Ellerbe Becket (firm)


Ellerbe Becket


Bloomington, MN; Los Angeles, CA

Firm History Sources

Brief history of firm and founders Franklin Ellerbe, Thomas F. Ellerbe, and Welton Becket from Ellerbe Becket web site (2009)
News article from AIArchitect about AECOM's purchase of Ellerbe Becket in 2009

Historical Information:
Contributed by Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis
Franklin Ellerbe was born in Mississippi and moved to Minnesota when he was a child. Nothing is known of his early career and education. At age 39, after working as St. Paul building inspector, he started his own practice in St. Paul in 1909. His first major project was the Old Fireside Inn, a combination dance hall, retail store, and apartment complex in St. Paul's St. Anthony Park (1909). This was followed by a series of commercial, educational, and industrial buildings in Minnesota and South Dakota, in addition to medical and residential facilities for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. (1914, 1916). In 1920, Ellerbe designed a large hotel for that city, the Kahler.
Olin Round joined Ellerbe as a partner in 1911 and remained in the firm, renamed Ellerbe & Round, until 1914. Round was born about 1867 and educated at the Art Institute of Chicago. He is known to have set up an architectural practice in 1909 after working as chief draftsman for Mark Fitzpatrick of St. Paul for an unknown number of years. After joining Ellerbe in partnership, Ellerbe and Round gained national distinction by designing the original building for the Mayo Clinic (1912-13), the first group practice clinic in the United States. After this partnership dissolved, Round was briefly in business with Service A. Wager (1914-15) and then set up a private office in St. Paul. He died in St. Paul on August 10, 1927.
Ellerbe established his own firm after his partnership with Round and it swiftly became one of the largest in St. Paul. But premature death cut short a promising career. He died in St. Paul on July 21, 1921.
Control of the Ellerbe firm was taken over by Franklin's son Thomas Ellerbe. He was born in St. Paul in 1892. His education included one quarter at the University of Minnesota, sculpting classes at St. Paul Art School (now Minnesota Museum of American Art), and military engineering courses. He entered his father's firm following military duty before and during World War I with the Minnesota National Guard. After his father's death, Ellerbe led his company in an expansion that resulted in creation of the largest architectural practice in Minnesota. The firm specialized in the design of medical facilities, educational, industrial, and commercial structures. Among them are: the Plummer Building of the Mayo Clinic (1922-28); St. Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Court House (1931-32); Cardozo Building (St. Paul)(1931); College of St. Thomas (St. Paul)(1928-46); the Northwest Airlines hanger at Holman Field (St. Paul)(1942-43); Cleveland (OH) Clinic and Hospital (1922); Mayo Clinic Diagnostic Building (1953-69); and Sacred Heart Church (St. Paul)(1949). The firm also completed a number of buildings for the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN) and for State Farm Insurance Company.
Thomas Ellerbe retired in 1966 and died in St. Paul on November 5, 1987. The firm was renamed Ellerbe Becket in 1988 after a merger with Becket Architects of Los Angeles, CA, and has its headquarters in Bloomington, MN.

Related Records

Thomas F. Ellerbe
Welton D. Becket
Ellerbe and Company (firm)
Welton Becket and Associates (firm)

Archival Holdings

Architecture & Design Collection, University Art Museum, University of California Santa Barbara
      Ellerbe Becket Collection. For more information http://www.uam.ucsb.edu/collections/adc/index.html 

Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis    
       Ellerbe Architects papers (N 4)
       The collection contains tracings, drawings and specifications for 45 buildings, including the working drawings for the Mayo Clinic 1914 building and Mayo's Plummer Building, the St. Paul City Hall & Courthouse, the Chateau Dodge Theater in Rochester, MN, the Blackhawk Hotel of Davenport, Iowa, and several private residences.
       For more information https://www.lib.umn.edu/naa