Research and Book by Inge S. Horton


I welcome information about Northern California women in architecture who started their practice before 1950. If you have historical information or photos to share, contact me.

—Inge Horton


My research on women architects was based on two major sources: primary and secondary.


Student drawing by Ella Castelhun.
Student drawing by Ella Castelhun.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are drawings, documents, models, and resumes in archives, such as:

  • The International Archive of Women in Architecture at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, (which also contains the American Institute of Architects' Archive of Women in Architecture)
  • Environmental Design Archives at University of California, Berkeley
  • Local AIA chapter holdings as well as the AIA Archive in Washington, DC
  • Museums and local historical society collections
  • University archives and Registrar Offices
  • Interviews of and correspondence with descendants and relatives
  • Local newspapers, especially obituaries
  • Professional and trade journal articles
  • City directories
  • US Census data
  • Building permits, property transfer records, and other legal documents
Speculative House, Berkeley, 1907. (Leola Hall, designer/builder)
Speculative House, Berkeley, 1907. (Leola Hall, designer/builder)

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are published materials that interpret, analyze, or reflect on primary sources. Most important are publications on women architects written or otherwise produced after 1950. Below are selected secondary-source publications on California women architects.


Extensive Bibliographies

  • Lamia Doumato, Architecture and Women: A Bibliography (Garland, 1988)
  • Vance Bibliographies, 1989
  • Women and Architecture: Selected Bibliography and Guide to Sources (University of Nevada, Las Vegas Library)
  • Women in Architecture (University of Maryland Library)


Hale House, Garberville (Helen Benbow, designer)
Hale House, Garberville (Helen Benbow, designer)

Publications on Early Women Architects
With the emergence of the women's movement in the early 1970s, new interest in women's lives and careers led to publications on women in architecture. In format and scope they ranged from critical articles on contemporary women in the profession such as Ellen Perry Berkeley's "Women in Architecture" in Architectural Forum (September 1972) to monographs such as Doris Cole's From Tipi To Skyscraper: A History of Women in Architecture (Boston, i press, 1973) and to academic papers such as Gwendolyn Wright's dissertation, A Woman's Place Is In the Home: Women and American Domestic Architecture from 1865 to the Present (University of California, Berkeley, 1974). The following list focuses on a selection of books that include women in architecture on the West Coast.


Kaufman House, Burlingame, 1949. (Fred and Lois Langhorst)
Kaufman House, Burlingame, 1949. (Fred and Lois Langhorst)

Survey Books

  • More than thirty years ago, the Architectural League of New York sponsored an exhibition and a book, American Women in Architecture: A Historic and Contemporary Perspective, edited by Susana Torre (New York, Watson-Guptill, 1977). This seminal book is the most comprehensive overview on the emergence of women in architecture in the United States and is still used as a reference for information on individual architects of the past.
  • Published also in 1977 was Spiro Kostof's The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession (Oxford & New York, Oxford University Press, 1977) with an essay by Gwendolyn Wright, "On the Fringe of the Profession: Women in American Architecture." 
  • For the centennial celebration of the admittance of the first woman architect to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1888, the Institute sponsored an exhibit, "That Exceptional One," and a book edited by Ellen Perry Berkeley and Mathilda McQuaid, Architecture: A Place for Women (Washington and London, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989). Looking at the progress women made in the past 100 years, the essays analyze "what the profession of architecture may mean to women, and what women may mean to the profession."
  • Sarah Allaback's The First American Women Architects (Urbana, IL, University of Illinois Press, 2008) was written as a reference guide for scholars and professionals, high school students, and the general public. It seeks to open understanding and appreciation of the numbers and achievements of early women architects throughout the United States with approximately 75 biographies. The book includes 9 women architects of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Davenport House, San Francisco, 1917. (Julia Morgan)
Davenport House, San Francisco, 1917. (Julia Morgan)

Several biographies on women architects are on the market and new ones are appear constantly, attesting to the growing interest in the topic. Among those of special interest to the West Coast is the increasing number of studies of Julia Morgan and her work:

  • Julia Morgan, Architect by Sara Holmes Boutelle (New York, Abbeville Press, 1988) 
  • Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House, Virginia Kastner's lavishly illustrated book (New York, Harry Abrams, Inc, 2000) 
  • Building for Hearst and Morgan: Voices from The George Loorz Papers by Taylor Coffman (Berkeley Hills Books, Berkeley, CA, 2003) 
  • Julia Morgan, Architect, and the Creation of the Asilomar Conference Grounds by Russell Quachia (Q Publishing, 2005) 
  • Julia Morgan: Architect of Beauty by Mark A. Wilson (Salt Lake City, Gibbs Smith, 2007) 
  • It is only a question of time until a recent (2007) dissertation, Building the California Women's Movement - Gender, Space and Architecture in the Life of Julia Morgan, by Karen McNeill appears in book form.


Other in-depth studies of historic women in architecture are:

  • Lutah Maria Riggs: A Woman in Architecture, 1921-1980 by David Gebhard (Capra Press in Cooperation with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1992)
  • Mary Colter-Architect of the Southwest by Arnold Berke (New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 2002)
  • Lilian J. Rice: Architect of Rancho Santa Fe, California by Diane Y. Welch
    (Atglen, PA, 2010)

Photos by Inge Horton, except for the student drawing by Ella Castelhun,

which is courtesy of Scott Trimble.