Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid for the S. Charles Lee Papers, 1919-1962.
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (315.48 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
S. Charles Lee (1899-1990) graduated from Technical College, Chicago in 1918 and the Armour Institute of Technology in 1921. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1922 where he designed numerous theaters and office buildings (1927-40), developed the Los Angeles International Industrial District (1948) and built several theaters in Mexico City (1942). The Collection contains drawings, renderings, blueprints, photographs, and surveys relating to Lee's professional career including his work as a developer and the most prolific architect of art deco movie palaces in Los Angeles.
S. Charles Lee was born in Chicago on September 5, 1899; graduated, Technical College, Chicago, 1918; senior architect, South Park Board, City of Chicago, 1918; U.S. Navy, 1918-20; graduated, Armour Institute of Technology, Art Institute of Chicago, 1921; moved to Los Angeles, 1921; opened architectural office, Los Angeles, 1922; designed and built Tower Theatre (1927), Fox Wilshire Theatre and Los Angeles Theatre (1929), Max Factor buildings, Hollywood (1931-35), Fox Florence Theatre (1931), Municipal Light, Water and Power Buildings, Los Angeles (1934-35), Bruin Theatre (1937), Tower Bowl, San Diego (1940), and built several theaters in Mexico City (1942); honored by Royal Institute of British Architects at International Exhibit of Contemporary Architects, London, 1934; began partnership with Sam Hayden, 1948; began development of Los Angeles International Airport Industrial District, 1948; established S. Charles Lee Foundation, 1962; named Vice Consul to Beverly Hills! by President of Panama, 1963; established S. Charles Lee Chair, UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, 1986; died in 1990. Born Simeon Charles Levi in Chicago in 1899, Lee was the son of American-born parents of German-Jewish ancestry, Julius and Hattie (Stiller) Levi. Lee (who later changed his name from Levi) grew up in the Chicago of Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Lee's own favorite building was Sullivan's Carson Pirie Scott Department Store. He also grew up with the evolving motion picture; he went to vaudeville theatres, nickolodeons,and early movie houses. A tinkerer interested in mechanical things, Lee built three motorcars as a teenager. 1899 Born Chicago, Illinois. 1914 Built full-scale gas-powered automobile. 1915 Licensed radio operator. [191_] Graduated Technical College, Chicago, with honors. 1918 Senior architect, South Park Board, City of Chicago. 1918-20 Served United States Navy, Great Lakes Training Station. 1921 Graduated Armour Institute of Technology, Art Institute, Chicago. [192_] Worked in office of Rapp and Rapp, Chicago. 1921 Came to Los Angeles. Licensed by State of Illinois to practice architecture. 1922 Opened architectural office in Los Angeles. 1920s Designed and built houses, apartment buildings, hotels. 1927 Married Miriam (Midge) Zelda Aisenstein, Los Angeles. Designed and built Tower Theatre, Los Angeles. 1928 Daughter Constance born, Los Angeles. Designed and built Hollywood-Western Building for Motion Picture Producers Association, Hollywood. 1929 Designed and built Fox Wilshire Theatre, Beverly Hills. Designed and built Los Angeles Theatre, Los Angeles. 1931 Designed and built Fox Florence Theatre, Beverly Hills. 1931-35 Designed and built Max Factor Buildings, Hollywood. 1930s Designed dozens of commercial buildings and remodellings. 1934 Honored by Royal Institute of British Architects at International Exhibit of Contemporary Architects, London. 1934-35 Designed and built Municipal Light, Water and Power Buildings, Los Angeles. 1935 Licensed airplane pilot. 1935-50 Designed and built scores of small theatres throughout California and elsewhere in United States. 1937 Designed and built Bruin Theatre, Los Angeles. 1939 Designed and built Academy Theatre, Inglewood. 1940 Designed and built Twoer Bowl, San Diego. 1942 Built several theatres, Mexico City. 1948 Began partnership with Sam Hayden. Began development of International Airport Industrial District. 1948-50s Built dozens of small factories throughout Los Angeles. 1959 Began serving on Board of Directors, Braille Institute (treasurer). 1960 Wife died, Los Angeles. 1962 Established S. Charles Lee Foundation. 1963 Named Vice Consul to Beverly Hills by President of Panama. 1966 Married Hylda Moss, Buenos Aires. 1968 Received Presidential Medal, Order of Vasco Nuñez Balboa, Panama's highest order of merit. 1974 Named Consul to Beverly Hills from Panama. 1986 Established S. Charles Lee Chair, UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Los Angeles.
28 boxes (14 linear ft.) 172 oversize folders 114 oversize boxes
Copyright to portions of this collection has been assigned to the UCLA Library Special Collections. The library can grant permission to publish for materials to which it holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or quote must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian, UCLA Library Special Collections. Credit shall be given as follows: © The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the UCLA Library Special Collections.
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance through our electronic paging system using the request button located on this page.