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Reginald D. Johnson Collection: Finding Aid
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Materials in the Huntington Library
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Reginald D. Johnson Collection
    Dates (inclusive): approximately 1906 - approximately 1947
    Collection Number: archJohnson
    Creator: Johnson, Reginald D.
    Extent: 3 flat boxes, 1 tube box, 2 oversize folders
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Architecture Collections
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: Reginald D. Johnson (1882-1952) was an architect who worked primarily on residential and commercial projects in Southern California from about 1910 through the 1940s. Johnson was best known for the English and Mediterranean style mansions he built for wealthy clients in Pasadena and Santa Barbara in the 1920s. He later embraced more progressive and inclusive ideas about housing which included planned communities such as Baldwin Hills Village. The collection spans the years 1906 to 1947 and consists primarily of plans, photographs and drawings of Johnson's architectural projects in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California.
    Language: English.
    Finding aid last updated on July 1, 2014.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining permission rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    Reginald D. Johnson Collection. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    The collection was assembled from various sources:
    • The drawing of the S. W. Forsman house was received as the gift of F. G. Forsman, date unknown.
    • The drawing of the Episcopal Home for the Aged was received as the gift of Nancy Impastato in 1988.
    • The two albums were received as the gift of Frances J. McLucas, Kathleen J. Garrett and Joseph A. Johnson in 1993.
    • The photographs and blueprints of the "Penjerrick" residence were received as the gift of Peter and Sally Letchworth in 2011.

    Biographical Note

    Reginald Davis Johnson was born July 19, 1882, in Westchester, New York. In 1895, his father, the Right Reverend Joseph Horsfall Johnson, was appointed the first bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Southern California Diocese. Johnson's first years in California were spent in a mansion on Grand Avenue in Pasadena, California, before attending Morristown School in Morristown, New Jersey. During his childhood, the family made trips to Europe, and he later claimed to have studied architecture in Paris (though it is unclear where). He completed his education first at Williams College and then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating from there in 1910. Johnson returned to Pasadena shortly thereafter to embark on his own architecture practice in 1912.
    Having gained significant experience apprenticing in the offices of both Hunt & Grey (Myron & Elmer) and Robert Farquhar, Johnson's practice thrived from the beginning. His clients tended to be people of high social standing and wealth, and his projects reflected this in both proportion and style. Most of his early work was English, Anglo-Colonial and Mediterranean in style, with special attention paid to the site and its relationship to the building. Johnson became one of the leading architects in Los Angeles by 1920 and he received multiple commissions throughout Pasadena and Santa Barbara during this period. One of the most acclaimed houses he designed in the Mediterranean style was for John Percival Jefferson, an estate in Montecito called “Mira Flores.” For this, he won a gold medal in 1920 from the American Institute of Architects as an example of the most outstanding residential architecture in the nation, the first such recognition for a Southern California architect. He continued to practice architecture throughout Pasadena, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara during the 1920s, going into practice briefly in 1922 with two other architects, Gordon B. Kaufmann and Roland E. Coate (Johnson, Kaufmann & Coate). The firm was responsible for two major church commissions, All Saints' Episcopal Church in Pasadena and Saint Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles. The firm dissolved by 1924 and each architect went on to form individual practices.
    During the Great Depression in the 1930s, Johnson moved away from designing for the wealthy as he became increasingly interested in small, affordable housing solutions. He won another award in 1931 for the best small house built in the United States for the gardener's cottage on the William R. Dickinson property in Hope Ranch. Throughout the remainder of his career, Johnson focused almost exclusively on government and mass housing, including the 300-unit Harbor Hills project in San Pedro (1941) and Baldwin Hills Village (1940-1942) in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles. For the latter project, Johnson collaborated with the firm Wilson, Merrill, and Alexander and Clarence Stein served as planning consultant. A community of 627 units on 88 acres was formed, and, after its opening in December 1941, lauded by critics as an outstanding example of a planned community. Johnson died on October 28, 1952.

    Scope and Content

    The Reginald D. Johnson Collection spans the years 1906 to 1947 and consists primarily of plans, photographs and drawings of Johnson's architectural projects in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California. The collection includes material that was acquired as two separate donations between 1988 and 1993: an album of photographs and drawings of the Baldwin Hills Village planned residential community in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles; an album of photographs of residential projects in Pasadena and Santa Barbara, and three drawings for buildings in San Marino, Pasadena, and Alhambra. An additional donation made in 2011 includes blueprints and photographs of “Penjerrick,” the residence of Pierre E. Letchworth in Covina, California, built in 1915.
    Credited photographers represented in the collection include William M. Clarke, E. M. Pratt, the Padilla Company, and the Gill Engraving Company.

    Related Materials in the Huntington Library


    The collection is arranged in the following two series:
    • Series I. Project Records
      • A. Albums
      • B. Drawings
    • Series II. Additional Donations
      • A. Pierre E. Letchworth residence, “Penjerrick,” Covina, California, circa 1915.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Architects – California.
    Architecture -- California -- Los Angeles.
    Architecture -- California -- Pasadena.
    Architecture -- California -- Santa Barbara.
    Architecture -- Designs and plans.
    Planned communities -- California -- Los Angeles -- Designs and plans.
    Johnson, Reginald D.
    Baldwin Hills (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Covina (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Montecito (Calif.) -- Photographs.
    Santa Barbara (Calif.) -- Photographs.


    Architectural drawings.
    Presentation albums.
    Tear sheets.

    Additional Entries

    Clarke, William M., photographer.
    Pratt, E. M., photographer.
    Gill Engraving Co., photographer.
    Padilla Co., photographer.