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Northwest Architectural Archives

With the increasing attention being devoted to historic preservation, architectural records have taken on greater importance. Less than two decades ago, no more than a handful of repositories were actively collecting and preserving these documents. Today there is scarcely a state in which a repository of architectural records does not exist.

The Northwest Architectural Archives was begun in 1970. The archives collects the records of architects, engineers, contractors, landscape architects, and interior designers from a region which includes Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northern Iowa, and the eastern Dakotas.

Collections currently in the UMedia Archive:

  • American Terra Cotta Company
    The collection contains shop drawings in ink on linen, paper and prints from the American, Indianapolis, Midland, and Winkle Terra Cotta Companies plus hundreds of photographs (prints and negatives), office indexes, order books, and advertising brochures.
  • Leroy S. Buffington Papers
    The collection includes plans, specifications, sketches, renderings, scrapbook and photos from the practice of a prominent Minneapolis architect.
  • Ellerbe Architects Papers Collection
    The collection contains images of several buildings, including the working drawings for the Mayo Clinic 1914 building and Mayo's Plummer Building, the St. Paul City Hall & Courthouse, the Chateau Dodge Theater in Rochester, MN, the Blackhawk Hotel of Davenport, Iowa, and several private residences.
  • Forecast Public Art Archives
    This archival collection contains the records from Forecast Public Art, a St. Paul-based nonprofit arts organization dedicated to the study of and support for public art.
  • John H. Howe Papers
    The collection contains plans, renderings, photographs and other materials by John H. Howe, architect.
  • Larson and McLaren Papers
    The Larson & McLaren Papers collection includes drawings, contracts, specifications, and photographs for residences, hospitals, schools, stores and banks, most located in Minneapolis. Representative of the structures documented in the collection are: the Federal Reserve Bank (by Cass Gilbert, 1921-1924) and its later tower addition by Larson and McLaren (1955); the LaSalle Store and Office Building (1923-1950); Groveland Apartment Hotel (1929); North High School (1971); Baker Office Building (1927-1928); Donaldson's Glass Block (department store) (by Long and Kees, 1895); Foshay Tower (by Magney and Tusler, 1929); and numerous residences of the 1920s-1950s. Also included are plans for the refacing of major department stores such as Donaldson's (Minneapolis) and J.C. Penney stores in Minneapolis and Rochester, as well as the Radisson Hotel (Minneapolis, 1947-1955). Not all of these structures are represented by images here.
  • Liebenberg and Kaplan Papers
    Liebenberg and Kaplan were noted for designing more than 200 motion picture theatres in the Upper Midwest, many of the early ones featuring an art deco style. The firm also designed private residences, radio and television stations, commercial structures, hospitals, and synagogues, including Temple Israel in Minneapolis.

    Among the original drawings for theatres in the collection are those documenting the Hollywood (1935), Varsity (1938), Uptown (1939), Granada (later Suburban World) (1928), Campus (ca. 1940), Terrace (1955), all in Minneapolis; the Fargo in Fargo, North Dakota (1936); the Egyptian, Sioux Falls, South Dakota (1938); Maco, Virginia, Minnesota (1940); and Norshor, in Duluth (1940-41).
  • Edwin H. Lundie Papers
    The collection represents the work of master draftsman and architect Edwin H. Lundie. Included are renderings, working drawings for his buildings, and photographs.
  • William Gray Purcell Papers
    The Collection contains drawings, including plans, elevations and sections for much of the firm's work, together with renderings, sketches, photographs and correspondence.
  • Stock Plan Books
  • William Channing Whitney Collection
    Starting in 1885, Whitney began his own practice and soon became one of the Twin Cities’ most fashionable residential architects, designing homes for William Dunwoody (1905), Frank Heffelfinger (1902), and Thomas Irvine (1910-1911); the Irvine house is now the Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul. Whitney was a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts and a strong proponent of city parks and beautification. His office was a training center for many young architects, such as C.B. Chapman, Adam L. Dorr, and Serenus Colburn. William Whitney died on August 23, 1945.
  • Minneapolis Architecture, 1848-1908
    The images contained in this collection comprise the entire set of illustrations used by Dr. Donald Torbert for his Ph.D. thesis Minneapolis Architecture and Architects, 1848-1908; A study of Style Trends in Architecture in a Midwestern City Together with a Catalogue of Representative Buildings, written in 1951.

    Dr. Torbert's thesis remains the foundational work upon which subsequent architectural studies of the city are founded. It is a comprehensive and accurate, especially given the general lack of resources at the time it was written.

    The illustrations were derived from a number of sources, but the bulk of images came from the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minneapolis Public Library Special Collections. The University of Minnesota does not own these images, and they have been provided online as reference images only.

    It is incumbent upon the user to secure all proper citations and permissions for reproduction of these works. A print copy of the thesis is housed in the Northwest Architectural Archives, and researchers are encouraged to consult that work for further information about sources and citations.