute of Chicago,
  • Language
    • English.
    • English
  • Date
    • 1882-c.2000
    • (bulk 1893-1922)
  • Physical Description
    • 2 linear feet (4 boxes), 1 portfolio, 1 oversize portfolio, and flatfile materials
    • Holograph papers, typescript papers, printed papers, architectural drawings, photocopies, black and white photographic prints and negatives, scrapbooks and artwork.
  • RepositoryRyerson and Burnham Art and Architecture Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60603-6110 archives@artic.edu https://www.artic.edu/archival-collections
  • AbstractPhotographs, correspondence, and printed matter documenting a selection of German-American architect Peter J. Weber's built and unbuilt projects in the United States and abroad, though predominantly in the Chicago area. Projects represented in this collection span from his early years as a student at Berlin's Charlottenburg Institute in the late 1880s, through his tenure with Chicago's D.H. Burnham and Company in the 1890s and continuing with the establishment of his own firm in 1900, which he maintained until his death in 1923.
  • OriginationWeber, Peter Joseph, 1863-1923.
  • LocationThe collection is housed in the Art Institute of Chicago Archives’ on-site stacks.

Peter Joseph Weber was born in Cologne, Germany, on November 25, 1863 to engineer and inventor Anton Weber and wife, Elizabeth. Encouraged by an uncle who was a furniture designer and dealer, Weber embraced his artistic aptitude at an early age, seeking a career in architecture at age eighteen. In March of 1882, Weber embarked upon a four-year stint at Cologne's de Voss and Müller studio, gaining experience in a variety of draftsman's duties. Traveling to Berlin in 1886 to begin schooling at the esteemed Technische Hochschule at Charlottenburg, Weber also secured employment at the prosperous architectural firm of Kayser and von Grossheim. Shortly after finishing his schooling in May 1889, Weber was selected by his employers to be the supervising architect of a beach resort project to be financed by a wealthy Argentinian syndicate and to be built near the mouth of the Rio Quequén Grande in Argentina. Due to political unrest. the project was abandoned and the ambitious young Weber traveled instead to Chicago, arriving in the spring of 1891.

Though Weber quickly found work as a draftsman in the office of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, he stayed only briefly, soon accepting a position as the assistant to the designer-in-chief, Charles B. Atwood, of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, in Chicago. Among the Fair buildings that Weber designed, or whose design he is believed to have contributed to, are the Chocolat Menier Pavilion, the Partello Tower Company Railroad Tower (unbuilt), the Sixtieth and Sixty-fourth Street entrances, the Cluett Coon and Company exhibition pavilion, and the Palace of Fine Arts. Weber's admirable design of the Chocolat Menier Pavilion drew the attention of noted architect Daniel H. Burnham, who took on the twenty-six year old Weber as a draftsman upon reopening his firm, D.H. Burnham and Company, in late 1893.

While the extent of Weber's contributions to several of D.H. Burnham and Company's projects is unclear, Weber's talents did earn enough respect and support from his employer to ensure a successful private practice in the future. Among the Burnham firm's buildings which are confirmed Weber designs are the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank and the Silversmith Building, both in Chicago, Illinois. Other Burnham works, whose design may be attributed at least in part to Weber include the Ellicott Square Building in Buffalo, NY; the Fisher Building in Chicago, IL; the Kent Memorial Library in Suffield, CT; and Penn Station in Pittsburgh, PA.

As early as 1888, Weber began to augment his professional and educational work with entries in various architectural design contests, such as the New York City Municipal Building competition (1893), the United States Department of Agriculture Building competition (1901), the Seattle Public Library competition (1905), and the Chicago Tribune Tower competition (1922). This persistence earned him much recognition, but comparatively few commissions, though they were key in helping establish his reputation after severing ties with D.H. Burnham and Company in 1900. As an independent architect and as a partner in the firm of Weber and Morehouse (c.1908-1910), Weber designed commercial and residential structures in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, as well as some unbuilt structures in other parts of the United States. Additional professional activities included participation in the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Illinois Society of Architects. Peter Weber died in Evanston, Illinois, on August 21, 1923.

The Peter J. Weber Papers are comprised predominantly of photographs that document a large and representative cross section of Weber's built and unbuilt projects in the United States and abroad, with special emphasis on the Chicago and Midwestern United States. Weber's work is notable as that of a German-American architect at the turn of the century, as that of a contributor to some of D.H. Burnham and Company's notable works of the 1890s and as the foundation for nearly a century of Weber family architectural lineage (Bertram A. Weber, John B. Weber, Weber and White, Weber and Knoth).

These photographs, which include design drawings, built views and some construction views, chronicle Weber's student years in Germany (Rathskeller, Halle, Germany, 1888), work on the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (Chocolat Menier Pavilion, Chicago, IL, 1893), tenure as draftsman and later designer at D.H. Burnham and Company (Ellicott Square Building, Buffalo, NY. 1896; Fisher Building, Chicago, IL, 1896), partnership in Weber and Morehouse (Dry Goods Reporter Building, Chicago, IL, 1910) and career as solo architect (Ravinia Park, Highland Park, IL, 1904; Fisher Building Annex , Chicago, IL, 1907; 3400 N. Sheridan Road Apartments, Chicago, IL, 1921). Weber's numerous contributions to architectural competitions across the United States are also well represented, including both published projects (Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA, 1905, and the Chicago Tribune Tower, Chicago, IL, 1922) and unpublished projects (Carnegie Technical Schools, Pittsburgh, PA, 1905; Cook County Court House, Chicago, IL, 1908). The only periods noticeably unrepresented in these documents are Weber's early years as draftsman at the architectural firms of Cologne's de Voss and Müller and Berlin's successful Kayser and von Grossheim, and his travel sketches from the early 1880s.

Additional materials include candid, portrait and formal photographs of Weber and associates in a variety of identified and unidentified locales, correspondence and some printed matter. Though marginal in size, this group of correspondence contains three letters from Daniel Burnham, one letter from Lucius G. Fisher, who commissioned the Fisher Building, the Fisher Building Annex, the Dry Goods Reporter Building, and the Central Market Furniture Building and a short card from fellow Chicago architect Solon S. Beman praising Weber's Seattle Public Library as a work of art. Burnham's letters, all likely penned after Weber's split from D.H. Burnham and Company, clearly demonstrate a friendship that continued beyond the workplace. Printed matter, in the form of building brochures, prospectuses and additional drawings may be found scattered throughout Series I.

SERIES I: PETER J. WEBER PROJECTS, IDENTIFIED. Materials are listed alphabetically by project name. Within each project, materials are arranged chronologically and photographs according to view.

SERIES II: PETER J. WEBER PROJECTS, UNIDENTIFIED. Materials are separated into general project types (i.e. residential, commercial, institutional) and then chronologically within each group.

SERIES III: PROJECTS BY OTHER OR UNIDENTIFIED ARCHITECTS. Materials are listed alphabetically by project name. Unidentified projects are listed last.

SERIES IV: CANDID, PORTRAIT AND TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHS. Photographs are organized into three subseries: group, individual, and travel. Within each subseries, items are arranged chronologically with the exception of items in travel, which are arranged by country and then chronologically.

SERIES V: CORRESPONDENCE. Correspondence is arranged chronologically.

SERIES VI: PERSONAL PAPERS. Materials are organized into three subseries: legal and financial material, memorabilia, and sketchbooks. Within each subseries, items are are arranged chronologically.

  • Names
    • Weber, Peter Joseph, 1863-1923.
    • Weber, Peter Joseph, 1863-1923--Archives.
    • D.H. Burnham & Co.
  • Subject
    • Ravinia Park (Highland Park, Ill.)
    • World's Columbian Exposition (1893: Chicago, Ill.)
    • Architecture--Illinois--Chicago--20th century--Sources.
    • Architects--Illinois--Chicago--Archives.








Design drawings and working drawings by Peter J. Weber are held in the permanent collection of the Department of Architecture at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Design drawings and working drawings by Peter J. Weber are held in the permanent collection of the Department of Architecture at The Art Institute of Chicago.

This collection may be accessed by users in the Reading Room of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at The Art Institute of Chicago. Collections maintained on-site are available for patron use without prior arrangement or appointment. Collections maintained in off-site storage will be retrieved with advance notification; please consult the Archivist for the current retrieval schedule. For further information, consult https://www.artic.edu/archival-collections/contact-usage-and-faq.

The Art Institute of Chicago is providing access to the materials in the Archives’ collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of the Art Institute is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Director, Art Institute of Chicago Archives. In addition to permission from the Art Institute, permission of the copyright owner (if not the Art Institute) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distribution, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. The Art Institute makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Peter J. Weber Papers, Ryerson and Burnham Art and Architecture Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago.

The collection was a gift from Bertram A. Weber, son of Peter J. Weber, to the Ryerson and Burnham Archives in 1986.

This collection was processed by Ryerson and Burnham Archives staff in 2000; the finding aid and was revised and expanded by Nathaniel Parks in December 2003, Jessica Heim in 2016 and Fallon Pfeiffer in 2017.