Innovative From The Start

Freese and Nichols traces our roots back to Major John Hawley, the first independent consulting engineer for water and sewer work in Texas. Over the decades, our staff have pioneered many areas in our industry, including design of the nation’s first large dual-purpose reservoir, early adoption of the activated sludge process and introduction of root dendrogeomorphology to the United States. We are poised to continue providing innovative approaches, practical results and outstanding service for many years to come.

1894: Open for Business

Three years after arriving in Fort Worth to supervise construction of a new municipal water system, John B. Hawley enters private practice, founding the business that is now Freese and Nichols. He goes on to become one of the early pioneers in the field of hydraulic and sanitary engineering.

image description

Through the Years

  • 1911
  • 1927
  • 1929
  • 1937
  • 1941
  • 1957
  • 1969
  • 1971
  • 1976
  • 1987
  • 2000
  • 2007
  • 2010
  • 2013
  • 2014
Lake Worth construction

White Rock Lake and Lake Worth

Hawley lays the groundwork for two reservoirs that help meet the water needs of budding North Texas cities. Dallas’ White Rock Lake is completed in 1911 and Fort Worth’s Lake Worth (shown) is completed in 1914. At the time, Lake Worth is the biggest municipal water supply reservoir in Texas and one of the largest in the country.


Freese and Nichols Become Partners

On March 28, 1927, Hawley makes Simon Freese a partner, renaming the firm Hawley & Freese. Marvin C. Nichols is named a partner the next year.

San Antonio River Cutoff Construction, 1929

Paving the Way for the San Antonio River Walk

From their San Antonio office, the firm designs the Great Bend Cut-Off Channel on the San Antonio River. Today, this flood protection project is at the center of the San Antonio River Walk.


North Texas’ First Air-Conditioned Buildings

Hawley, Freese and Nichols enters the air-conditioning business, forming the Texas Air Conditioning Corp. They install Chrysler “Airtemp” window units in Fort Worth’s Hotel Texas and the Burk Burnett Building downtown, making them the first air-сonditioned buildings in North Texas.

Camp Barkeley, Texas, during World War II

Supporting the War Effort

Freese and Nichols helps design Camp Bowie, Camp Hulen, Camp Swift and Camp Barkeley in Texas, as well as the Houma Blimp Base in Louisiana. The next year, Freese and Nichols provides design and construction supervision for the Pantex Ordnance Plant in Amarillo.

Swearing-in ceremony of the first Texas Water Development Board, 1957

Leadership for Texas Water

Marvin Nichols, second from left, is appointed as the first chairman of the Texas Water Development Board. He leads the board for six years and is instrumental in developing Texas’ first long-term water plans.

Airliner on a runway at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport

DFW Airport Utilities and Roadways

Freese, Nichols and Endress, as the firm is known in the 1960s, serves as associate consultant for the new Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport. The consultants design the airport’s roadway network, water supply system, and industrial waste collection and treatment facilities.

Arlington Stadium in the 1970s

Ready for the Rangers

Freese and Nichols oversees the expansion of Arlington Stadium into a major league ballpark. Design and construction begin in October and are complete for the Texas Rangers’ first Opening Day six months


Freese and Nichols, Inc.

Freese and Nichols incorporates, becoming Freese and Nichols, Inc., with Simon Freese as the chairman of the board and Jim Nichols as president.

Richland-Chambers Reservoir spillway gates during construction

Richland-Chambers Reservoir

Richland-Chambers Dam and Reservoir, which Freese and Nichols planned in 1955 and designed in the 1980s, is completed. It provides 187 million gallons of water per day and is the largest lake in the system supplying Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

Walsh Engineering staff photo

Expansion to Southeast Texas

Freese and Nichols expands its local capabilities in Southeast Texas by acquiring Walsh Engineering, based in Pearland. The 12-person firm had a strong reputation built on 49 years of service to municipalities, state agencies and industrial clients.

Freese and Nichols urban planners

Diversification Into Planning

Freese and Nichols expands its urban planning capabilities by acquiring Dunkin Sefko & Associates. The Dallas-based consulting firm had been in business since 1973, serving more than 60 municipalities across Texas.

Company leaders and elected officials at the Baldrige award ceremony

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

Freese and Nichols becomes the first engineering firm to receive the Baldrige Award, an honor recognizing client service, strong leadership, strategic planning and sustained profitability.

North Carolina State Flag

National Expansion

Freese and Nichols expands outside of Texas by opening an office in Raleigh, North Carolina, followed by an office in Oklahoma City the next year.

Installation of Line J Pipeline

World’s First Envision-Rated Pipeline

The Line J, Section 1 Pipeline, designed by Freese and Nichols for the Tarrant Regional Water District, becomes the first-ever pipeline project to receive Envision recognition from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

A Foundation For The Future

Freese and Nichols has built an enduring company by remaining true to the philosophies our early leaders instilled: taking care of our employees, providing excellent service to our clients, investing in our communities, operating ethically and promoting innovation. For more than 125 years, we have thrived by understanding and meeting our clients’, employees’ and communities’ needs. We’ll continue to anticipate and adapt to help you address your challenges in the future.

image description

Ready to Learn More?

Contact us today to see how we can work together.