Avery Drawings & Archives Collections
 

Jac Lessman architectural records and papers, 1925-1975

Summary Information

At a Glance

Bib ID 6882189 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Lessman, Jac, 1904-1990
Title Jac Lessman architectural records and papers, 1925-1975
Physical Description 128 rolls; 18 folders (flat-file); 8 print boxes; 2 manuscript boxes
Language(s) English .
Additional Description http://www.columbia.edu/cu/libraries/inside/avery_assets/LESSMAN_INVENTORY.xls
Access

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email avery-drawings@library.columbia.edu.

Description

Summary

This collection includes a significant number of original and reprographic interior design and architectural drawings for interiors designed by Jac Lessman throughout the United States and the Caribbean. Records are primarily for hotel, restaurant, club, and resort commissions. Also included are office files and scrapbooks related to his projects and business practices. Noted projects include Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn and the Stardust Hotel and Casino, both in Las Vegas, Nev.; the Hotel Manhattan, the Hotel St. Moritz, and the Hotel St. Regis, all in Manhattan; the Barclay Hotel in Philadelphia; the Virgin Isle Hotel in St. Thomas; the Casino Internacional at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana; the Beverly Hills Country Club in Newport, Kentucky; the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, La.; and several projects for Henry J. Kaiser.

Using the Collection

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is available for use by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please email avery-drawings@library.columbia.edu.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Columbia University is providing access to the materials in the Library's collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of Columbia University is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. In addition to permission from Columbia University, permission of the copyright owner (if not Columbia University) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distributions, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. Columbia University makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Preferred Citation

Jac Lessman architectural records and papers. Located in the Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Processing Information

Drawings Processed LT, MN 1997.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Architecture -- Cuba -- Havana -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Architecture -- United States Virgin Islands -- Charlotte Amalie -- Designs and plans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Casinos -- Nevada -- Las Vegas Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Clark, Wilbur, 1908-1965 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cohn, Roy M. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dalitz, Morris Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Desert Inn Hotel and Casino Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Design -- United States -- History -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hotels -- Illinois -- Chicago Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hotels -- Louisiana -- New Orleans Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hotels -- Nevada -- Las Vegas Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hotels -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Interior decoration -- United States -- History -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Interior decorators -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kaiser, Henry J., 1882-1967 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Jac Lessman was born in 1904 in Chicago and studied at Crane Technical High School and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving training in architecture and engineering. He began working, while still in high school, for his father, who ran a small furnishings and interior decorations shop. In 1922, Lessman was hired as a designer in the interior design department of Albert Pick & Co. in Chicago, where he began specializing in interiors for hotels, theatres, clubs, and cabarets. In the late 1920s, Lessman moved to New York City to join the contract decorating department of L. Barth & Co. In December 1928, Lessman opened his own interior design firm, Jac Lessman & Co. (changed in 1930 to Lessman Interiors), taking commissions throughout the United States. Among his first independent projects in New York City were the Hotel Delmonico and the Hotel Governor Clinton. After World War II, Lessman became increasingly sought after for large casinos, resorts and hotels, designing the interiors of the famed Desert Inn and Stardust Hotel and Casino, both in Las Vegas, and the Casino Internacional at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana, among many other projects. He was also known in some circles as "The Nite Club Doctor" for his ability to turn around struggling venues with his redesigns. Although some of his commissions were from members of organized crime, Lessman was always careful to take a straight fee for his work, and not a percentage of profits, thus staying out of legal jeopardy. Lessman also maintained a close relationship with industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and designed residences for several Kaiser family members, as well as interiors for offices and healthcare facilities within the Kaiser Permanente system. Lessman was a long-time member of the American Institute of Interior Designers (A.I.D.) and his work was widely published in the popular press and in professional journals. As his business expanded, Lessman also established several related companies, including Hotel Concepts, Jac Lessman Design Corp., and Jac Lessman Co. He died in New York City in 1990.