Atlee B. & Robert M. Ayres (firm)
Atlee B. & Robert M. Ayres
San Antonio, TX
This record has not been verified for accuracy.
Firm History Sources
American Architects Directories:
Listing in 1962 American Architects Directory
Listing in 1970 American Architects Directory
Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas
Ayres and Ayres Papers
The Ayres and Ayres Papers represent a comprehensive documentation of a prominent San Antonio firm spanning a period of 83 years of practice (1894-1977). It is the most complete such archive for a Texas architectural firm in the Alexander Architectural Archive. In 1979 The University of Texas acquired over 12,000 drawings from the heirs of Atlee B. Ayres and Robert M. Ayres. Additional gifts were received in the 1980s from Mrs. Robert M. Ayres and Mrs. Anna Russell.
Current processing shows the Ayres and Ayres Papers to include over 12,000 drawings from the 1890s through the 1970s. The vast majority of these architectural drawings are original working drawings representing over 400 projects. Although little in the way of sketches survived from the early years of the firm, later projects from the 1930s on contain a good representation of early schematic designs. There are also a number of presentation drawings, usually executed in pastels or rendered in pencil.
The Ayres Papers contain over 18 linear feet of archival records including extensive project files (and specifications), correspondence with clients, personal correspondence, and correspondence with other Texas architects. Rare material from Atlee Ayres' student work at the Metropolitan Museum's Architecture Program (1893-94) document one of the early architecture programs in the country and includes lecture notes, a sketchbook, and prospectus for the school in addition to 38 drawings of his student work. From Atlee Ayres' early professional years are monthly account statements from Coughlin & Ayres (1899-1905), as well as their handwritten contract of partnership. Atlee Ayres served as State Architect from 1914 to 1917. Material from this period contains important information on the first major remodeling of the Texas State Capitol. Atlee Ayres was involved in both professional and civic affairs that are well documented through the firm's papers. Of particular note are papers regarding the organization of the 64th Annual AIA Convention (April 14-16, 1931) in San Antonio, the first such convention to be held in Texas, as well as rare information on the West Texas Chapter of the AIA (1940s-1950s), the first such chapter to be established in Texas, and the Texas Society of Architects' conventions from 1913, the 1940s, and the 1950s. Correspondence from Atlee Ayres' civic involvement includes records concerning the Fiesta Association (1915, 1939, 1950s) and the River Walk Commission (1962-1966).
Numerous photographic materials have survived including over 6,500 negatives and approximately 2,000 photographic prints. These include a diverse range of sizes and formats. Nitrate film bases have been identified and isolated as part of a 1992 Department of Education Title II-C grant. While these photographic materials document many of the projects designed by Ayres and Ayres, the majority of the photographs (particularly the negatives) record the extensive travels of Atlee Ayres and his family. Included are photographs of his various trips: a 1911 trip to Constantinople, the Black Sea and Europe; a 1914 trip around the world (including New York, France, Italy, Egypt, Ceylon, India, Burma, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, and Honolulu); a 1921 trip to Europe; a trip to California in the early 1920s to study Spanish Colonial Revival architecture; a 1931 trip to Spain and Mediterranean countries by automobile; a 1941 trip to Seattle, Los Angeles, Monterrey, San Francisco, Portland, Yellowstone Falls, and Denver; and later trips to Europe in 1961 and 1964. Of particular note is a 1925 trip to Mexico for the express purpose of obtaining photographs for Atlee Ayres' book, Mexican Architecture: Domestic, Civil and Ecclesiastical (NY, W. Helburn, Inc, 1926).
The firm's library, consisting of 398 volumes, includes many important American and European Publications from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This library is representative of the pictorial and literary resources used by many architects in the early decades of the 20th century. It also documents the particular interests of the firm, including Renaissance Italian and Spanish architecture. The volumes in this library, particularly those with earmarked illustrations, allow scholars intimate access to the particular images studied by the firm. These books were integrated into the Architecture and Planning Library (most located within its Special Collections), but a list was maintained by the Archive with notations regarding pages earmarked by the firm.
Other miscellaneous items included in this corpus of material are: silver-plated cups, awards and licenses (Atlee received the third license in the state), newspaper clippings regarding the firm's work, and an extensive clipping file from contemporary architecture journals maintained by the firm.
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