Book Reviews

Reviews of

Early Women Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area —
The Lives and Work of Fifty Professionals, 1890-1951

by Inge S. Horton

 

• Review by MonaLisa Wallace, California National Organization for Women

• Review by Margaret Lew, Older Women's League 

• Review by Kay Edge, Associate Professor of Architecture, Virginia Tech, International Archive of Women in Architecture, IAWA Center News, Fall 2010 No. 22, page 6

• Review by John King, architecture critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, February 22, 2011, p.E2 

• Link to reviews by Amazon.com customers

• Summary of discussion of Early Women Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area by the OWA Book Circle #1 on January 20, 2011  

• Review by Volker M. Welter, Professor of Architectural History, UCSB

in California History - The Journal of the California Historical Society

Volume 88, No 3, 2011, p.68

• Review by Donna Dunay, FAIA Professor of Architecture, Virginia Tech and Chair of the International Archive of Women in Architecture, The Milka Bliznakov Prize:2009-2010, International Archive of Women in Architecture, IAWA Center News, Fall 2011 No. 23, page 6

• Blog by C.C. Sullivan on Smart Planet on March 8, 2012 http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/astute-architect/women-in-architecture-celebrate-today-worldwide/447?tag=search-river

• Review by Lauren Weiss Bricker, Ph.D. in NCCSAH Newsletter, Volume 15, Number 1, May 2012 

• Review by Karen McNeill, Ph. D. in Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 81, No. 2 (May 2012), pp. 315-316

• Review by Charles Fracchia in Panorama, Newsletter of The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, October-December 2012, Vol. 24, No. 4, p. 5  

 

 

Review by Charles Fracchia, in Panorama, October-December 2012, Vol. 24, No. 4

Early Women architects of the San Francisco Bay Area: The Lives and Work of Fifty Professionals, 1890-1951

Horton, Inge Schaefer

Jefferson North Carolina and London McFarland&Co .Inc. Publishers, 2010

There have been many books on the architecture of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Horton's book is a worthy addition to that list. She provides biographical vignettes of notable women architects-a gender separation in a field notably dominated by men-analyzes their work, and selects a plethora of photographs to illustrate the architectural work of her fifty women architects.

The work is a first-class contribution to the narrative exposition of the development of architecture in the Bay Area and to uncovering the work of a number of obscure women architects.

 

 

Review by Lauren Weiss Bricker, Ph. D. published in the Newsletter of the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, Volume 15, Number 1, May 2012, p.6,8.

Inge Schaefer Horton, Early Women Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area: The Lives and Works of Fifty Professionals, 1890-1951. Jefferson, North Carolina and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2010.

The first wave of literature on American women architects was energized by the feminist movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Monographs on Julia Morgan, Lilian Bridgeman, Lutah Maria Riggs and others were published. At the same time, exhibitions with accompanying catalogs sought, in the words of Suzanna Torre, architect and editor of Women in American Architecture: A Historic and Contemporary Perspective (1977), “to expose those ideologies imbedded in our knowledge that have rationalized and justified the marginal role of women in the public sphere of social life.”

While Inge Horton’s book is hardly devoid of such concern, with thirty-plus years of hindsight, she is able to take a more dispassionate view of the reasons  for women’s constrained position within the architectural profession. In her words, Horton sought “to bring back to life the careers and work of pioneering women in architecture, provide role models for young women interested in pursuing architecture as their professional field, and to inform women architects of their professional legacy. . . .”

Horton’s study focuses on conditions for female architects in the San Francisco Bay Area from the turn of the 20th century to the post World War II period. These years are bracketed by the opening of architectural studies to women at the University of California (Julia Morgan was admitted as a Special Course Student in 1890, earning an engineering degree in ’94), and changing social conditions following the conclusion of World War II. 

The book is arranged into three sections. It opens with an extended discussion of the cultural boundaries within which women architects functioned, followed by an analysis of known works by women architects and the challenge of identifying their previously unknown works. Virtually one half of the book is devoted to portraits of fifty women architects, selected from a database of more than 300 figures Horton has identified. A series of appendices follows. The text is extensively illustrated, in many cases with photographs taken by the author.

Perhaps the most significant contribution of this book is Horton’s research methodology.  Beginning with the premise that her subjects are largely outside the realm of traditional histories of American architecture and architects, Horton pursues innovative paths to find reliable data on her subjects. These include U.S. Census records, City Directories, obituaries, archival collections (albeit limited), diaries and oral history interviews. This methodology is not unique (it is fairly standard in genealogical research), yet it is certainly atypical in the world of architectural history. She provides an excellent model not only for future studies of women architects, but gender or race-based studies where the subjects may have been excluded from published histories.

Horton set out to learn about “everyday women architects.” These women contrast with the prominence of Julia Morgan, whose fame not only derived from her talent but the fact that much of her practice was comprised of institutional projects and that she served prominent clients like William Randolph Hearst. Most of the built environment is made-up of buildings designed by lesser-known figures – whether male or female. Horton’s particular interest is to convey an accurate picture of women’s contributions to Bay Area architecture and city planning--a task she accomplishes with great skill and thoroughness.

Lauren Weiss Bricker, Ph.D. is professor of architecture at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and director of the Archives-Special Collections in the College of Environmental Design, Cal Poly Pomona. She is the author of The Mediterranean House in America (Abrams, 2008), and co-author of the catalog Steel and Shade: The Architecture of Donald Wexler, which accompanied an exhibition of the same title (Palm Springs Museum of Art, 2011). She is currently working on “The Modern American House,” scheduled to be published by W.W. Norton in 2013.

 

 

December 02, 2010

Important New Book a Tribute to Women in Architecture and the Legacy of Milka Bliznakov

By California NOW Diversity VP, MonaLisa Wallace

It is an honor to have the opportunity to review this important new contribution to herstory:
Early Women Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area: The Lives and Work of Fifty Professionals, 1890-1951. Inge Schaefer Horton, a retired city planner from San Francisco, California, has produced a seminal work detailing her substantial research of women architects in the San Francisco Bay Area. This groundbreaking book is of herstorical significance exposing the too often unrecognized legacy of early women architects. Horton writes that she was startled into beginning this enormous project when a young American student remarked: “The European women who study architecture are lucky, they have so many role models, and we only have Julia Morgan.” Thanks to Horton’s book, fifty American architects can now serve as role models for the future. Vividly and with great detail, readers today can get a sense for the lives, accomplishments and challenges of women architects who worked in the Bay Area between, roughly, the 1890s and 1950s.

Integrating sociological, demographic and historical backgrounds with detailed individual portraits, Early Women Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area brings to life a fascinating understanding of the lives and work of fifty professional women architects. The writing is elegant, but the humor and illustrations make this book a lively read. The thorough index will be very useful for students and historians for many years to come. This book brings light to largely unknown pioneers who broke down enormous barriers to claim space in the male-dominated skyline of Bay Area architecture.

Profoundly apropos, this book is dedicated to architectural shero,
Milka Bliznakov, the founder of the International Archive of Women in Architecture. Milka Tcherneva Bliznakov, professor emerita of architecture in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech and a trailblazer for women in architecture, died Thursday, Nov. 4 at age 83. As Milka Bliznakov’s work provided a foundation for Horton’s book, the work of these fifty architects promises to inspire and nurture women in architecture for generations to come.

 

OWLs in PRINT

By Margaret Lew


Being interested in local history, architecture and stories of women breaking through barriers to live their dreams, reading Inge Schaefer Horton’s latest book has given me a lot of pleasure.
Early Women Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area, The Lives and Work of Fifty Professionals, 1890-1951 covers an incredible amount of information on the lives and work of these women in the traditionally male enclave of architecture. Early chapters cover the world of these early modern women, the life they experienced as daughters, wives and mothers at home, students in school and as pioneers in the workplace. In Part II “The Design Legacy of Pioneer Women Architects” the wide range of their work is covered from residential architecture to industrial buildings. Each architect mentioned in these chapters is covered in a short but detailed biography in Part III of the book which includes lists of their projects. The book is illustrated with many drawings and photographs, some acquired from family archives, others by the author.

 

It is wonderful to discover projects in our everyday life that are the work of these women. We are all familiar with the work of Julia Morgan, but do you know of Roslyn Ittelson Lindheim, the designer of the On Lok Senior Day Care and Health Facility, a nationally recognized model of well-managed, long term care? She is only one of the exceptional women included in these pages. This is a scholarly work, the research of many years, and complete with bibliography and index. It is also full of interesting details that bring to life these women who found ways of doing the work they loved in a world not always ready to welcome them. 

 

Review by John King, architectural critic of the San Francisco Chronicle and columnist of PLACE

 

Please see the San Francisco Chronicle of February 22, 2011, p. E1-2 for his review of the book and announcement of the presentation on Tuesday March 8, 2011 at 12.30 at SPUR Urban Center at 654 Mission Street, San Francisco.

 

Mark your calendar: International Women's Day is two weeks away, on March 8 - and so is an illuminating presentation on women who helped design the Bay Area's built terrain.

The talk will be given by Inge Schaefer Horton, a retired city planner and author of last year's authoritative "Early Women Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area: The Lives and Work of Fifty Professionals, 1890-1951." As the title indicates, legend Julia Morgan wasn't the only architect who shaped our surroundings: Elizabeth Austin designed more than 30 houses in San Francisco, for instance, while Lilian Belle Bridgman contributed a dozen arts and crafts homes to the Berkeley hills. Nor were women confined to mapping out single-family homes - Grace Jewett's work in San Francisco included apartment buildings, a warehouse and a public garage.

The book is a labor of love and an invaluable cultural resource; for more information go to www.womenarchitectsca.com. The talk is at 12:30 p.m. March 8 at the SPUR Urban Center, 654 Mission St.

 

 

 

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