The contents of the collection date from 1897 to 1936. The bulk of the collection consists of loose-leaf binders of photo prints of forty-one Cass Gilbert buildings under construction between 1908 and 1936. (This represents less than half of his firm's total output.) The volumes are arranged alphabetically by name of building. A few additional photo prints of buildings under construction are found in the unbound materials.
The collection also includes correspondence (1919-1932), contracts, statistical data, news clippings, booklets, and other miscellaneous Gilbert papers. There are three volumes of correspondence, specifications and blueprints, 1932-1935, for the construction of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. Also included are twenty pencil and pastel sketch books of Gilbert's travels in Europe, 1897 to 1932, and miscellaneous loose sketches (including photo prints and negatives of his studies for the George Washington Bridge. The photographic prints are mostly mounted on cloth in loose-leaf binders. Some of the photographers are identified, although many are not. Photographers included P.O. Valentine of 33 Homestead Park, Newark, New Jersey.
Collection arranged into seven series.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1919-1932
Series 2: Personal Papers, 1914-1963
Series 3: New York Life Insurance Building Contracts, 1934-1935
Series 4: Woolworth Building, 1911-1913
Series 5: Sketches and Sketch Books, 1897-1932
Series 6: Photoprints, 1908-1936
Series 7: United States Supreme Court Building, 1932-1935
Biographical / Historical:
Cass Gilbert, 1859-1934, was a prominent American architect best known for his commercial and public buildings.
Gilbert was born in Zanesville, Ohio and educated in St. Paul, Minnesota. After only a year of study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and subsequent travels in Europe, he began working for the New York firm of McKim, Mead, and White in 1880.
In 1883 he returned to St. Paul where he practised briefly with James Knox Taylor, a classmate at M.I.T., designing private homes, churches, and commercial buildings. His first major commission was the Minnesota State Capitol (1895), which he modeled after the National Capitol and the dome of St. Peter's, Rome.
Gilbert returned to New York in 1899 when he won the prized commission for the design of the U.S. Customs House. This was followed by many other major projects. The most famous of these was the Woolworth Building in New York (1913); with its fifty‑five stories and Gothic ornament it is considered Gilbert's greatest achievement.
Firmly supportive of the European tradition and eastern academic architecture, Gilbert continued his numerous and successful designs until his death in 1934. Among his many familiar public buildings are the Treasury Annex and the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, the state capitol buildings of West Virginia and Arkansas, and the public libraries of St. Louis and Detroit.
Materials at Other Organizations
Library of Congress
Cass Gilbert Archive, 1890-1939
Montana Historical Society
Cass Gilbert Papers, 1902-1910
Oberlin College Archives
Cass Gilbert Collection, 1903-1984, 2000
University of Minnesota, Archives and Special Collections
Cass Gilbert Collection, 1909-1910
United States Supreme Court, Office of the Curator
Gift of Emily Gilbert and Cass Gilbert, Jr. through Mr. Silvio Bedini, November 30, 1961, January 15, 1962, and later in 1962.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.