Lowell Davies Papers
Scope and Contents
The Lowell Davies Papers consist of correspondence, organizational documents, architectural records, financial records, meeting minutes, committee reports, programs, publications, newspaper and magazine clippings, publicity announcement, and photographs. The collection measures 7.5 linear feet and spans the period from 1911 to 1988. The materials in this collection pertain to the production and physical history of the San Diego Old Globe Theatre (San Diego Community Theatre), including Falstaff Tavern (Cassius Carter Center Stage).
Series I: Administrative (1937-1987 and not dated) contains Old Globe Theatre building renovation and organizational records, bills and receipts, board nomination and committee lists, contracts, Lowell Davies’s personal records, proposals, pamphlets regarding Summer Theatre workshop courses at San Diego State College, and records of the Shakespearean Scholarship Fund. The building renovation records consist of architectural plans documenting renovations to the Old Globe Theatre and are stored separately in a flat file drawer. The personal records include the text of a letter written by attorney and Shakespearean scholar Cassius Carter to the editor of the San Diego Sun, dated 1905; in the letter Carter laments low local theatre attendance at a performance he had attended. Carter’s son Armistead Carter sent the text to Lowell Davies in 1968, who responded with a brief note. Additionally, these records include a letter to the editor of the San Diego Union, dated 1950, and related data sheet by a local resident who was advocating against the use of Balboa Park as a site for a 1953 exposition, and an undated article by A. Carl Messenger on how to build an audience for performing arts events.
Series II: Atlas Awards (1949-1970) contains financial reports, committee lists, agendas, program announcements, invitations, and award nominations all pertaining to the annual Atlas Awards presentation.
Series III: Correspondence (1942-1971 and not dated) consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence, and internal memoranda pertaining to the Old Globe Theatre. It also contains several items of Lowell Davies’s personal correspondence, along with handwritten and typewritten notes. Included in this series are several notes and letters from a variety of prominent San Diego personalities such as actor Dennis Hopper, former Mayor of San Diego and Governor of California Pete Wilson, actor and director Craig Noel, pioneer San Diego retailer George A. Scott, major contributor to the Old Globe Armistead B. Carter, and San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper columnist and editor Neil Morgan.
Series IV: Minutes (1945-1988) contains minutes of the meetings of the Old Globe Boards of Directors, Executive Committees, Children’s Summer Theatre Advisory Board, Civic Committee, Globe Guilders, National Shakespeare Festival Committees, and other Old Globe-related organizations.
Series V: Productions (-1971 and not dated) contains play programs from the Cassius Carter Centre Stage, Falstaff Tavern, and Old Globe Theatres. Duplicates of selected programs were retained because they include annotations that were presumably written by Lowell Davies. The series also contains fashion show programs sponsored by the Globe Guilders, and production material and literature from other San Diego theatres.
Series VI: Publications and other writings (1945-1980 and not dated) contains various Old Globe Theatre newsletters such as The Busker Curtain Call, Globaloney, The Globe Greeter, and Stage Struck, as well as Shakespeare Festival publications. It contains other regional, national, and international theatre publications, such as San Diego State Theatre Newsletter, On Stage Magazine, American Shakespeare Festival Theatre and Academy, and Danish Foreign Office Journal.
Series VII: Publicity (1948-1988 and not dated) consists of magazine and newspaper articles pertaining to the Old Globe Theatre; Old Globe membership and contributors’ lists; scripts; and flyers, pamphlets, and other forms of solicitation.
Series VIII: Reports (1948-1977 and not dated) contains Old Globe Theatre finance and treasury reports, as well as reports from the Art Center in La Jolla.
Series IX: Photographs (1911-1957 and not dated) contains black and white photographs of Lowell Davies and one photograph of actor and director N. H. Holland.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.
Robert Lowell Davies (known as Lowell Davies) was born in 1895 in New Almaden, California (near San Jose). Young Davies, the son of a miner, first attended elementary school in a one-room schoolhouse near Mariposa, but his father’s continual search for the mother lode kept the family on the move from one Sierra Nevada mountain town to another. As a child, Davies enjoyed theatre and once stated that he would sometimes play “hooky” from classes on Friday afternoons so that he could go see a play. Times were lean for Davies’s family, and at the age of 13 he had to quit school in order to help support himself. He worked a number of odd jobs in the northern California area during this period, such as running errands for a pharmaceutical company and working in a curio shop. He learned how to type and to take shorthand. Although Davies never graduated, he began high school in San Francisco. Davies eventually joined the Field Artillery branch of the U.S. Army in 1917, and was stationed at Fort Rosecrans in San Diego until his discharge in 1920. Soon after leaving the Army, he found work as the secretary to newspaper magnate, E.W. Scripps. Davies would later give credit to Scripps for instilling in him the desire and motivation to earn a college degree. Getting into college, however, was not an easy task for Davies as he had not graduated from high school. Davies eventually did make-up those deficiencies earning all A’s, and graduating Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, Davies entered Boalt Hall School of Law. He passed the bar examination in 1927 and returned to San Diego where he began practicing law as the Chula Vista City Attorney (San Diego County). On October 28, 1929 he married Ethelind Thompson. They later had four children. Davies worked for the city until the late 1930s when he began his private law practice, but he continued to hold onto his love of theatre. He once commented that he would often take the bus to see a show put on by an amateur troupe—known as The Barn Players—at the original Old Globe Theatre. In fact it was a chance encounter at the theatre one day that inspired Davies’s long-time professional association with the organization. In 1937 one of the actors, who knew of Davies’s law practice, asked him if he would come to the group’s Board meetings and offer them sorely needed legal advice. Davies signed on as an advisor until he was elected to the Board in 1939 and then to the presidency in 1945. During his involvement with the Old Globe Theatre, Davies was credited with organizing the Globe 400, a group of patrons whose donations provided a scholarship fund to assist promising amateur actors. He also established the annual Old Globe’s Summer Shakespeare Festival. During the summer of 1949, Davies arranged for the world-renowned Shakespearean director, B. Iden Payne, to direct plays at the Old Globe. This was the beginning of a collaboration that lasted for many years. In 1960, Davies was appointed by President Eisenhower to his Advisory Committee on the Arts for the National Cultural Center, later named the Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C. President Kennedy later re-appointed Davies to this Committee. In 1967, Davies was appointed, by then Governor Ronald Reagan, to the California Arts Commission where he served for eight years—one as the commission’s chairman. He was a former director of the County Farm Bureau, co-founder of the Combined Arts and Education Council of San Diego County, former director of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce, and a charter member of the American Legion Post #6. Davies retired from the Old Globe’s Board of Directors in 1976 and was elected to the newly created position of Chairman of the Board. On April 8, 1979, he married Darlene Gould. In January 1983, he was named Honorary Life Chairman. Lowell Davies passed away three months later on April 29, at the age of 87. He had given 43 years of service to the Old Globe Theatre. In 1985, the outdoor Festival Stage, which had been destroyed by arson fire in 1984, was rebuilt and renamed the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. One of three venues within the theatre complex, the Festival Stage operates only during the Summer Shakespeare Festival season.
7.50 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Source of Acquisition
Darlene Gould Davies
Accruals and Additions
- Lowell Davies Papers
- James Kenneth White and Bill Payne
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note