Photo by Paul Neevel
After many years of devoted service to his students, the University, and the state of Oregon, Marion Dean Ross died on April 2, 1991 at the age of 78. Ross graduated from Pennsylvania State College in 1935 (B.S. in Architecture) and received a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard in 1937. He continued his studies at Harvard and taught at both Tulane and Penn State before coming to the University of Oregon in 1947, where he taught until his retirement and attainment of Professor Emeritus status in 1978.
A scholar of national and international repute (while at Harvard he helped found the Society of Architectural Historians), Ross was also one of those who shape the structure and influenced the special nature of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at Oregon. He directed the School’s early program in art history, served as Acting Dean of the School in 1962-63, and became Art History’s first head when the department was officially established in 1963. He served in that capacity until his retirement.
Ross’s own scholarly interests were remarkably broad. A self-proclaimed disciple of modernism in the mold of Walter Gropius, Ross nonetheless became a student and teacher of such diverse fields as antebellum plantation architecture, Latin American art, landscape architecture, Islamic architecture, Victorian architecture, and, especially, the heterogeneous architecture of Oregon. The city of Jacksonville largely owes its preservation to Ross’s extraordinary efforts, and the field of historic preservation at the School and in the state has been shaped by his vision.
The author of numerous scholarly articles, an active professional consultant, and member of many special commissions, Ross was, above all, a captivating lecturer and teacher, whose dedication to generations of students is legendary.
A major legacy of Marion Dean Ross is the endowment he left to the Department of the History of Art and Architecture. When it was announced in 1992, it was the largest architectural history library endowment in the nation. Ever since, it has enabled the acquisition of unique and rare items for study, teaching and research.