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Graham Erskine Records

Identifier: 83-08
The records of Graham Erskine consist of 8 cubic feet and are mainly specifications and contracts for commercial and institutional building projects mainly in Reno and Carson City. Included are many governmental buildings for the cities of Reno and Sparks; remodeling of the state Legislative Building, Carson City; numerous Nevada Bell offices; hospitals; and elementary, high schools and University of Nevada, Reno buildings. Included are some personal papers and a lecture series delivered at UNR in 1965; some records are on microfilm.

The collection is divided into two series. The projects, located in Series 1, cover the years from 1948-1985. Specifications have been placed in rough alphabetical order by client or institution name with additional work for each client in chronological order. Most specifications are bound and job numbers are included, if known. Some records are on microfilm but the film is not on reels.

There are some personal papers which have been placed in Series 2, which consists of various job listings and applications, a lecture series on the city of Reno’s architecture, as well as three plaques. These plaques reflect some of the honors Graham Erskine collected over the course of his professional life.


  • 1948-1985



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.


8 Cubic Feet (20 boxes)


Graham Erskine was an architect who first came to Reno, NV in 1947 and was active designing commercial and institutional buildings in Reno and Carson City during the middle twentieth century. His papers consist primarily with specifications and contracts for his architectural work.

Biographical Note

Graham Erskine, a native of New York, received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in architecture from Columbia University. In 1938 he was awarded his doctor of architecture degree from the University of Rome, Italy. Mr. Erskine came to Reno in 1946 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 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.

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 among the fifty states.”* 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 in and around Reno and Carson City, rather than residences. As examples of his diversity, he designed Reno and Hug High Schools; Harold's 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 Division 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 has been established in honor of Graham Erskine by the Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The scholarship fund will support undergraduate students in the Architecture Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

* Richard D. Adkins, “Oral History Interview with Graham Erskine.” Nevada Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, 1990, p.4. Manuscript available in the UNR Special Collections Department.


The records of Graham Erskine have been organized into two series, arranged by project name and date:

Series 1: Specifications and contracts

Series 2: Personal papers

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Graham Erskine in 1983.

Related Materials

Researchers interested in the drawings should refer to Special Collections Architectural Collection NAA10 for a list of Erskine’s drawings.

Separated Materials

Photographs have been transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P1993-19



A Guide to the Records of Graham Erskine
Susan Searcy
November 1994
Description rules

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)