Scope and Content
Organization and Arrangement
Title: Ruth Patricia Shellhorn papers
Date (inclusive): 1909-2006
Collection number: 1757
Ruth Patricia Shellhorn
155 document boxes (77.5 linear ft.)
134 rolled drawing boxes
98 flat boxes
17 shoe boxes
7 oversize specialty boxes.
Abstract: Ruth Patricia Shellhorn (1909-2006) was a landscape architect who practiced in Southern California. She is best known for
her contributions to the creation of a new commercial shopping center landscape style through her work at the Bullock's Department
Stores and Fashion Squares. In addition to her work at Bullock's, Shellhorn's projects include Disneyland and University of
California, Riverside, as well as residential gardens for many prominent Southern Californians. The collection consists of
business records, drawings and plans, visual materials, correspondence, diaries, and other personal items.
Language: Finding aid is written in
University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections
for paging information.
Restrictions on Access
Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library
Special Collections for paging information.
Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the
creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright
owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
Provenance/Source of Acquisition
Gift of Ruth Patricia Shellhorn, 2005.
Processed by Heather Lowe in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Kelley Wolfe Bachli,
The processing of this collection was generously supported by
[Identification of item], Ruth Patricia Shellhorn papers (Collection 1757). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young
Research Library, UCLA.
Ruth Patricia Shellhorn Kueser (September 21, 1909 - November 3, 2006) was a landscape architect who practiced in the Los
Angeles area. Her best known projects include Disneyland, the Bullock's department stores and Fashion Squares, University
of California at Riverside, and the Shoreline Development Study. Shellhorn's commercial work helped to establish an iconic
Southern California landscape style.
Ruth Shellhorn was born on September 21, 1909 in Los Angeles to Arthur L. and Lodema Shellhorn. She grew up in Pasadena where
her parents encouraged her to choose a career as a young child and Shellhorn became interested in landscape architecture through
a neighbor, the well-know landscape architect, Florence Yoch. Shellhorn attended Oregon State Agricultural College from 1927-1930
and then transferred to Cornell University to study architecture in addition to landscape architecture. After being denied
the ability to take an overload and complete her degree at Cornell, Shellhorn returned home to Pasadena in 1933 to begin her
own practice. In the early days of her career she teamed up with other young architects and designers and worked for established
landscape architects, Ralph Cornell and Florence Yoch. In addition to her landscape work, Shellhorn wrote articles and gave
radio interviews on topics of home gardening.
In 1940, she married Harry Alexander Kueser. Five years later, Kueser left his banking career to join Shellhorn in the landscape
architecture business. In the partnership, he handled the finances, helped with surveying, and oversaw some installation and
construction. For most of their career together, they worked from a studio in their home.
One of Shellhorn's first major projects was the assignment to the Shoreline Development Study for the Greater Los Angeles
Citizens Committee. The study set a precedent for guarding sensitive coastal areas from industry and developing coastal land
for public use. Soon after the project, Shellhorn received a recommendation to work on Bullock's, Pasadena. Her superior work
in Pasadena led to a series of influential landscape designs at Bullock's department stores and Fashion Squares. Shellhorn's
designs set the tone for a new style that came to be associated with Southern California luxury shopping. In 1955, Walt Disney
hired Shellhorn to oversee plantings at Disneyland. Shellhorn eventually designed all the pedestrian walkways as well as plantings
at the entry, Main Street, and the Plaza Hub.
In addition to Shellhorn's many commercial projects, she also created residential gardens for a range of prominent Angelinos,
including Norman and Dorothy Chandler, Gene Autry, Barbara Stanwyck, John and Rella Factor, Ben Goetz, and many others. She
also served as consulting landscape architect for several educational institutions, most notably the University of California
Shellhorn's work continued to be recognized throughout her career. She received numerous awards from the American Association
of Nurserymen, a lifetime achievement award and fellow status from the American Society of Landscape Architects, as well as
the Los Angeles Times 1955 Woman of the Year. In 2005, Cornell University discovered that Shellhorn had, indeed, completed
the requisite number of units for graduation. The university belatedly conferred upon her a Bachelor's of Landscape Architecture
and a Bachelor's of Architecture.
Shellhorn died on November 3, 2006 in Torrance, California a few days after suffering a stroke.
Scope and Content
The collection includes business files, drawings and plans, photographs, slides, correspondence, diaries, and other personal
The bulk of the collection pertains to her professional career including over 3,000 drawings and plans, as well as research
files supporting her work and client files regarding particular projects. The collection also contains visual material from
Shellhorn's projects including two architectural models, slides and photographs. The collection also includes personal photographs,
albums, correspondence, and diaries covering an 80 year period, school assignments, and ephemera.
Organization and Arrangement
The creator's original order has been retained as much as possible and arranged in the following series:
- Client Files
- Plans and Drawings
- Business Resources
- Product and research files
- Product Samples
- Business records
- Books and Magazines
- Professional Life
- Professional and alumni involvement
- Educational work
- Ephemera and records
- Family materials
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Shellhorn, Ruth, d. 2006 --Archives.
Women landscape architects --California, Southern --Archival resources.
Landscape architecture --California, Southern --Designs and plans.
Genres and Forms of Material