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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
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: William F. Cody Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1924-1975
    Date (bulk): 1950-1975
    Collection number: MS 007
    Creator: Cody, William Francis, 1916-1978
    Extent: 51 boxes (25 linear feet), 50 flat file drawers, 18 tubes, 1 artifact
    Languages: English, Spanish
    Repository: Special Collections, Robert E. Kennedy Library
    California Polytechnic State University
    San Luis Obispo, California 93407
    Abstract: The papers of California architect William Francis Cody, Fellow, American Institute of Architects, contain student work, architectural drawings and plans, office records, marketing and public relations materials for his practice, presentation drawings, photographs, correspondence, and project files from the architect's estate. Architectural plans and drawings, which date primarily from 1946 when Cody began working in Palm Springs to the mid-1970s, are predominant in the collection.


    Given to the library by an anonymous donor in 1984.

    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. 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

    William F. Cody Papers, Special Collections, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
    Abbreviations Used:
    c.: circa
    l.f.: linear feet
    FF: flat file
    AIA: American Institute of Architects
    FAIA: Fellow, American Institute of Architects
    CSU: California State University
    USC: University of Southern California
    MPI: McCulloch Properties, Inc.


    William Francis Cody, Fellow, American Institute of Architects (1916-1978) was an influential Desert Modern architect who practiced in Palm Springs at the peak of the Modernist movement. Between 1946 and 1973, Cody maintained a diverse practice in California's Coachella Valley, designing country clubs, residences, hotels, library, and church projects in the local communities of Palm Springs, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, and in southern California, Arizona, Mexico, and Cuba.
    Cody was born on 19 June 1916 in Dayton, Ohio, to William F. Cody, Sr., who owned a haberdashery and Anna Elizabeth Shadle, an interior designer. Cody and his brother John were both influenced by their mother's passion for art and architecture.
    By 1923, the Codys had relocated to Los Angeles. While attending Beverly Hills High School, Cody designed and built stage sets for school plays with the son of Warner Bros. founder Jack L. Warner. Cody graduated from high school in April 1934 and began work the following year for architects Heath Warton and Asa Hudson while attending Santa Monica Junior College, graduating in 1940.
    In 1940, Cody enrolled in the College of Architecture and Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, earning a Bachelor's degree in Architecture in 1942. At University of Southern California Cody was exposed to the Bauhaus style of art, architecture, and interior design, which emphasized a minimalist Modernism that would come to define Cody's own work. Another influence during this time was Cody's work for Cliff May, a leading southern California licensed contractor and developer. According to a résumé found in the collection and his Fellow, American Institute of Architects nomination, Cody worked in 1944 on May's influential Pace-Setter House, a modernized, low-cost California ranch house design.
    Cody married Winifred Smith on July 31, 1943, with whom he had three daughters: Diane Louise (b. 1944), Winifred Lynne (b. 1948), and Catherine Louise (b. 1954).
    In 1943, he worked for an Oakland engineering firm on a Kaiser steel plant in Fontana, California. That same year, he also worked for the San Francisco firm of Blanchard, Maher and Ward on Navy installations on Treasure Island. The following year, he worked for Marsh, Smith and Powell in Los Angeles, primarily on National Design Award-winning elementary and high school buildings in California and Arizona.
    In May of 1946, Cody was licensed to practice architecture in California and secured his Arizona license in December 1946. In 1948, he applied for membership in the American Institute of Architects, listing his office location on Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles.
    In 1945, Cody was retained to alter the Desert Inn, his first commission in Palm Springs. In 1947 he completed the Del Marcos Hotel, his first independent commercial project in Palm Springs, which was recognized by the American Institute of Architects Southern California Chapter with an honorable mention.
    Post-World War II Palm Springs was becoming a fashionable weekend and winter retreat for the rich and famous, and Cody's career flourished along with the city. He moved his practice and his family to Palm Springs. In 1950, he was retained to lead the successful conversion of the Thunderbird Dude Ranch into the Thunderbird Country Club, which led to commissions to design or alter clubhouses, recreational facilities, and residential developments at Eldorado Country Club (with Ernest J. Kump), Tamarisk Country Club, the Racquet Club, and the Tennis Club. In 1960, he began almost a decade of work altering and expanding the Palm Springs Spa Hotel.
    Cody's specialization in country club clubhouses with related residential developments led to additional commissions in California, Arizona, Texas, Cuba, and Mexico. His residential projects emphasized key elements of Modernism: simplicity of form, natural light, and large windows offering a seamless connection between residential interiors and the outdoors.
    A member of American Institute of Architects since 1948, Cody was elevated to Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects in 1965, with the following projects cited on his nomination as Achievements in Architectural Design:
    William Francis Cody Residence Palm Springs, CA 1946
    Del Marcos Hotel Palm Springs, CA 1947
    Levin Residence Palm Springs, CA 1948
    Haines Office Building Beverly Hills, CA 1949
    Mission Valley Country Club San Diego, CA 1953
    Jorgensen Residence Palm Springs, CA 1954
    Springs Restaurant Palm Springs, CA 1956
    El Dorado Country Club Palm Desert, CA 1958
    Spa Bathhouse Palm Springs, CA 1958
    Clare Residence Palm Springs, CA 1959
    Nicoletti Residence Palm Springs, CA 1960
    Palo Alto Hills Golf and Country Club Palo Alto, CA 1961
    Roundhill Country Club Alamo, CA 1961
    Sloane Residence La Quinta, CA 1961
    Western Savings & Loan Tempe, AZ 1961
    Cannon Residence Palm Desert, CA 1962
    Driggs Residence Phoenix, AZ 1962
    Spa Bathhouse - Hotel Palm Springs, CA 1962
    Abernathy Residence Palm Springs, CA 1963
    Shamel Residence Palm Desert, CA 1963
    Western Savings & Loan Phoenix, AZ 1964
    Cody also worked extensively with Robert P. McCulloch, an industrialist who parlayed his racing-engine manufacturing fortune into diverse business interests, including oil and gas exploration, electronics, and land and real estate development. When McCulloch founded Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Cody designed, altered and added to McCulloch Corporation chain saw plants there. For McCulloch Properties, Inc., Cody designed Arizona residential developments in Lake Havasu City and Fountain Hills in Scottsdale, and an Eldorado tract in Indian Wells, California. He also designed a McCulloch corporate complex near LAX and alterations and an addition to a house for McCulloch and his wife at Thunderbird Country Club in 1972.
    Cody's last notable commissions were located in Palm Springs: St. Theresa Catholic Church and Convent (1966-68) and buildings for the Palm Springs Planning Collaborative, including the Palm Springs Public Library (1973) in the Brutalist style. A stroke then limited his career until his death on 29 August 1978 in Palm Springs.
    The American Institute of Architects Archives, Record Group 803, Membership Files. "Application for Membership," 1948, "Application for Corporate Membership," 1948, and "Nomination for Fellowship — Case Record," 1964.
    The Architecture of William F. Cody: A Desert Retrospective. Palm Springs: Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, 2004.
    Cygelman, Adéle. Palm Springs Modern: Houses in the California Desert. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1999.
    "Experience Record of William F. Cody," Box 2 Folder 2, William F. Cody Papers, Special Collections, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, circa 1948
    Hess, Alan and Andrew Danish. Palm Springs Weekend: The Architecture and Design of a Midcentury Oasis. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2001.
    Hess, Alan. Forgotten Modern: California Houses 1940-1970. Santa Barbara: Gibbs Smith, 2007.

    Scope and Content Note

    The papers of California architect William Francis Cody, Fellow, American Institute of Architects, contain student work, architectural drawings and plans, office records, marketing and public relations materials for his practice, presentation drawings, photographs, correspondence, and project files from the architect's estate. Architectural plans and drawings, which date primarily from 1946 when Cody began working in Palm Springs to the mid-1970s, are predominant in the collection.
    At the time that Cody closed his office, family members split the records and drawings of the practice and stored them in various locations. Researchers are strongly advised to consult the guide to a second, separate, and substantial gift of Cody drawings and papers given to Cal Poly in 2009 (William F. Cody Papers 2 MS 163).
    The earliest piece in the collection is a 1924 photograph of Cody at his prep school. The collection contains a project file regarding Richard Neutra's iconic Kaufmann Desert House. In 1963, Cody was hired to remodel the residence by the new owners Joseph and Nelda Linsk, and Neutra wrote to express his concern. There is one additional donation to the collection, consisting of plans for the James and Madge Abernathy residence in Palm Springs.
    The collection is housed in 50 flat file drawers and 51 Hollinger containers. The collection is divided into five series:
    1. Personal Papers, 1924, 1940, 1942, including student work completed at University of Southern California;
    2. Professional Papers and Office Records, 1948-1975, including office records, project portfolios, and résumé and brief job list Cody compiled circa 1948;
    3. Project Records, 1943-1973, including files, photographs, plans and drawings on residential, recreational, and commercial commissions
    4. McCulloch Project Records, 1960s, including extensive project plans for industrialist Robert P. McCulloch and his related companies;
    5. Additional Donations, 1962, including one subseries of drawings on the Palm Springs Abernathy house
    The most significant portions of the collection — project records for a wide variety of Cody commissions in the Coachella Valley, Arizona, and Havana — are located in Series 3. A. Project Files and 3. C. Project Drawings. Some of the plans in the collection are Ozalids, a monochromatic copying process producing diazo prints, common to the mid-twentieth century. Some drawings, primarily preliminary sketches or mechanical drawings produced in consultation, have been left in project files, when relocation would have deterred research. Job numbers from Cody's practice are given, when known, but some errors in duplicate numbering have been found.
    Images in the 3.B. Project Photographs subseries are often the work of noted architectural photograph Julius Shuman. His job numbers have not been included in the guide but are available on request. Dates on photograph and file subseries reflect the contents of the folder; dates on project drawings reflect start date of project, not the start of construction.
    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 subject areas were reorganized and refoldered to more accurately reflect their contents.

    The National Endowment for the Humanities has generously funded the arrangement and description of this collection, along with matching funds from California Polytechnic State University.

    Indexing Terms

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


    Architecture--20th century
    Architecture and climate--California
    Architecture and recreation--United States
    Architecture--California--Indian Wells
    Architecture--California--Los Angeles--1940-1990
    Architecture--California--Los Angeles Region--History--20th century
    Architecture--California--Palm Springs--History--20th century
    Architecture--California, Southern
    Architecture--California--Rancho Mirage
    Architecture, Domestic--Arid regions--California--Palm Springs
    Architecture, Modern--20th century
    Cody, William F., 1916-1978
    Modernism (Architecture)
    Palm Springs (Calif.) Buildings, structures, etc
    Palm Springs, Calif. Kaufmann Desert House
    Modern movement (Architecture)--Palm Springs--Catalogs
    Nineteen Sixties
    Nineteen Seventies
    Shulman, Julius, 1910-2009

    Genre and Forms of Material:

    Architectural drawings and plans
    Presentation drawings
    Business records
    Project portfolios

    Related Material

    Related Collections:
    Special Collections, Cal Poly:
    William F. Cody Papers 2, 1918-1980 (bulk 1950-1975) (MS 168)