• IdentificationPUBLIC "-//The Art Institute of Chicago::Ryerson and Burnham Archives//TEXT(US::ICA::1973.1::EDWARD H. BENNETT (1874-1954) COLLECTION, 1901-1954)//EN" "ica197301.xml"
  • TitleBennett, Edward H. (1874-1954) Collection, 1901-1954
  • PublisherRyerson and Burnham Archives, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago,
  • Language
    • English
    • English.
  • Date1901-1954
  • Physical Description
    • 24 linear feet (79 boxes), 3 portfolios, 2 oversize portfolios, flatfile materials, and 34 microfilm reels
    • Holograph papers, typescript papers, corespondence, printed papers, bound scrapbooks and diaries, black and white photographic prints, color photographic prints, ephemera and realia, ink drawings, graphite drawings, architectural reprographic prints, and microfilm.
  • RepositoryRyerson and Burnham Archives, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60603-6110 (312) 443-7292 rbarchives@artic.edu http://www.artic.edu/aic/libraries/rbarchives/rbarchives.html
  • AbstractBeaux-Arts trained architect Edward Bennett began his career in Daniel Burnham's Chicago office, with whom he co-authored the Plan of Chicago, 1909. Bennett maintained a national architectural and planning practice from his Chicago office for nearly four decades. The collection contains correspondence, project files, published and unpublished speeches and articles, photographs, architectural drawings, and reports.
  • OriginationBennett, Edward H. (Edward Herbert), 1874-1954
  • LocationThe collection is housed in the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries' on-site stacks.

Edward H. Bennett, Sr. (1874-1954) was born in England and received training in a technical school in Bristol before coming to California in 1890 to seek his fortune as a rancher. However, Bennett found work in architectural offices and came under the influence of Bernard Maybeck, who directed him to advance his architectural education at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After completing his studies in 1902, Bennett returned to the United States, briefly working in the New York office of George B. Post before being loaned to Daniel H. Burnham to assist on the design competition entry for the West Point Military Academy. Burnham then offered Bennett the opportunity to do field work in San Francisco, preparing a comprehensive plan for the redesign of the central city which was published as Report on a plan for San Francisco (1905). The culmination of the Burnham-Bennett collaboration was their co-authorship of Plan of Chicago (1909), an extensive plan for the development of Chicago embracing the ideals of the City Beautiful movement.

Bennett maintained a national practice from his Chicago office (partnerships: Bennett and Parsons 1919-1922; Bennett, Parsons, Frost and Thomas 1922-1924; Bennett, Parsons and Frost 1924-1938; Bennett and Frost 1938-1944) for nearly four decades after the publication of Plan of Chicago. From this model Bennett developed comparable plans for numerous cities, including Minneapolis, Detroit, Portland (OR), and Ottawa, Canada. With his partners he produced planning documents and designs for large and small cities, from the scale of a regional plan for New York City (1922) to a park for New Orleans (1933).

In Chicago, Bennett served as Consulting Architect to the Chicago Plan Commission (1913-1930), steering the commission towards realization of the vision presented in Plan of Chicago. He also participated in the planning and design of buildings for the Century of Progress Exposition (1933-1934).

With the onset of the Depression, Bennett's most important professional activity was the Chairmanship of the Board of Architects. The board was responsible for the development of the Federal Triangle in Washington, D.C., a large complex of government buildings housing the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Justice, the Post Office, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Archives. Bennett's firm designed the Apex building at 6th Street, as well as the conservatory in the U.S. Botanic Gardens and the landscape design for the area from the Capitol to Union Station.

After the retirement and death of his partners, Bennett closed his practice in 1944 and spent the final decade of his life in retirement.

Virtually all phases of Bennett's professional career are documented—in varying degrees of completeness—with correspondence, articles, speeches, reports, and photographs. Also included is a small amount of personal memorabilia including correspondence, travel souvenirs, and blueprints for Bennett's retirement home, designed by Paul Schweikher, in Tryon, NC, circa 1948-1949. The collection has been arranged into series by document type and/or subject.

Oversize documents from Series I-VIII have been filmed separately. These documents are included in the finding aid at their appropriate subject or chronological locations, each possessing an individual reference number. Oversize photographs appear at the end of the photograph series.

SERIES I: PERSONAL PAPERS. Series I contains personal correspondence and memorabilia, including some correspondence primarily personal in nature, with EHB's colleagues. There is a large body of correspondence and related papers regarding a California farm that EHB purchased for his brother Lewis and subsequently sold. Among the travel souvenirs are documents from the 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs, held in Paris.

SERIES II: PROFESSIONAL PAPERS Series II includes honors and awards, office correspondence, and papers that do not directly relate to a specific or individual project. Numerous letters between EHB (based in San Francisco) and his Chicago-office associates contain significant information about projects active during the period 1911-1912. Three letterpress volumes (1906-1909) contain copies of EHB's outgoing letters.

SERIES III: DIARIES. EHB's business diaries span the years 1906-1938. Loose items, including letters, memos, photographs, and drawings, have been filmed at the date location in the diary at which each item was found at the time the library received the collection. These loose items have been specifically targeted to note that they are loose. Items pasted or taped onto the diary pages have been filmed at their original locations but have not been targeted.

SERIES IV: SPEECHES. Speeches given by EHB are categorized by general subjects such as city planning and zoning; however, speeches that pertain to a particular project are filed with the project documents in Series VI: Projects (e.g. Elgin, Ottawa and Portland); and Series VIII: Washington, D.C. Projects. There are several speeches on Chicago planning in this series that are general in nature. For additional speeches on the Plan of Chicago, see Series VII: Plan of Chicago and Chicago Planning. At the rear, this series also includes a number of speeches by other speakers on the subjects of zoning and city planning.

SERIES V: ARTICLES. The articles written by EHB pertain primarily to general zoning issues. In some cases, correspondence relating directly to an article is attached. Articles about specific projects are filed with other materials on those projects in Series VI, VII and VIII. At the rear, this series also includes several articles by other authors on city planning and the World's Columbian Exposition.

SERIES VI: PROJECTS. Correspondence, reports, articles, contracts, construction documents and drawings are organized alphabetically by city location, then project name. Some photographs and visual materials are included here if they pertain to the research in preparation for a project, and do not reflect the resulting work of Bennett or his partners. While most documents relate to EHB's design, planning or consulting projects, there are also materials on such closely-related subjects as the Chicago Regional Planning Commission, Chicago zoning and Chicago public buildings. Sketches and drawings in the collection are graphite on paper unless otherwise noted in the finding aid. Unidentified documents are located at the rear of the series.

SERIES VII: PLAN OF CHICAGO AND CHICAGO PLANNING. Correspondence, reports, minutes, notes and various printed materials documenting the preparation of Plan of Chicago (published 1909) and subsequent implementation of the Plan (until 1948) are divided into two major groups: Pre-and Post-1909, and subsequently by subject. Much of the very early correspondence (pre-1906) is to/from Charles D. Norton and relates to the general business of the Merchants and the Commercial Clubs, sponsors of Plan of Chicago. Attached articles and other documents remain associated with their cover letters. Correspondence is arranged chronologically; both incoming and outgoing letters have been interfiled without regard to sender's or recipient's name.

SERIES VIII: WASHINGTON, D.C. PROJECTS. Correspondence, reports, articles, construction documents and drawings pertaining to specific projects are arranged alphabetically by project name. Speeches by EHB and others are placed at the rear of the series.

SERIES IX: PHOTOGRAPHS. The collection of primarily black and white photographs records architectural drawings, models, construction views, and completed structures. The series is divided into sub-series: Personal (portraits and travel sketches); Projects, arranged alphabetically by city location and project name; Unidentified Images; and Albums. All photographs are black and white unless otherwise noted. Large photographs are located at the end of the film reel.

SERIES X: OVERSIZE PHOTOGRAPHS. Alphabetical by city, then project name.

SERIES XI: OVERSIZE DOCUMENTS. Arranged into four subseries: Projects, Plan of Chicago and Chicago Planning, Washington D.C. Projects, and Unidentified. These are further arranged alphabetically according to project name.

SERIES XII: NEGATIVES. Arranged into two subseries: Personal and Projects.


  • Names
    • Bennett, Edward H. (Edward Herbert), 1874-1954
    • Bennett, Edward H. (Edward Herbert), 1874-1954--Archives
    • Bennett, Edward H. (Edward Herbert), 1874-1954--Correspondence
    • Bennett, Parsons and Frost
    • D.H. Burnham & Co.
    • Bennett and Parsons
    • Bennett, Parsons, Frost and Thomas
    • Bennett and Frost
    • Burnham, Daniel Hudson, 1846-1912
  • Subject
    • Grant Park (Chicago, Ill.)
    • City planning--Illinois--Chicago
    • Federal Triangle (Washington, D.C.)
    • Parks--Illinois--Chicago
    • Chicago Plan Commission

















Drawings by and related to Edward Bennett are in the permanent collection of the Department of Architecture at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Drawings by and related to Edward Bennett are in the permanent collection of the Department of Architecture at The Art Institute of Chicago.

The Bennett collection exists both in original (1973.1) and microfilmed (1999.10) form. Unless otherwise noted, all original documents are restricted from patron use; please take note of the microfilm reel number when referencing materials or requesting access to this collection. The microfilm collection and selected unrestricted materials (as noted with asterisks in the finding aid) may be used by qualified readers in the Reading Room of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at The Art Institute of Chicago. Collections maintained on-site are available for patron use without prior arrangement or appointment. Collections maintained in off-site storage will be retrieved with advance notification; please consult the Archivist for the current retrieval schedule. For further information, consult http://www.artic.edu/aic/access/access.html

The Art Institute of Chicago is providing access to the materials in the Libraries' collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of the Art Institute is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Archivist, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to permission from the Art Institute, permission of the copyright owner (if not the Art Institute) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distribution, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. The Art Institute makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Edward H. Bennett Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Edward H. Bennett, Sr. donated the bulk of his papers to The Art Institute of Chicago in 1953. Subsequent gifts of papers were made by his son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Edward H. Bennett, Jr. The blueprints of Bennett's home in Tryon, NC were donated by Holland Brady in November 2004.

This collection was processed by Ryerson and Burnham Archives staff. This finding aid was revised and expanded by Annemarie van Roessel in 2004 and by Ryerson and Burnham Archives staff in 2014.

The Bennett collection exists both in original (1973.1) and microfilmed (1999.10) form. Microfilming of the collection was completed with a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission in 1999. Unless otherwise noted, all original documents are restricted from patron use; please take note of the microfilm reel number when referencing materials or requesting access to this collection. The microfilm reel number appears after the series name in the header. An easy-to-read flag with the number of each box and file folder has been filmed at the beginning of each folder's contents. Very large documents from Series I-VIII have been filmed separately on reel 34. These documents are included in the finding aid at their appropriate subject or chronological locations. Each document possesses an individual reference number that identifies its location on reel 34. Oversize photographs appear at the end of the photograph series, on reel 33.