Architect Adolph Christopher Semrow was born on October 11, 1885 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The son of a German carpenter, he spent his early years learning the family trade. According to newspaper accounts Semrow migrated west, first coming to Spokane in 1909 at the age of 24.
While he had no formal architectural training, such a move from carpenter to architect was typical of many the so-called “architects” of the period. And soon after his arrival he formed a partnership with fellow builder/architect Howard J. Bensinger. Known projects in Spokane by the short-lived partnership include the Green Building (1909, 314 e 5th Ave); the F.R. Montfort House (1910, 1810 11th Ave W); the B.H. Harlow House (1910, 530 Terrace Ave); and the Mather Apartments (1910, 1032 w Indiana Ave).
A constant wonderer, by 1910 he had moved to Seattle and took a job as a draftsman. A 1912 Polk Directory places him in Portland, Oregon practicing architecture, but it is unclear how long he stayed. By 1915 he was back in Seattle but then moved to Walla Walla in 1916. While there he also billed himself as an architect, however no projects to date by him have been verified in the community.
Semrow and his wife, Frances, moved back to Seattle in 1919. After a divorce, he moved to San Francisco in 1920 and then onto Santa Barbara by 1922. While there in 1927 he married for a third time and finally settled in the Los Angeles, California area. His architectural practice thrived while living in southern California where he served as a builder/architect for mainly residential projects, many of which were featured in local newspapers. Known projects include a market in Long Beach (1928); the Tom Brown House (1937, North Hollywood); Flaum House (1941, Sherman Oakes); and the Little Church of Sherman Oakes (1948).
Semrow died in Ventura, California on February 3, 1967 at the age of 81.
By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - June 2020