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Male, born 1863-11-20, died 1915-03-20

Associated with the firms network

Fisher, Elmer, H., Architect; Lansburgh, G. Albert, Architect; de Neuf and Heide, Architects; de Neuf, Emil, Architect

Professional History


Draftsman, Elmer H. Fisher, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1889-1891.

Principal, Emil de Neuf, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1891-1894; de Neuf took over some of the clients that had patronized Elmer H. Fisher after the latter left for Southern CA.

Principal, Emil de Neuf, Architect, Seattle, WA and Guatemala, 1894-1900. It appears that because of the Depression of 1893, de Neuf had to find work outside the U.S. for approximately six years. In 1897-1898, de Neuf's work address was given as his home, 517 25th Avenue South.

Partner, de Neuf and [Augustus] Heide, Architects, Seattle, WA, 1901-1906. Emil de Neuf moved to San Francisco, CA, c. 1906.

Acting Architect, City and County of San Francisco, Board of Public Works, Bureau of Architecture, 1909-1910. The American Architect reported in 03/1910: "It is stated in the local press that Normand W. Mohr has been appointed chief of the Bureau of Architecture, San Francisco, Cal., to succeed Emil de Neuf, who resumes his former position of chief draughtsman." (See "Personal," American Architect, vol. XCVII, no. 1787, 03/23/1910, p. 4.) He was relieved of his city employment by his successor Mohr. An article in the San Francisco Call, 03/22/1910, stated: "Emil de Neuf, who was city architect for some months between the terms of former Architect Loring P. Rixford and the incumbent, was dropped from the city's service as assistant by the board of works yesterday upon the recommendation of City Architect N.W. Mohr. Mohr also caused the dismissal of Mechanical Engineer F.P. Walsh, Draftsman N.W. Howard, Quantity Surveyor T.A. Clark and the latter's assistant, W.G. Bell." (See "City Architect Lops Off Heads," San Francisco Call, vol. 107, no. 112, 03/22/1910, p.7.) The San Francisco Municipal Report for the Fiscal Year 1909-10 recapped the flurry of changes made to the City Architect's office: "In the first six months of the fiscal year the Bureau of Architecture was under the charge of Loring P. Rixford, who was appointed May 26, 1909. He resigned December 10, 1909, Emil de Neuf was then appointed temporarily and filled the position until the appointment of N.W. Mohr. Mr. Mohr resigned April 18, 1910, after serving two months, and John L. Fisher, Chief Inspector for the Bureau of Architecture, was appointed Acting Architect for the Board of Public works." (See San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Francisco Municipal Report for the Fiscal Year 1909-10, Ended June 30, 1910, [San Francisco: Neal Publishing Company, 1911], p. 606.)

Head Draftsman, G. Albert Lansburgh, Architect, San Francisco, CA, c. 1915.



Emil de Neuf, Sr., was born in Lüneburg, just southeast of Hamburg, Germany on 11/20/1863. The architect sailed to the US aboard the Hamburg-America liner S.S. Herder, leaving Hamburg on 09/29/1880. His passport documentation of 1897 indicated that he had lived uninterruptedly between 1880 and 1896 in Seattle, WA. (See, Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 15; Volume #: Volume 024: Denmark to India, accessed 11/13/2020.)

While working for architect Elmer Fisher in 1889, de Neuf boarded in a house on the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and Cherry Street.(See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle Directory, 1889, p. 179.)

He petitioned the Superior Court of King County for naturalization on 10/26/1892. George H. Smith and Charles A. Burckhardt served as character witnesses for him at this proceeding. In 1892, an alien in WA State could petition for naturalization if s/he had been in the U.S. for five years and had resided in the state for one year. Therefore, Emil de Neuf, Sr., had to have come from Germany to the U.S. in 1887 or earlier, and first appears in Polk's Seattle City Directory of 1889.

He spent much of the period between 1894-1900 in Guatemala working on building projects. Seattle's construction economy had been crippled by the Depression of 1893, and he must have looked elsewhere to find work. He retained an office in Seattle during that time, in the Haller Builidng (1891-1896) and at his residence, 517 25th Avenue South (1897-1898). (See Polk Seattle Directory Company's Seattle City Directory, 1897, p. 258 and Polk Seattle Directory Company's Seattle City Directory, 1898, p. 312.) His 1897 passport information stated that he last left the US on 03/13/1897 aboard the S.S. Transit bound for San Jose, Guatemala. He arrived on 03/31/1897 in San Jose. At that time, he intended to spend one year working in that country, according to the government document.

His name did not appear in the Seattle City Directory of 1899 but reappeared in 1900. The US Census of 1900 located him living with his wife and two children at 210 Queen Anne Avenue. This form indicated that he had migrated to the US in 1882, not 1880, as noted in his passport documentation. (See, Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Seattle Ward 8, King, Washington; Page: 2; Enumeration District: 0113; FHL microfilm: 1241745, accessed 11/13/2020.)

After 1906, de Neuf moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, setting up his residence in Berkeley, CA. Here he lived with his wife and three children.

A Seattle Daily Times newspaper article reported that Emil de Neuf died in a fall from a building he was erecting in San Francisco, CA, The architect died after falling from the fourth floor of a building under construction at 726 Sutter Street in San Francisco. on 03/20/1915. The Architect and Engineer said this in its March 1915 issue: "Emil de Neuf, formerly San Francisco city architect, and head draughtsman for Architect G.A. Lansburgh of San Francisco, was killed March 14th by a fall from the fourth floor of an unfinished building at 726 Sutter street, San Francisco. His body was lying on the concrete pavement of a rear court, and found by Matthew White, a carpenter. The police were unable to discover how de Neuf came to fall. De Neuf served a short time as city architect five years ago, succeeding Loring P. Rixford. He was 43 year of age and leaves a wife, two sons, and a daughter." (See "Emil de Neuf," Architect and Engineer of California, vol. XL, no. 3, 03/1915, p. 105.) Authorities never solved the cause of the fall. His body was cremated and the remains interred at Cypress Lawn Cemetery, Colma, CA.


He married Winifred L. Smith de Neuf, (born c. 04/1870 in WI), on 08/31/1892 in Seattle. (See King County Marriage Records, 1855-Present - Emil De Neuf - Winifred L Smith , King County Marriage Records, 1855-Present, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives,, 06/18/2019.)


In 1915, de Neuf, Sr., had three children, two sons, Emil August de Neuf, Jr., (born 08/24/1896 in Seattle, WA) and Donald de Neuf, (born c. 1907 in WA), and a daughter, Pauline de Neuf, (born c. 07/1893 in WA).

In 1917-1918, Emil, Jr., listed an address of 4411 West Juneau Street, Seattle, WA, on his Draft Registration Card. At this time, he worked for the Skinner and Eddy Corporation, Seattle, WA. Emil de Neuf, Jr., signed his name "Emil de Neuf" on his World War I Draft Registration Card; the family surname was sometimes mistakenly written as "Deneuf" or "De Neuf." (See, Source Citation: Registration State: Washington; Registration County: King, Source Information: U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005, accessed 11/13/2020.)

Emil, Jr., worked as an electrician in 1920, and continued to live with his widowed mother at 4411 West Juneau Street, in Seattle's West Seattle neighborhood. (See R.L. Polk's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1920, p. 651.)

Personal Notes

At age 33, de Neuf stood 5-feet, 10-inches tall. He was described as being Caucasian with a fair complexion, and having a round face, high forehead, “regular” nose, medium mouth, round chin, light brown curly hair, and blue eyes. (See, Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 15; Volume #: Volume 024: Denmark to India, accessed 11/13/2020.)

Mayor, City of West Seattle, WA, 1900-1905, before its annexation to the City of Seattle. He became the City of West Seattle's second mayor. (It incorporated in 1902).

It appears that de Neuf opportunistically relocated when architectural work became meager. He came to Seattle in 1889, in the wake of the Great Fire of that year. He relocated to Guatemala when Seattle construction work was scarce during the serious economic slowdown of the mid-1890s, and he also moved to San Francisco in the wake of the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. He moved to Berkeley, CA, which became an important bedroom community, filled with San Francisco immigrants, after 1906.

An avid photographer, de Neuf had a number of photographs published in Photographic Times magazine in 1898. Some of the photos captured sites encountered by de Neuf in Central America.

Prior to 11/13/2020, PCAD had an incorrect date of birth (1872) for De Neuf. His US passport paperwork of 09/13/1897 listed his birthdate as 11/20/1863. He applied for this passport while he was living in Guatemala, and his purpose for seeking it was listed as "protection."

Associated Locations

  • San Francisco, CA (Architect's Death)
    San Francisco, CA

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  • Hamburg, Hamburg Metropolitan Region Germany (Architect's Birth)
    Hamburg, Hamburg Metropolitan Region Germany

PCAD id: 2716