University of Texas, Alexander Architectural Archive

Walter T. Rolfe:

An Inventory of his Records, Drawings, and Paintings, 1920-1967



Collection Summary

Creator: Rolfe, Walter T., 1900-1967
Title: Walter T. Rolfe (1900-1967) Archival records, drawings and paintings, Architectural education; personal papers
Dates: 1920-1967
Abstract: Rolfe (1900-1967) taught at the University of Texas School of Architecture (1924-1946); practiced architecture in Houston and Beaumont, Tex. (1946-1967); won the Order of the Sun of Peru (1965) for "outstanding contribution to the furtherance of architectural education and practice in Peru." Summary: Personal papers, correspondence, manuscripts, printed material, photographs, books, awards and medals, seven paintings and 26 drawings make up this record group documenting portions of Rolfe's life (1920-1967).
Identification: ROLFE Accession numbers: 1984006, 1986014, 2003005, 2007030
Quantity: 26 drawings, 1.25 linear feet of archival records, 7 paintings, 94 photographs, 4 medals, 3 pins
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

Biographical sketch of Walter Thomas Rolfe

Walter Thomas Rolfe was born on August 22, 1900 in Wetmore, Kansas. He grew up there and graduated from Wetmore High School in 1918. He received a bachelor of science degree in architecture from Kansas State College in 1922 and his masters in architectural design from MIT in 1923.

He started his teaching career as associate professor of architecture at Auburn University in 1923 where he met his future partner, Albert S. Golemon, who was one of his best students. Rolfe moved to North Dakota State College where he taught for four years before going to the University of Texas in 1924. He spent the next eighteen years at the University of Texas School of Architecture and was chair of the department from 1936 to 1946.

"In February of 1946, he and Albert Golemon... formed the nucleus of one of the largest and most experienced architectural firms in the Southwest [at that time].... A number of the Southwest's most modern hospitals, churches and schools were designed by them. They reflect individuality and functional efficiency. Golemon & Rolfe was one of the first architectural firms to research and recommended the compact type, year-round air conditioned school building for more efficient teacher and pupil performance; Walter Rolfe was greatly responsible for the concept. The idea was accepted and acclaimed nationally."*

Rolfe was representative from the AIA to the US Commission to UNESCO from 1953 to 1955 and was active in other committee work in the AIA. He had a heart attack in 1957 which reduced his participation in the activities of the firm to the role of consultant. "He was acclaimed as one of the best public speakers in the architectural profession. On may occasions he spoke at conventions of the various segments of the AIA, at the local, state and national level. He made numerous talks for the engineering profession and for service organizations."*

In 1965, Rolfe was awarded the Order of the Sun of Peru, for "outstanding contribution to the furtherance of architectural education and practice in Peru,"* through his having been the professional teacher of Peru's President Fernando Belaúnde Terry.

Rolfe was in Houston when he died of a heart attack in June 1967.

Sources


  • *Memorial booklet printed by Golemon & Rolfe, Architects, 1967.
  • [Obituary] Texas Architect (August 1967): p. 4.

Scope and Content of the collection

Personal papers, correspondence, manuscripts, printed material, photographs, books, awards and medals, 7 paintings and 26 drawings make up this record group documenting portions of Walter T. Rolfe's life from 1920 to 1967. The papers, correspondence, manuscripts and printed material measure 1.25 linear feet.

The personal papers include biographical information, certificates, awards and quotes he collected to use in speeches. A memorial brochure, printed by his firm, Golemon & Rolfe gives one of the few overviews of his life.

Correspondence focuses on two major themes: the Order of the Sun of Peru and the memorial brochure printed by the firm. Letters and telegrams arrived at Rolfe's door when he won the award including congratulations from Peru's president, Fernando Belaúnde Terry, who was one of Rolfe's former students. The comments about the memorial brochure were sent to Rolfe's partner, Albert Golemon, or Rolfe's wife, Bessie Mae.

Manuscripts show that Rolfe was a prolific writer. The varied types of manuscripts included in this series were presented as speeches, articles, short fiction and poetry. Rolfe wrote a book in 1935 called Texas which he described as "a 32-page booklet illustrated in black and white, front page in color, treating the cultural background, history and opportunity of Texas." Several copies of the book are in with his papers.

Printed material is comprised of an assortment of articles about architecture.

The photographs are portraits of Rolfe and his wife. The paintings are watercolors by Rolfe and the drawings represent Rolfe's residence.

The series called awards and medals contains Rolfe's medals and awards. Highlights in this series are the Order of the Sun of Peru Plate (silver) and medal (gold) and his FAIA medal.


Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Access is by appointment only to any serious scholar. Boxes stored off site or rolled drawings that will need to be humidified and flattened for viewing will require a minimum of three working days advance notice.

Restrictions on Use

Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Alexander Architectural Archive's Use Policy.


Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Texas Online Catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Subjects (Persons):
Rolfe, Walter T., 1900-1967
Belaúnde Terry, Fernando, 1912-
Subjects (Organizations):
Golemon & Rolfe (Houston, Tex.)
Subjects:
Rolfe, Walter T., 1900-1967--Archives.
University of Texas at Austin. School of Architecture.--Faculty.
Document types:
Manuscripts.
Architectural drawings.
Watercolor drawings.
Paintings.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Walter T. Rolfe (1900-1967) Archival records. Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin

Processing Information

Drawings processed by Lila Knight, Summer 1986; other material processed by Nancy Sparrow.


Other Finding Aids

Unpublished inventory in Archive.


References to works by or about Walter T. Rolfe (1900-1967)

"AIA National Committeeman." Texas Architect (June 1951): p. 9.

"The American Architectural Foundation." American Institute of Architects Journal 15 (May 1951): p. 214, 219.

"The American Architectural Foundation, its opportunities and its needs." American Institute of Architects Journal 24 (September 1955): p. 111-5.

"Architect and his community." Texas Architect (December 1956): p. 5.

"At AIA Convention." Texas Architect (July 1954): p. 7.

"Bellaire High School." Texas Architect (April 1958): p. 6 and cover.

"Center Medical Building, Houston, Texas." Progressive Architecture 35 (January 1954): p. 90.

"Elementary Schools." Progressive Architecture 29 (November 1948): p. 51-64.

"Hospital: Alexandria, Louisiana." Progressive Architecture 32 (February 1951): p. 79-85.

"Hospitals: trends in planning. Building types study 363." Architectural Record 140 (October 1966): p. 197-216.

"Jack Tar Orange House." Texas Architect (May 1957): p. 7 and cover.

Kohl, George S., ed. American Architects Directory. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1962.

"Medical Towers." Texas Architect (July 1960): p. 11.

"Medical Towers win AIA award." Texas Architect (April 1957): p. 9.

"Memorial to Goldwin Goldsmith." Texas Architect (February 1962): p. 4.

"Moderates TSA Seminar." Texas Architect (November 1955): p. 6.

"Named to UNESCO Commission." Texas Architect (December 1952): p. 20.

"Named to UNESCO Post." Texas Architect (January 1953): p. 11.

[Obituary] Texas Architect (August 1967): p. 4.

"Presides at TSA Seminar." Texas Architect (November 1953): p. 4.

"Professional Offices, Houston, Texas." Progressive Architecture 36 (September 1955): p. 102-3.

"Research and the Architect." Texas Architect (June 1961): p. 4.

Rolfe, Walter Thomas. Texas. Austin: The Steck Company, 1935.

"Speaks to Clay Products Institute." Texas Architect (January 1955): p. 9.

"Twentieth Street Medical Plaza." Texas Architect (March 1961): p. 8.

"Wins award from Peru." Texas Architect (December 1965): p. 20.


Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

 

Series A: Personal Papers

Series Abstract
The personal papers include biographical information, certificates, awards and quotes he collected to use in speeches. A memorial brochure, printed by his firm, Golemon & Rolfe gives one of the few overviews of his life.
box folder
1 1 Biographical Information (1940-1967)
2 A Great History of the Class of 1923, Mass. Institute of Technology
3 Certificates and Awards (1920-1959)
4 AIA Fellowship (1947)
5 Announcement of Walter Rolfe Scholarship (1967)
6 Quotes for Speeches
7 Memorial Brochure
8 Memorial Book
9 Bessie Coulter Rolfe's Certificates (1921)



 

Series B: Correspondence

Series Abstract
The Correspondence series includes references to Rolfe's health, general incoming and outgoing mail, AIA tours, the Order of the Sun of Peru, correspondence with Lyndon Baines Johnson, and that discussing Rolfe's memorial tribute.
box folder
1 10 Outgoing: Concerning Rolfe's heart attack (1957)
11 Incoming General (1965-1977)
12 Outgoing (1965)
13 Incoming: AIA tour highlights (1952-1954)
14 Incoming: pertaining to the Order of the Sun
15 Incoming: from Lyndon Baines Johnson (1946-1958)
16 Correspondence with Fernando Belaúnde Terry (1965-1967)
17 Incoming: Copies of letters received by Albert Goleman pertaining to Rolfe's Memorial Tribute (1967)



 

Series C: Manuscripts

Series Abstract
The Manuscripts series reflects Rolfe's prolific writing career. The varied types of manuscripts included in this series were presented as speeches, articles, short fiction and poetry. Rolfe wrote a book in 1935 called Texas which he described as "a 32-page booklet illustrated in black and white, front page in color, treating the cultural background, history and opportunity of Texas." Several copies of the book are in with his papers.



 

Series C1: Speeches

box folder
2 1 Outlines for lectures
2 "The Architect, Color and Light"
3 "Competence - The Key to Excellence"
4 "Houston - Large or Great - or Both" (1965)
5 "Mexico"
6 "To Open More Doors" (1956)



 

Series C2: Articles

box folder
2 7 "What has the School a Right to Expect of Its Graduates?" (1948)
8 "One Architect's Home"
9 "Department of Architecture at the University of Texas 1910-1948," [draft] with Werner Dornberger and Hugh McMath (1962)
10 "A Research Program in Architecture" (1964)
11 "The Need for a Certifying Program in Any Profession" (1956)



 

Series C3: Prose

box folder
2 12 Prose Manuscripts (1962-1964)
13 "High on a Kansas Hill" (1963)
14 "Sincerely Yours" [draft] (1965)
14 "Sincerely Yours" [notes] (1955-1965)
box folder
3 1 "Bless Your Heart" [rough draft] (1966)
2-5 "Worry" (1965)
6 "Trouper" (1965)
7 "Miraculous Man"
box folder
4 1-3 "Miraculous Man "



 

Series C4: Poetry

box folder
4 4-5 "Dust and Stars"
6 Poetry (undated)



 

Series D: Texas [Rolfe's Book]

Series Abstract
Rolfe's description of the book: A 32-page booklet, illustrated in black and white, front page in color, treating the cultural background, history and opportunity of Texas. Published by Steck and Co., Austin, 1935.
box folder
5 1 Mock-up for Texas
2 Texas (without covers)
3 Texas
(two copies)
folder
flat file Mechanicals for the book. (illustrations)



 

Series E: Printed Material

Series Abstract
Printed material is comprised of books and articles about architecture by or about Rolfe, as well as clippings about Rolfe.
box folder
5 4 Clippings about Walter Rolfe (1947-1965)
5 AIA Journal, (see full description in bibliography) January 1964
6 Architecture: A Profession and Career (1954)
7 El Architecto, March/April 1954.
8 Ernest Langford Architecture Center at A&M Dedication Brochure, 1976
9 Texas Architect, December 1965
10 Remembrances of Things Past, by Ernest Langford, 1975



 

Series F: Photographs
93 black and white prints and 1 color print

Series Abstract
The photographs series contains portraits of Rolfe, his wife Betty, friends and associates.
box folder
5 11 Walter T. Rolfe (Kodak date on verso of photograph: August 1967
12 Walter and Betty Rolfe's Wedding Portraits (2) [September 1925]
13 Portraits of Rolfe (undated)
folder
flat file Rolfe in studio, painting
box folder
5 13 Portraits of Rolfe (undated)
14 Rolfe receiving Order of the Sun (undated)
15 Unidentified (1963, undated)
16 Texas Society of Architects convention, Houston, Tex. 1955
17 Texas Society of Architects convention, Corpus Christi, Tex. 1968
18 Texas Society of Architects convention, Dallas, Tex., undated



 

Series G: Awards and Medals

Series Abstract
The series called awards and medals contains Rolfe's medals and awards. Highlights in this series are the Order of the Sun of Peru Plate (silver) and medal (gold) and his FAIA medal.
box folder
6 1 Order of the Sun Plate. Engraved Signature of Fernando Belaúnde Terry.
(inscription)
2 FAIA Medal. Silver with red ribbon. Inscription.
3 Princeton Medal (bronze)
4 Order of the Sun Medal (gold) Masonic Tie Pin (25 year member) Two Fraternity Pins (Kappa Delta) Silver Pin (possibly a tie clip)



 

Series H: Paintings

Series Abstract
The paintings are watercolors by Rolfe. They are all acrylic on crescent board unless otherwise stated.
"Fulfilment" - watercolor sketch of a futuristic city
Landscape (with golf course)
21-1/2 × 28-1/2"
Abstract (organic)
22 × 27-3/4"
Abstract (organic)
22 × 27-3/4"
Abstract
19 × 25"
Seascape with bubbles
22 × 30"
Landscape in blue
19 × 22"
Pyramids, 1960
21 × 26"



 

Series I: Drawings

The drawings series represents Rolfe's residence.
Residence for Mr. and Mrs. Walter Rolfe, Commission 5700