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Finding Aid for the Ruth Patricia Shellhorn papers, 1909-2006
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ruth Patricia Shellhorn papers
    Date (inclusive): 1909-2006
    Collection number: 1757
    Creator: Ruth Patricia Shellhorn
    Extent: 155 document boxes (77.5 linear ft.) 134 rolled drawing boxes 98 flat boxes 17 shoe boxes 5 cartons 7 oversize specialty boxes.
    Abstract: Ruth Patricia Shellhorn (1909-2006) was a landscape architect who practiced in Southern California. She is best known for her contributions to the creation of a new commercial shopping center landscape style through her work at the Bullock's Department Stores and Fashion Squares. In addition to her work at Bullock's, Shellhorn's projects include Disneyland and University of California, Riverside, as well as residential gardens for many prominent Southern Californians. The collection consists of business records, drawings and plans, visual materials, correspondence, diaries, and other personal items.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Ruth Patricia Shellhorn, 2005.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Heather Lowe in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Kelley Wolfe Bachli, 2011.
    The processing of this collection was generously supported by Arcadia.  

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ruth Patricia Shellhorn papers (Collection 1757). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6599284 


    Ruth Patricia Shellhorn Kueser (September 21, 1909 - November 3, 2006) was a landscape architect who practiced in the Los Angeles area. Her best known projects include Disneyland, the Bullock's department stores and Fashion Squares, University of California at Riverside, and the Shoreline Development Study. Shellhorn's commercial work helped to establish an iconic Southern California landscape style.
    Ruth Shellhorn was born on September 21, 1909 in Los Angeles to Arthur L. and Lodema Shellhorn. She grew up in Pasadena where her parents encouraged her to choose a career as a young child and Shellhorn became interested in landscape architecture through a neighbor, the well-know landscape architect, Florence Yoch. Shellhorn attended Oregon State Agricultural College from 1927-1930 and then transferred to Cornell University to study architecture in addition to landscape architecture. After being denied the ability to take an overload and complete her degree at Cornell, Shellhorn returned home to Pasadena in 1933 to begin her own practice. In the early days of her career she teamed up with other young architects and designers and worked for established landscape architects, Ralph Cornell and Florence Yoch. In addition to her landscape work, Shellhorn wrote articles and gave radio interviews on topics of home gardening.
    In 1940, she married Harry Alexander Kueser. Five years later, Kueser left his banking career to join Shellhorn in the landscape architecture business. In the partnership, he handled the finances, helped with surveying, and oversaw some installation and construction. For most of their career together, they worked from a studio in their home.
    One of Shellhorn's first major projects was the assignment to the Shoreline Development Study for the Greater Los Angeles Citizens Committee. The study set a precedent for guarding sensitive coastal areas from industry and developing coastal land for public use. Soon after the project, Shellhorn received a recommendation to work on Bullock's, Pasadena. Her superior work in Pasadena led to a series of influential landscape designs at Bullock's department stores and Fashion Squares. Shellhorn's designs set the tone for a new style that came to be associated with Southern California luxury shopping. In 1955, Walt Disney hired Shellhorn to oversee plantings at Disneyland. Shellhorn eventually designed all the pedestrian walkways as well as plantings at the entry, Main Street, and the Plaza Hub.
    In addition to Shellhorn's many commercial projects, she also created residential gardens for a range of prominent Angelinos, including Norman and Dorothy Chandler, Gene Autry, Barbara Stanwyck, John and Rella Factor, Ben Goetz, and many others. She also served as consulting landscape architect for several educational institutions, most notably the University of California at Riverside.
    Shellhorn's work continued to be recognized throughout her career. She received numerous awards from the American Association of Nurserymen, a lifetime achievement award and fellow status from the American Society of Landscape Architects, as well as the Los Angeles Times 1955 Woman of the Year. In 2005, Cornell University discovered that Shellhorn had, indeed, completed the requisite number of units for graduation. The university belatedly conferred upon her a Bachelor's of Landscape Architecture and a Bachelor's of Architecture.
    Shellhorn died on November 3, 2006 in Torrance, California a few days after suffering a stroke.

    Scope and Content

    The collection includes business files, drawings and plans, photographs, slides, correspondence, diaries, and other personal items.
    The bulk of the collection pertains to her professional career including over 3,000 drawings and plans, as well as research files supporting her work and client files regarding particular projects. The collection also contains visual material from Shellhorn's projects including two architectural models, slides and photographs. The collection also includes personal photographs, albums, correspondence, and diaries covering an 80 year period, school assignments, and ephemera.

    Organization and Arrangement

    The creator's original order has been retained as much as possible and arranged in the following series:
    1. Client Files
    2. Plans and Drawings
    3. Models
    4. Business Resources
      • Product and research files
      • Product Samples
      • Business records
      • Books and Magazines
    5. Professional Life
      • Awards
      • Publications
      • Professional and alumni involvement
      • Clippings
    6. Slides
    7. Photographs
      • Business
      • Personal
    8. Personal
      • Diaries
      • Correspondence
      • Educational work
      • Ephemera and records
      • Family materials
      • Objects

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Shellhorn, Ruth, d. 2006 --Archives.
    Women landscape architects --California, Southern --Archival resources.
    Landscape architecture --California, Southern --Designs and plans.

    Genres and Forms of Material