A Biography in Blueprint (The John and Donald Parkinson Collection)

Posted on Mon., Oct. 3, 2022

If a blueprint can help reveal the biography of a building then “a biography of modern Los Angeles” might be a good way to describe the John and Donald Parkinson collection recently acquired by The Huntington.

The little-known cache contains more than 20,000 items, including drawings, blueprints, office records, photographs, and ephemera. Adding dramatically to The Huntington’s growing strength in Southern California architectural history, this acquisition was made possible by the donation of Wm. Scott Field, a restoration architect who took great care in stewarding the archive for decades.

The firm’s landmark buildings in LA include Bullocks Wilshire; Braly Block, the city’s first skyscraper; the Homer Laughlin Building (now Grand Central Market); Los Angeles City Hall; the Memorial Coliseum; and Union Station, in addition to the campus master plan for USC. These buildings were either designed by John Parkinson and his partner Edwin Bergstrom (Parkinson and Bergstrom, 1905–1915) or by John and his son, Donald Parkinson (Parkinson and Parkinson, 1920–1935). The archive spans from 1894 to 1994, during which John Parkinson and his successors developed more than 400 structures. The wealth of materials from the early 1900s to the 1930s demonstrate the rapid growth of Los Angeles at that time.