Graham Erskine Architectural Drawings

Identifier: NAA10

Scope and Contents

The collection has undergone some basic conservation procedures to ensure its longevity and allow for easier access by researchers. Drawings which were originally rolled were humidified and flattened, then placed in acid-free map folders. All drawings for a single building were assembled and comparisons made of the architect's project numbers. Finally, folders for each architect's job number were given an accession number and data collected for the guide which follows. It was Mr. Erskine's and his partners' practice to give separate job numbers to different parts of a single project, so drawings for some buildings, such as the First Interstate Bank main office, have multiple job (and therefore accession) numbers, but are filed together.

The earliest material in the collection is a set of six ink-on-paper drawings of the Albergo Di Lusso e Cinematografo al Foro Traino in Rome, Italy, presumably executed during Erskine's doctoral studies at the University of Rome. The most recent project in the collection is the 1989 addition to the Washoe County Senior Citizens' Center (dedicated in 1991); Mr. Erskine was also the architect for the original project some thirteen years earlier.

Unfortunately for researchers, Mr. Erskine did not retain drawings for all of the projects executed by the architectural firms with which he was associated, nor are there drawings for projects which were undertaken by Lehman Ferris before the Erskine/Ferris partnership. Raymond Hellman, Reno Architect, stated in a personal interview that Graham regularly discarded such drawings once they were no longer needed. What does remain, however, is a good representation of Erskine's career. Two lists of Erskine and Harden and Graham Erskine Architect projects are available in the manuscript donor source file; please ask for assistance if you wish to review these lists.

This guide for the Erskine drawings has been divided into two sections. The first is a list of projects which are arranged by building names; the second section contains the same information but is arranged by the name of the architect or firm which designed the project. For each project the following data is provided:

ARCH/FIRM: name of the architectural firm responsible for the project as found on the drawings.

BLDNAME: name of the building as found on the drawings.

LOCATION: address of the project.

OWNER: name of the owner of the project.

DATE: date found on the drawings.

ARCH JOB#: project or job number assigned by the architect or owner.

SPECS: indicates whether specifications and/or contracts for the project are present in the manuscript collection.

MSS COLL#: the manuscript collection number assigned by the Special Collections Department to associated specifications.

NO RCDS: the number of drawings for each project number.

TYPE: physical description of drawings for each project, such as bluelines, pencil on vellum, mylar, etc.

COMMENTS: indicates whether additional notes on a project were made on the original data sheets: n=no comments, y=yes, comments made. Please ask for assistance if you wish to view those comments.

RCD NO: accession number assigned to a project or folder; all projects are arranged by this Special Collections accession number.

Processed by: Susan Searcy, Manuscript Curator Date: September 27, 1991.

See also collection guide for 83-08 for list of specifications.


  • circa 1938-1989
  • Majority of material found within 1949 - 1989



Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

Graham Erskine, a native of New York, received his bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from Columbia University. In 1938, he was awarded his doctor of architecture degree from the University of Rome, Italy.

In 1946, Erskine moved to Reno, Nevada where he went to work on a temporary basis with Lehman "Monk" Ferris. His first assignment was to produce preliminary designs for Reno High School; those designs were selected by the Reno School Board and Erskine was asked by Ferris to remain permanently in Reno. In 1957, Erskine became Ferris' partner, founding the firm Ferris and Erskine (which was also known as Ferris, Erskine and Calef in the early 1960s). From 1970-1983 Erskine was a partner with Esley D. Harden in the firm Erskine and Harden Architects; from 1984 until his death in 1991 he worked as sole owner of Graham Erskine Architect.

Graham Erskine was the author of Nevada's licensing act for architects which was enacted in 1947 and strengthened every year until it became in Erskine's mind, "one of the best registration laws amongst the fifty states." [1] He also founded the northern Nevada chapter of the American Institute of Architects and taught architectural design at the University of Nevada, Reno from 1954-1956.

Erskine's practice consisted primarily of commercial and institutional buildings rather than residences. As examples of his diversity, he designed Reno and Hug High schools; Harolds Club; the Nevada Legislative Building; additions to St. Mary's Hospital; the College of Education Building at the University of Nevada, Reno; the Nevada Employment Security Department administration building in Carson City; the administration building for Bell Telephone Company of Nevada in Reno; many First Interstate and First National Banks in Reno; and the Senior Citizens' Center in Reno.

A memorial endowed scholarship fund was established in honor of Graham Erskine by the Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The scholarship fund supports undergraduate students in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Architecture Department.

[1] Richard D. Adkins, "Oral History Interview with Graham Erskine." Nevada Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology, 1990, p. 4. Manuscript available in the Special Collections Department.


1 Linear Feet (91 items)

Language of Materials



The Graham Erskine Architectural Drawings consists of 91 projects dating from circa pre-1938 and 1949-1989. Erskine's practice consisted primarily of commercial and institutional buildings in and around Reno and Carson City. In 1957 he founded the architectural firm Ferris and Erskine (also known as Ferris, Erskine and Calef in the early 1960s) with partner Lehman "Monk" Ferris. From 1970-1983 Erskine was partner with Esley D. Harden in the firm Erskine and Harden Architects; from 1984 until his death he worked as sole owner of Graham Erskine Architect.


Organized by both building name and architect name.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The architectural drawings of Graham Erskine were donated to the Special Collections Department by Mrs. Graham (Jeanne) Erskine in June 1991.

Related Archival Material

83-08: Graham Erskine Records
Graham Erskine Architectural Drawings Guide
Susan Searcy
September 1991
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)