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Carl and Robert Boller


Carl Boller  Born: October 31, 1868, Missouri. Died: October 30, 1946, Los Angeles, California.

Robert Boller Born: March 10, 1887, Missouri. Died: November 24, 1962, Texas.

Carl Boller was born on October 31, 1868; 19 years later, on March 10, 1887, his younger brother Robert Boller was born to parents Charles William and Pauline (Grutzmacker) Boller. Both brothers finished eighth grade at Ernst School in St. Joseph, Missouri. Their eldest brother, Will, was involved in vaudeville and for a time Carl joined Will’s troupe as a scenery artist. It is believed that neither Carl nor Robert received formal training in architecture.

Carl designed his first of many theaters in 1903; by 1905 he owned an architecture firm in Kansas City. At just 18 years old, Robert joined his brother’s firm as an apprentice draftsman. Together they worked on many different projects. During the 1907 Nevada Gold Rush, they were hired to build nickelodeon theatres in Nevada towns.

During World War I Robert served in the U. S. Corps of Engineers. After the war ended he returned to his brother’s firm. Around 1920 the name of the firm, originally begun as Carl Boller, Architect, in 1905, became Boller Brothers. Robert married Dorothy Dickinson in 1919.

The movie boom of the 1920s brought prosperity to Boller Brothers. Kansas City’s Midland Theatre was one of their designs along with Thomas W. Lamb in New York City. In addition to their Kansas City office, they opened a temporary office in Oklahoma and Carl later moved to Los Angeles, California. The 1930s, during the Great Depression, proved difficult for the Bollers and other businesses. Carl designed three more theatres before retiring. Robert left Kansas City for a time. He returned in 1936 with a smaller staff and turned toward remodeling work.  From 1942 to 1944 during World War II the war production board halted construction of movie theaters.

The Boller Brothers were involved in designing 13 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places, all of which are located in Kansas. Carl Boller died of a heart attack on October 30, 1946, in Los Angeles.

 In 1957 Robert Boller closed the firm and moved to Texas. He died of a heart attack on November 24, 1962.

Entry: Boller, Carl and Robert

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2016

Date Modified: April 2019

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.