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William Adams Delano papers

Call Number: MS 178

Scope and Contents

The William Adams Delano Collection contains social and professional correspondence, various papers, and assorted printed material relating to the personal life and architectural career of William Adams Delano (1874-1960). The collection spans the period 1902-1960, with the majority of the material falling between the years 1939-1959.

The social correspondnece pertains to Delano's personal relationships, including friends and family. A frequent subject of this correspondence is the various clubs to which he belonged, especially the Coffee House, the Knickerbocker Club, and the Century Association. There is also a considerable amount of correspondence with the Yale Alumni Association and Delano's classmates in the Class of 1895.

The professional correspondence deals with various projects of Delano's architectural career, including public and office buildings and private homes. Especially noteworthy is his work on the White House and West Point, and his design of LaGuardia Field. His participation and leadership in various organizations, including the National Commission on Fine Arts and the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, are also covered in the correspondence section.

Nearly all printed material is enclosed with related letters, usuallly with no separated notation being made. There are several pieces, however, for which no origin is discernible; there have been filed in a separate box, likewise uncatalogued. Also in the same box is the unpublished autobiography: "The Reminiscences of William Adams Delano."


  • 1902-1960
  • Majority of material found within 1939 - 1960




Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of William A. Delano, 1954, and Josephine B. Manning, 1960 and 1962.


6.5 Linear Feet (16 boxes, 1 folio)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist almost entirely of social and professional correspondence. They also include an unpublished autobiography, The Reminiscences of William Adams Delano; printed matter; and a drawing made for the 46th anniversary of The Record. Much of the personal correspondence concerns Delano's membership in various New York clubs and his classmates in the Yale College class of 1895. His professional correspondence relates in part to important commissions, among them his work on the White House, West Point, and his design for La Guardia airport in New York. His participation in the work of the National Commission on Fine Arts and the National Capital Park and Planning Commission is also documented. Prominent correspondents include Dean Acheson, Frederick L. Allen, Hamilton Fish Armstrong, Hiram Bingham, Charles C. Burlingham, George Parmly Day, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Charles Dana Gibson, Joseph Grew, M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Walter Lippmann, Allan Nevins, Arthur Upham Pope, Elihu Root, Jr., Henry Lewis Stimson, Charles Warren, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Biographical / Historical

William Adams Delano was born in New York City on January 21, 1874. His father, Eugene Delano, was a partner in the banking firm Brown Brothers & Company; his mother, the former Susan Magoun Adams, was the daughter of the Reverend Mr. William Adams. In 1887, William Adams Delano entered the Lawrenceville School, from which he graduated in 1891. In the fall of that year he enrolled in Yale College, obtaining his A.B. In 1895. After graduation from Yale, Delano spent two years in the Columbia University School of Architecture and two years as a draftsman in the architectural office of Hastings Carrère. He then went to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, from which he received a diploma in 1902. In 1901 Delano had been awarded the Jean Leclaire Prize, an honor bestowed by the Institut de France upon the member of the First Class who receives the greatest number of values. This had been a particularly meaningful award to Delano, since this was the first time the prize had been given to other than a Frenchman. After over five years in Paris he returned to New York where, in 1903, he and Chester H. Aldrich founded the firm of Delano and Aldrich. Until 1910, Delano also served as a professor of design at Columbia University's School of Architecture.

In 1924, Delano was appointed for a four year term to the National Commission of Fine Arts by President Coolidge. In 1927 Secretary Mellon appointed him a member of the Board of Architectural Consultants of the United States Treasury Department, a position Delano held for six years. In 1929, by president Hoover's request, Delano became the architectural representative on the National Park and Planning Commission, being re-appointed by succeeding Presidents and serving in his capacity until 1946 when he resigned.

In 1908, Delano was awarded the degree of B.F.A., and in 1939 he received an honorary M.A. -- both from Yale. He became, in 1930, a corresponding member of the Academic des Beaux Arts Institut de France, having served as President of the Society of Beaux Arts Architects from 1927 to 1929; also in 1930, Delano became an officer in the Legion d'Honneur. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and from 1928 to 1930 he served as president of the New York Chapter; in 1953 Delano received the Institute's Gold Medal for excellence in Architecture. A member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, he had received their Gold Medal for architecture in 1940. Delano also belonged to the Architectural League of New York, the National Academy of Design, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was a trustee of the New York Orthopaedic Dispensary and the New York Public Library; he was vice president of the Grenfell Association of America and the New York Hotocultural Society. He was a member of the Century Association, the Coffee House, India House, The Brook, and the Yale University Knickerbocker, and Piping Rock Clubs in New York; he was also a member of the Metropolitan Club in Washington and the Graduates Club in New Haven.

During his architectural career, Delano designed many buildings of note. Among them at Yale were Wright Hall, Sterling Chemical Laboratory, and the Divinity School. His buildings at Washington include the Japanese Embassy, the Post Office Building and Circular Plaza. In New York City, Delano designed the University Club and the Brook, and LaGuardia and Idlewild Airports. A commission which had given Delano particular professional satisfaction was the American Embassy on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. At West Point Delano succeeded in winning the contract for the enlargement of the United States Military Academy. However, Delano is probably best known for his work on the renovation of the White House, including the balcony addition he designed.

A member of that stylistic persuasion in architecture called the "Beaux Arts School," Delano's designs are today often unfavorably criticized and largely ignored. However, in his time, many thought very highly of his architectural artistry. President Truman, for one, expressed his admiration in this note he sent Delano: "On all sides we find noble works whose artistic merits reflect the fine taste and judgment which you have exercised."

William Delano died on January 12, 1960 in New York City at the age of 85.


1874 Born, New York City, on January 21

1887-1891 Lawrenceville School

1895 A.B. From Yale

1902 Diploma from Ecole des Beaux-Arts

1903-1910 Professor of Design at Columbia

1903 Firm of Delano and Aldrich established

1905 Trustee, New York Orthapaedic Dispensary and Hospital

1907 Married, to Louisa Millicent Potter (Sheffield), May 23

1908 B.F.A. From Yale

1909 Born, a son, William Richard Potter Delano, on July 31

1924-1928 Member, National Commission of Fine Arts

1927-1933 Member, Board of Architectural Consultants, Treasury Department, Washington, D.C.

1929-1946 Member, National Park and Planning Commission

1930 Corresponding member, Academie des Beaux-Arts, L'Institut de France

1933 Operation on neck

1937-1943 Designed LaGuardia Airport

1939 Hon. M.A. From Yale

1939 Member, Board of Design for World's Fair

1940 Awarded Gold Medal of National Institute of Arts and Letters

1945 Won competition for enlarging West Point facilities

1948 Added balcony to White House

1949 Appointed Architectural Consultant to the Commission on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion

1950 Retired from active partnership in Delano & Aldrich (January 1)

1953 Received Gold Medal of American Institute of Architects

1960 Died, January 12; memorial service held on February 1 at the Brick Presbyterian Church, New York City.

For a listing of selected correspondents with William Adams Delano, and a chart outlining the genealogical relations of the Delano family, please consult the Correspondents Index and Genealogical Chart.

Other Finding Aids

For a listing of selected correspondents with William Adams Delano, and a chart outlining the genealogical relations of the Delano family, please consult the Correspondents Index and Genealogical Chart.
Guide to the William Adams Delano Papers
compiled by Staff of Manuscripts and Archives
March 1983
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)