About 50 years ago, the worldwide total of research material available to someone who wished to learn more about the Griffins was just one book, despite their earlier international fame. Access to information on them improved, but very slowly even in academic circles. It was not until the mid-1990s that interest in them grew rapidly, as described in .pdf Decline & Re-emergence of The Griffins.
In contrast, today a very rich resource base is available. As well as over 50 academic and general books and many journal articles, there are excellent collections of material in museums, art galleries and libraries in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Chicago and New York City. This section provides links to the websites of organisations and groups which are the most authoritative and easily accessible; the Books & Media section lists recommended sources.
Best Sources of Information on the Griffins
The Walter Burley Griffin Society. This website is an invaluable and authoritative source for information about the Griffins’ lives, works and significance in the US, Australia and India. Many segments written by Griffin scholars and authorities have been researched and annotated to academic standards. It has a comprehensive bibliography. The WBGS has copyright over many photographs and these are included in an excellent gallery. Founded in 1988, its regular Newsletter is also a valuable research source.
The Walter Burley Griffin Society of America. Like its Australian counterpart, this society is very active in preserving the legacy of the Griffins; however, it is more broadly focused with an interest in the works of Griffin’s fellow architects in the so-called Chicago and Prairie schools. Its also has a regular newsletter. Since 2006, its annual meetings are always held in locations rich with relevant buildings and generally yield excellent academic papers and tour notes.
Castlecrag Progress Association. Since 1925, the CPA has played a prominent role in the life of Castlecrag - Walter and Marion Griffin were founding and active members. It is focused on contemporary issues and social events in the suburb, but its website also includes some very good general information on the legacy of the Griffins in Castlecrag, especially its recommended walking tours exploring the area’s excellent architecture.
Willoughby District Historical Society. This group was established in 1974 to encourage the study and appreciation of the history of the Municipality of Willoughby, of which Castlecrag is a part. In 1993 it opened a museum in a local Federation cottage. It is also a good general source of tour maps and heritage information, including write-ups of all the local Griffin buildings.
The Art Institute of Chicago and New-York Historial Society. These are the best sources of information on Marion Mahony Griffin's extraordinary, rambling typescript, The Magic of America, each holding an original copy. It was written after Walter’s death and contains over 1400 pages and about 650 illustrations. Meant, in part, to be a testament to his genius, it depicts their life together as four “battles”: in the US, Canberra, Castlecrag and India. It contains many original photographs of and references to the Fishwick house. An on-line version is now accessible.
Willoughby City Council. The local council has an excellent library with a well-resourced local history section. This contains historic material on the Fishwick house including Griffin’s original house plans, rate notices showing tenancy periods and other property records. The Fishwick house was heritage registered by Council under the Local Environment Plan in 1995.
The National Trust. The Fishwick house is listed by the National Trust and it has organised tours of the house for its members on three occasions dating back to 1969. It is very active in heritage conservation.
Historic Houses Trust. Now known as “Sydney Living Museums” this body is the owner of 12 heritage buildings and museums in NSW including the Rose Seidler house. It has organised tours and walks in Castlecrag, some visiting the Fishwick house.
Robin Boyd Foundation. Boyd was an avid promoter of Walter Burley Griffin as one of the earliest and most influential “modern” architects who brought a new perspective to the then reactionary Australian profession. Boyd wrote glowing introductions to the two first books published about Griffin, those by James Birrell and Donald Leslie Johnson (see the Books & Media section). The foundation promotes the importance of good design, publishes a newsletter and regularly conducts tours examining modern architecture. It maintains an interest in preserving the links beteween Boyd and Griffin.
Art Deco and Modernism Society. As the central body of a number of Art Deco societies in different states, the group's interests span not only architecture but all aspects of the style including furniture, jewellery and ceramics. It has listed the Fishwick house as a significant 1920s building and its members have toured the house.
The Twentieth Century Heritage Society of NSW. This body concentrates on protecting objects across most fields of artistic merit in the twentieth century. Its website has an a very comprehensive Links section.
Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities. This agglomerated department absorbed the Australian Heritage Office which listed the Fishwick house on the Register of the National Estate in 2000. The house remains listed in its Australian Heritage Database which contains a very comprehensive and authoritative report on its qualities and significance. See:
www.environment.gov.au >Environment>Heritage>Australian Heritage Database. Place ID 101557, File # 1/13/039/0025, 21 Nov, 2000.
The National Library of Australia. The Library holds many early photographs of Castlecrag. Its web-based catalogue is excellent and contains many heritage images of the Fishwick house which can be downloaded for appropriate use.
The National Museum of Australia. The museum recently opened a new permanent exhibition, “Landmarks” exploring Australia’s suburban development. It allocates considerable space to Castlecrag and the display features a large photograph of the Fishwick house.
The National Archives of Australia. The Archives preserves many hundreds of documents, photographs, plans and artefacts concerning the Griffins, especially in relation to Canberra. Most significantly, occasionally it displays Marion Mahony Griffin’s beautiful gold-painted silk panels which helped her husband Walter win the Canberra design competition.
New South Wales Heritage Office. The Fishwick house is listed on the State Heritage Register of places of particular importance to the people of New South Wales. This is now considered a more significant listing than that of its federal counterpart. The site contains a detailed and highly regarded report on the qualities and significance of the Fishwick house. See:
www.heritage.nsw.gov.au >Heritage Sites>Searches of Directories>NSW Heritage Search. State Heritage Register 01751, 15 Dec, 2006
State Library of New South Wales. The library holds many books and documents on the Griffins. Of particular interest are six images of the Fishwick house taken by Rowland Herbert in about 1930 (see the Images of House section).
Australian Institute of Architects. Formerly the RAIA, this is the nation’s prime architectural professional body. It maintains a regular programme of lectures, exhibitions and tours. It registered the Fishwick house as a significant heritage item on 30 Dec, 1979 and has organised two tours of the house, one being titled "Significant Houses of the 20th Century".
Australian Architecture Association. This is a professional organisation which publicises and promotes the work of 20th century and contemporary Australian architects. It publishes an excellent web-based newsletter and has a regular programme of events including frequent walking tours of Castlecrag where it emphasises the legacy of Griffin on the suburb’s superb modern architecture. It has organised many tours of the house. This Fishwick house website was launched at a special AAA event in the house in July 2016.
Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. Walter Burley Griffin considered himself to be a landscape architect. He created plans for large and small communities in the US and Australia, including Canberra, Leeton, Griffith and many others. In recognition of this, the AILA has occasional talks and tours exploring Griffin’s urban design and landscaping work.