Hillsdale Shopping Center, 1976 | George H. Kelley Papers

Kelley, George

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See the George H. Kelley Collection Finding Aid at the Online Archive of California.

Kelley PortraitGeorge H. Kelley (1905 - 1990)

George H. Kelley was born in Denver, Colorado. His father was a gardener and passed on the trade to both of his sons. George began working in greenhouses near their home at the age of 10 and at 26 moved to Los Angeles and took a job as head propagator with Roy F. Wilcox & Co. He spent 13 years with Wilcox and during which time he began his design career on Hollywood movie sets. One of his most notable works was the jungle for Tarzan

In 1937, Wilcox sent Kelley to the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) site in San Francisco. After taking seed orders, he was hired on as a landscape consultant and designer for the GGIE. When the exhibition closed he decided to remain in the Bay Area settling in South San Francisco and becoming a partner in the nursery landscape firm Martin, Overlach & Kelley.

He is best known for his independent projects including landscape designs for the Westlake neighborhood and shopping center, the Stonestown apartments and shopping center, the Sunset Magazine Headquarters interior, and the Hillsdale Shopping Center for which he won the Plant America Award in 1959 from the American Association of Nurserymen. He was awarded an honorary degree in Landscape Design from UC Berkeley in 1961.

The George H. Kelley Papers spans the years 1939-c.1990 and documents Kelley’s life and career. The collection is divided into two series: Personal Papers and Professional Papers, and consists of photographs, clippings, film reels and Kelley’s personal scrapbook.