Olaf William Shelgren was born in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, in 1891 and moved to Buffalo in 1911.
He received his art education at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design and practiced as an architect beginning in 1910.
Shelgren was associated with firms in Ridgeway, Warn, and Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania and Buffalo, including R.E. Krape, E.A. Phillis, Green & Wicks
, MacClure & Sparr, North & Shelgren, Shelgren & Whitman, and Shelgren, Patterson, & Marzac.
He is credited with having designed over three hundred churches in
Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania. Because of his
experience with churches, he served as the director of the Guild for
Religious Architecture. “Noted particularly for his design of churches,
Mr. Shelgren was considered one of the distinguished architects of the
past 50 years in Western New York by his fellow architects.”
Shelgren passed away at the age of 81 in 1972.
See also: Olaf William Shelgren Jr. - A tribute composed by architectural historian Frank Kowsky