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Theodore van Fossen Papers

Identifier: N255

Scope and Content Note

This collection includes preliminary drawings, working drawings, blueprints and specifications by Theodore van Fossen, along with awards and documentaries presented to him for his work and dedication to Rush Creek Village.


  • 1940-2001

Language of Materials


Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division reading room. Advance notice is requested.

Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on the use of materials in this collection. Copies can be requested if the condition of the originals warrants it.


Born in 1919 in Columbus, Ohio, Theodore van Fossen studied at the New Bauhaus school in Chicago, Illinois beginning in the fall of 1937. In 1939, van Fossen joined his friend and fellow student Tony Smith designing furniture for Frank Lloyd Wright's Suntop Homes project in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Smith and Van Fossen also worked together on another Wright house, the Andrew F. H. Armstrong Residence in Ogden Dunes, Indiana from 1938 to 1940. This experience in building Wright designs became his greatest influence. Although he visited Wright numerous times at both Taliesin West and Taliesin in Wisconsin, Van Fossen was never formally Wright's apprentice. He later designed with Whitney R. Smith and Laurence Cuneo, a former classmate at the New Bauhaus and apprentice at Taliesin, before designing one of the largest neighborhoods of organic architecture, Rush Creek Village in Worthington, Ohio.

Rush Creek Village was proposed by Martha and Richard Wakefield who commissioned Van Fossen to design their own house and then persuaded him to join them in the role of designer for the entire project. Comprising 49 single-family homes, 4 secondary structures, a vehicular bridge, footpath, and a system of streets, Rush Creek Village is a community planned in harmony with the natural features of its site. The intent in Rush Creek was to create exceptional housing for people of moderate means by employing space-saving and cost-cutting building techniques, while working within the framework of organic architecture. The buildings emphasize the horizontal, and contain open space plans where the overlapping spaces are intended to flow into each other to create a sense of spaciousness while actually conserving space. In a typical Wrightian fashion, primary entrances are deliberately obscured. The houses are designed with primary views onto nature as observed from within the dwelling.

Rush Creek Village was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 for historically significant post-war community planning and development, architecture and landscape architecture from 1954 to 1976. It is one of the largest neighborhoods of organic architecture in the country.


[National Register of Historic Places, Rush Creek Village, Worthington, Franklin County, Ohio]

[Weiker, Jim. "Architect designed Rush Creek Village." The Columbus Dispatch. The Dispatch Printing Company, 20 Dec. 2010. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.]


12 boxes (36 cubic feet)


This collection includes preliminary drawings, working drawings, blueprints and specifications by Theodore van Fossen, along with awards and documentaries presented to him for his work and dedication to Rush Creek Village.


The collection is organized into the following series:

  1. Working Drawings
  2. Personal

Physical Location

High Bay


The collection was donated to the Archives by Anthony van Fossen, with the assistance of Philip Willkie, in 2011.

Related Material

The papers of John H. Howe were donated to the Northwest Architectural Archives in 1992 and display the Taliesin school of thought and explicit Prairie Style architecture shared with Van Fossen during his time as a laborer for Frank Lloyd Wright.

N14 John H. Howe Papers

The Purcell papers were donated by the estate of William Gray Purcell in 1965 and contain much of the Purcell and Elmslie firm's work and correspondence with Louis Sullivan in the style of the Chicago School of Architecture.

N3 William Gray Purcell Papers

Ohio Memory is a collaborative digital library project of the Ohio Historical Society and the State Library of Ohio, which includes collections from more than 354 cultural heritage institutions from all of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Ohio Memory- Harold Pepinsky Drawings

Processing Information

The collection was processed and the finding aid written by Alli Mertins, 2013.

Theodore van Fossen Papers
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Northwest Architectural Archives Collecting Area