Male, US, born 01/03/1882, died 1949

Associated with the firms network

Adler and Dangler, Architects; Elkins, Frances Adler, Interior Designer

Professional History

Draftsman, Howard Van Doren Shaw, Architect, Chicago, IL, c. 1911; Partner, Adler and [Henry C.] Dangler, Architects, Chicago, IL, 1912-1917; Dangler died in 1917. Partner, Adler and [Robert] Work, Architects, Chicago, IL, c. 1917-1929; like Adler, both Dangler and Work had been employees of the Chicago architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw (1869-1926). Principal, David Adler, Architect, Chicago, IL, 1929-1940s. Adler worked primarily in Chicago, but did some commissions in CA, collaborating with his sister, the noted interior designer, Frances Elkins. Adler produced large-scale estates for the social elite of Chicago and its suburbs, such as Lake Forest, IL, Lake Bluff, IL, Highland Park, IL, Winnetka, IL, and Glencoe, IL. As David Adler and Martha Thorne have written in their book on Adler, at a time of veiled or overt prejudice against Jews, the architect managed to blend into Jewish and gentile communities. The connections that he made at Princeton University helped ease him into higher social circles where few questions were made of his pedigree; social interactions made in the office of the prominent Howard Van Doren Shaw and through his wife, Katherine Keith, also resulted in residential commissions. Adler also displayed a personal elegance, restraint and fastidiousness that must have impressed those that he met. (See David Adler and Martha Thorne, David Adler, Architect : The Elements of Style, [Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago in association with Yale University Press, 2002], p. 17-19.)


Studied in local public schools in Milwaukee, WI; he then attended prep school at the Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, NJ, 1898-1900; graduate, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, c. 1904; coursework, Munich Polytechnic, Munich, Germany, c. 1904-1906. Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France, c. 1906-1911. At the Ecole, Adler worked in the Atelier Umbdenstock, a favorite of American students, and in the Atelier Deglane, a prestigious studio populated with architects who would go on to lead the profession.


Born in Milwaukee, WI, Adler attended Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, before traveling to Paris, France, to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He returned to Chicago, IL, where he based his practice for the rest of his career. Adler traveled considerably and designed residences outside Chicago, including a handful in CA, where his sister, the celebrated interior designer, Frances Elkins (1888-1953), lived.

His parents were German-Jewish immigrants, Isaac David (d. 1925) and Therese Hyman Adler (d. 1939). His father worked in the clothing firm of David Adler and Sons. David had an older brother, Murray (1880-1883), who died as a child of diptheria. His younger sister, Frances Adler Elkins (1888-1953), became an interior designer, one of the most influential on the West Coast in the 1910s-1930s.

Adler married his wife, Katherine Keith (d. 1930), in 1916 at a Universalist Church. She died in an automobile accident in France in 1930; Katherine came from a well-to-do family, her father, Edson Ketih, having prospered operating a leading millinery firm in Chicago, Keith and Company.

Various dates of 1882, 1883, 1888 are given for his birth date in standard biographical sources. Adler was seriously injured when he fell from a horse during a foxhunt in 1935.

Associated Locations

  • Milwaukee, WI (Architect's Birth)
    Milwaukee, WI

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PCAD id: 1109