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Finding Aid to the San Francisco Architectural Club Records, 1900-1987 (bulk 1913-1961)
SFH 8  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Materials Transferred
  • Related Material
  • Arrangement
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Contents

  • Title: San Francisco Architectural Club Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1900-1987
    Date (bulk): 1913-1961
    Collection Identifier: SFH 8
    Creator: San Francisco Architectural Club.
    Physical Description: 5 cartons, 1 box, 2 flat boxes (7.5 cubic ft.)
    Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin Street
    San Francisco, CA, 94102
    (415) 557-4567
    Abstract: Minutes, correspondence, membership and financial records, curricular materials, ephemera, publications, and scrapbooks of the San Francisco Architectural Club; together with notebooks, photographic and diazo prints, drawings, and watercolors of architect and SFAC member Edward L. Frick.
    Physical Location: The collection is stored onsite.
    Language of Materials: Materials primarily in English, with some materials in Subgroup II in French.


    The collection is open for research, with photographs available during Photo Desk hours. Please call the San Francisco History Center for hours and information at 415-557-4567.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], San Francisco Architectural Club Records (SFH 8), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.


    This collection was received in 1997 from archivist Waverly Lowell, a member of the club and Director of the California Cooperative for the Preservation of Architectural Records.

    Materials Transferred

    Photographs have been transferred to the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.

    Related Material

    San Francisco Architectural Club yearbooks for 1909, 1913 and 1915 are also cataloged and available separately in the San Francisco History Center's book collection.


    The collection is organized in two subgroups: I. San Francisco Architectural Club Records and II. Edward L. Frick Collection. Subgroup I is arranged in eight series: Series 1: Minutes; Series 2: Correspondence; Series 3: Membership; Series 4: Financial Records; Series 5: Classes; Series 6: Events; Series 7: Publications; Series 8: Scrapbooks, Clippings, and Miscellany. Subgroup II is arranged in four series: Series 1: Notebooks; Series 2: Drawings, Diazo Print, and Watercolors; Series 3: Photographic prints and reproductions; and Series 4: Notes and Ephemera on Golf.

    Administrative History

    The San Francisco Architectural Club (SFAC) was founded in 1901 by a group of nineteen draftsmen "for the purpose of maintaining an educational program to develop the talents of its members and provide opportunities for study and advancement in all phases of architectural practice, and as a social club for architects, architectural draftsmen, and men of kindred interests in closely associated occupations, a place where ideas can be exchanged" (SFAC membership brochure, n.d. [1960s]).
    Inclusion and education of non-degreed architectural professionals were basic tenets from the club's inception, which came on the heels of legislation requiring state certification for architects, a development that tended to exclude draftsmen and other architectural workers who may not have had access to university architectural education. The SFAC's Atelier program--one of the earliest accredited programs of architectural study in the San Francisco Bay Area--offered, under the supervision of the Beaux-Arts Institute of America, practical workshops in building and site-planning problems, plus lectures and courses in drawing, architectural detailing, specification writing, interior design, rendering, building and estimating, as well as competitions in some of these areas. An annual seminar for those about to take the California state architectural certification examination was a popular and well-attended educational feature for many years.
    Another of the club's notable activities was the annual public loan exhibition, a presentation that was meant not only to showcase the year's most interesting architectural work for those in the field, but also to educate the public about traditions and new developments in architecture. Eventually placed under the direction of the Architectural League of the Pacific Coast, these exhibitions were documented by SFAC publications-- first as catalogues and later by yearbooks. Decidedly less formal publications of the SFAC included newsletters (titled Esquisse, Meditations, and Architectural notes), brochures soliciting new members, and announcements of lectures and classes.
    The "social club" aspect of the SFAC received just as much of its members' attention. Throughout the years, the club offered its members outings, parties, picnics, hikes, field trips, banquets, and Bohemian Club-style "Jinx."
    Some early club members whose names will be familiar to those interested in the history of architecture in San Francisco include George Applegarth, John Bakewell Jr., William B. Faville, Edward L. Frick, Timothy Pflueger, Willis K. Polk, and Ernest Weihe.
    The club's importance as an educational institution declined following World War II, when university architectural education became more widely accessible. Membership decreased considerably, and by the 1970s, only seven members continued to meet monthly. The SFAC saw a resurgence of activity in the 1980s, when renewed interest in classical architecture and the concern of younger architects, historians, and archivists helped bring about an increase in the club's ranks. The SFAC's bylaws were revised, and studio classes, lectures, workshops, colloquia, and other events sponsored by the club drew the interest and participation of a wide range of persons.

    Scope and Contents

    The records in Subgroup I were created by the San Francisco Architectural Club in the course of its activities. These are arranged chronologically within each series.
    The minutes in Series 1 reflect both regular and directors' board meetings. From 1913 through 1949, the two meeting types are interfiled by year; from 1950 through 1959-1962, there are separate folders for each.
    The correspondence in Series 2 includes both incoming and outgoing correspondence. Additionally, there are interfiled chronologically two folders of general files (mostly correspondence) from two SFAC presidents: Morris Barnett and Frank Capone.
    The membership files in Series 3 include lists, ledgers of dues paid and renewal reminders, all created and kept by an officer of the club responsible for that area of activity.
    The financial records in Series 4 are comprised of bank statements and records of expenses and disbursements, some for specific areas of activity. There are also some miscellaneous files created by the club treasurer, which are interfiled chronologically.
    Series 5 is comprised of materials on classes offered by the SFAC. Most of these are announcements and descriptions of classes, but there is also an interesting group of drawings, evidently done for an atelier class in 1961.
    Series 6 contains a small group of records relative to social events put out by the club. There are also a few records from the club Jinx events.
    Series 7 contains materials published by the SFAC, including annual exhibit catalogs and yearboks, newsletters, brochures, and announcements. A published version of the club's bylaws, possibly dating from the late 1950s, is also included. The final folder contains unarranged materials--announcements, memoranda, reports-- from the club's most recent period of activity (ca. 1983-1987).
    Series 8 contains several scrapbooks and other material about the SFAC, compiled by the SFAC. Their value and interest lie in what they reveal about the collecting decisions made and the club's image of itself. These are the clippings, photographs, ephemera, and other material that were deemed essential to the club's collective memory.
    The two boxes in the Edward Frick subgroup contain notebooks, photographic and diazo prints, tinted drawings, and watercolors, mostly from the periods that Frick spent in Paris as one of the first of 700 U.S. competitors for entrance to further study at L'ecole des Beaux Arts. During the 1920s and 1930s, he led an atelier for the SFAC. Frick's insistence that these materials be maintained with the rest of the SFAC collection may be the purest expression of a certain anti-academic stance inherent in the club's beginnings (see also the provenance note in this guide).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Frick, Edward L. -- Archives
    San Francisco Architectural Club. -- Archives
    Architects--California--San Francisco
    Architects--Societies and clubs
    Architectural technicians--California--San Francisco
    Architectural technicians--Societies and clubs