Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (106.34 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Provenance
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Horner Architectural Photography Collection
    Date (inclusive): circa 1920s
    Collection number: MS 110
    Creator: Benjamin Bean Horner, 1893-1971
    Extent: 10 boxes
    Languages: English
    Repository: Special Collections, Robert E. Kennedy Library
    California Polytechnic State University
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
    Abstract: The Horner Architectural Photography Collection contains 307 vintage, black and white mounted photographs taken by Benjamin Bean Horner (1893-1971), an architect who practiced in Southern California, primarily Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. The photographs are from the 1920s; the majority of the images are of historic structures in England and California.


    Anonymous gift.

    Restrictions on Access

    Collection is open to qualified researchers by appointment only. For more information on access policies and to obtain a copy of the Researcher Registration form, please visit the Special Collections Access page. Collection stored remotely. Advance notice for use required.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    In order to reproduce, publish, broadcast, exhibit, and/or quote from this material, researchers must submit a written request and obtain formal permission from Special Collections, Cal Poly, as the owner of the physical collection.
    Photocopying of material is permitted at staff discretion and provided on a fee basis. Photocopies are not to be used for any purpose other than for private study, scholarship, or research. Special Collections staff reserves the right to limit photocopying and deny access or reproduction in cases when, in the opinion of staff, the original materials would be harmed.

    Preferred Citation

    Horner Architectural Photography Collection, Special Collections, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
    Abbreviations Used:
    c.: circa
    n.pag.: no page


    Benjamin Bean Horner (1893-1971) was an architect who practiced in Southern California, primarily Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
    He was born in Michigan to William C. Horner, a drafter for a furniture factory, and his wife, Emily, both natives of England. The family also lived in Indiana when Benjamin was a teen. He graduated from Purdue University and belonged to the Tau Beta Pi Association, a national engineering honor society. Horner then served in World War I with the Army Engineering Corps.
    By 1920, he was single and living in Los Angeles, listing his occupation in the federal census as a "technical engineer" in the machine manufacturing industry. The 1930 census finds him still living in Los Angeles and married to his first wife, Adelaide (1897-193?), with his occupation now described as a civil engineer. Passenger list records show that the couple spent time overseas, sailing to and from New York and England in the fall of 1926. Horner's second wife, Esther Ruth Vanrossum (1901-1985), was from his home state of Michigan. They were married in the 1930s, with three sons born to them (William, Benjamin Harold, and Peter). The Horners lived in Santa Barbara until 1948 when they moved to Ojai.
    While abroad visiting England and the Continent during the 1920s, Horner photographed the historic buildings, manor houses, and villages found in this collection. The images include elevations as well as close-ups; his keen eye for architectural detail is reflected in these photographic studies.
    Back in the U. S., Horner's travels throughout California during the 1920s led him to explore the state's romantic past. His photos of historic adobe structures from the Spanish and Mexican periods of history strongly evoke this bygone era.
    Among his documented architectural commissions is the Croyden House, built in 1928 at 165 Middle Road, Montecito, California. This house was supposedly originally designed for his one-time business partner, a Mr. Hawkins. Other clients included silent film stars Noah Beery, Carol Dempster and Jack Mulhall.
    Benjamin Bean Horner died on May 21,1971 at the age of 77 while traveling abroad.
    "Benjamin Horner." [Obituary] The Ojai Valley News. 26 May 1971: no page
    California Death Index (1940-1997), Ancestry.com
    "Church Prayer Chapel Chosen as Memorial." Los Angeles Times 26 March 1940: no page
    1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 U. S. Census, Ancestry.com
    Santa Barbara Photo Tours: Listing Information, 165 Middlefield Road. http://www.sbphototours.com/Preview/default.php?ListingID=3160&AgentID=703&branded=1 
    Social Security Death Index, Ancestry.com
    World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Ancestry.com

    Scope and Content Note

    The Horner Architectural Photography Collection contains 307 vintage, black and white mounted photographs taken by Benjamin Bean Horner (1893-1971), an architect who practiced in Southern California, primarily Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. While the size of the photos themselves varies somewhat, they are generally about 9 ½ x 7 ½ or 7 ½ x 9 ½; with the mounts they are all 12 ½ x 19. The photos are mounted on watercolor stock.
    Where possible, the provenance, or original organization, of the papers has been preserved. However, in order to simplify access to the collection for researchers, some materials in specific formats and topics were reorganized and refoldered to more accurately reflect their contents.
    The Horner Architectural Photography Collection has one series and five subseries:
    Series 1. Photographs, circa 1920s
    A. California Adobes
    B. England
    C. France
    D. Italy
    E. Switzerland
    The Horner Architectural Photography Collection is housed in 10 boxes, with subseries A. California Adobes and B. England containing the most extensive (3 boxes and 7 boxes respectively) portions of the collection.
    Subseries A. California Adobes contains unique material depicting historic adobe structures dating back to California's Spanish and Mexican periods (19th century). Most of the buildings were in a state of decay when Horner photographed them during the 1920s; today many of them have since either been restored or destroyed.
    Subseries B. England contains the largest number of photographs; these include images of historic buildings, halls, manor houses, and villages, as well as close-up studies of architectural details such as doorways, windows, stairways, and drawer pulls.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Horner, Benjamin Bean, 1893-1971
    Adobe houses-- California -- Photographs
    Architecture -- California --Photographs
    Los Angeles County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Monterey County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Orange County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Riverside County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    San Bernardino County (Calif.) — Photographs
    San Benito County (Calif.) — Photographs
    San Diego County (Calif.) — Photographs
    San Luis Obispo County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Santa Barbara County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Santa Clara County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Sonoma County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Ventura County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    England — Photographs
    Architecture -- England --Photographs
    France — Photographs
    Switzerland — Photographs
    Italy — Photographs

    Genre and Forms of Materials