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Guide to the J. Paul Getty Ranch House Records, 1921, 1945-1960s, 1975-1976, 1980s, 1999-2007, and undated
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Administrative Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Getty, J. Paul (Jean Paul), 1892-1976
    Title: Ranch House records
    Date (inclusive): 1921, 1945-1960s, 1975-1976, 1980s, 1999-2007, undated
    Physical Description: 70.6 linear feet (6 boxes, 1 binder, 15 flat files)
    Abstract: Records consist of correspondence, memoranda, reports, legal documents, brochures, clippings, architectural drawings, and photographs, 1921, 1945-1960s, 1975-1976, 1980s, 1999-2007 and undated, that describe the history of, and planned and executed alterations and additions to, J. Paul Getty's Ranch House in Malibu, California. Also included is some administrative material relating to Ranch House personnel.
    Request Materials: To access physical materials at the Getty, go to the library catalog record  for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for general library access policy . See the Administrative Information section of this finding aid for access restrictions specific to the records described below. Please note, some of the records may be stored off site; advanced notice is required for access to these materials.
    Repository: The Getty Research Institute
    Institutional Records and Archives
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California 90049-1688
    Identifier/Call Number: IA20021
    Language: English

    Biography/Organization History

    Administrative History

    Located just off the Pacific Coast Highway about a mile north of Sunset Boulevard on 64-acres near Malibu, California, the Ranch House became the site for the original J. Paul Getty Museum. Purchased by J. Paul Getty in 1945 from Claude I. Parker for the sum of $250,000, the property was originally part of an early nineteenth century Spanish land grant. In the 1920s Parker, a Los Angeles attorney, purchased a portion of the property from Perfecto Marquez, a descendent of one of the area's original settlers. Parker constructed a house, the core of the extant Ranch House, and several outbuildings. Getty made additions and major alterations to the Ranch House, including the addition of a second floor to the eastern portion, creating the house that stands on the property today.
    At the time Getty purchased the Malibu property, he already owned a house in Santa Monica, at 270 Ocean Front, and therefore only occupied the Ranch House on weekends. In 1946, Getty commissioned the Los Angeles architect John Byers to design additions to the Ranch House, primarily to house Getty's art collections, including a second floor at the eastern end, the Louis XV Room, the Hallway Gallery, the Louis XVI Room, the Small Antiquities Room, and the Courtyard. In 1953 Mr. Getty established the the J. Paul Getty Museum Trust and in 1954 opened the gallery spaces at the eastern end of the house to the public. In 1957, a new gallery wing along the west edge of the courtyard was added by the Los Angeles-based architectural firm Claud Beelman & Associates to house Getty’s expanding collection of antiquities. The eastern end of the house continued to function as the museum until 1974 (with about 6,000 square feet of exhibition space), when the Getty Villa was completed and opened as the primary repository for Mr. Getty’s art collection.
    With the Getty Villa acting as the new museum quarters, portions of the Ranch House were altered to accommodate museum administration and conservation laboratories. Major modifications to the interior of the Ranch House, including the conversion of gallery spaces to conservation, laboratory and office spaces. The construction of new buildings in the courtyard area were carried out during the mid-1980s.
    The Ranch House was the subject of a 2001 Historic American Buildings Survey report.
    [Adapted from "Historic American Buildings Survey Documentation."]

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Records consist of correspondence, memoranda, reports, contracts, permits, invoices, brochures, clippings, blueline prints, blueprints, architectural drawings, and photographs, 1921, 1945-1960s, 1975-1976, 1980s, 1999-2007 and undated, that describe J. Paul Getty's Ranch House in Malibu, California and the alterations made to it over time.
    The history of the building is summarized in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) documentation, which provides background information on the Ranch House, including its significance, history, architecture, a site description, maps, plans, and photographs. The renovation and administration records contain information about work undertaken in the 1950s to expand gallery space by the Los Angeles architectural firm of Claud Beelman & Associates; the financial administration of the project was handled by Norris Bramlett. The records describe preparations for a proposed visit by Getty to the Ranch in the 1960s through copies of correspondence between Getty, Norris Bramlett, and Eileen Vogler, a long-time Getty employee. In March 1973, the Trustees passed a resolution requesting that Getty authorize construction of an access road to the Museum, and the records contain information about the costs and planning of this project. In the late 1970s the Trustees explored the possibility of expanding the Ranch House for more gallery space. Gruen Associates was retained to advise the Trustees, and their report, related correspondence, and a geological investigation is included in the records. Also included in the records are two inventories of the collections conducted in the late 1970s (the purpose of these inventories is unknown); and letters from Stephen Garrett, Museum Director, to the Ranch House staff discussing their transfer to museum staff. The records also include architectural drawings, a large portion of which relate to the renovation of the property by the architect John Byers, begun in 1946, for both residential and art gallery spaces in the house. The photographs included in the records depict the Ranch House before, during, and after renovation.


    These records are organized in four series: Series I. Historic American Buildings Survey documentation, 1999, 2001; Series II. Renovation and administration records, 1954-1982; Series III. Architectural drawings, 1921, 1945-1951, 1975-1976 and undated; Series IV. Photographs, circa 1950s-1960s, 1980s, 1999-2007.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Topics

    Architecture--California--Los Angeles
    Dwellings--California--Los Angeles, 1940-1950
    Museum buildings--California
    Ranch houses

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Architectural drawings (visual works)
    Blueline prints
    Blueprints (reprographic copies)
    Clippings (information artifacts)


    Bramlett, Norris
    Claud Beelman & Associates
    Fredericksen, Burton B.
    Garrett, Stephen, 1922-
    Getty, J. Paul (Jean Paul), 1892-1976
    Gruen Associates
    John Byers, Architect
    Vogler, Eileen

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    The records described in accessions 1986.IA.19, 1986.IA.20, 1986.IA.27, 1986.IA.39, 2003.IA.10, 2004.IA.13, and 2010.IA.04 are available for use by qualified researchers.
    The records in accessionThe records in accession 1986.IA.50, subject to review for permanently closed information, are open to qualified researchers. Requests for access will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
    The following types of records are permanently closed: records containing personal information, records that compromise security or operations, legal communications, legal work product, and records related to donors. The J. Paul Getty Trust reserves the right to restrict access to any records held by the Institutional Archives.

    Restrictions on Use

    Contact Rights and Reproductions   at the Getty Research Institute for copyright information and permission to publish.

    Preferred Citation

    [Cite the item and series (as appropriate)], J. Paul Getty Ranch House Records, 1921, 1945-1960s, 1975-1976, 1999-2007 and undated. Institutional Archives, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Finding aid no. IA20021.

    Acquisition Information

    The records in this finding aid originated in accession nos. 1986.IA.01 boxes 46, 67, 86, 129 and 138 (transferred to the Institutional Archives by the J. Paul Getty Museum); 1986.IA.19 (transferred to the Institutional Archives by the J. Paul Getty Museum); 1986.IA.20 (transferred to the Institutional Archives by the J. Paul Getty Trust); 1986.IA.27 (transferred to the Institutional Archives by Don Hull, Department of Photography, J. Paul Getty Museum); 1986.IA.39; 2003.IA.10; 2004.IA.13 (transferred to the Institutional Archives by Barbara Whitney, J. Paul Getty Museum); and 2010.IA.10 (transferred to the Institutional Archivies by the Getty Research Institute, Villa Librarian, Barbara Furbush).
    Please note that the material in accession 1986.IA.01 has been assigned a new accession number, 1986.IA.50, for purposes of providing better administrative control.

    Processing History

    A preliminary inventory was conducted by Institutional Archives part-time staff prior to 2003. In 2005, Sue Luftschein rehoused the records and created this finding aid based, in part, on the original inventory. In 2010 Cyndi Shein added records and revised the finding aid accordingly.