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Walter Horn papers, 1917-1989

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Biographical/Historical Note

Walter William Horn was born on January 18, 1908 and received his education in Germany, where he studied under Erwin Panofsky. In 1938, Horn joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley as a professor of architecture and art history. Horn specialized in medieval architecture and sculpture, and he devoted much of his career to the study of vernacular architecture. Horn served as Chair of the Department of History of Art from 1946 to 1974. Horn was also the Head of the U. S. Army Intelligence Unit, Monuments and Fine Arts Section after World War II (see Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution).

Horn was a frequent collaborator with the architect Ernest Born, with whom he published The Plan of St. Gall: a study of the architecture and economy of and life in a paradigmatic Carolingian monastery, 1979, and The barns of the Abbey of Beaulieu at its granges of Great Coxwell and Beaulieu-St. Leonards, 1965. The Plan of St. Gall received eight major awards for scholarship, bookmaking and typography. In 1982, Horn and Born received a medal from the American Institute of Architects in recognition of their achievements.

Other publications by Horn include On the Author of the Plan of St. Gall and the relation of the plan to the monastic reform movement, 1962, The plan of St. Gall: original or copy?, 1962, and The forgotten hermitage of Skelling Michael (with Jenny White Marshall, Grellan D. Rourke, Paddy O'Leary and Lee Snodgrass), 1990. Horn also collaborated on articles with the architect Frederick William Bolton (Fred) Charles.

In 1958, Horn presented a paper to the College Art Association titled “On the Origin of the Medieval Bay System.” This was a significant event in the study of medieval timber structures, and the paper was later published in a 1976 anthology.

Horn served as a member of the board of trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He died in San Francisco in 1995.

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