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M. Carlton Smith Architectural Drawings Collection

Identifier: DADA-048

Scope and Contents

The collection contains 701 sheets of architectural drawings, sketches, and renderings by M. Carlton Smith, dating from 1932-1969. This collection includes 241 different architecture projects and five document files containing personal and professional papers. These include clippings about projects, a copy of Smith’s architecture license, portrait photograph, and business stationery. Also included are two 1990s reference materials written about houses designed by Smith, one with highlights and notations by Smith’s son, Gregory Smith.

The drawings are mostly designs for private residences in Indianapolis; however, there are some examples of commercial additions and remodeling jobs. Other drawing sets are for vacation cottages, a fraternity house, a stadium, a recreation center, Union Chapel Cemetery, the Armentrout building, and the Indianapolis Mirror Company. Most of the work is by Smith but a few projects are by other architects, Rollin Shuttleworth and Charles D. Ward. The drawings are arranged chronologically.


  • Creation: 1932 - 1994


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Drawings and Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Drawings and Documents Archive.

Biographical Note

Marion Carlton Smith (1905-1984) was born in Broad Ripple, near Indianapolis, Indiana, to Rosa Middleton Smith and David Reubin Smith. During summers in high school, he worked for both his high school math teacher and his father, where he gained practical knowledge in construction through carpentry and concrete work. By the time Smith graduated from Broad Ripple High School in 1924, his interest in architecture was evident. Although he never received a formal education in architecture, he gained his knowledge from working in local architecture firms and eventually opened his own firm. His first job in the field of architecture was with Henry L. Simons Company, a firm that was exceptionally active in the realm of high-end residential work.

He left the H. L. Simons Company to work for Edward James, a prominent Indianapolis architect. James encouraged Smith to apply for his architect’s license, which he did in 1930 when he became the 291st architect registered in Indiana. Smith continued to work for James in the early 1930s and then worked with architect Virgil Hoagland from 1935 to 1936. Smith opened his firm in 1937 as a sole proprietorship using the professional name M. Carlton Smith. Throughout World War II many architects struggled to keep their businesses open when residential and small business commissions were scarce. During this time Smith worked for Lukas-Harold Corporation at the Naval Ordnance Plant in Indianapolis.

After World War II, Smith returned to Edward James Associates. He helped to design the Women’s Dormitory Building at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and other residential projects throughout Indianapolis, including the Arden, Windcombe, Brendonwood, and Wellington Estates subdivisions. He also designed several residences along Meridian Street in Indianapolis.

Smith primarily worked independently but was known to work on projects with architect Orville Williamson and Virgil C. Hoagland. He hired his brother Floyd Smith, Charles D. Ward, and Rollin Shuttleworth to work as architects and draftsmen at his firm. The collective body of Smith’s work is comprised of primarily high-end residences, with few commercial renovations.

M. Carlton Smith was not a member of any civic organizations, but he was affiliated with the American Institute of Architects, the Construction League, and the Producers League. Smith married Mary Virginia Hendershott Smith and they had a son, Gregory Lee Smith, in 1930. Smith never officially closed the firm, as he used it to help his son Gregory become a designer and builder. M. Carlton Smith died on September 2, 1984.


20.3 Cubic Feet (5 flat file drawers, 1 legal-sized MSS box)


The M. Carlton Smith Architectural Drawings are arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Drawings and Documents Archive as a donation from Greg Smith on 2012/12/13.


No additions are expected.


Letter from Gregory L. Smith to the Drawings and Documents Archive, January 30, 2013. Material in the collection.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed. Finding aid created in 2013/4/4 and revised in 2013/5/03 by Carol Street.

M. Carlton Smith Architectural Drawings
Created and revised by Carol Street
Created 2013/4/4; revised 2013/5/3
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Andrew Seager Archives of the Built Environment Repository

Architecture Building, Room 120
Muncie IN 47306 USA
765-285-3726 (Fax)