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L. Morgan Yost

Dates of Interview:

May 13-15, 1985

Location of Interview:

Yost's home in Cherokee Village, Arkansas


Betty J. Blum

Length of Transcript:

128 pages
View Online

Photograph courtesy of Betty J. Blum.

Biographical Summary

L. Morgan Yost was born in 1908 in St. Mary's, Ohio. He studied at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, between 1925 and 1929, before tranferring to Ohio State University, where he received his bachelor's degree in architecture in 1931. After two years of work in various Chicago architectural firms, Yost opened his own office in Kenilworth, Illinois, in 1934. His practice focused on residential as well as industrial and commercial buildings. During World War II, Yost taught at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and also served as architectural editor of Small Homes Guide and consulting editor of Household Magazine, publications that produced and sold Yost's plans for small homes. In 1952, Yost and D. Coder Taylor formed the architectural partnership Yost & Taylor, specializing in residential commissions. Yost had a special interest in the work of architect David Adler and also did pioneering research on the work of architects Greene and Greene of Pasadena, California. He helped save H. H. Richardson's famed Glessner House in Chicago and establish the Chicago Architectural Foundation for which he served as executive director (1967-70) and trustee. Yost was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1952. He died in Salem, Arkansas, in 1992.

Interview Highlights

Yost speaks about his architectural education; designing furniture; the Foundation for Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Lake Forest College; Historic American Buildings Survey; residential commissions; Frank Lloyd Wright's influence; features of the post-war house; the zoned house; magazine house plans; financing; modernizing interiors; prefabrication; suburban growth; Greene and Greene; the Chicago Architectural Sketch Club; the American Institute of Architects; partnership with D. Coder Taylor; military housing.

Rendered elevation of a Post-War house project, c.1946.
Department of Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Deno house; Highland Park, Illinois, 1944-1947.
Photograph by Nowell Ward & Associates, Ryerson & Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Interview Excerpt

"The thing that really did make a large turn in my life, architecturally and otherwise, was exposure to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. At that time, I believe, it was the January issue of 1938 of Architectural Forum which was devoted to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. I began to study Wright. My brother got a hold of a set of the large portfolios of Wright's work for me...I studied those and poured over them and began to realize what Wright was all about, why he was doing what he did, and the beautiful arrangement of materials and solids and voids that only Wright could do. That set me off in a different direction, I think. I never felt that I was a disciple of Wright, he merely opened up my thinking. I don't think you would find many buildings that I have done which look like Wright's work. I'm sure you can find evidence of Wright's influence in almost all of it. My purpose wasn't to be a little Frank Lloyd Wright, that was not it at all. I just wanted to be a bigger L. Morgan Yost." (pp. 36-37)

Additional Resources

Finding Aid to Yost and Taylor Collection, 1928-1990
L. Morgan Yost images in the R&B Archives
Related archival materials in the R&B Archives
Works by Yost in the Department of Architecture and Design

Funding for this oral history was provided by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Netsch.
Funding for the electronic presentation of this transcript was provided by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council.