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Identifier: WH1238


The Victor Hornbein collection dates from 1932, with student work at the Atelier Denver. He professional work began with the Historic Buildings Survey (1934) in New Mexico and continues through the completion of projects in 1994. The collection contains architectural project drawings, project documents, project photographs, business papers and publications. Hornbein established his practice in 1940 and worked on projects until shortly before his death in 1995.

Hornbein designed eighty public and private buildings. He was one of Denver's first modern architects who was devoted to the use of natural materials in buildings and believed in the blending of buildings and the environment. Hornbein worked on a broad range of projects that include commercial, educational, residential, multi-family, religious, office buildings and municipal facilities. He took pleasure from designing furniture, cabinetry, and landscapes for projects. A few of his notable projects include the Denver Botanic Gardens, Ross Broadway Branch Library, Porter Library at the Colorado Women's College (in 2009 the Denver home of Johnson & Wales University) and the Gates Science Building at Graland Country Day School.

The collection reflects the alphabetical order organization developed by the office. Therefore, the archival integrity of the collection has been maintained. The architectural drawings were donated in boxes and tubes labeled with the project names. In each project tube, the drawings were arranged in chronological order starting with the preliminary drawings and concluding with the working or construction drawings. Unfortunately due to a fire in the early 1950s and water damage later in his office some of the drawings, photographic materials and documents were damaged or destroyed. The plans have been transferred from their original tubes to flat storage files for better preservation and easier access.

The project documents are organized by the same method as the drawings - in alphabetical order. The documents in file folders correspond to the original order in which they were received. Some projects do not have documents, drawings and photographs.

Dates reflect the last date on drawings including any revisions.


The architectural drawings date from 1932-1994 and are in alphabetical order according to project title. Numerous projects are missing or were destroyed by fire or water and some have gaps in the series of drawings. The projects range from one to several folders. Individual project lists include date, size, material, scale, title of every drawing and address (if available). The finding aid is arranged within each project folder chronologically. Those drawings without dates are found at the end, except when drawings are part of a numbered set, in which case they are kept in sequential order.


The documents date from 1934-1994 and are arranged in alphabetical order by project according to project title. The project documents correlate with the drawings, but many of the documents were destroyed or damaged by water. The project documentation begins early in the 1940’s and dates through the 1980s. Documents from the projects include: correspondence, reports, financial statements, sketches, newspaper clippings, brochures, specifications, proposals and notes.


This series documents the papers from the general business files and Hornbein’s office files. The series is organized in alphabetical order according to subject and includes correspondence, magazines, promotional literature, and proposals.


The series includes certificates, and licenses. The material is arranged chronologically.


The photographs date from 1939-1987 and are arranged alphabetically by project title. Material includes black and white and color slides, photographs, negatives and transparencies. The photographic materials document the projects during construction and exterior and interior shots of the finished buildings. It also includes images of project models, illustrations, and Hornbein and his staff. Some photographic materials have water damage.

SERIES 6 MICROFILM 1969-1984 MFLM161 RL1-5

The microfilm reels contain copies of bids, specification and plans for the following projects: Denver Botanical Gardens (1969); Denver Botanical Gardens - Bromeliad House (1979); Summit County Library (1976); Wellshire Presbyterian Church (1978, 1984).


  • 1932-1994

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Floor plans for privately owned buildings cannot be copied without written permission from the owners.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical / Historical

Victor (Vic) Hornbein (1913-1995) was born in Denver, Colorado. He graduated from East High School in 1930 and from Atelier Denver, Beaux Arts Institute of Design in 1934. Hornbein's interest in architecture started at an early age and by 1929, he held his first job in an architect's office. He began working part time that summer for M.S. Fallis and Son Architects who were working on the Mayan Theater. When funds ran out, he worked for four months for G. Charles Jaka who was working on the “Cruise Room” in the Oxford Hotel. Funds ran out in that office too and Hornbein started working for G. Meredith Musick who was the architect for the Republic Building where his office was located. Hornbein worked there for two years along with Stanley Morse.

During this time, he was attending the Atelier Denver, a member of the Beaux-Art Institute of Design in New York City. The classes were taught in the basement of Chappell house, owned and operated by the Denver Art Museum. When the work ended with G. Charles Jaka in 1933, Hornbein took short-term jobs with the Bird Roofing Company and the WPA (Works Progress Administration).

Late in January 1934, the Historic American Building Survey began in New Mexico. Hornbein went to New Mexico and joined the project, documenting buildings including the Kiva at Nambe Pueblo and El Santuario del Senor Esquipula. In 1935, Hornbein was hired to work on a project through the National Recovery Act. The project, developed through the Public Buildings Act, included the architects Walter DeMordount, Burnham Hoyt, W.E. and A.A. Fisher, G. Meridith Musick, Frewen and Morris and W. Gordon Jamison. The partnership was named The Associated Architects for the State Hospital in Pueblo. They worked in the old Cooper building at 17th and Curtis. Victor worked in the office with Dudley Smith, Karl Kloverstrom, and Bill Cabot.

This project was completed in January 1936. Immediately afterwards Hornbein went to work for Jamieson and Stiffler who operated the Small House Service Bureau, an AIA (American Institute of Architects) project to provide construction drawings of small houses designed by architects. While working for them, he was approached by Frank Frewen to work for Frewen and Morris. Here he worked on the Boulder High School and J.C. Penney building on 16th and Champa in Denver. In this firm, Hornbein had more responsibility with assignments in design work and the entire production of construction drawings. One design project was the bronze hoistway doors at the State Capitol Building. He designed eight panels per door with stylized symbols of Colorado history and industry.

At this time Hornbein wanted to work at Taliesin West with Frank Lloyd Wright but because of the high annual fee he instead went to California and worked for Paul Frankel, a furniture and interior designer. While working at his office, Hornbein received a telegram from Tom Moore asking Hornbein to return to Denver and work for him. At Tom Moore’s office Hornbein had his first commission with the Touff Residence. In 1940, Hornbein passed the architects' exam and became licensed in Colorado. The next project was the Holden residence. During the summer of 1940 with the Holden residence in construction, he worked for Burnham Hoyt on the Las Casitas Housing Project. Then for Gordon White on the Montclair Elementary school and after that project he spent a couple of months working for Mark Musick on the Arena Building.

In 1941, the Chicago firm of Schmidt, Garden, Erikson was retained for the Remington Arms Company project financed by the War Department. Hornbein worked on the project, which was known as Denver Ordnance, with Jared Morse. The ammunition production facility eventually became the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, Colorado. Afterwards the Public Buildings Administration hired him to design an addition for a school. After the project, in 1942, Hornbein headed back to New Mexico where he spent nine months working for the Corps of Engineers. Projects included administration buildings, post exchanges, army barracks, base hospitals and a warehouse.

Hornbein returned to Denver and was inducted into the army. While in the army, he was assigned to the Engineer Section, 20th Air Force to design, draw and supervise the operational and housing sites and buildings in the Mariannas Islands and Okinawa. Design projects included airfield runways. He spent three years in the army and in 1946, Hornbein resumed his practice with the opening of an office in the Tabor Building. He ran the office Victor Hornbein, Architect until 1960 when he joined forces with Edward D. White Jr. The office of Hornbein and White operated from 1960 until 1975. The partnership dissolved and he formed Victor Hornbein and Associates from 1975 to 1980. In 1980, Hornbein formed a partnership with John James. In 1981, the firm changed back to individual ownership as Victor Hornbein, Architect.

Hornbein held licenses in Colorado, Kansas and Texas. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects and was elected a Fellow in 1968. Hornbein served on several boards and committees, the Public Advisory Panel on Architectural Services, General Services Administration from 1966-1968, Denver Planning Board from 1965-1968, Colorado Council on Arts and Humanities in 1966 and the Design Review Board at the University of Colorado from 1969-1973. Hornbein was elected to office on several boards. He served as First Vice President in 1970 and President in 1971 for the Colorado Chapter of the AIA. At the Wright-Ingram Institute he was a member of the Board of Advisors in 1972, the Board of Trustees in 1974 and was Chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1975. Hornbein received the Western Mountain Region AIA Silver Medal in 1981.

Many of the projects Hornbein designed were published in magazines and books. Several of these publications include Architectural Forum, Architectural Record, Progressive Architecture and Better Homes and Gardens. Hornbein wrote articles for magazines and an essay on Frank Lloyd Wright for publication. He was a visiting lecturer at the University of Colorado, School of Architecture in 1957-59, 1968, and 1975.


15 Boxes

6 Microfilm Reels

3 PhotoBoxes

1 Photo OVBox

3 Photo OVFolios

1 tube

1 OVBox

185 OVFF

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Victor Hornbein, February 1985; Gift Martha Montemayor, January 2003.


Memories of an architect (1990) by Victor Hornbein C720 H783zhor

Edward D. White, Jr. Architectural Records WH1753


Additional architectural plans were transferred from the Ed White Architectural Recordscollection, WH1753 in September 2011.

This project was partially funded by a State Historical Fund grant award from History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society.


Catalog record based on preliminary inventory.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States