Born in Bavaria, Germany, Kramer arrived in the United States with his parents on an unknown date. He practiced architecture in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati before moving to San Antonio in 1888. There he would live for the remainder of his life and design his most acclaimed works.
His first project was a new city hall for San Antonio, designed in an eclectic mixture of styles. The new building, which replaced a bat-infested property known as the ‘bat-cave,’ transformed the Military Plaza, established in 1722 as a parade ground and open-air market for soldiers garrisoned at the Presidio San Antonio de Béxar, into the center of municipal government. With the hall occupying the center of the plaza, the surrounding area included a manicured lawn with mature live oaks and sabal palms. Kramer’s second iconic project was the design of the Pearl stables for the Pearl Brewery, owned and operated by the San Antonio Brewing Association. A symbol of the brewery’s affluence and success, and a reflection of the late-nineteenth-century appreciation for Victorian architecture and ornamentation, the elliptical-shaped stable buildings were completed in 1894. The stables, built to accommodate the association’s draft horses, showcased the era’s elegant brickwork with a highly creative design. Kramer died in San Antonio at the age of 50, succumbing to a sudden bout of pneumonia.