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Archimedes Russell Collection

An inventory of his collection at the Syracuse University Archives

Finding aid created by: Lafiya Watson
Date: 2001


Archimedes Russell

Archimedes Russell was born in Andover, Massachusetts on 13 June 1840. He was apprenticed to Charles Parker, a carriage and sign painter, at the age of 13 and proceeded to join his father in the builders' trade. He worked for two years with John Stevens, a prominent Boston architect, and, in 1862, came to Syracuse to enter the office of the city's leading architect, Horatio Nelson White, who designed the Hall of Languages at Syracuse University. In spite of the lull in building due to the Civil War Russell must have prospered, for he left White within six years to go into business for himself.

Russell worked in an age of mounting variety in architectural designs that ranged from copies of previous styles to forward-looking innovations in form, material and technology. It is the ruddy sandstone and brick buildings of Russell's middle period that really identify his work. At this time he made the most of new techniques and materials, among them the cast ornamental panels of terra cotta and iron that most of all became his trademark. In his final period, from around 1900 on, he moved towards the great domes, columns and large stair cases of buildings like Central High School and the Onondaga County Court House.

During the more than forty years that he was identified with upstate New York area building interests, Russell designed many Onondaga County and Syracuse City buildings, as well as innumerable business blocks, public buildings, churches, and private residences. He designed Crouse College and the Tolley Administration Building for Syracuse University. He was responsible, too, for many of the more important edifices in other upstate communities and for buildings in other states. In total he designed more than 850 buildings in the Syracuse area and is credited with having been responsible for more buildings in the city than any other architect.

Russell's most spectacular feat was the John Crouse Memorial College, Syracuse University, which achieved its landmark status in 1974 when it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The high point of Russell's career was his appointment by Governor Levi Morton, in 1895, as adviser to the Capitol Commission during the construction of the State Capitol in Albany. Russell served as a Professor of Architecture at Syracuse University from 1873 to 1881 and was on the library committee.

In 1906, three years before he retired, Russell took as his partner Melvin L. King and formed Russell & King architects. Russell died on 3 April 1915.

Scope and Content Note

The Russell Collection spans the years 1880-1980 and primarily comprises architectural drawings of buildings in and around Syracuse designed by Archimedes Russell himself as well as by Russell & King Architects. Also included are specifications for projects as well as account and notebooks of Archimedes Russell and Melvin L. King and articles written about Russell.

The collection is arranged into three series:

The Architectural Drawings are of a wide variety of buildings such as the churches of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Matthew, Onondaga County Hospital, and Crouse Stables. There are also plans for several County buildings in Syracuse and the wider Onondaga County. Around half of the drawings are by Russell himself and the other half are by Russell & King Architects. A small number of drawings have unidentified authorship.

The Subject Files reflect the work behind the creation of the architectural drawings such as notebooks, building specifications and planning documents featuring designs by Russell alone and by Russell & King Architects jointly.

The Writings concerning Archimedes Russell date to the 1970s and 1980 and include theses focused on Russell and his architectural creations in the city of Syracuse.


Access Restrictions:

There are no restrictions for accessing this material.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Biographical information and examples of Russell's work can be found in the Evamaria Hardin Papers, and related materials can be found in the Harley McKee Papers. The Archives also holds Portrait and Clipping files for Russell.

Selected Search Terms


Hardin, Evamaria.
King, Melvin L., 1868-1946.
Russell, Archimedes, 1840-1915.
Russell & King.
Syracuse University -- Buildngs.
Syracuse University.


Architectural firms.
Syracuse (N.Y.) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
Syracuse (N.Y.) -- History.
College teachers.
Higher education.

Types of Material

Account books.
Architectural drawings (visual works)
Drawings (visual works)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Archimedes Russell Collection,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

The bulk of the collection, 356 drawings and 15 account books, was donated to the Archives through the efforts of Eleanor Johnson, a Syracuse University student, by King & King Architects in 1978, a successor firm of Archimedes Russell's original company founded in 1868. An addition was made by Mark Domick in 1986 with 12 architectural drawings and a complete set of specifications for the Pysniak Dwelling and Cafe, 1907, designed by Russell & King. In 1994, photographs of Archimedes Russell and of the Snow Building, Syracuse, as well as a 1981 volume of The Architectural Era were donated to the Archives by an unknown benefactor.

Processing Information

The drawings, specifications, account books and notebooks have been placed in acid free folders. Information has been pulled from the writings of Benson (1979) and Hardin (1980), found in the Writings Series, for the description of the architectural drawings.


The drawings are split into Archimedes Russell's work and Archimedes Russell and Melvin L. King's work and then arranged alphabetically. Similarly, specifications, account and notebooks are split between the companies and, together with the other subject files, are arranged alphabetically. The writings are a separate series and are arranged in alphabetical order by the author.

Table of Contents

Architectural Drawings

Subject Files