This oral history interview with Richard Sundeleaf was conducted by Linda Dodds and Alfred Staehli at Sundeleaf's home in Portland, Oregon, from November 2-23, 1982. The interview was conducted in three sessions.
In the first interview session, conducted on November 2, 1982, Sundeleaf discusses his family background and early life in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, including his education, involvement in sports, and early jobs, particularly in sawmills and shipyards. He talks about his experience studying architecture at the Oregon Agricultural College, now Oregon State University, including some of his professors and his involvement in college sports. He describes working as a draftsman for A.E. Doyle and for the architectural firm of Sutton and Whitney. He then talks about starting his own architectural firm and his first jobs designing the swimming pools at the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park and the office building for Jantzen Knitting Mills.
In the second interview session, conducted on November 4, 1982, Sundeleaf continues to discuss designing the swimming pools at Jantzen Beach, while looking at photographs of the amusement park. He talks about other Oregonian architects, architecture-adjacent artisans he worked with, and designing prefabricated houses. He discusses running his own architectural firm, including working with clients, the types of buildings he designed, and his experience during the Depression. He speaks at length about his involvement with the Historic American Buildings Survey.
In the third and final interview session, conducted on November 23, 1982, Sundeleaf continues discussing his involvement with the Historic American Buildings Survey and describing some of the buildings he surveyed. He also talks about the organizational structure of the survey in Oregon. He then revisits the topic of running his own architectural firm and some of the buildings he designed. He shares his thoughts about modern architecture and talks about the buildings in downtown Portland. He closes the interview by discussing designing war housing during World War II.