Architects & Engineers
Adams, Henry (2-11-1858 to 1929)
Henry emigrated to the United States in 1880 at the age of 22. He was born in Duisburg, Prussia and was educated in Germany, as a building engineer. He had a practice in Baltimore beginning around 1898, Henry Adams, LLC. His designs may be seen around Baltimore and include the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Bromo Tower, the Maryland Institute and the Belvedere Hotel. He worked for the federal government, where he helped with the design of Ellis Island.
He married Mary Elizabeth Klingelhofer, also German, her family, bakers, coming from Hessen, Germany. They had three children. Otto Eugene, architect (see profile this page), Ernest and Clarence (both engineers).
Henry helped organize the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers in 1894.
The Henry Adams Consulting Engineers firm continues to exist today. Their website is http://www.henryadams.com/.
Adams, Otto Eugene (1889-1968)
Otto was the son of Henry and was born in Baltimore of German descent. He was educated in the Baltimore City Schools and left Baltimore at the age of 17 to attend the University of Pennsylvania. Here he studied Architecture, completing his BS in 1911 and his MS in 1912. He became a notable Baltimore architect. He served during WWI as a captain in the US Army in France. After the war he continued his studies in France and Rome. He was a member of the firm Adams & Rigg. He also was a member of the American Institute of Architects and was faculty for the Maryland Institute, College of Art architectural program.
Some of his public works include Emanuel Evangelical Church, Methodist Home for the Aged (Springwell), Dormitory Building for the Baltimore Orphanage, Kelso Home for Orphans, Westport Pratt Library, Baker Memorial Chapel (McDaniel College), Woodbourne Junior High School, etc. He also designed several homes in the Roland Park and Guilford areas of Baltimore City.
Mr. Adams married Marie Hagerty. They had two children, Otto Jr., and Henry (to 8-5-2003).
Ancker, Walter W. (6-27-1852 to 4-8-1913)
Walter Ancker was born in Russ, Germany, son of John Henry Ancker and Mary Beerbohm. His elementary education was obtained in the public schools of Germany. He became a student at the Royal Engineering College in Berlin and graduated with honors. After college, he spent four years at sea and was engaged as a marine engineer in Scotland. He resigned and formed a connection with the American Shipbuilding Company in Philadelphia in 1883. In 1885 he associated with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
He was appointed delegate to represent Maryland at the Atlantic Deeper Waterways Association in 1910 by Governor Warfield. He was one of the party of engineers who made the survey for the proposed shipping canal at the Eastern Shore.
He was a member of the masons, the American Federation of Arts, the American Association for Advancement of Science, the National Geographic Society, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.
He married in Danzig, Germany in 1889, Elizabeth Mason (1864-1943), born in Danzig. Together, they had five children, Walter (1889-1897), Maude Elizabeth (1892-1893), Marion (1893-1981), Margaret (1895-1982) and Charlotte (1898-1905). There is also an indication of another son, William Mason.
Walter and Elizabeth are buried at Loudon Park Cemetery.
Bollman, Wendel (1-21-1814 to 1884)
Mr. Bollman was a self-taught engineer, born in Baltimore to German immigrants. He was one of eight children and quit school at an early age when his father died and left the care of the family to him. According to the 1880 US Census, his father was born in Bremen and his mother in Württemburg. He began his career with the B&O laying track. He later built houses. He returned in 1837 to the B&O as a carpenter and was promoted shortly thereafter to foreman by B. Latrobe. At that time, it was standard that the bridges were made of wood with stone arches. Bollman began to design some of them. In 1848 he was made responsible for all bridges on that line. He acknowledging that the wood bridges lasted about 10 years began to look at iron for building bridges. Iron was discontinued after an iron bridge failed on the New York and Erie line in 1849.
Bollman began working on a new truss configuration for iron bridges and it was tried on two smaller/shorter spans on the B&O route. In 1851 he replaced the 124 foot wooden bridge at Harpers Ferry and this became a famous bridge and has been rebuilt several ties using his system during the Civil War because of its many attacks. Bollman was awarded a patent for his unique design known as the ‘Bollman truss’. He left the B&O in 1858 and founded his own company, the W. Bollman and Company. He still was contracted on occasion by the B&O for their bridge work. His company disbanded about 1863 and he later founded the Patapsco Bridge and Iron Works, where he worked until his death in 1884. His company built bridges in the eastern US and South and Central America. Most of his bridges have not survived, not due to construction but technology. One bridge in Savage survives.
One of his major surviving works is not a bridge at all, but is the cast iron dome on top of the Baltimore City Hall.
He married Ann Smith. Together they had ten children (Mary, John, Jacob, Laura, Thomas, Anna).
Brauns, Henry F. (10-4-1845 to 5-7-1917)
Mr. Brauns (born Frederick Henry Brauns) was born in Baltimore to Ferdinand and Henrietta. He was one of ten. One brother became a Presbyterian minister, Rev. F.W. Brauns and one Ferdinand, an accountant. He began his practice at the age of 18. He was a charter member of the Baltimore Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America in 1870.
Most of his work no longer exists, they have been destroyed. Most were industrial buildings. He built the Mount Royal Pumping Station at North and McMechen. He designed the Pratt Street Power House for the City Railway. He also designed the tower and façade of Holy Cross Polish National Church in 1902. He also built the Knabe Piano Factory and the Gail & Ax Tobacco Warehouse (1886). Some remaining designs are the Lorraine Park Cemetery Gate-1884 (listed on the National Register of Historic Places n 1985); Brown’s Arcade on Charles Stret (National Register of Historic Places in 1983); and Northern District Police Station-1899 (National Register of Historic of Places in 2001).
Brauns died in 1917 at a resort in Betterton (Kent County) Maryland. He is buried at Lorraine Park Cemetery with his wife Isabella (Stewart) Brauns (1845-1891) and several other family members. They had one son, Walter. There is also a family plot at Green Mount Cemetery.
Bunnecke, George (8-28-1839 to 3-19-1916)
Mr. Bunnecke was born in Quakenbruck, Hanover, Germany, where he attended school and learned his trade. He came to the U.S. in 1864 and called Baltimore home. He was engaged in the building trade. In 1871 he established and contracting and building business under his name and after his son joined him, changed the name of the firm to George Bunnecke & Sons. He continued in the business until his death. His sons Henry G. and Julius, were partners to their father and took over the business.
The Bunnecke’s built several major buildings in Baltimore including the Zion parish house, Odd Fellows Hall, the German Bank building, the Nurses’ Home of the Hebrew Hospital, Levering Hall and many houses. They also built the five-story warehouse on Eutaw (A. Spear), ‘The Bourse’ on Water Street and the German Correspondent building. They built several buildings for Crown Cork & Seal.
Mr. Bunnecke was a director of the German Fire Insurance Company, the German Orphan Asylum; president of the Unkel Braesig Verein; member of the Architects Exchange, the German Historical Society, the Technical Association and the Orphan Asylum Association. He was charter member and vice president of the German Aged People’s Home; director and vice-president of the German Society of Maryland; director of the Merchants and Manufactures’ Permanent Building and Loan Association. He was a member of Zion Church and served on their church council, including as president. He was also a director of the old Zion school.
Cluss, Adolf (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.
Cohen, Mendes (5-4-1831 to 8-13-1915)
Mendes Cohen was the grandson of Israel Cohen who immigrated from Bavaria in 1787. He first settled in Lancaster, PA. The sons of Israel Cohen, Jacob and David, moved to Baltimore in 1808. The sons were members of Captain Nicholson’s Company of Fencibles, and rendered service during the war with England and the defense of Fort McHenry. David Cohen was the father of Mendes.
Mendes was born in Baltimore, the fifth of six sons. He was educated in private schools and in 1847 began the study of civil engineering in the locomotive works of Ross Winans in Baltimore. He became proficient as an engineer. He left Winans in 1851 and entered the engineering corps of the B & H Railroad until 1855, when he became supervisor of the Hudson River Railroad. In 1861, he was placed in charge of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad, where he served as president until 1863. From 1863 to 1868, he was in special service to the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. He held the office of assistant to the president and comptroller of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. He resigned there in 1872 to accept the presidency of the Pittsburgh & Connellsville Railroad. In 1885, even though retired, he accepted appointment from President Cleveland as a member of the board to examine and report on a route for the Chesapeake and Delaware canal. He was also chairman of the Baltimore Sewage Commission from 1893 to 1901.
In 1892 he was elected president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
From 1885 to 1915, he dedicated himself to working with the Maryland Historical Society, serving as their corresponding secretary and their president.
Mr. Cohen was instrumental in returning Maryland’s Great Seal (replica), which was found in the hands of a second hand dealer in Edinburgh, Scotland. He also served as a trustee to the Peabody Institute and was a member of the Municipal Art Commission.
Emrich, August (3-30-1864 to 1954)
Mr. Emrich was born in Germany according to the 1930 Federal Census. He was the chief engineer in the Baltimore City Fire Department. He entered the fire department in 1885 and moved through the ranks from callman to Captain and finally Chief in 1906, assigned to 6 Engine. Following the Great Fire of Baltimore in 1904, where he acted as substitute Chief, Emrich became the chief engineer and supervised the moderninzation of the Baltimore City Fire Department. He was stationed for the majority of his tenure as Deputy Chief and Chief Engineer at the Paca Street firehouse.
A fire boat was named after August Emrich. The boat was placed into service in 1960 and was decommissioned in October 1994.
Faul, Augustus (1822 to 1884)
Augustus Faul was the Superintendent and the design architect of Druid Hill Park. There hasn’t been a great deal written regarding Mr. Faul.
In 1863, Augustus Faul took Howard Daniels place as superintendent at Druid Hill Park. He was at the time the park engineer. Faul, just as his predecessor attempted to keep the park with a naturalized landscape. He reported that the water system had been completed in 1867. It was also around this time that George Frederick, then only 19, was hired to design a series of park buildings.
The 1870 Census shows August Faul (48) wife Paulina, living with children August (15), Milton (13), Alfred (12) and Edmund (6). His occupation was listed as a civil engineer. It also states he was born in Hesse Darmstadt and his wife in Hesse Cassel.
August Faul is buried at Loudon Park Cemetery
Frederick, George Aloysius (12-16-1842 to 8-17-1924)
Mr. Frederick was born in Baltimore to German immigrants from Bavaria. His father, John Martin Frederick (1813-1898) was a clerk and supported seven children with his mother Anna (Hild) (1819-1896). He was educated at the Christian Brothers School in Baltimore until 1858 when he began his apprenticeship with Lind & Murdoch’s architectural firm in Baltimore. After four years there and with Niernsee & Neilson, he opened his own business in Baltimore.
His greatest accomplishment was the building of Baltimore City Hall, which he received the commission to design at the age of 20. The building, which had an initial budget of $1,000,000 was completed in 1875 (primarily due to delays from the Civil War) at a cost of $2,271,135.64. The building is constructed with Baltimore County marble and Falls Road bluestone. It was designed to be fireproof and was the first municipal building to be so in the nation. The year it opened, the structure was called, 'the most beautiful civic structure in America', by Harper's Weekly.
His other projects included: The House of Correction in Jessup in 1875; the reparation of the State House in 1877 (for which he was never paid); Hollins Market; Baltimore City College; the Edgar Allen Poe Monument; the Rennert Hotel; The U.S. Marine Hospital in Baltimore; the Bauernschmidt House; Cylburn; Greisenheim; Baltimore’s Orphan Asylum; German Correspondent Building; St. Pius; St. Thomas; St. James and St. John’s Church; St. James the Less; Fourteen Holy Martyrs Whiteford Hall (St. Joseph’s Monastery); A.S. Abell Building (W. Baltimore & Eutaw Sts.); and several projects in the city parks, including Druid Hill, the Druid Hill entrance on Madison Avenue, Patterson and Federal Hill.
Frederick represented Maryland in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia by designing a building to represent the state.
He married Mary E. (Everist) (1838-1923) and together they had one daughter, Katherine (1876-1949).
In retirement, he was a charter member of the Baltimore Chapter of the American Institute for Architects and was given a Fellowship in 1877. I was amazed at the number of structures Mr. Frederick designed/built. There is a website dedicated to his work. Visit http://georgeafrederick.com/
He is interred in New Cathedral Cemetery.
Fritzsche, Robert K. ( to 11-13-2010)
Mr. Fritzsche was president emeritus and member of Baltimore’s Arion Gesangverein.
In his last few years he was debilitated by a disorder known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, Robert Fritzsche had, for a number of months, been confined to a wheel chair. He still fought to remain active in his German activities. In addition to his love of Germanic music and culture, Mr. Fritzsche took an active interest in many areas of the community serving as a director of The German Society of Maryland for a number of years and becoming one of its lifetime directors.
Mr. Fritzsche worked with Peter Fillat Architects since 1998. He was a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973.
Robert was affiliated with The Construction Specifications Institute, American Institute of Architects, MIT Educational Council, the Baltimore-Bremerhaven Sister City Committee, and the Bach Concert Series of Baltimore.
Greiner, John Edwin (2-24-1859 to 1942)
John, son of John and Annie was born in Wilmington, DE. The Greiner family immigrated to the U.S. in the early part of the nineteenth century from Würtemberg, Germany. Both parents were of German descent. Mr. Greiner graduated from Wilmington High School in 1877 and from Delaware College in 1880 with a B.S. He also earned the degree of
Civil Engineer. He began work in the Edgemoor Bridge Works in Wilmington as a draftsman. He was later offered and accepted the position of assistant engineer in the Keystone Bridge Works and within a year was in charge of the erection of the Seventh street bridge spanning the Allegheny river at Pittsburg. He connected with the B&O Railroad in 1886.
Mr. Greiner designed and erected just about every bridge constructed for the B&O Railroad from 1885 until 1908. From 1908 to 1941 Greiner entered private practice as a consulting engineer working on the following notable large railroad bridges over the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky; the Ohio River at Parkersburg, West Virginia; the Ohio River at Benwood, West Virginia; the James River at Richmond, Va.; the Alleghany and Monogahela Rivers at Pittsburgh, Pa.; architectural city ridge over the middle branch of the Patapsco River at Baltimore; over the Pequonnock River at Bridgeport, Connecticut; over the Norwalk River at South Norwalk, Connecticut; over the Tennessee River at Chattanooga; and the Memorial Bridge at Harrisburg, Pa. Greiner built the railroad bridge over the Susquehanna River between Havre de Grace and Perryville, which earned the first prize given by the American Institute of Steel Construction for the most beautiful bridge in 1941.
Mayer McLane appointed John Greiner a member of the commission to study the buildings after the great fire of 1904 (those that were not destroyed). He later appointed Greiner to a commission whose charge was to revise the building laws in Baltimore.
Greiner today is recognized by some as one of the three major icons of American bridge engineers, the other two being John Augustus Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, and Gustav Lindenthal, the engineer for the Hell Gate Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge in New York and the Smithfield Street Bridge and the Seventh Street Bridge in Pittsburgh. Greiner received his start as resident engineer for Lindenthal on the Seventh Street Bridge project.
Probably his most notable bridge, the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge, better known as 'The Bay Bridge' was designed by the J.E. Greiner Company, the bridge features 123 steel spans—cantilever trusses, simple trusses, plate girders, and beams—culminating in the bridge’s centerpiece: a 1,600-foot-long suspension span. In 1967 the bridge was renamed for Lane, governor of Maryland from 1947 to 1951, who vowed to give the state “a system of highways second to none in the nation.”
Mr. Greiner is buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.
Lupas, Edward (1834 to 2-13-1877)
Born in 1834 in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, Edward Lupus arrived in Baltimore at age 19 on November 8, 1853 from Bremen. At the time of his immigration to the United States, he reported his profession as a joiner. By 1860, Edward Lupus had married and lived at 16 West Baltimore Street with his wife, Sophia Lupus, their children, Rudolph and Charles, as well as another Rudolph Lupus, a watchmaker and likely relative of Edward, and Rudolph’s wife, Louisa Lupus. Rudolph and Edward also shared an office at 297 West Pratt Street where Edward worked as a carver and Rudolph worked as a watchmaker. The two continued to share both residences and offices throughout the 1860s. Edward Lupus appears in the 1864 city directory as a “photographist,” working at the southwest corner of the Centre Market building and residing at 61 Conway Street where he remained in 1865 when he was again identified as a “wood carver.” 1870 is the first year Lupus is identified as an architect, both in the city directory and census.
Lupus & Roby began their partnership in 1871. One of their earliest projects was a shooting range and bowling alley for the Schuetzen Park formerly on Belair Road near the then Baltimore City limits, following work Lupus had done at the park in 1866. The Schuetzen Association included 800 members from first- and second-generation German families. The pair continued to work primarily within the German community. The Baltimore General German Orphan Asylum, formerly at Orleans and Aisquith Streets (1873), is known by prints and photographs. The Hebrew Orphan Asylum (1874) in west Baltimore.
He is buried in Loudon Park Cemetery. Other projects identified in his obituary included the Germania Clubhouse (1874) formerly on West Fayette Street near North Eutaw Street, St. Matthews’ German Lutheran Church (1873), formerly on Fayette Street between Central and Eden Streets, the House of the Good Shepherd, the “villa of Gen Meem, Va.,” and the Virginia House which still stands at the Orkney Spring Hotel (1873) in Orkney Springs, Virginia.
Mr. Lupus is buried in Loudon Park Cemetery.
Niernsee, John Rudolph (1814-1885)
John Rudolph Niernsee was an American architect, the head architect for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He was born as Johann Rudolph Niernsee in Vienna, Austria and was educated in architecture at the University of Prague. He immigrated to the United States in 1836, at age 22. He became a member of the engineering staff of the B&O Railroad under its chief engineer, Benjamin H. Latrobe (son of nationally acclaimed Benjamin Latrobe (1764-1820)). He contributed to designs used in many homes, churches (Grace and St. Peter's Church, Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church), commercial buildings and railroad stations including Camden Station. The designs were submitted by Niernsee and Neilson in 1855 and the station was completed in 1867. It remained a passenger terminal until the 1980s. In 1847, with James Crawford Neilson, he formed the Niernsee & Neilson architectural firm that largely served the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The years 1848-1856 were excellent years for the partnership, Niernsee & Neilson. Many of their landmark structures date from this period including the Chapel of Green Mount Cemetery, the Gilmor House, Evergreen House, Maryland Jockey Clubhouse and the Gail Mansion on Eutaw.
John R. Niernsee was a founding member of the national organization, the American Institute of Architects in 1854. J. Crawford Neilson joined the A.I.A. later and both became charter members of the newly formed Baltimore Chapter of the A.I.A. upon its organization in December 1870.
Niernsee while working in South Carolina on their State House, earned a commission as a Major in the Confederate Army. The war interrupted the completion of the State House. Work resumed on the State House in 1882. Unfortunately, he died in 1885 and is buried in St. Peter's Catholic Church cemetery in Columbia. The State House was completed by his son Frank and other architects. This structure took 53 years to complete (1854 to 1907).
With over 165 projects documented by the late Randolph W. Chalfant and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, from Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia to the Carolinas and Georgia, their names are synonymous with excellence of design, originality and advancement in both design and technology throughout the second half of the 19th century.
The partnership ended in 1874 and Niernsee, at that time, brought his son Frank into the practice.
Niernsee also collaborated on the design of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The original building opening in 1889.
Oehme, Wolfgang -Landsape Architect (5-18-1930 to 12-15-2011)
Born in Chemnitz, Germany in 1930, became an apprentice at Bitterfeld Horticultural School and studied landscape architecture at the Technical University of Berlin. He came to America on January 20, 1957 and went to work for Baltimore County Parks Department. Founding principal of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, Inc. (OVS) along with business partner James van Sweden, Oehme revolutionized landscape design and in the process has been credited by many experts for creating a new landscape style called the New American Garden. Based in Washington, DC and Baltimore, OVS designed many private and public gardens, including major federal government (Federal Reserve) projects throughout much of the U.S. and Europe, starting in the mid 1970s. After 40 years in the industry, OVS was sold, though Oehme continues to consult on projects. Oehme’s signature style encompasses the simple beauty and grandeur of the American prairie defined by large sweeps of herbaceous perennials and grasses. Over the years, he has participated in changing the way we view the American landscape, noting that gardens should evolve and change throughout the seasons without much maintenance.
Saum, Jacob (2-21-1831 to 6-17-1900)
Jacob was born in Germany, the son of Charles and Catherine (nee Dull). According to the 1900 census, he immigrated in 1831, the year of his birth. He married Mary A.H. (nee Cross) (September 1844 to April 1869). He, in 1900, was living with his daughter Ella and her husband Walter Watts. He was listed as the Landlord. In the 1880 census he was listed as a Real Estate Agent, living with four of his five daughters, Kate, Ella, Agnes and Lillie, as well as his sister. His marital status was that of a widower. Mr. Saum was a builder and architect. He was instrumental in the development of Baltimore and the city’s famous ‘row houses’. He is mentioned multiple times in the ‘American Architect’, most often for his development of three and four story row houses primarily in the Hollins Market area. The digests mentions Mr. Saum from 1880 to 1883 for homes on Gilmore, Parish Alley, Cole Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, Calverton and Union Square. Possibly the most famous of his
homes is that belonging to H.L. Mencken, which was built in 1883 at Union Square. The house, an Italianate 18’ wide row house was designed by Baltimore architect W. Claude Frederic and built by former carpenter Jacob Saum. The houses (11) on that row sold for $3500. The Union Square Historic District was added to the National Register #83002941, in 1983.
Mr. Saum lived with his family at 2229 (1896 Directory) Druid Hill Avenue. They attended the Christ Reformed church, located at Druid Hill and North Avenues.
Mr. Saum passed away on June 17, 1900 and was buried from Christ Reformed Church. He is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery Plot: (M,067,N/2,#2). He was a member of the Royal Areanum and Odd Fellows. He was survived by his five daughters.
Besides information from the 1850-1900 census, the Baltimore obituary and the Architect’s Journal, information was obtained from family member, Dale Green. If you have information on this family, contact Mr. Green at email@example.com
Photo is of Jacob Saum and his daughters, provided by Kathy Jewell, his great-granddaughter
Wiegand, William Daniel (1822 to 4-1899)
William was born in Baltimore and educated at Zion Schule. He then went on to receive his technical training. His father came to the US from Thuringia in 1810. W.E. Wiegan was constructing engineer of the Volcan works in South Baltimore between 1850-1860, and also worked on many notable harbor immprovements including the ‘Seven Fott Knoll Light House’ in the Chesapeake Bay. He also worked on the construction of Fort Carroll in the Patapsco River.
Mr. Wiegand is buried at Loudon Park Cemetery
Zink, John J. (1886 to 1952)
John Zink was a native Baltimore architect who designed numerous movie houses in the Mid-Atlantic region during the early to mid-20th Century. He used modest designs, but often incorporated specific amenities found useful by moviegoers such as smoking lounges and nurseries. He began his architectural training at the Maryland Institute, practicing with Baltimore architects Wyatt and Nolting. He, by 1910, had an office in the Builder’s Exchange Building and was in the Baltimore Directory. He located in New York for a brief time and attended Columbia School of Architecture. He returned to Baltimore in 1916. He worked independently in the 1920s and was awarded several contracts including contracts for the Takoma Theater and Uptown Theater in Washington DC. One of his most famous designs is ‘The Senator Theater’ on York Road in Baltimore, which was completed in 1942. The Baltimore firm of Zink, Atkins and Craycroft designed over 200 theaters in the larger cities. According to the website, Cinema Treasures (http://cinematreasures.org/architects/139) several of John Zink’s theaters are still open including the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC; The Commodore Theater in Portsmouth, VA.; the Patterson Performing Arts Center in Baltimore; the Senator Theater in Baltimore; and the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC.
John Zink’s German heritage was John’s grandfather, Tom Zink.
 The Baltimore Fencibles was a volunteer artillery company recruited from private citizens in theCity of Baltimore in 1813. The word fencible was used by many units of the era to represent local defenders, or the Home Guard.