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The Architectural Archive located at Warnecke Ranch in Sonoma County CA, contains significant, primary source materials by and about noted California architects, Carl I. Warnecke and his son, John Carl Warnecke. Architectural plans, drawings, sketches, photographs, personal papers, journals, project files, and correspondence make up one of the most extensive, remaining architectural archives still in one family and represents more than one hundred years (1911-2012) of architectural source materials. 


Carl I. Warnecke Archive (1891-1971)

The archive contains early Beaux-Arts drawings and documents about CIW's architectural training in San Francisco (1908-13) and Paris (1914). Evidence of the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, the early Modern Movement (Art Deco), and Mid-Century Modernism of the 1950s, are reflected in project files and drawings for hundreds of clients and building types; including the Department of Defense housing during World War II, mortuaries during the depression, as well as schools, universities, airports, chapels, and many residential estates. Also included are personal papers, photographs (Moulin Studios), slides, travel notes, and individual project files with beautiful full-scale, hand-drawn project details. 


John Carl Warnecke Archive (1919-2010)

The archive contains irreplaceable and comprehensive materials from JCW and his architectural firm, John Carl Warnecke & Associates. Notable projects include Mid-Century Modern masterworks like the Hawaii State Capital, Asilomar Conference Grounds, the American Hospital in Paris, and the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame. The archive's extensive research files and photography provide visual and written documentation of the Warnecke firm’s commissions that preserve hand drawn notes with members of staff and supplement the only extant personal papers. The collection includes the work of 48 different architectural photographers, the photography archive of Eleanor LeMaire’s firm, and original Ezra Stoller photographs of LeMaire's work. 

John Carl Warnecke, A Pioneer of Contextual Design 

John Carl Warnecke, a pioneer of contextual design in American Architecture, was born February 24, 1919, in Oakland, California, the son of Carl I. Warnecke and Margaret Esterling Warnecke. JCW graduated cum laude from Stanford University in 1941, where he played left tackle on the famed Rose Bowl "Wow Boys" team of 1940. He earned a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University, School of Architecture, in 1942.

He first gained national prominence in 1951 for his contemporary design of new schools and colleges in the western USA. Mr. Warnecke was awarded the Arnold Brunner Prize for excellence in Architecture by the National Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1957. He became internationally known in the mid-1950s when he was chosen by the State Department to design a new embassy in Thailand. 

In 1962, at the personal request of President John F. Kennedy, Warnecke was asked to design the restoration of historic Lafayette Square across from the White House. The following year he was appointed to a four-year term on the Federal Fine Arts Commission, introducing the concept of contextual design into federal architecture. In the fall of 1963, he accompanied the President on his last visit to the Boston area to review potential sites and plans for what would later become Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Following the death of President Kennedy, Mr. Warnecke was commissioned by the Kennedy family to design the President's memorial grave in Arlington National Cemetery. 

Other notable JCW projects include the Hart Senate Office building in the U.S. capitol, the master plan, library and science buildings at U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C, and the San Francisco and Logan Airports. He also contributed design input to the campuses of Stanford, UCLA, U.C. Berkeley, and Georgetown. His firm, John Carl Warnecke and Associates, had offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Hawaii received more than 100 awards for design excellence. Warnecke was an Associate of the National Academy of Design, and a Fellow in both the American Institute of Architects and the Design Futures Council.

In his retirement, JCW divided his time between San Francisco, where he maintained his office, and the Warnecke Ranch and vineyard. At the ranch, JCW enjoyed entertaining family and friends, supervising the growing of premium grapes that were sold to local wineries while, and at the same time, writing his life memoirs. 


The Warnecke Archives located in a beautiful setting of rolling hills amidst a working vineyard on the edge of the Russian River has been in the family for more than 100 years. The property was originally acquired by JCW’s mother’s family, and later augmented and developed by Warnecke, who based his architectural practice around the ranch in order to be with his family and entertain world-class clients and friends. 

For more information, or to schedule a free introductory tour, visit the archives website or email us.

John Carl Warnecke: His Fascinating Life and Architectural Career

Speaker: Paul V. Turner, Wattis Professor of Art, Emeritus

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