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Cass Gilbert collection

Identifier: ua-00165

Scope and Content

In 1909-1910 Cass Gilbert entered a contest at the University of Minnesota to select a plan for the buildings and grounds of the Minneapolis campus. The collection includes plans, drawings, blueprints, brown lines and negatives. Included with the collection are two studies by James H. Forsythe (University of Minnesota Advisory Architect). The studies by Forsythe include a sketch of the entire campus corresponding to Gilbert's plan and an architectural rendering of the campanile.


  • Creation: 1909-1910


Language of Materials

Collection materials in English

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of Cass Gilbert (1859-1934)

Cass Gilbert was born in Zanesville, Ohio in 1859 and moved with his family to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1867. He briefly attended a St. Paul preparatory school (which later became Macalester College). In September of 1876, Gilbert quit school and became a draftsman’s apprentice with St. Paul architect Abraham Radcliffe. One of Gilbert’s closest friends, Clarence Johnston was already working in Radcliffe’s modest practice. In the fall of 1878 both Gilbert and Johnston traveled to Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where they studied architecture under William Robert Ware. Johnston soon ran short of funds and returned to St. Paul to continue his apprenticeship, but Gilbert continued his studies at M.I.T. until late 1879. On January 3, 1880 Gilbert sailed for Europe and his own version of the Grand Tour.

After returning from Europe in the fall of 1880, Gilbert joined the New York firm of McKim, Mead and White. Gilbert worked for the firm as Stanford White’s assistant. In 1882 Gilbert left New York and returned to St. Paul where he opened an office with James Knox Taylor. Although their early years in St. Paul were a struggle, the partners eventually landed important commissions such as the Endicott Building in downtown St. Paul (1888) and the Portland Terrace Apartments (1888).

The Gilbert and Taylor partnership lasted until 1893, when Taylor moved to Philadelphia. After Taylor's departure, Gilbert completed the commission for the Minnesota State Capitol (1895-1905) and several Northern Pacific depots. In 1900, Gilbert abandoned his Minnesota office and moved to New York City where his career was rapidly expanding. He executed plans for the University of Minnesota (1909-1910), New York City’s Woolworth Building (1911-1913), the Federal Reserve Bank building in Minneapolis (1923-1925), the U.S. Supreme Court Building, and many other notable buildings.


4 file drawers


The collection consists of a series of architectural plans that Cass Gilbert drew for the future development of the University of Minnesota’s East Bank campus, plus a campus extension report.


The collection is organized into three series: Drawings With a Cass Gilbert Plan Number, Drawings Without a Cass Gilbert Plan Number, and Reports.

Related Materials at the University of Minnesota

Two of the oversized original drawings are in the Cass Gilbert collection, Northwest Architectural Archives, Manuscripts Division, University of Minnesota.

University of Minnesota. Board of Regents. Conditions of a competition for the selection of a general plan for laying out the grounds and locating the buildings on the campus of the University of Minnesota, circa 1908.

Other Related Materials

Cass Gilbert papers. Minnesota Historical Society. Division of Library and Archives

Cass Gilbert collection. New-York Historical Society. Print Room

Cass Gilbert papers. Montana Historical Society. Library and Archives Department

Cass Gilbert collection. Smithsonian Institution. National Museum of American History, Archives Center

Cass Gilbert papers. Mattatuck Historical Society. Mattatuck Museum

Cass Gilbert papers. Library of Congress. Manuscript Division

Cass Gilbert collection, 1909-1910
Greta Bahnemann
October 2003
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area