In 1986, Vada Bennett Dow, honoring the significance of her husband’s work, established the Alden B. Dow Archives to preserve and document Mr. Dow’s architectural career and to make those records available for public research. In 2000, the collection became nationally recognized by Heritage Preservation and the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works as a recipient for Outstanding Commitment to the Preservation and Care of Collections.

Open to the public by appointment, the Archives welcomes students, scholars, architects, and anyone who has an interest in Alden Dow’s philosophy and design. Researchers may come and study the original primary resource materials for over 560 residential, religious, educational, civic, and commercial structures, as well as Alden Dow’s sketches, personal papers, speeches, writings and oral histories.

The collection holds approximately 22,000 drawings, 650 job files, 3,000 publications, 300 16mm motion picture films, photographs, personal papers, model trains, mechanical toys, furniture, and decorative arts.

Mr. Dow’s Professional Library

The books and journals Mr. Dow collected, consulted and drew inspiration from are found in his office, within easy reach of his desk.  This working collection illustrates the diversity of his interests, from the expected to the unexpected.  All facets of art and architecture are well-represented, in particular Japanese art and architecture.  His wide-ranging interests in creativity, philosophy, photography and motion pictures, color, and natural materials are also reflected in his professional library.

A sampling of some of the more unique titles includes Teikoku Hoteru Heimenzu, the rare 1923 Japanese portfolio of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Tokyo Imperial Hotel, as well as Wright’s Wasmuth Portfolio (1910); Winning Designs, 1904-1927. Paris Prize in Architecture (1928); Maron Simon’s pioneering Your Solar House (1947); Henri Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment (1925); and Hough’s Encyclopaedia of American Woods (1957) with actual specimens of wood set in window mounts.

In addition, there are extensive backfiles of print issues of a number of important architecture periodicals, including the Journal of the American Institute of Architects and its successor title (1949-82), the journal of the Michigan Society of Architects (1960-73), House Beautiful (1959-70), and Japan Architect (1960-73), as well as several U. S. Camera annuals from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Sitting Room Library

 Books in the family’s sitting room as well as those found throughout the residence offer a look at what Mr. and Mrs. Dow read for pleasure and enlightenment.  The collection is filled with biographies, histories, and the best-selling authors of their day, including Ernest Hemingway and W. Somerset Maugham.  Of particular note are a number of the exquisitely illustrated and bound volumes published by the Limited Editions Club, and the collected works of such classic American writers as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain.

Books in both collections are available for in-house study and use by students, faculty, researchers, and community members.  The books and journal titles are listed in the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library online catalog.

To schedule an appointment or for more information about discovering and accessing the collections, contact the Alden B. Dow Archives at or 989-839-2744.

To schedule an appointment to access items in the archives, email or call 989-839-2744

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