Written by Terres Ronneberg on September 11, 2007
Trygve Rønneberg was born to Tørres Rønneberg (1845-1913) and Thomine “Zilla” Thorsen Kortvold (1847-1920) on 27 September 1880 in Stavanger, Norway. His baptism took place in the Stavanger Cathedral on 22 October 1880. Trygve was the fourth of nine children.
He received his primary education in his native land, Norway. Also, he attended Porsgrunn Technical School in Norway for two years. Thereafter, he continued his education in two German technical schools: first he attended technical school in Ilmenau, Thuringen, Germany, then he went to northern Germany and finished his technical schooling in Neustadt, Mecklinburg, Germany in 1902 becoming a civil engineer specializing in structural engineering.
Engineer Rønneberg immigrated to the United States in 1900 aboard the ship, St. Paul, and then he traveled to Chicago to work with his brother, Nathal Rønneberg, in the firm of D.H. Burnham Construction Company. In 1902, Trygve returned to Norway for a visit and to Neustadt, Germany where, I believe, he submitted his final drawings for his technical degree. I have a photograph taken in 1902 in Germany with Trygve in a large group of people who were, perhaps, members of a fraternal organization. Also, I have the drawings that Trygve submitted to Neustadt Technical School dated 1902.
The Hamburg Passenger List shows that Trygve returned to New York on 16 August 1902 aboard the ship–Blucher. His passage took him from Hamburg, Germany to Boulogne, France, to Southampton, England and finally to New York. Again, in 1905, Trygve traveled to Norway for a visit–this time returning via Ellis Island, New York on 15 September 1905 aboard the ship Campania. He returned to Chicago, Illinois with two hundred and fifty dollars in his pocket.
In 1907, Trygve was sent by the firm, D.H. Burnham and the Willis Polk Company to San Francisco to be the head supervisor of the twenty floor “Hobart Building” located on Market Street in San Francisco. He remained with the Polk firm until 1916. It was this firm who did much of the work for the 1915 Pan American Exposition in San Francisco. From 1916 to 1919, Trygve Ronneberg was the engineer and business manager for Louis P. Hobart. Sometime around 1919 he established his own business. Trygve was the structural engineer for the following buildings in San Francisco: the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph (a twenty-six story, 500 ft. building, built in 1924, which was the tallest building of the time in San Francisco), the Hobart Building, which has twenty stories, and is still considered one of the most handsome office buildings in the world, the Union Oil Building; the California Bank Building, the O’Connor & Moffitt Building, the Steinhart Aquarium, part of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, and the Legion of Honor Building, overlooking the Golden Gate and presented to the city of San Francisco by Mrs. Adolph Spreckles—considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. He was also the structural engineer for the Crocker Estate and Crocker First National Bank Building, as well as the Post Office in Portland, Oregon. He was the assistant architect of the Army and Navy YMCA Building (on the Embarcadero in San Francisco), and he planned the foundation and steel frame for the reconstruction of the San Francisco Chronicle Building. Trygve also designed the unique high steel arch feature of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station in New York City, which is also known as Penn Station. It is believed that Trygve worked with Willis Polk when he designed the Willis Polk/Sunol Water Temple in 1910.
Before leaving Chicago for San Francisco, Trygve married Wilhelmina Emilia Anderson of Chicago on 30 January 1907. They lived at 1278 Sacramento Street in San Francisco, California until approximately 1911 when they moved to Berkeley, California. Trygve had a house built at 38 Tunnel Rd. Berkeley, which was designed by Willis Polk, the famous architect. In 1938 Trygve and Wilhelmina moved to their summer home in Inverness, California where he lived until his death.
Trygve and Wilhelmina had three children, Terres Albert (1911-1985), Janet Madeline (1914-2006) and Warren Anderson (1917-1986). Terres was born in San Francisco. Janet and Warren were born in Berkeley, California.
Trygve received his Naturalization papers on 20 November 1911 from the Superior Court of San Francisco, California.
In 1920, for a third and final time, Trygve went to Norway to visit his family. He returned to San Francisco, California aboard the ship Mauretania on 13 March 1920, which left from Southampton, England.
Trygve died in Los Angeles, California on 3 November 1942 of pulmonary edema and a cerebral hemorrhage. He and his wife, Wilhelmina, are interred in the mausoleum, which is located in the Sunset View Cemetery in Kensington, California.