Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid for the Irving John Gill papers, 1870-1936 0000105
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (158.91 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Custodial History note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Scope and Content note
  • Related Archival Materials note

  • Title: Irving John Gill papers
    Identifier/Call Number: 0000105
    Contributing Institution: Architecture and Design Collection, Art, Design & Architecture Museum
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 21.0 Linear feet (4 boxes and 6 flat file drawers)
    Date (inclusive): 1870-1936
    Location note: Boxes 1-5/ADC - regular Box 6**/ADC - double oversize** 6 Flat File Drawers/ADC - flat files, note: no FF 16 (item moved to box 6**)
    creator: Gill, Irving, 1870-1936 -- Archives
    creator: Gill, Louis J., 1885-1969
    creator: Hebbard, W. S.
    creator: Mead, Frank


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Custodial History note

    Gift of Louis J. Gill, 1968. Additional material gifted by Mr. Joseph Musil, 1979 and Lauren Bricker, 1999.

    Preferred Citation note

    Irving John Gill papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara

    Biographical/Historical note

    Born near Syracuse, New York, Irving Gill (1870-1936) was descended from Quakers and grew up in a family with ties to the building trades; his father was a carpenter and a farmer. Gill trained in architecture through an apprenticeship with architect Ellis K. Hall in Syracuse and, based on Hall’s recommendation, moved to Chicago in 1890 to work for architect Joseph L. Silsbee. By 1891, however, Gill was in the office of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. Frank Lloyd Wright (who had earlier worked for Silsbee) was working for Sullivan at this time and later claimed that Gill worked under his guidance. The Adler and Sullivan office was engaged with the Transportation Building for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. This early modern design was one of the few buildings not in the classical style for which the fair became known and highly influential, and it is likely that Gill may have worked on this project during his brief tenure in the office.
    Reportedly because of ill health, Gill moved to San Diego in 1893. There he entered a short-lived partnership with Joseph Falkenham, then established in 1896 an office with William Sterling Hebbard, which lasted until 1906. In the following years Gill worked alone, though he collaborated with architect Frank Mead on a few projects between 1906-1907. Gill's nephew, Louis Gill joined the office in 1911 and became a partner around 1914. Gill increasingly spent time in the Los Angles area, doing work in Torrance and Los Angeles through the 1920s, with Louis Gill managing the San Diego office, until their partnership ended. In the late 1920s, Gill designed several projects, many unrealized, in collaboration with San Diego architect John Siebert.
    Gill published several essays during his lifetime, in which he argued for a simple and authentic architecture, famously writing, “[a]ny deviation from simplicity results in a loss of dignity.” Many of his projects show his social concerns for the poor and working men and women, as in his houses for working men and single women, and his designs for the Rancho Barona Indian resettlement village in Lakeside, California.

    Scope and Content note

    The Irving J. Gill papers comprise 21 linear feet and date from circa 1870 to 1936, though photographs taken at later dates were subsequently added to the collection by Louis Gill before he donated the archive, and by the repository after the archive was received. The collection contains a small number of letters, most written to Gill; a few diaries for selected years; photographs that he collected and photographs of his architectural work; clippings and printed ephemera; and architectural drawings of Gill's projects in Rhode Island, Maine, San Diego, Torrance, and Los Angeles. The collection includes very few personal items, other than letters written to his wife Marian Brashears.

    Related Archival Materials note

    David Gebhard papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara; Collection 136.
    Louis J. Gill papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara, Collection 137.
    Historic American Building Survey records, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara.
    San Diego History Center, San Diego
    Coronado Historical Society, Coronado
    La Jolla Historical Society, La Jolla.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Architects -- California
    Architectural drawings
    Architectural photographs
    Architecture -- California
    Architecture -- California -- 20th century
    Architecture -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th Century
    Architecture, Modern -- 20th century -- California
    Irving John Gill Collection
    Photographic prints
    University of California, Santa Barbara -- Buildings -- Pictorial works