Horace Trumbauer Architectural Drawings collection, 1924-1958
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- Trumbauer, Horace, 1869-1938
- From 1924 through 1958 the architectural firm of Horace Trumbauer of Philadelphia, Pa. was hired to design much of Duke University's East and West campuses. Horace Trumbauer, William O. Frank, and Julian Abele were the firm's main designers. Frank Clyde Brown, S.W. Myatt and A.C. Lee were administrators of construction at Duke University during this time. Some of the buildings designed by the firm are the Duke University Chapel, the Allen Administration Building, Cameron Indoor Stadium, Baldwin Auditorium, the East Campus Union Building, the East Campus Central Heating Plant Complex, the Carr Building (formerly known as the Class Room Building), the Medical School and Hospital, the Nurses' Home, the Law School, the School of Religion, the Chemistry Building, and the Botany and Biology Building. The firm also designed the Giles, Alspaugh, Pegram, Bassett, and Brown residence halls (formerly known as Dormitories 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively). Included in the collection are blueprints and printed material relating to the planning and construction of buildings at Duke University from 1924 to 1958.
9 Linear Feet
- Collection ID:
- University Archives Record Group:
01 -- General Information and University History
15 -- Audio/Video (A/V), Photographic, and Visual Materials
- Scope and Content:
This collection is comprised of architectural drawings and reproduced architectural drawings of buildings on the Duke University campus and nearby. The dates of this collection range from 1924 to 1952, with the bulk of material from 1926-1938.
A number of Related Collections also contain building specifications, daily work logs, financial ledgers, contracts, and general correspondence for most buildings. Correspondence (often including specifications) exchanged primarily between Horace Trumbauer, William O. Frank, Julian Abele, and Frank Clyde Brown (Duke University Comptroller), S.W. Myatt (Assistant to the President) and A.C. Lee (Chief Engineer for Duke University Building) about general construction at Duke University. Additionally, published building specifications can be found in the library catalog. Other blueprints, sketches, and drawings are folded and interfiled among established collections and within the Operations and Maintenance Department Records. General building specifications, plans for proposed buildings, daily work logs, financial ledgers, contracts, and general correspondence are located in the Operations and Maintenance Department Records, as well as the Frank C. Brown Papers. Bound volumes of published building specifications are stored in the University Archives book collection. Photographs of buildings and architectural sketches and drawings are located in the Photograph Collection. Biographical information about Horace Trumbauer and Julian Abele can be found in the Biographical Reference Collection. The Building Reference Collection contains related information about campus buildings.
- Biographical / Historical:
From 1924 through 1958 the architectural firm of Horace Trumbauer of Philadelphia, Pa. was hired to design much of Duke University's East and West campuses. Horace Trumbauer, William O. Frank, and Julian Abele were the firm's main designers. Frank Clyde Brown, S.W. Myatt and A.C. Lee were administrators of construction at Duke University during this time. Some of the buildings designed by the firm are the Duke University Chapel, the Allen Administration Building, Cameron Indoor Stadium, Baldwin Auditorium, the East Campus Union Building, the East Campus Central Heating Plant Complex, the Carr Building (formerly known as the Class Room Building), the Medical School and Hospital, the Nurses' Home, the Law School, the School of Religion, the Chemistry Building, and the Botany and Biology Building. The firm also designed the Giles, Alspaugh, Pegram, Bassett, and Brown residence halls (formerly known as Dormitories 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively).
Born in the Frankford section of Philadelphia in 1868, Horace Trumbauer left school at the age of fourteen and entered the architectural firm of G. W. and W. D. Hewitt as an "errand boy". He was soon promoted to draftsman. Trumbauer's advancement and acquisition of knowledge enabled him to eventually open his own office in 1890.
Trumbauer's first major commission was a mansion in Glenside, Pennsylvania, for sugar baron William Welsh Harrison. When Harrison's mansion burned to the ground in 1893, he commissioned Trumbauer to rebuild it. This second home, called Grey Towers (now part of Arcadia University), marked Trumbauer's rise to prominence in the profession. Its castle-like design instilled the estate with a distinct architectural style that was unique to Trumbauer's work.
Trumbauer's firm expanded its scope, designing not only mansions in Philadelphia, New York City, and Newport, Rhode Island, but also apartment houses and other large structures. By 1904, when the prominent Architectural Record published a lengthy account of Trumbauer's works, he had become one of the country's most distinguished architects. Over the next decades, Trumbauer and his staff received more than 1,000 commissions, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and many offices, schools, hotels, and medical buildings. Among Trumbauer's most important commissions of this period was the Gothic revival Duke University campus in Durham, North Carolina.
Because of his talent and aloofness, Trumbauer gained accolades in New York City before he did in his hometown. His colleagues in Philadelphia did not elect him to membership in their chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) until 1931, an affront that reportedly greatly disturbed him. Added to this mix was the fact that he employed, advanced and befriended one of the very few African American architects in the country. Trumbauer and Abele each faced discrimination and because of that Trumbauer empathized with the racial discrimination confronting Abele. Consequently they forged a close relationship based on respect for talent and friendship, but each also trapped the other in a peculiar set of circumstances. Trumbauer excelled as the front man dealing with major clients but he avoided publicity and public appearances. Abele was the African American chief designer essential to the internal operation of the firm, a position too confining for his deserved reputation. Abele, himself, was not elected to membership in the Philadelphia AIA until 1941.
Trumbauer worked exclusively in period styles, reviving the architecture of distant times and places. Due to architectural trends and the Great Depression, Trumbauer's practice dwindled in the 1930s. His staff fell from a high of thirty members down to his longtime associates Julian Abele and William O. Frank, and a few others. He died on September 18, 1938.
Born in Philadelphia in 1881, Julian Abele was the youngest of eight children. He attended Brown Preparatory School, the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia, Pa., and the University of Pennsylvania. Trumbauer recognized the talent of Julian Abele when he observed some of Abele's student award winning drawings. Upon Abele's graduation in 1902 as the first African-American student in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Trumbauer financed further study for him at the Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Paris. Abele joined Trumbauer's firm in 1906, advancing to chief designer in 1909. Abele designed the Fifth Avenue Residence of James B. Duke in New York, and Duke soon hired Abele to design the medieval-style Gothic buildings of East and West campuses of Duke University. Abele designed over 600 buildings including the Free Library of Philadelphia. Trumbauer died in 1938; Abele and business partner William O. Frank continued to run the firm until Abele's death in 1950.
After the death of Horace Trumbauer in 1938, the firm continued for another twenty years under his name. With commissions more difficult to come by during the Great Depression and World War II, it was not a propitious time to change the name of the firm. However, Abele's name began appearing on the architectural drawings in an obvious change of policy. In 1940 when decisions were being made concerning burial in the Duke University chapel crypt, A. S. Brower, then assistant to the Comptroller, advised that Abele be consulted because he "prepared the plans and knows the details of the building better than anyone else."
[Source: Free Library of Pennsylvania]
- Acquisition Information:
The majority of the Horace Trumbauer Architectural Drawings were received by the University Archives as a transfer, date unknown.
The Chapel, undated, a lithographic print of an illustration, was received as a gift from the estate of Joel Martin in 2017.
- Processing information:
Processed by Emily Glenn, completed November 2002
Encoded by Jill Katte, June 2004
Updated by Jill Katte, November 2004
Updated by Kimberly Sims, February 2013
Updated by Tracy M. Jackson, April 2015, to remove listed items belonging to separate collections
UA2017-0016 added by Tracy M. Jackson, April 2017.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Related Material:
Biographical Reference Collection University Archives, Duke University.
Frank C. Brown Papers, 1899-1943 University Archives, Duke University.
William Preston Few Records and Papers, 1814-1971 University Archives, Duke University.
Robert Lee Flowers Records, 1891-1968 University Archives, Duke University.
Operations and Maintenance Dept. Records, University Archives, Duke University.
University Archives Photograph Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
- Horace Trumbauer Drawings and Plans Free Library of Philadelphia
- Julian Abele Drawings of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Trumbauer Collection The Athenaeum of Philadelphia
- Horace Trumbauer architectural drawings Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Horace Trumbauer Collection University of Pennsylvania Architectural Archives
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
Architects -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
African American architects -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Chapels -- Designs and plans
Dormitories -- Designs and plans
Architecture -- Designs and plans -- Working drawings
Campus planning -- North Carolina -- Durham
Gothic revival (Architecture) -- North Carolina -- Durham
College buildings -- Designs and plans
Duke Hospital -- Design and construction -- Planning
Duke University -- Pictorial works
Duke University -- Buildings -- History
Duke University. Hospital -- Buildings -- Specifications
Duke University. Chapel
Trumbauer, Horace, 1869-1938
Abele, Julian, 1881-1950
Brown, Frank Clyde, 1870-1943
- Durham (N.C.) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
Using These Materials
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
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- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], Horace Trumbauer Architectural Drawings Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.