Picture shows the birthplace of Adolf Cluss in Heilbronn
The birthplace of Adolf Cluss in Heilbronn (StadtA HN F001F-4301)

Picture shows the Arts and Industries Building in Washington D.C.
The Arts and Industries Building in Washington D.C., 2003 (Photo: Peter Wanner, StadtA HN)

Adolf Cluss (1825-1905)

Adolf Cluss came from a Heilbronn family of master builders; his father built the "Clussbau" in Wilhelmstrasse, later known as the "Wilhelmsbau". Cluss left Heilbronn as a young man to be a traveling carpenter.

In Brussels he met Karl Marx and joined the early Communist movement there. He also went to Paris and to Mainz, where he began work in 1846 as an architect, planning the railroad to Ludwigshafen. In spring of 1848, he became a central figure in the revolutionary movement, as a co-founder and Secretary of the Workers' Council. Soon after, in summer of 1848, he left Germany, and on September 15, 1848 arrived in New York via the immigrant ship "Zürich."

Adolf Cluss worked in the USA first as an engineer - for the Navy, among other employers - then in Washington as an architect. He broke off from the Communist movement in 1858.

Beginning in the 1860's, Adolf Cluss worked as an architect in Washington and completed commissions for public buildings - schools and museums, office buildings and market halls. As of 1890, at the end of his career, most of the public buildings in the American capitol could be attributed to Cluss. Many still stand today, including the Arts and Industries Building of the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall.

For additional information about Cluss’s life and work, follow the links on the top of the page and see also Washington.



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