A History of the Architecture of the USDA Forest Service

Chapter 3
People: Leaders and Implementers

Linn Argile Forrest
Regional Architect, Region 10 (1934-1952)

Linn Forrest was born on August 8, 1905, in Bucyrus, Ohio. He attended Franklin High School in Portland and the University of Oregon. Although he did not complete his degree, his major subject was architecture. In addition to attending school, Forrest supervised construction of the First Baptist Church of Eugene and worked for F. Mason White, architect.

After leaving the University of Oregon in 1927, Forrest worked as chief draftsman for architect Hugh Thompson in Bend, Oregon, until 1928, when he enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to study architectural and structural design. His decision to attend MIT was perhaps influenced by the example of Ellis F. Lawrence, founder and dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Oregon, a desire for an analytical study of the past as the best guide to the future, and for training in the French academic tradition, including Beaux Arts design methods, a training received by Lawrence and by three of Portland's most influential architects: Ion Lewis, William M. Whidden, and Morris H. Whitehouse, all MIT graduates.

After his return to Portland, Forrest worked as architectural draftsman with architect Roi L. Morn until 1929. The types of work there included commercial buildings, residences, theaters, and schools; design of furniture suites, ornamental bronzes, and cast stone; and planning the proposed layout for Morningside Hospital.

Forrest entered the firm of Whitehouse, Stanton & Church in 1929 and was responsible for all phases of architectural work: preliminary sketches, perspective scale, and full-size drawings and supervision in the shops and on the job. The types of work included schools, hospitals, large residences, a U.S. Federal Courthouse building, and commercial buildings.

The quality of Forrest's work must have been thought exceptional among members of the architectural community, for on June 23, 1931, he was awarded the first Ion Lewis Traveling Fellowship. Ion Lewis, FAIA, retired architect of Portland, who with his partner, the late William H. Whidden, was responsible for much of the best work in Portland during the 40 years of their practice as a firm, established the grant in 1930. Forrest was one of three candidates for the award, which was open to Oregon architects between 20 and 30 years of age who were graduates of schools of architecture or had at least 6 years of architectural experience. It was to be an annual award by the University of Oregon, with the Dean of the School of Architecture and two members of the Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects as trustees.

After spending a year traveling in Europe, Forrest returned to Portland in June 1932 at the depth of the Depression. He was eager to share his observations on the periods of architecture he had studied and planned an exhibition of his sketches.

In light of the reality of the economic situation, he noted, "We did anything in those days just to survive" and found work on a relief project for the city of Portland. It was there he met Tim Turner and worked with him in compiling data on underground services in downtown Portland. They also were in charge of a group collecting data and making measured drawings preparatory to redesigning several blocks of buildings facing on a proposed waterfront esplanade. It was during this period that Forrest obtained his Oregon State architect's license.

In June 1934, Forrest was working with the War Department's Bonneville Dam project as a draftsman. He left the Bonneville Dam project in February to take a position with the Forest Service.

In his first Forest Service position, he compiled a handbook of acceptable building designs for Region-wide use. He also designed recreation facilities such as ski resorts, bathing facilities, and related structures. [1]

When Tim Turner, Gif Gifford, and he were assigned to work on the Timberline Lodge project, Forrest was the youngest member. Although the three of them were given a very small space to work in, they discussed things pro and con without argument and worked very well together. Forrest developed floor plans and elevations, including the general layout of the headhouse. Working drawings of the plans and elevations of the lodge were signed "L.A.F." (see figure 2-103 on page 125). [2]

Turner left the office to be the field representative during the construction of the lodge. Gifford and Forrest were left in Portland to design other buildings for the CCC program (figure 3-8 shows one example). Until the CCC program was disbanded in 1942, many administration and recreation buildings were designed and constructed.

Figure 3-8. Firehouse designed by Linn Forrest, Region 6 (1942)

In 1946, Forrest was transferred to Alaska to become Regional Architect and to develop buildings similar to but smaller than those in Region 6. The Forest Service work was not challenging architecturally, so Forrest left the agency in the late 1940's. [3] In 1952, he opened a private office in Juneau, Alaska. In 1960, his firm, which then included his son, Linn, Jr., was selected to design the visitor center for the Mendenhall Glacier, just outside of Juneau (see figure 2-108 on page 132), and the restroom facility for the Portage Glacier, just outside of Anchorage on the Chugach National Forest.

A.P. DiBenedetto sponsored Forrest's election to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1979 for his design work on Timberline Lodge and the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Forrest died in June 1987 at the age of 81.


1. Ann Wood, pp. 19-24.

2. Ibid., pp. 47-48.

3. Dick Forrest, "A Tribute to my Father, Linn Argile Forrest," p. 3.

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Last Updated: 08-Jun-2008