Thursday, September 11, 2014

NEW! Leslie F. Ayres collection now online

Thanks to the generosity of donors Steve and Sharon Zimmerman, a new collection of Leslie F. Ayres drawings was donated to the archive this summer. The entire collection has been digitized and is available for viewing online in the University Libraries' Digital Media Repository. It consists of drawings, sketches, presentation drawings, photographs, and reproductions of drawings made by the Indianapolis architect from 1926 to 1945. The finding aid for the collection can be found on our website.
The earliest drawings and sketches depict his student work at Princeton University, possibly his work at the prestigious architectural firm Pierre & Wright, and scenes around Indianapolis that caught his interest. The Indianapolis scenes include a wide range of subjects that include power plants, high schools, monuments, clubs, civic structures, and religious buildings. During a visit to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 he sketched scenes from the Belgian Village.

Ayres was well known among Indiana architectural circles for his highly refined and exquisite renderings. Even after he embarked on his own architectural practice he continued to receive rendering commissions from his former employers, Pierre & Wright, as well as from other prominent firms such as Rubush & Hunter, A. M. Strauss, and Robert Frost Daggett. His beautiful and atmospheric renderings, which were often made in watercolor and colored pencil, lent an air of sophistication to any project and were used to sell the client on the architect’s design. He was so successful that in 1948 the magazine National Architect described him as "just about the only professional renderer in Indiana."

His professional drawings from the 1930s and 1940s depict residences, apartment buildings, and churches that it is not yet known whether they were ever built or where they stand. One realized project represented by seven black-and-white photographs in the collection is the Wilkinson House in Muncie, Indiana. This Art Moderne masterpiece has been widely celebrated as one of the best examples of this style of residential architecture in Indiana.

Images: Indianapolis Athletic Club sketch, 1933; Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument and Monument Circle sketch, 1933; Chicago World's Fair Belgian Village sketch, 1933; Small house similar to Honeymoon House presentation drawing, undated. Leslie F. Ayres Architectural Drawings, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University.

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