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Frank Chouteau Brown professional architectural collection

AR003 (RS81299)


The architectural drawings in this collection are those which do not bear the HABS imprint and include materials arranged according to the following themes: historic buildings, stage sets, private commissions, furniture, and miscellaneous. Materials on historic buildings include details, floor plans, elevations, and original and blueprint renderings of historic buildings in Rhode Island and Long Island. It is possible that this portion of the collection supplements the two collections of HABS materials also held by the Library & Archives (AR023, AR018).

The Brown collection also includes a large series of vigorously executed, generously annotated, ink drawings of set designs for Shakespearean productions in addition to proposed designs for a Shakespeare Village to be erected on Boston's Fens. Also included are costume and furniture designs. The stage-related drawings consist of originals and some reverse prints and were prepared for productions at the Castle Square Theater, Boston, and many of them are annotated by Brown. The series of drawings from private commissions consists of originals and blueprints of furniture details, architectural details, floor plans, and elevations for residences, commercial structures, apartment buildings, and a golf club. Most of these structures were located in Massachusetts, but some were in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Miscellaneous materials include designs for memorials and headstones, bookplates, lettering, signs, emblems, and some classical drawings.


Collection Name
Frank Chouteau Brown professional architectural collection
Collection Code
Finding Aid Info
Finding aid available in print in the Library & Archives.
Collection Type
Architectural and Cartographic Materials
Description Level
Custodial History
The collection was donated to Historic New England (then the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, or SPNEA) by Mrs. Brown. It had been stored in Frank Chouteau Brown's original storage boxes from the time of its creation until the time of donation.
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Frank Chouteau Brown.
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

Frank Chouteau Brown was born on January 3, 1876, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When he was twenty years old, Brown began his career as a draftsman in the office of Thomas C. Plant in Minneapolis. After moving to Boston in 1902, he joined the firm of James T. Kelley, whose reputation was based on designing fine homes. After 1905, Brown established his own practice with a specialty in domestic architecture and large suburban estates in New England. Brown was best known for his interest in historic buildings, but he worked as an architect on over ten well-known commissions. These commissions were largely residential, but they also include a projected plan for a Brookline country club from the 1910s. Surprisingly, each of these is in Tudor Revival style, possibly explained by his interest in Shakespearean drama.

Brown also wrote a great deal about architecture, including several books, such as "New England Houses" (1919). He also served as editor of "Architectural Review." He was a close friend of William Sumner Appleton, founder of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (known today as Historic New England) and was a member of the editorial board of "Old-Time New England." He was appointed Massachusetts District Administrator for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in 1934. Brown was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He died on November 18, 1947, in Boston.


This collection is arranged in five series: A. Historic Buildings, B. Stage Sets, C. Private Commissions, D. Furniture, and E. Miscellaneous.

Record details

Brown, Frank Chouteau, 1876-1947 (Architect)
Other People
Shakespeare, William
Other Organizations
Historic American Buildings Survey
Descriptive Terms
Tudor Revival
costumes (character dress)
country clubs
historic houses
plaques (flat objects)
sets (architectural elements)
Material Type
architectural drawings (visual works)
measured drawings
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Brookline (Norfolk county, Massachusetts)
New England (United States) [general region]
This collection is available for research.
Related Items
Historic American Buildings Survey architectural collection — This collection includes the measured drawings created by HABS.
Frank Chouteau Brown's Historic American Buildings Survey architectural collection — This collection contains notebooks, plans and sketches, clippings, correspondence, and historic structure reports that Frank Chouteau compiled as director of the Massachusetts district of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).
Architects - General - Trade Cards - Folder 3 — This file in the Ephemera collection (EP001) includes many of Frank Chouteau Brown's trade cards.
Abigail Cramer manuscript collection
Publications Referencing This Collection
Williams, Judy.
Language Note
This collection is entirely in English.
Preferred Citation
[Item identification]. Frank Chouteau Brown professional architectural collection (AR003). Historic New England Library & Archive.
Processing Information
Finding aid prepared by Historic New England Staff, 2009; updated by Jennifer Pustz, 2011; updated by Abigail Cramer, May, 2013.
Rules and Conventions
This finding aid is DACS compliant.

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