Collection of Ezra C. Stiles, 1916-1953

Stiles, Ezra C.


34 oversized folders.
The collection consists entirely of blueprints originating from Stiles' office, relating to various projects commissioned by private citizens, corporations, and city governments. Spanning the years 1916 through 1953, this collection represents the only consolidated grouping of Stiles' hand-rendered engineering blueprints. The blueprints were discovered arranged in a collage-like manner applied to the walls and ceiling in the attic office of Stiles' former house in Oakmont (13 miles northeast of Pittsburgh) with a water-soluble adhesive. The prints, which in some cases were pasted over sections of one another, vary in quality and state of deterioration. A number of the blueprints suffer from discoloration caused by the wallpaper upon which they had been pasted. The first series in the collection consists of Stiles' landscape architecture work, dating from 1918 through the 1940s. While most of the designs are for families in the Pittsburgh area, there are several projects done for clients outside the region. These documents reveal how Stiles used western Pennsylvania's uneven terrain to his benefit by creating flowered terraces or waterfalls amid the landscape. Researchers will also note Stiles' use of perennials and the strategic central placement of sundials and ponds. The second series contains some of Stiles' public works. Here, venues such as cemeteries, public parks, and schools are presented. Although Stiles was instrumental in his work for the Pittsburgh Regional Parks system, this collection does not include such material. Still, his designs for the Clarion City Park and Schenley Park (both in the Pittsburgh area) represent a similar effort. The design for the Alto-Reste Cemetery in Altoona remains one of the best preserved documents in the collection. The records also reveal that Stiles' work was in demand as far south as Greenville, South Carolina, where he did landscape architecture work for Furman University. The third series consists of engineering blueprints found hanging on the walls of Stiles' office, the bulk of which date from the 1940s. Unlike the works found elsewhere in the collection, these documents were created for industrial and public works projects. Although Stiles did not create all of the prints, notes on some of the records indicate that he studied the prints and consulted on the projects. The prints mostly pertain to efforts undertaken by the Carnegie Steel Corporation at their plants in Duquesne and Munhall, Pennsylvania. Also represented are public works designs, including a 1941 project that widened and added intersections to McKnight Road. When these materials were gathered from Stiles' office, a number of the very brittle prints fell apart. The final series houses fragments which could not be confidently identified with the project to which it belongs.
Born in Painted Post, New York in 1891, Ezra C. Stiles moved to southwestern Pennsylvania as a young child. After completing his studies at Penn State University, Stiles served in the Army Corp of Engineers in Europe during the First World War. During his military service, Stiles toured gardens in France and Luxembourg, an experience that would influence the course of his career in the following decades. Upon returning home, Stiles found work with the A.W. Smith Company, a landscaping and floral business, and in 1926 he established his own landscape architecture business based out of the Renshaw Building in downtown Pittsburgh. As his career progressed, Stiles became an increasingly prolific architect. He completed projects for individuals, corporations, and city planners. Stiles designed gardens for many prominent Pittsburgh families, including the Scaifes, Corsons, Frownes, and Garmens. He also consulted on a number of construction projects for the Carnegie Steel Works, the Rockwell Manufacturing Corporation, and the Robert Shaw Fulton Company. tiles' most enduring work is in the public sphere, examples of which include garden designs for Clarion City Park, Altoona's Alto-Reste Cemetery, and Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. From the late 1950s through the 1960s, Stiles' firm created designed two city parks for the Pittsburgh bicentennial. Although Stiles is known as one of the area's top landscape architects, he also worked as an urban planner, writer, mapmaker, and painter.
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Collection of Ezra C. Stiles, 1916-1953, AIS 2000:08, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh.
Available in repository and on Internet; Folder level control;;c=ascead;view=text;subview=outline;didno=US-PPiU-ais200008.

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