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John Yeon architectural drawings

Identifier: Coll 333

Scope and Contents

The collection is a comprehensive representation of the work of John Yeon, an important a figure in twentieth century architecture. The collection consists of architectural drawings including plans, sections, elevations, details, tracings, and blueprints. In addition, there are also a number of Northwest maps, aerial photographs, and surveys. The majority of drawings date from the early 1930s to the late 1970s.

Many of the project drawings included in the collection are residential, museums, or landscape designs; a majority contain both blueprints as well as pencil and trace iterations. Often design drawings include various schematic explorations for the same building. Notable projects include the Watzek House, Portland Visitors Information Center, and the Cottrell House.


  • 1934-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1934-1976


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

John Yeon (1910-1994) was an internationally known Oregon architect whose work greatly influenced the rethinking of art and architecture during the twentieth century. A native Oregonian, Yeon has widely been credited with defining Northwest regionalism, a subcategory of American modernism. A largely self-taught architect, Yeon designed buildings, interiors, gardens, landscapes, museum galleries, and furniture.

Yeon was never licensed as an architect, receiving his only formal education through very brief stints at Stanford and Columbia universities. Short periods of work in the offices of Herman Brookman and A.E. Doyle exposed him to architectural practice, but by and large the architect was a product of his own intellect and creativity.

The most notable of Yeon’s works is the Watzek House, designed in 1937 when the architect was 26 years old. The Watzek House, a National Historic Landmark and Yeon’s first built project, is located in Portland’s west hills and is an example of Yeon’s attempt to blend the spatial character of international modern architecture with local materials and forms. Along with the Portland Visitors Information Center (1947-48), the Watzek House went on to be featured in numerous exhibitions and publications at the Museum of Modern Art. This exposure brought international interest and further publication of Yeon’s work.

Between 1937 and the mid-1950s, Yeon completed about twenty houses and one public building—the Portland Visitor Information building, 1947-48. The majority of Yeon’s work was sited in the greater Portland/ Oregon area. A few designs were developed on the east coast and outside the country, and many of the buildings he designed were never carried through to construction. The original clients occupied all of Yeon’s commissioned houses until their deaths, with the exception of the Jorgensen House (1939). Yeon bought that house for himself in 1945 and lived and worked there until his death in 1994. In 1956, Yeon received the Brunner Prize for Architecture from the National Institute of Arts and Letters and in 1979 he was awarded an honorary membership in the American Institute of Architects.

Throughout his lifetime Yeon worked tirelessly as an advocate for historic preservation, landscape preservation, and civic planning. At 21 he was appointed to the first Oregon State Parks Commission by Governor Julius Meier. Notable interests include Chapman Point on the Oregon coast, around which he purchased land to safeguard the views against development, and The Shire, a 75-acre waterfront site in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge directly across the river from Multnomah Falls. He purchased The Shire in 1965 to protect the site from industrial development.


41.75 linear feet (84 containers)

Language of Materials



John Yeon (1910-1994) was an Oregon architect, landscape architect, and conservationist best known for his tole in developing the Northwest regional architectural style. The collection consists of architectural drawings for projects, both built and unrealized, including plans, sections, elevations, details, tracings, and blueprints, as well as a number of Northwest maps, aerial photographs, and surveys for both architectural and preservation projects managed by the architect.


Drawings are organized by project arranged alphabetically by project name. When known, the location and status of the project is included for reference.

Bianchi House, Marin, CA (unbuilt) Bullitt Residence, Seattle, WA (unbuilt) California Palace of the Legion of Honor- Fagan Gallery, San Francisco, CA (built) Collins Residence, Portland, OR (unbuilt) Corbett House, Portland, OR (unbuilt) Corbett House, VA (unbuilt) Columbia Lancaster Residence, Plasynewydd, WA (unbuilt) Cottrell Residence, Portland, OR (built) Crossroads Inc., Portland, OR (unbuilt) deCanizares Residence, Portland, OR (built) De Sola Residence, San Salvador (unbuilt) Edwards, near Marysville, CA (unbuilt) Franck, Woodside, CA (unbuilt) The Gazebo, Portland, OR (unbuilt) Jennings Residence, Portland, OR (unbuilt) Jorgensen Residence, Portland, OR (built) Kerr Guest House, Portland, OR (unbuilt) Locatell Real Estate Office, Portland, OR (built) Mackaness Residence, location unknown (unbuilt) Mackleay Park, Portland, OR (built) Built Mears Residence, Portland, OR (unbuilt) Morgan Residence, Plasnewydd, WA (unbuilt) Morgan Residence, Location Unknown (unbuilt) Multnomah Falls Lodge and Parking Studies (unbuilt) Nelson- Atkins Museum, Kansas City (built) The Old Ptolemy Place, OR (unbuilt) Oliver Residence, Portland, OR (unbuilt) Oxford Residence, Old Greenwich, CT (unbuilt) Plywood Houses, Portland area, OR (built) Portland Art Museum Asian Gallery, Portland, OR (built) Portland Art Museum Kress Gallery, Portland, OR (built) Portland Garden Club, Portland, OR (unbuilt) Preble Residence. Portland, OR (unbuilt) Shaw Residence, Clackamas County, OR (built) Soby Residence, Farmington, CT (unbuilt) Swan House, Portland, OR (built) Thompson House, location unknown (unbuilt) Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, OR (unbuilt) Van Buren, Portland, OR (built) Vietor House, Eureka, CA (built) Visitors Information Center, Portland, OR (built) Watzek House, Portland, OR (built) Wentz Cottage Addition, Neahkahnie, OR (built) Yeon House, Portland, OR (built) Yeon Garden, King St., Portland, OR (built)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Richard Louis Brown, 2011.

Existence and Location of Copies

Selected items are available online in the John Yeon architectural drawings, 1934-1976 in Oregon Digital.

Physical Description

61 folders and 23 tubes

Processing Information

Collection processed by Courtney Ferris, Brian DonCarlos, Austin Pliska, Stephen Glasgow, Ana Gutierrez, Kyle Macadam, Chaz Cassidy, and Jennifer Nguyen, 2011-2012. Updated by Thomas Beech in 2015.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the John Yeon Architectural Drawings
Revise Description
Courtney Ferris, Brian DonCarlos, Cassandra A. Schmitt, and Kira B. Homo
2011; updated 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA