Stremme, Christoph Conrad (1807–1877)

By: Clinton P. Hartmann

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 4, 2017

Conrad Stremme, engineer and architect, was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1807. He studied natural philosophy, technology, and architecture at the University of Sciences and the Academy of Arts and Architecture in Berlin and later became a member of the Royal Hannoverian Commission on Public Buildings and of the Society for Advancement of Industry. In 1835 his design for an arsenal to be built in Hanover won a prize, and shortly thereafter he was appointed one of the private architects of William of Hanover (later William I). In 1841 he wrote a dissertation, Die Architecture und ihr Verhältniss zur Kultur (Relations Between Architecture and Civilization), for which he received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Giessen. In the same year he was appointed a professor of architecture and civil engineering at the Imperial University at Dorpat (present Tartu), where he was also a member of the Dorpater Naturforschender Gesellschaft, a group devoted to the study of natural sciences, and the Gelehrte Estuische Gesellschaft, a learned society of Estonia. In 1848 he was elected to honorary membership in the Livinian Agricultural Society. For outstanding work in architecture, Stremme received a Russian order and title of hereditary nobleman and was made a court counselor to Czar Nicholas I. He left Dorpat in 1849, apparently due to military unrest in Europe, and immigrated to Texas, where in 1853 he participated in the Mexican boundary survey as a member of Lt. Nathaniel Michler's exploration party to the Rio Grande area. Between 1853 and 1856 he published at least eight scientific papers in the San Antonio Zeitung. Stremme was one of the first professionally trained architects in Texas. In 1855 he became a draftsman at the General Land Office, where many of his original maps and drawings, as well as original surveys and office sketches, are filed. The following year he designed and supervised the construction of the first Land Office Building, which showed a German influence that William Sydney Porter (O. Henry) described in his story "Bexar Script No. 2692." Stremme also designed the original main building of the State Lunatic Asylum (later the Austin State Hospital), built between 1857 and 1879. He became a naturalized citizen on February 25, 1857. In the early 1860s he experimented with photography as an inexpensive method of reproducing maps; his efforts initiated governmental use of photographic reproduction in Texas. Stremme retired from the Land Office in 1874 and died of heart disease on September 7, 1877; he was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin. The Old Land Office Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and later restored.

Austin Daily Democratic Statesman, September 9, 1877. Commissioner's Reports, 1845–1890 (MS, Archives and Records Division, General Land Office, Austin). O. Henry, Rolling Stones (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1913). State Preservation Board Archives, Austin.

  • Architecture
  • Architects
  • Exploration
  • Explorers (German)
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Visual Arts
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Graphic Arts
  • Photography

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Clinton P. Hartmann, “Stremme, Christoph Conrad,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 16, 2022,

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July 4, 2017