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Elarth, Herschel Anderson, 1907-1988



  • Existence: 1907 - 1988

Biographical Note

Herschel Gustave Anderson Elarth, son of Gustave and Amanda Anderson Elarth, was born in Omaha, Nebraska on October 15, 1907. Elarth attended the University of Illinois, earning a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1929. That same year, he submitted an entry for the Prix de Rome in architecture and was awarded first alternate. While attending college, Elarth also apprenticed with Omaha architect Thomas R. Kimball. Continuing his studies at the University of Illinois, Elarth earned a master of science in architecture in 1930, and in 1931, he took second place in the Society of Beaux Arts Architects' Paris Prize.

From 1931 to 1936, Elarth worked as an architectural designer in the Omaha firm of John and Alan MacDonald, playing a significant role in the final design of the Joslyn Art Museum. Moving to Los Angeles in 1937, Elarth worked for a year as a draftsman in the office of architect Richard J. Neutra. In January, 1938, Elarth took a position as professor of architecture at the University of Oklahoma. He married Wilhelmina van Ingen (1905-1969) in Norman, Oklahoma on April 2, 1942.

Elarth joined the U. S. Army in November, 1942. A first lieutenant, he served with the 826th Engineer Aviation Battalion, supervising the construction and maintenance of airfields. Following his honorable discharge in March, 1946, he took special studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

During the summer of 1947, Elarth worked for two months as an architect for the Los Angeles City Planning Commission before being hired as an associate professor of architecture at the University of Manitoba. While there, he served as a consultant to the Winnipeg Town Planning Commission and designed the university's bus terminal and bookstore. He also designed the Fort Garry home in which the Elarths would live while in Manitoba.

In 1954, Elarth was hired as a professor of architecture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In addition to teaching and advising students, Elarth served as a member of the University Council, the VPI Self-Study and University Library Committee, the Judicial Committee, and the Wine Awards Committee. He also provided design consultation on what would eventually become Cowgill Hall. Early in his career at Virginia Tech, Elarth entered into a partnership with fellow architectural professor Charles S. Worley Jr., and among the projects they designed were the Montgomery County Public Health Center in Christiansburg and the Elarth residence in Blacksburg. Throughout the 1970s, Elarth was active in several architectural organizations, and was particularly involved in the environmental efforts of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). His contributions to architecture were recognized when he was elected a Fellow in the AIA in 1978.

Elarth married Eva Robert Frook (1917-1984) in Blacksburg, Virginia, in 1971, and he retired from the university in 1977. He continued, however, to be active as professor emeritus and in several architectural organizations. In 1984, Elarth sold his Blacksburg home and moved to Warm Hearth Village retirement community, where he also served on the board of directors. Herschel Elarth died in 1988.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Herschel Gustave Anderson Elarth Papers

Identifier: Ms-1984-182

The papers of Herschel G. A. Elarth, Virginia Tech professor of architecture, includes correspondence, subject files, class materials, photographs, printed materials, artwork, scrapbooks, and ephemera chronicling Elarth's personal life, teaching and military careers, private practice, and participation in various architectural organizations.

Dates: 1885 - 1988

Herschel A. Elarth-Charles S. Worley, Jr. Architectural Firm Drawings

Identifier: Ms-2019-036

The Herschel A. Elarth-Charles S. Worley, Jr. Architectural Firm Drawings contains architectural drawings from five projects designed by the partners between 1955 and 1961 (plus one undated alteration). These include three private residences in Blacksburg, Virginia, and two businesses in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Dates: 1955-1961, undated

Smithfield Plantation House Architectural Drawings,

Identifier: Ms-2011-053
Abstract Smithfield Plantation is the historic home of the Preston family, one of the founding families of Blacksburg and Montgomery County, Virginia. In November 1958 the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) authorized the organization of the Montgomery County branch for the specific purpose of acquiring and restoring Smithfield Plantation. Restoration of the building was begun in 1962 when the APVA's Montgomery County Branch raised the funds for renovation and...
Dates: n.d.