The Wonderful Earle Florence

Over the past few years, we’ve been pretty proud to develop a collecting strength in the area of architectural records. Because a lot of the great mid-century architects here in the Valley have left the field in recent years, the architectural community has reached out to archivists to make sure that these records don’t find their way into dumpsters! We cannot thank this architectural records advisory board enough for introducing us to Earle Florence!

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Earle in his studio, completing a landscape sketch to contribute to his pal Christopher’s coffee table train set.

Earle received some architectural training at the University of Michigan, but did most of his learning on his own. He didn’t graduate, but did go on to join the American Institute of Architects. He married his sweetheart Donna in the 1950s, the couple relocated to Arizona, and Earle began working in the architecture field in the early 1960s. Earle’s name shows up in the company of many well-known architects in Phoenix – he worked with Bennie Gonzales, partnered with George Schoneberger, and jokes about being fired by Ralph Haver.


Earle and Donna at their home in Mesa, shortly before they relocated to the East Coast.

There is no question that Earle is a brilliant architect, and he produced a variety of wonderful residential, commercial, and civic projects. He told stories of designing a house in the Bahamas for Charles Keating (yes…THAT Charles Keating!), of working with Bennie Gonzales on the Scottsdale Civic Center, and the Henrich House. The Henrich Project never got to construction, but Earle told us, “this would have been my zenith.”


Earle told us that the Henrich House would have been his “zenith.” What an incredible house it would have been!

Earle is a fantastic architect, but like many other architects, he also shines artistically. Through the years, he has filled volumes and volumes of notebooks with beautiful art and his musings on the world around him.

We were very honored to receive the Earle Florence collection here at the State Archives over the past few months. Earle contributed architectural records, artists’ journals, photographs, and other materials, many of which are inventoried on our ARIZONA STATE KNOWLEDGE DATABASE. You can also go directly to the FULL FINDING AID.

We would like to thank both Earle and Donna Florence for making sure that this collection was saved for future generations, as well as their wonderful hospitality and storytelling throughout the transfer process. We wish them all the very best in their new home on the East Coast!