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Leslie F. Ayres Architectural Drawings Collection

 Collection
Identifier: DADA-052

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of drawings, sketches, presentation drawings, photographs, and reproductions of drawings made by Leslie F. Ayres from 1926 to 1945. There are a number of undated drawings, but those were likely created within the same time period. The drawings are arranged chronologically.

The earliest drawings and sketches depict his student work at Princeton University, possibly his work at the firm Pierre and 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.

His professional drawings from the 1930s and 1940s depict residences, apartment buildings, and churches that it is yet unknown whether they were ever built or where they stand. One project represented by seven black-and-white photographs in the collection that was realized 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. The photos of the exterior and interior show the front entrance, living room, dining room, bar, and staircase just after it was built in 1936.

Also included in the collection is one painting. It is an imaginative scene of a bug that doesn’t pertain to architecture but it does speak to his creative nature and skillful rendering.

Related materials can be found in the Pierre and Wright Architectural Records and Fran Schroeder Architectural Records collections at the Drawings and Documents Archive.

Dates

  • 1926 - 1945

Creator

Language

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

Leslie F. Ayres (1906-1952) was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Frank and Bertha Wolf Ayres. His father was a machinist and die maker. Leslie, and his younger brother Robert, went to high school at Arsenal Technical High School. It is there where he learned to draw and developed the desire to become an architect.

His career began when he met Edward Pierre at his relatively new firm, Pierre & Wright, in Indianapolis. Pierre, a young architect at the time, would become Ayres’ mentor and friend, and quickly realized his talent for rendering and gave him a job before he graduated from high school. Ayres worked for Pierre & Wright until he was awarded the prestigious Princeton Prize in Architecture in 1926. The award allowed for a year of free tuition at Princeton University, and Ayres jumped at the opportunity. While there, however, his performance was somewhat lackluster. Professors lauded on his seemingly natural ability to draw but complained about his lack of focus on assignments. Despite his difficulties at Princeton, he earned the Certificate of Proficiency in 1927 and returned to Indianapolis to work as an architect and renderer.

Ayres 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.”

During this time he also built his architectural practice by designing residences, apartments, commercial buildings, and chapels in his distinctive Art Moderne and Art Deco styles. Buildings such as the Federal Economic Recovery Act Building (1934) at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and the Wilkinson House (1936) in Muncie, Indiana, exemplify his modern and glamorous contributions to Indiana architecture. An active leader in the Indianapolis Home Show from 1940-1947, Ayres designed many of the model homes during this time. He focused on sophisticated small homes that did not trade style for square footage.

Ayres married Edna C. Silcox in 1937; the couple had no children. Leslie Ayres died in 1952 from a heart attack in their home. He is buried in Washington Park East Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Extent

1.3 Cubic Feet (1 OVA box, 1 box, framed painting)

Arrangment

The Leslie F. Ayres Architectural Drawings are arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

The Leslie F. Ayres Architectural Drawings were received by Drawings and Documents Archive as a donation from Stephen and Sharon Zimmerman on 2014/06/02.

Accruals

No further additions are expected.

Sources

Sources: Zeigler, Connie. Commerical Article 05: Leslie Ayres . Commercial Artisan, Indianapolis, Indiana, 2012.

Gerhart, Andrea. “Leslie F. Ayres: An Accomplished Architect and Architectural Renderer.” MSHP thesis. Ball State University, 2001.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed Finding aid created 2014/6/4 by Carol Street

Source

Creator

Title
Leslie F. Ayres Architectural Drawings
Status
Completed
Author
Carol Street
Date
2014/6/4
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Andrew Seager Archive of the Built Environment, A Division of University Libraries Repository

Contact:
Architecture Building, Room 120
Muncie IN 47306 USA
765-285-8441
765-285-3726 (Fax)