Hugo Franz Kuehne Records and Drawings
An Inventory of the Collection
Hugo Franz Kuehne was born in Austin, Texas in 1884. He received a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas in 1906 and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1908.
Directly out of school, Kuehne worked in an architectural firm in Boston until he was asked to organize an architectural program in the College of Engineering at the University of Texas. His determination to establish a Beaux-Arts design oriented curriculum in a heavily emphasized engineering curriculum placed him at odds with the administration. He served as adjunct professor from 1910 to 1915 and founded the architecture library, which became one of the most important collections in the country.
He maintained his residence in Austin and entered private practice in 1915. His firms were Kuehne, Chasey and Giesecke (1915–17), Kuehne and Chasey (1917–19), H. F. Kuehne (1919–42), Giesecke, Kuehne and Brooks (1942), and Kuehne, Brooks and Barr (1942–1960). During the Great Depression Kuehne held supervisory positions with the United States Department of the Interior.
Kuehne served as president of the Austin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) twice. In 1944 he was named an AIA Fellow. In 1961, after 53 years of practice, Kuehne retired. He died in Austin on November 23, 1963.
Kuehne was responsible for the design of many Austin public buildings. This list includes the Old Austin Library (1933), the Department of Public Safety Building (1952) and the Commodore Perry Hotel (1950). His Beaux-Arts style design was a major force in the shaping of Austin's visual image.
The Biographical Information series (1906-1962) contains awards and recognition from the City of Austin, the Mutual Savings Institute, Southwestern Bell Telephone Company and the American Institute of Architects, diplomas from the University of Texas and Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a membership certificate from The Austin Country Club.
The Business Affairs series (1913-1953) consists of applications and resumes as well as business records of the Lake Austin Transportation Company. Of interest in the applications and resumes file is an application submitted to the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1942 to perform architectural and engineering work in connection with the National Defense Program. The application provides great insight into the type and costs of work Kuehne performed in his architectural and engineering career to date. The letters of recommendation from the Austin City Manager, the Chairman of the Austin Housing Authority and the President of the Board of Trustees of the Public Schools of Austin included in the application also provide insight into Kuehne's standing in the Austin community. The business records of the Lake Austin Transportation Company, of which Kuehne was president, date from 1913 to 1929 and contain Austin City Council meeting minutes relating to the contract with the city to operate a wharf and boat house on Lake Austin, financial statements and records, stock certificates, tax records, correspondence and an agreement for the dissolution of the Company.
The Correspondence series (1917-1955) consists of both personal and business matters in an effort to retain its original order by date. The earliest correspondence relates to Kuehne's interest in helping the war effort by going to France "to assist in the building and construction operations for the United States Army" and his subsequent frustration in trying to obtain such a commission. Also of interest is the 1935-1937 correspondence, both incoming and outgoing, during and directly after Kuehne was in Washington D.C. serving as the Chief of Construction and Development of the Rural Resettlement and Rehabilitation Division of the Resettlement Administration. Included are the weekly reports sent by J. Roy White on H.F. Kuehne, Architect letterhead updating Kuehne on the happenings in his office in Austin as well as Kuehne's responses to White about his personal and professional life in Washington D.C. Also included are letters between Dr. Carl C. Taylor, national director of the Resettlement Administration, and Kuehne about a pending legal case Kuehne was involved in and other Resettlement Administration issues. Also notable are letters between Lyndon B. Johnson and Kuehne dated 1938-1941.
The Writings series (1912-1958, undated) contains essays and speeches covering such topics as the architectural profession, the organization and curriculum of architectural schools, the Enfield Addition, the architectural style of the University of Texas, the history of the Department of Architecture of the University of Texas and church buildings.
Kuehne was involved in local civic organizations and served on several Boards and Commissions for the City of Austin throughout his adult life. The Civic Activities series contains materials related to his time serving as a member and as chairman of the City of Austin Planning Commission. Included are meeting minutes and supporting documentation, memorandum, correspondence, and press releases dating from 1952 to 1960.
The Professional Associations series (1949-1959) highlight Kuehne's involvement with the Austin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Texas Society of Architects and the Texas Fine Arts Association. The majority of the materials relating to the AIA concern Kuehne's membership in the College of Fellows and nominations of fellow Texas architects for advancement to Fellowship in the AIA. These nominations include biographical information about architects including Austin architects such as Louis C. Page and Arthur Fehr. The Texas Fine Arts Association file consists of a single letter written by Kuehne, in his position of corresponding secretary, announcing a visit to Austin by sculptor Lorado Taft.
The Project Files series (1927-1954) contains architectural specification for the Austin Public Library (now the Austin History Center), the Capitol City Abattoir cattle shed and the Lamar Jr. High School. In addition there is correspondence between members of the State Building Architects, a group organized for the purpose of design and planning of a proposed State Courts Building for the Texas State Board of Control that included member firms Atlee and Ayres, Lamar Cato, George Dahl, Giesecke, Kuehne & Brooks and Stone and Pitts. Of note in the Austin Public Library file is a letter from A. P. Wooldridge, former mayor of Austin, written in 1927 to Kuehne expressing opposition to the idea of "combining on the same area of ground the public library and a public auditorium." The letter also provides details on how Wooldridge obtained the half block south of Wooldridge Park for the use of a public free library.
The Photographs series is a mixture of undated photos of actual buildings and photographic prints of reduced-in-size architectural renderings and/or presentation drawings. Commercial, educational, ecclesiastical, public and residential projects are represented. Also included are three photo albums, two of which hold the representative work of Kuehne, Brooks & Barr, Architects and Southwestern Architects-Engineers. The third album is titled "Austin History Center" and includes photographs, slides and brochure pages of what appears to be projects completed by Brooks & Barr. The unidentified folder contains buildings designed by Kuehne, presumably built in Texas.
The Drawings series (1896-1954, 1971, undated) contains approximately 738 drawings representing 133 projects. The majority of the projects are located in Austin, Texas but there are some drawings for designs built elsewhere in Texas. Just under half of the collection consists of designs for residential projects including several ink sketches by J. Roy White of a set of designs titled "Subsistence Homestead." The earliest drawings in the series are student work by Kuehne and other architects. The rest of the drawings represent public, commercial, ecclesiastical, educational, and medical projects including the Austin Public Library (1933), Lockhart Creamery (600 E. First St., Austin, 1941), and the Central Christian Church (1110 Guadalupe St., Austin, 1928).
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
The collection was donated by Hugo F. Kuehne Jr. on March 21, 1985.
Hugo Franz Kuehne Records (AR.2009.024). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1956/007
Donation Date: 1985
Finding aid was prepared by Tim Wilder in November 1991, updated by Molly Hults in 2010.
Finding aid was encoded by Evan Usler in 2010.
Detailed Description of the Collection