Mary Colter was an architect, who built amazing buildings. She achieved success during her life, but is not given her due, in my opinion, in today’s architectural history.
This is also true of other pioneering women in the field of architecture.
One was Julia Morgan, who lived from 1872 to 1957, comparable to Colter’s life. She was one of the first women to earn a degree in civil engineering. Bernard Maybeck, who had encouraged Colter, also encouraged Morgan to go to Paris to study architecture.
She opened her own architectural business in 1904 in San Francisco. Her most famous building was commissioned by William Hearst, who hired her to design the main buildings on his ranch in San Simeon, which is now known as Hearst Castle. She continued work there until 1947. A few years later she retired and lived quietly, dying in 1957.
Louise Blanchard Bethune was born in Waterloo, New York in 1856. Waterloo was in the heart of the women’s movement. She took a job as a draftsman in a Buffalo, New York, firm. It was more common to apprentice to become an architect than going to college.
While there she met and married Robert Bethune. Together they opened an architectural firm.
Bethune is best known for her design for Hotel Lafayette in Buffalo. It is considered her masterpiece.
She was the first woman to become an associate of the American Institute of Architects in 1888, and a fellow of the AIA the following year.
These are a few of the women pioneers in architecture in the United States.
An excellent book on the subject is The First American Women Architects by Sarah Allabeck, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 2008.
I recommend it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s