H. Warren Billings

A Guide to the papers of H. Warren Billings, 1892–1979
Call Number Mss1 B4963 a


Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions
There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation
H. Warren Billings Papers, 1892–1979, (Mss1 B4963 a ), Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Va.

Gift of Warren M. Billings of New Orleans, Louisiana in 1989. Accessioned January 29, 2010.

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Virginia Historical Society.

Collection number: Mss1 B4963 a

Collection name: H. Warren Billings Papers, 1892–1979

Size: 586 items.

Language: English

Abstract: Chiefly materials, such as photographs, plans, renderings, and sketches, relating to Billings' career as a draftsman, decorator, designer, and mural painter in New York and Virginia. The collection also includes correspondence, accounts, educational materials, and other miscellaneous papers.

Scope and Content Information

The papers of Harold Warren Billings (1896–1988), primarily concern his career as a draftsman, interior decorator, designer, and mural painter, both in New York and Virginia. Included is his correspondence, accounts, educational material, project materials, and other papers which consists of miscellaneous clippings and publications.

The bulk of the collection is made up of materials related to Billings' professional projects. These materials contain examples of his work during various stages of his career. Items include architectural plans and renderings of ships and buildings, sketches of proposed interiors for commercial and residential projects, sketches and photographs of furniture, plans and sketches of mural works, and photographs of some of his completed works.


This collection is divided into five series: Series 1. Correspondence, 1914–1977 (arranged alphabetically by correspondent), Series 2. Accounts, 1946–1948 (arranged chronologically), Series 3. Educational materials, 1939–1952 (arranged chronologically), Series 4. Projects, 1916–1979 (arranged chronologically), and Series 5. Other materials, 1914–1968 (arranged by document type). Series 4 is divided into four subseries: Series 4.1. Professional Projects, n.d., 1915–1979, Series 4.2. Furniture Sketches n.d., 1930–1950, Series 4.3. Photographs, and Series 4.4. Ship plans and ship model societies, 1892–1977. All the subseries are arranged chronologically with the exception of Series 4.4, which is arranged alphabetically by the ship name, with the ship model societies appearing at the end.

Biographical/Historical Information

Harold Warren Billings (1896–1988) was an artist, a draftsman, interior decorator, and designer. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and was the son of Frederick Murray Billings (b. 1856) and Ethel Broadfield (Warren) Billings (b. 1862). Billings was educated in boardings schools in Deerfield and Waltham, Mass. Billings served an apprenticeship as a naval draftsman at the Fall River Shipyard in Fall River, Mass. In 1917, he worked for the Emergency Shipping Board in Washington, D.C. After the war he moved to New York and was employed by the naval design firm of Gibbs Brothers, naval architect Theodore Ferris, and Hoggson Brothers, an architectural firm known for its bank buildings. During this period Billings also trained at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League of New York. Billings operated his own design and interior decorating business from 1929 until 1941, when he relocated to Richmond, Va. He worked as a design consultant and muralist for the remainder of his career. During this period, Billings collaborated with landscape architect, Charles Gillette and with the American Furniture and Fixture Company. Over his career, Billings did a variety of work including naval architecture, furniture design, interior design for ocean liners, commercial buildings, and private residences, and murals for both private residences and commercials buildings. Most of his murals were for Virginia businesses, but he also accepted commissions in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. Billings retired in 1970, but continued to accept occasion mural commissions. He spent much of his retirement painting, making cabinets, and building models of historic ships. He was a member of the Richmond Ship Model Society, the Washington Ship Model Society, and a member of the Nautical Research Guild.

Index Terms

Billings, H. Warren (Harold Warren), 1896–1988.
Architects -- History -- 20th century.
Artists -- History -- 20th century.
Interior design -- History -- 20th century.
Mural painting and decoration -- History -- 20th century.
Naval architecture -- History -- 20th century.


Series 1. Correspondence, 1914–1977.

This series contains the correspondence of H. Warren Billings chiefly concerning professional matters including references from his employers, letters from corporate executives and others thanking Billings for his interior design work for their private residences, and letters discussing projects on which Billings was working. This series also includes several letters relating to Billings' hobby as a ship model builder, his membership in the Richmond Ship Model Society, and an exhibit at the Mariner Museum of ship models including the "Corsair," model by Billings. Also in this series are a few letters exchanged between Billings and family members. These include the unidentified letters he exchanged with cousins about the family and letters between Billings and his son, Warren M. Billings, regarding family matters and Billings' design and mural work.

Box 1
8Bakeman, Mollie L.
9Bassett, William (Otis Elevator Company)
10–12Billings, Warren M.
13Brandenburg, Kurt D. (The Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Va.)
14–16Burgess, Robert H. (The Mariners Museum)
17–19Burkman, Eric (United States Rubber Company)
20–21Close, Alan M. (Hoggson Brother, Inc.)
22–23Coe, Theodore I. (Carrere and Hastings, New York, NY)
24–25Craven, J. C. (Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company)
26Crook, Wilbur F. (Chemical Bank & Trust Company, New York, NY)
27–28Davis, F. B., Jr. (United States Rubber Company, New York, NY)
29Doane, Bob
30–35Ferris, Theodore E. (Naval Architect & Marine Engineer)
36Gibbs, William Francis (Gibbs Brothers, Inc. New York, NY)
37Heisler, Charles B. (The University of the State of New York)
38Heyman, Oscar (O.H. Trading Company, New York, NY)
39Hofstatler, Earl S. (Hemphill, Noyes & Co., New York, NY)
40Holland, Edwin T. (First Virginia Bankshare Corporation)
41–42Kirchhoff, Fred
43Koether, B. G. (General Motors Company)
44–47Leavitt, Dundas
48–57Lochhead, John L.(The Mariners Museum, Newport News, Va.)
58Magann, R. D. (American Furniture & Fixture Company, Inc., Richmond, Va.)
59Montgomery, W. (Acacia Mutual Life Association, Washington, D.C.)
60–62Morgan, Henry S.
63–64Morse, Harold S. (Scovell Wellington & Company, New York, NY)
65Smoot, Alden (General Motors Company)
66–68Walker, A Stewart (Walker and Gillette, Architects, New York, NY)
69Walsh, Thomas Fleming (Bedford Park Lawn Tennis Club, New York)
70Watson, E. W.
71White, A. R (The Methodist Publishing House)
72Woollcott, James W. (The Bank of Ashville, Asheville, NC)

Series 2. Accounts, 1946–1948.

This series contains two accounts books for H. Warren Billings. These books include lists of materials purchased for house and landscape projects; a record of labor for landscaping; balance of landscape costs; income, fees, and earnings for the 1946–1948 tax years.

Box 1 (cont.)
73Account Book, 1946–1947
74Account Book 1946–1948

Series 3. Educational materials, 1939–1952.

This series contains materials relating to Billings' education as an architectural engineer including the Virginia Junior Examination for Architects, an engineering notebook, and architecture notes made in preparation for his exams.

Box 1 (cont.)
75–78n.d., Junior Examination for Architects
791939, Engineering notebook
801942, 1953 Architecture notes, unbound

Series 4. Projects, 1915–1979.

This series contains materials relating to Billings' work as an artist, naval architect, interior designer, mural painter, and model ship builder. The series is divided into four subseries: professional projects, furniture sketches, photographs, and model ships and model ship societies. Items are arranged chronologically beginning with undated items, except for series 4.4 which is arranged alphabetically by ship name with the model ship societies appearing at the end.

Box 2
81–93n.d., 1927–1967, project lists and notes
94n.d., "The Challet" at Lake George, NY for Isabel Danforth, plans
95n.d., Garden landscape at unidentified residence, plans
96n.d., "Willow Oaks," Richmond, Va., project by Charles Gillette, landscape architect, landscape plans
97n.d., "Proposed New Campus Plan," Randolph–Macon College, project by Charles F. Gillette Landscape Architect, J. Binford Walford, Architect, plans
98–100n.d., Old Dominion Bank, Arlington, Va., mural, pamphlet and information on mural; oversize panel of the mural, watercolor sketch
101–102n.d., Carriages, various sketches
103n.d. The Bank of Floyd, Floyd, Va., interior, project by American Furniture & Fixture Co., sketch
104n.d., Bonomo Residence, Glen Ridge, N.J. mural panel 2, "Morning Over Bow Lake," chalk sketch
105n.d., Brickfords, Inc. mural, pencil sketch
106n.d., Matthias Hammond Residence, Annapolis, Md., mural depicting historic homes, pencil and watercolor sketch
107n.d., Lafayette-Lawrason-Cazenove House, mural depicting George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson at Christ Church, pencil and watercolor sketch
108n.d., Exterior of Lloyd's Neck, pencil sketch
109–113n.d., Historic home exteriors, pencil and watercolor sketches
114–118n.d., Home interiors, pencil and watercolor sketches
119n.d., Unidentified mural depicting a street scene with people, horse drawn carriages and 1914 Ford Model T cars, sketch, to scale (see o.s. roll)
120n.d. Unidentified residence, mural on four panels, pencil and watercolor sketch, depicting "Auburn," Natchez, Miss; "Carter Hall," Millwood, Va.; "Evergreen," Donaldsville, La.; "Hampton Plantation," McClellansville, S.C.; "The Hermitage," Nashville, Tn.; "Shadows on the Teche," New Iberia, La; and "Tyron Palace," New Burn, N.C. (see o.s. flat file)
121–1271915–1943, Landscapes in chalk and watercolors (see o.s. box 7 for item 127 [a–c])
128–1311915–1916, Dutch Colonial, plans
132–1331917, United States Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corp, molded lines of wooden steamships, plans
1341918, United States Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corp, rudder construction, fastenings and details, plans
1351924, Old Dominion S.S. Co., Lounge and Music Room, photograph of sketch
1361924, Window seat, pencil sketch
1371924, Sitting room, pencil sketch
1381924, Child's room, watercolor sketch
139–1401925, Avery Library, Columbia University, interior, chalk sketches
141–1461925, S.S. Malolo, plans for lighting fixtures for suite verandahs, swimming pool and children's room; sketch of hull being built; sketch of Main Dining Saloon
147–1481926, C.A. Thompson house, Cleveland, Ohio, interior and exterior sketches
1491926, Prize of the Month Sketch for Pencil Points Magazine, front entrance of a house, pencil sketch
1501926, Sitting room, chalk sketch
151–1561926–1927, Acacia Mutual Life Associates, Washington, D.C., interior and exterior sketches (see o.s. box 7 for all items)
1571927, Foyer, pencil sketch
158–1641928, First National Bank, Amherst Mass., plans
1651928, DuPont Viscolid Company, Inc., private office and board room, pencil sketches
166–1681929–1930, United States Lines, Inc. plans and sketches of new ocean liners
169–1731930–1931, Danforth Apartment, N.Y., plans for interior designs
1741930, William Montgomery residence, Washington, D.C. library and garage, pencil and watercolor sketches
1751930, Proposed library with built in bookcases and paneled in antique gumwood with hand carved detail, pencil sketch
Box 3
1761932, Dining Room, watercolor sketch
1771932, Mural of a mounted hunter and dogs, watercolor sketch
1781932, Library, watercolor sketch
179–1841933, S.S. Empire State, photograph and plans
185–1921933, S.S. Ambassador, interior plans
1931933, Iron Steamboat Co., sketch of steamboat interior
194–2031933, S.S. Yankee, blueprints and sketches
2041933, S.S. New York and S.S. Boston, Main Dining Saloon, pencil and watercolor sketch (see o.s. box for item)
2051936, Wilbur F. Crook residence, dining room mural, pencil and watercolor sketch
2061936, Residence "Type D," pencil sketch
2071936, Summer Gift Studio in Ridgefield, Conn., road sign, sketch
2081937, Dining room with mural, pencil sketch (see o.s. box for item)
2091939, Bungalow, plans
2101940, Court Walls B Garden Vistas, Ritz Carlton Hotel, New York, N.Y., mural, pencil and chalk sketch
211–2271941, Chemical Bank and Trust, New York, N.Y., industrial murals, 9 small charcoal sketches, 1 sketch, "Heavy Industry,"on board, (see o.s. box 7 for item 220) and 7 sketches on canvases, (see o.s. flat file for items 221–227)
2281942, The Governor's Palace, Williamsburg, Va., chalk sketch
2291944, M. K. Blount Residence, Greenville, N.C., plans for the entrance gate, garden gate, brick wall, walks, and steps
2301944,"Elk Hill" near Richmond, Va., Buford Scott Estate, project by Charles Gillette, Landscape Architect, exterior sketch
2311945, Newport News Clinic Building, project by Baskerville & Son, plans
Box 4
2321949, Train and truck sketch in pencil and chalk, (see o.s. box 7 for item)
2331952, Bank of Virginia, 4th & Grace Streets, Richmond, Va., mural subject study sketch (see o.s. box 7 for item)
234–2631952–1963, First and Merchant National Bank, Richmond, Va., 8th and Broad Street location, pamphlets about the mural; 9th and Main Street location, photographs and sketches of the front lobby and second floor, index and sketches of murals depicting presidents, presidential homes, and historic Virginia homes (all items in o.s. box 8)
264954, Citizens National Bank, Martinsburg, W.V. project by American Furniture & Fixture Co., Inc., Lobby sketch (see o.s. box 9 for item)
265–2731954, 1956, T. Armistead Heindl residence, 300 Banbury Road, Windsor Farm, Richmond, Va., plans
274–2771954, 1960, Petersburg Savings and American Trust Company, clippings, notes, photograph, and pamphlet about the mural
278–2931955–1956 and 1959, H. Warren Billings residence on Beechmont Road, Richmond, Va., plans, interior and exterior including a detailed sketch for a cupboard, and an interior sketch of floor plan on a board (see o.s. box 9 for item 293)
294–3011959, Bank of Raleigh, Beckley, W.V., photographs and a six panel watercolor sketch of mural (see o.s. box 9 for all items)
302–3061959–1960, 1979, Citizens Bank & Trust, Riverdale, Md., information, pamphlet, and sketches of mural "Early Prince Georges County," including a watercolor sketch on canvas and sketch of proposed mural on board (see o.s. box 9 for item 306, proposed mural on board)
3071961, American Furniture & Fixture Co., Inc., Mr. Marsh's office, watercolor sketch on board (see o.s. box 9 for item)
308–3151965–1968, First National Bank of Martinsville & Henry County, Va. clippings, pamphlets and photographs of mural
316–3281967–1969, Irving M. Groves, Jr. residence, Martinsville, Va., plans
3291968, Mr. & Mrs. Dundas Leavitt residence, Bailey's Neck, Easton, Md., plans
330–3581968, Robert Magann residence, Edengrove," Hanover County, Va., plans (See o.s. roll)
359–3651969, "Rose Hill," Greenwood, Va., pencil sketch of mural in dining room and information and plans for the mural
366–3671970, The Citizens Bank, Inc., South Hill, Va., pamphlets with pictures and information on mural depicting the South Hill Tobacco Market circa 1906
368–403Miscellaneous plans and sketches

Series 4.2. Furniture Sketches, n.d., 1930–1950.

Box 5
404n.d., American Easy Chair in the Chippendale Style, about 1725–1750, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, plan
405–409n.d., Hoggson Brothers, Inc, N.Y., furniture sketches
410–411n.d., W & J Sloane, New York, furniture sketches
412[1930?] United States Lines, Inc., Catalog of furniture sketches for proposed 1,000 foot passenger ship
4131931, Bound Portfolio of Furniture Illustrations and Fireplace Equipment for the Residence of William Montgomery, Washington, D.C.
4141950, Cabinet, plans
415–417Miscellaneous furniture sketches

Series 4.3. Photographs.

Box 5 (cont.)
418–424n.d., Commercial projects
425–437n.d., Home interiors
438–457n.d., 1926–1950, photographs of sketches for various projects
458–4621931, Model trail layout, photographs
463–4671932, Unidentified residence, interior photographs
468–4731932, Dr. I. F. Harris residence, photographs of Sport Room, including sketch of the north wall with mural and fireplace
474–4791933, The Rainbow Fleet, owned by Union Navigation Company, Inc., N.Y., photographs and program

Series 4.4. Ship plans and ship model societies, 1892–1977.

Box 6
480Aloha, clipper ship, sketch
481–491Corsair IV, yacht, plans, sketches, and notes
492–503Flying Cloud, yacht, plans
504–506J.T. Morse, steamer, plans
507–509Lightening, clipper ship, plans
510–512Nahlin, yacht, plans
513–519Miscellaneous plans and sketches of historic ships
520–543Reproduction of watercolor prints depicting U.S. Navy ships, 1892–1893, by Frederick S.Cozzens
544–551Richmond Ship Model Society, clippings
552–559Richmond Ship Model Society, materials
560–561Washington Ship Model Society, certificates

Series 5. Other materials, 1914–1968.

Box 6 (cont.)
562–574Miscellaneous clippings
575–579Printed materials, miscellaneous invitations and programs
580–585Printed materials, miscellaneous booklets and magazines
586Printed materials, book, Pegasus im Joche

Processed by: Margaret Turman Kidd
c 2010 By Virginia Historical Society. All rights reserved