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John H. Howe papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: N14

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of architectural materials and includes working drawings, renderings, prints, photographs, job files, contracts, correspondence and specifications for over 300 commissions, built and unbuilt. These include drawings made while at Sandstone and as a Taliesin Associated Architect in the 1940s and 1950s. There are also tape recordings of a broadcast interview with John Howe (1973) and an oral history (1989) covering his life and career.


  • 1925-1989

Language of Materials


Restrictions on Access

The bulk of the materials in this collection are open for use by researchers by appointment. The financial records are restricted; permissions from the Curator and Lu Howe are required for access. Copies of the architectural drawings may be obtained for a fee. Please consult the Archives for further information.

Restrictions on Use

Permission from the Archives to publish materials in this collection is required.

Biographical note

John Howe was born in Evanston, Illinois on May 17, 1913. Immediately following graduation from Evanston High School in 1932 Howe joined the Taliesin Fellowship of Frank Lloyd Wright, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, becoming a charter member of the Fellowship and apprentice to Mr. Wright. During World War Two he was incarcerated at the federal prison in Sandstone, Minnesota for refusing to respond to his draft notice, claiming conscientious objector status. After his release in 1946 Howe rejoined Mr. Wright at Taliesin. He has often been called "the pencil in Mr. Wright's hand" for his lovely work on hundreds of architectural renderings.

Howe stayed on at Taliesin until 1964 as one of the Taliesin Associated Architects, during which time he designed more than thirty structures throughout the United States. In 1964 Howe joined the San Francisco (CA) office of Aaron Green, the West Coast representative of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and worked there until 1967. Howe then moved to Minnesota and opened an office which he maintained until his retirement in 1992. After retirement John Howe and his wife Lu Sparks Howe moved to California. He died in Novato, California on September 21, 1997.


115 Cubic Feet


The collections contains plans, renderings, photographs and other materials by John H. Howe, architect.


The collection is organized into the following series:
  1. Building drawings
  2. Photographs
  3. Business Files
  4. Other architectural work
  5. Exhibits, Lectures, Publications and Clippings
  6. Personal Files
  7. Audio
(There is a more detailed finding aid in the repository for additional series: Renderings, unidentified drawings, and the Christmas Box.)

Physical Location

High Bay, Mezzanine, AV Room


The Papers were acquired as a gift of John and Lu Howe, 1992

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Melissa Jensen and David Ferguson, 1996; the finding aid was written by Meslissa Jensen, 1996.
John Howe H. Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Northwest Architectural Archives Collecting Area