Albert Gustave Lansburgh
Values Codes I-E-L
Gustave Albert Lansburgh was born January 7, 1876 in Panama, the eldest son of a Polish-born family, Simon Lazarus Lansburgh and his wife, Rebecca.
After Albert’s father died in 1879, his mother relocated to San Francisco.
Rebecca Lansburgh died of tuberculosis in 1888.
Albert Lansburgh and his brother were raised by Celia Goldman under the guardianship of Rabbi Jacob Voorsanger of Temple Emanu-El.
Albert enrolled at U. C. Berkeley and studied under the famed architect, Prof. Bernard Maybeck.
Maybeck encouraged Albert to attend his own alma mater, the prestigious architectural school, École des Beaux-Art in Paris.
After graduating, Albert Lansburgh returned to San Francisco in May, 1906, a month after the devastating earthquake-fire hit the city.
Albert Lansburgh executed a set of drawings for a projected new Temple Emanu-El at the same location as the old synagogue building which had been badly damaged.
Temple Emanu-El froze plans to act on the construction of a brand new synagogue, but Lansburgh was awarded a Medaille Salon medal for his design by the Societé des Artistes Français
Albert Lansburgh worked on the restoration of the old Temple Emanu-El at the Sutter Street location in 1907, and this lead to his being selected to design the new synagogue for the Jews in Oakland, Temple Sinai, which was completed in 1914.
In 1906, Albert Lansburgh formed a partnership with another architect; together they were involved in the reconstruction of a number of downtown San Francisco commercial buildings.
At about the same Albert Lansburgh won the competition to design the Guatemala Pavilion for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition that was held in San Francisco’s Marina District.
Lansburgh designed a variety of other buildings, primarily in the San Francisco area.
A number of them are beautiful residences, mainly in the Pacific Heights section of the city.
Through Lansburgh’s connections with Morris Meyerfeld, Jr., President of the Orpheum Theater Circuit, he obtained the commission to design the San Francisco Orpheum Theater, and this was followed by many more Orpheum theaters around the country.
After the Orpheum Theater was completed in downtown San Francisco in 1909, Albert Lansburgh opened up his own architectural office which he would maintain through a variety of building projects for more than 30 years.
Of all of his theaters, Lansburgh’s favorite was the Martin Beck Theater which he designed for stage productions for producer Martin Beck in the heart of the Broadway district in Manhattan in 1923, and which is still operating.
Albert Lansburgh’s theater designs were highly regarded for their beauty as well as fine acoustics. More than half of those he designed still operate today, and most have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Some of Lansburgh’s theaters operated for many years, closed, and then were restored through major renovations, such as the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, and the Golden Gate Theatre and Warfield Theatre in San Francisco.
Because of his expertise in theater design, Albert Lansburgh was involved with two very prominent San Francisco projects – the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center and the War Memorial Opera House.
From the early 1920’s until the start of the Depression Albert Lansburgh leased a ranch at Stanford to pursue his hobby of raising show horses which thrilled his children.
During WWII Albert Lansburgh retained his San Francisco office where he contributed to the war effort by designing military equipment, both seaplanes and destroyer tenders.
While Albert Lansburgh was studying in Paris, he met Irene Muzzy who he later married in 1908.
Albert and Irene Lansburgh had four children, two sons and two daughters, none of whom are living, but there are five living grandchildren at present.
Albert moved his family to a home in San Mateo in 1937, where he lived out his life.
His grandchildren still recall that long after he retired, whenever they visited him in San Mateo, Gustave Albert Lansburgh was always dressed to a “Tee,” in a 3-piece suit and fedora.
Gustave Albert Lansburgh died in 1969.
For more information see Western States Jewish History:
- Benjamin Marcus Priteca of Seattle & Gustave Albert Lansburgh of San Francisco: Two prominent West Coast Jewish Architects of the Early Twentieth Century, by Eugene Normand, WSJH, Vol. 46, Issue #4
- “Lansburgh, Gustave Albert” by David Parry, in Encyclopedia of San Francisco, http://www.sfhistoryencyclopedia.com/articles/l/lansburgGustave.html
- “Architects: Lansburgh, Gustave,” Pacific Coast Architecture Database, https://digital.lib.washington.edu/architect/architects/123/
Eugene Normand is Curator of this Albert Lansburgh Exhibit.
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