Gutterson, Frank A.

Signature of Architects Smith & Gutterson

Smith & Gutterson

Frank A. Gutterson (1872-1901) was born in Owatonna, Minnesota, and he attended the University of Minnesota.[1] He first pursued architectural studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then in Paris in the atelier of Godefroy and Freynet. Subsequently, he worked in New York City for Ernest Flagg, who had studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Gutterson moved to Mason City briefly, but by 1898, he was in Des Moines with the partnership Smith & Gutterson. Together, they designed the Owatonna Public Library (1898), the Des Moines Historical Building (1898), and the Des Moines Public Library (1899). In 1901, they were awarded the competition for the design of the Ottumwa Public Library, the second Carnegie-funded library in Iowa (after Fairfield).[2] Shortly after, Gutterson died from tuberculosis.

While the original blueprints for Ottumwa are not held by the library, Smith & Gutterson’s plans were published in a journal, along with two other entries by F. R. Comstock of New York, and H. C. Koch of Milwaukee. It is interesting to note that the Ottumwa building incorporated some features from the design by F. R. Comstock, including the arched entrance to the basement entrance under the front stairs and the deletion of an entrance from the “museum” space in the basement.


SL Stuart

[1] Wesley I. Shank, Iowa’s Historic Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, (Iowa City: U of I Press, 1999), pp. 70-71.
[2] Charles C. Soule, “Modern Library Buildings,” The Architectural Review, 1902, pp. 30-32.

Blueprints of Gutterson Libraries

(Click on an image to learn more about each library).


  • 1901: Ottumwa Public Library

    Partial image showing the accepted architectural design for the Ottumwa Public Library. The winning design was by Smith & Gutterson Architects from Des Moines, Iowa. This image shows the basement floor plan of the Ottumwa Public Library. Taken from The Architectural Review, Volume 4. (Published in 1902), page 30.