The Way Back: Office Space

The Way Back: Office Space

Workspace replicas are fairly common exhibits. People love to revel in the personal spaces of vision-aries like Julia Child (the Smithsonian) or President Lyndon Johnson (the LBJ Library), but UT once housed a far more offbeat and less publicized example: the bizarre, ornate re-creation of Perry Mason creator and detective novelist Erle Stanley Gardner’s working office.

Between 1972 and 2010, visitors to the fourth floor of the Flawn Academic Center could peer into a hallway window—actual entry to the office was rare—to take a peek into Gardner’s creative space. In the late 1950s, the Harry Ransom Center acquired Gardner’s archive, which included his weapons collection, including a homemade blowgun and multiple axes and spears, which hung from the ceiling and walls. Proof of the occupant’s travels, from indigenous art and shrimp-shaped marlinspike knives to honorary badges and certificates from sheriffs’ departments nationwide—more than 1,500 artifacts in all—covered almost every available surface.

The study was disassembled in 2010 to free up office space in the building, but a virtual tour can be viewed at:


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