Preferred Citation: Frederickson, Kristen, and Sarah E. Webb, editors Singular Women: Writing the Artist. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c2003 2003.






© Nancy Gruskin

I first became aware of Eleanor Raymond in 1992 when I was a graduate student working for the Massachusetts Historical Commission. There I came across a small photograph of a Bauhaus-influenced house Raymond had designed in 1931, which I later learned had been commissioned by her sister Rachel (Figure 18). The house's crisp lines and breezy terraces were a refreshing departure from the hundreds of Capes and Victorian “Painted Ladies” I had seen that summer. A few years (and seminar papers) later, I completed a dissertation on the architect. In many ways she was an ideal subject: Raymond was hardly a household name, even in Boston, her hometown, and the only previous study of her work, a short monograph published in 1981 by the local architect Doris Cole, was written before a significant archive of Raymond's office and personal papers had become available to the public. At the time, women architects were not included in the standard surveys of modern and American architecture, and their names were rarely introduced to students, even graduate students, of architectural history. Here, it seemed, was a chance to make a contribution.

Eleanor Raymond, however, was in many ways a reluctant subject. Unlike the iconic “heroes” of modern architecture who defined their own historical contributions through treatises, manifestos, and auto


18. Eleanor Agnes Raymond, Rachel Raymond House, Belmont, Mass., 1931

biographies (a situation that admittedly presents its own set of challenges to scholars), Raymond was relatively silent about her life, her work, and the male-dominated profession of architecture in general. The lack of methodological role models for dealing with the career of a woman architect presented another challenge. Monographic treatments began to be dismissed as passé just when the recovery of women architects was in its infancy. I could sense the judgmental tone in many colleagues' voices when they learned I was working on Raymond: “Oh, so you're doing a monograph.

The challenges and the criticisms, however frustrating, held the key to certain insights. What I once perceived as Raymond's “silence” was in the end quite telling—it spoke to women architects' culturally imposed modesty, and it suggested that artistic bravado and theoretical polemics were often luxuries afforded only to male architects. As I struggled to reconcile Raymond's career with the biographies of modernism's canonical architects, feminist critiques of the monograph heightened my awareness of the implicitly male “voice” of most historical narratives. In the end I settled on two goals: to reconstruct the monograph from a feminist perspective and, in so doing, to give Raymond a voice—a visible place in the history of architecture. My intent

was not to canonize Raymond—the uncritical celebration of achievement epitomized the monograph “trap”—but to provide a richer reading of the history of twentieth-century architecture by examining a figure marginalized in the field and by scrutinizing the mechanics of marginalization itself.

By the mid-1990s feminist scholarship on architecture was divided into three methodological camps. The first studies to emerge from the women's movement of the 1970s focused on women's relation to the built environment and established architecture's role in patriarchal oppression.[1] Later studies, primarily essays in anthologies, adopted a more theoretical stance, appropriating the cultural construct of gender and using it to reinterpret the history of architecture.[2] A third group of studies, in the traditional art historical form of the monograph, recovered the unfamiliar names and careers of women architects.[3]

This growing body of literature had a surprisingly limited impact on my own work, however. Expositions on gender discrimination in the man-made environment were too firmly rooted in contemporary feminist debates about political power and victimization to be retrofitted to the career of a woman architect practicing in the first half of the twentieth century. Theoretical explorations of gender's impact on the architectural discourse were useful in developing a critical eye, but their focus on the canonical male architects of modern architecture raised a set of issues different from those I was grappling with in my own work. In addition, it was difficult to adopt a methodology based on semiotics and literary criticism when dealing with an architect who left behind no treatises or manifestos, an architect who rarely spoke or wrote about her work at all.

The third group of studies, those that set out to examine the personal and professional lives of women architects, held more promise. Monographs on female designers are far outnumbered by those on women painters and sculptors—reflecting the greater number of women in those fields.[4] And while lavishly illustrated monographs on well-documented architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier continue to appear, only Sara Holmes Boutelle's book on Julia Morgan and Peter Adam's book on Eileen Gray have been published by major presses. For many feminist scholars, however, the real problem lies not in the dearth of such treatments but in the inappropriateness

of the biographical approach altogether. The monograph, which typically glorifies singular efforts, signature styles, and larger-than-life personalities, does indeed seem inherently ill-suited for understanding the work of women architects.[5] Even the barest biographical sketch of Eleanor Raymond, for example, reveals the inadequacy of such a narrative.

A relative latecomer to the architecture profession, Raymond in childhood and adolescence did not bear out the “great artist” notion of innate genius. Her focus on domestic architecture reflected educational and professional channeling rather than her natural inclination. The centrality of Raymond's fifty-four-year partnership with Ethel Power (1881–1969), editor of House Beautiful, introduces issues typically neglected in architectural monographs: sexuality and the impact of personal relationships. Even the architect's work, which simultaneously exhibited both innovative and imitative forms, counters the aesthetic dogmatism of history's most celebrated architects, suggesting not only Raymond's own ambivalence toward strict modernism but also the importance of client satisfaction in a female architect's career. Exploring such anomalies might well serve to highlight the very gender biases that historians had been accused of cloaking in previous monographs. Surely the monograph was not inherently beyond reform. Surely it could accommodate a feminist approach.

Ultimately, I found methodological role models in art history, literary history, and women's studies; architectural history was still in the process of outlining the problem. Feminist biographers, also under attack, provided examples of how to contextualize female subjects by conflating biography and social history.[6] Many of the women who had been the subject of recent biographies offered remarkable parallels to Raymond in age, class, education, lifestyle, and career path. The surge of professional women who emerged during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in a number of male-dominated fields provided numerous subjects for the historian or the biographer. Raymond, born into a relatively prosperous family, was a member of the first generation of women to attend college in significant numbers, graduating from Wellesley College in 1909.[7] Like many of her peers, she was active in the campaign for suffrage, volunteered as a settlement house worker, and joined a number of the women's clubs that proliferated across the country during the Progressive Era.[8] Facing discrimination

in the workplace and societal expectations of marriage and children, career women of the period often cultivated “families” of like-minded peers, bound by common interests and concerns rather than by blood relation. Raymond and four of her cohorts, including her partner, Ethel Power, shared a home on Boston's Beacon Hill that the architect renovated in 1923.[9]

The poststructuralist insistence on the death of the author/artist has shifted the focus of art history away from such biographical details. Yet given the sheer rarity of women in the early twentieth century who chose to pursue professional careers in architecture, biography seems not only a valid but an essential starting point for understanding Raymond's choices. Born at the end of the nineteenth century, she was able to take advantage of American women's newly expanding privileges and freedom—their greater access to higher education, increasing political and social equality, and ability to enter professions demanding acquired skills rather than preexisting capital or birthright. At Wellesley Raymond found a tight-knit community of female students and faculty, discovered the possibility of female support systems, and developed stereotypically “masculine” traits useful in professional life: self-confidence, creativity, and independence. But enduring Victorian notions of masculine and feminine behavior can be seen in Raymond's explanation of her choice of professions. “I was made for architecture,” she claimed in 1981. “I think I'm part masculine. I think that makes the difference.”[10]

Finding common threads between Raymond and other professional women of her generation gave me a more sophisticated understanding of her individual achievements. She was no longer “that exceptional one,” a label that, as the architectural historian Abigail A. Van Slyck has argued, places “the onus for the lack of a female presence in architecture back on women themselves.”[11] Ironically, the architects who successfully challenged gender discrimination in the profession most vehemently denied its existence. When asked if she had encountered obstacles as a woman (a question both journalists and historians frequently asked her), Raymond was often evasive, suggesting that dedication and good fortune were the only requirements for success. In the 1981 interview, she contended, “I was lucky. I never had to go out after a job. I know it was just because of my very good luck [that] that's what happened to me.”[12]

I had learned from writers of women's history, however, to be skeptical of such positive accounts. In a discriminatory world, many career

women deliberately preferred to focus on professional ability and achievement, not gender.[13] The establishment of academic programs and professional guidelines after the Civil War did seem to create new opportunities for aspiring female architects, but enduring stereotypes of women and a renewed interest in architecture as a field for men with “worldly credentials” effectively limited women's professional choices. Few male architects were willing to “disrupt” the boys' club atmosphere of the drafting room, and although several universities (among them MIT, in Raymond's hometown) admitted women students to their architecture programs, admission policies based on quotas and gender segregation within the studio created an intimidating environment for the women who enrolled.[14]

Raymond found a reprieve from this system at the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for Women, where she enrolled in the summer of 1916. Unofficially founded by Professor Henry Atherton Frost of Harvard in 1915, when a tenured faculty member persuaded him to provide after-hours drafting lessons for a Radcliffe alumna, the Cambridge School, as it would come to be called, gave women a unique opportunity to receive academic training in an all-female environment. Yet the school's curriculum, which focused solely on the study of domestic design, reflected prevailing gender biases and effectively confined graduates to a domestic practice for the rest of their careers. Raymond herself put a positive spin on such educational channeling, confirming that women could instinctively “do better houses than a man” because of their greater familiarity with domestic life. Yet Raymond's claims that “she never wanted a husband or to have children” and that she “wouldn't have the slightest know-how of how to take care of children” contradict her own essentialist response and again suggest an ingrained coping mechanism.[15]

The earliest graduates of the Cambridge School faced additional obstacles in the workforce. Because the program remained unaccredited until its affiliation with Smith College in 1932, students lacked the educational credentials that the American Institute of Architects and a number of state licensing boards were seeking for registered practice. Given these constraints, Cambridge School graduates fared remarkably well in the professional world, although most worked independently or as partners in small firms rather than as draftswomen and partners in the country's leading large-scale firms.[16] Raymond began her career as a draftsperson in Frost's firm while still a student at the Cambridge

School. After graduation, she was named Frost's sole partner, a position she retained until she opened her own firm in Boston in 1935. Although Frost recorded many of his experiences at the Cambridge School in a 1943 manuscript for a planned, but never published, autobiography, the forty-five-page document contains not a single reference to his former partner. Why did Frost promote Raymond over the numerous other graduates who had worked in his office? The dynamics of their partnership remain unclear to me, but it seems safe to assume that Raymond's commitment to her career (perhaps best attested to Frost by her decision to remain a single woman) assured him of a stability in the firm that was threatened by his growing responsibilities as an instructor.

Frost assumed an important role in Raymond's early career, but equally, if not ultimately more, important was a group of women Raymond met primarily as a student at the Cambridge School. Femalenetwork building as both an extension and a repudiation of the traditional “women's sphere” has been an integral focus of women's studies and feminist art history for years, but this professional strategy has only just begun to be examined by architectural historians.[17] Raymond's circle included her younger sister Rachel, an interior decorator and 1916 graduate of Wellesley, and Cambridge School alumnae Ethel Power and Mary Cunningham. All three women shared Raymond's Beacon Hill townhouse along with Raymond's widowed mother and Cunningham's twin sister, Florence, a Vassar-educated diction and drama coach. The group not only lived together but often worked together as well. For several of Raymond's domestic commissions, Rachel was hired to coordinate the interior decoration, and Mary, a graduate of the Cambridge School's landscape architecture program, was contracted to design the surrounding gardens. Raymond's clientele also included a number of single professional women whose significant financial resources provided dozens of commissions for her. This network of colleagues and patrons, a neglected female counterpart of the homosocial connections that helped propel many male architects to fame, was a significant source of Raymond's success.[18]

At the forefront of Raymond's adult life was Ethel Power. Personal relationships are not standard subject matter in most studies of women architects. Indeed, many consider the issue irrelevant, arguing that women architects had to work too hard to maintain a life outside the office or that their private lives were of no consequence to their career.[19]

But Raymond herself, through her careful preservation of both professional and personal documents, highlights the inextricable connection between these two sides of her life. Among the blueprints and office papers given to the Harvard Graduate School of Design a few years before her death were boxes of letters, scrapbooks, and diaries that document Raymond's relationship with Power. Eleanor and Ethel met in 1915 while both women were volunteering as Massachusetts suffragettes. Raymond, who was six years younger, convinced Power to enroll at the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for Women, from which they both graduated with certificates in architecture in 1920. From 1923, when work was completed on Raymond's Beacon Hill townhouse, until Power's death in 1969, the two women were nearly inseparable.

The mere longevity of Raymond and Power's partnership suggested an intense and mutually beneficial bond, but the question of a physical relationship remains more enigmatic. Both women grew up in a latenineteenth-century world that sanctioned same-sex companionship but refrained from open discussions of sexuality, and neither Raymond nor Power ever referred to themselves, or any of the other female couples that became part of their circle, as “lesbians.”[20] Their reluctance to express any romantic sentiment, whether the product of their own Yankee stoicism or broader societal pressures, was reflected even in the private diaries of Power, kept sporadically from the 1930s through the 1960s. As primary sources, such traditionally “feminine” writing forms took the place of the architectural treatises and published autobiographies that scholars working on canonical architects often rely on to shape their interpretations.[21] The result was both a blessing and a curse: private documents typically lack the self-conscious posturing found in the published writings of architects, but they also assume a level of intimate knowledge not possessed by unintended readers. Far from recounting the trials and tribulations of a professional woman and her lesbian partner, Power's diary entries focused primarily on such mundane topics as dinner menus, garden pests, and weekend visitors. More revelatory details existed, but they were far more subtle than I had hoped or expected. An entry dated October 1952, written after a recent appointment with the couple's attorney to draft wills, suggests the amount of speculation involved in interpreting even Power's most expressive passages: “[Eleanor] has left me everything but I have nothing tangible to leave her except these diaries. And even then she must

read between the lines. A will doesn't seem to be the place for sentiment; so it must bulge here unwritten.”

It seems like a cruel joke to play on someone with whom you had shared most of your adult life, not to mention future historians trying to make sense of the relationship. Power's vocation as a writer and an editor made her silence only more inexplicable. But her actions revealed her powerful attachment to Raymond. When House Beautiful magazine was sold to Hearst Magazines and its editorial offices were moved to New York City in 1934, Power resigned from the prestigious editorial position, which she had held since the early 1920s, in order to stay in Boston with Raymond. As a fifty-three-year-old woman in an industry still hardhit by the Depression, Power must have known the ramifications of her decision. Such sacrifices were a telling sign of a deep and abiding love.

So what, in the end, does any of this have to do with Raymond's work as an architect? A great deal, I believe. In many ways, Raymond and Power assumed traditional husband and wife roles. Because of a significant inheritance and a more stable work history, Raymond acted as the financial provider of the family, providing Power with a home and, most likely, money after Power's resignation. Power, more interested in the domestic world of cooking and gardening, was on several levels “the great woman behind the great (wo)man,” taking care of household responsibilities, arranging travel itineraries, and keeping up with correspondence. Power's assumption of these “wifely” duties gave Raymond the time and the energy for a full-time career in architecture. Power's tenure at House Beautiful facilitated the architect's career even more directly by providing Raymond with invaluable publicity: almost two major articles a year (many written by Power herself). Behind the scenes, Power fought hard to earn Raymond critical success as she championed her work during several of House Beautiful's small-house competitions. From time to time, Raymond also wrote for the magazine, undoubtedly an economic necessity during the building recession of the late 1920s and early 1930s.

For my purposes, the magazine became an invaluable resource. Several important domestic projects from the 1920s and 1930s are curiously absent in the Raymond archives. House Beautiful, with its lavish illustrations and lengthy articles, provided not only missing plans and photographs of original furnishings but also details about the private lives of featured homeowners and anecdotes about architect-client relationships—information

rarely introduced in the professional journals that also occasionally published Raymond's work. During Power's reign as editor, the Boston-based publication read like a virtual “who's who” of the Cambridge School circle, featuring not only Raymond's work but also the work and writing of numerous other graduates of the program. The personal connections were never made obvious in the pages of the magazine but were clear to the informed reader.[22]

Occasionally, my interest in the relationships between these women overshadowed the work itself; more than once I had to remind myself that I was an architectural historian and not a biographer. My predilection for the social history of architecture was perhaps part of the problem, as one danger of contextualism is losing sight of aesthetic merit. But the deeper issue had to do with the varied quality of Raymond's houses themselves. I was too defensive about my decision to focus on Raymond to admit this to most colleagues, but I did not find all of her work exciting from a purely aesthetic perspective. Yet some of her domestic projects, including the 1931 house for her sister that first brought Raymond to my attention, were inspiring. Completed after a trip she and Power made to Germany in 1930, the Raymond House reflected the architect's interest in creating a regional modernism. The house's wood frame and lightly stained cladding respected local building traditions, but the unadorned rectilinear forms and open-air terraces were imported directly from Bauhaus Germany. The interior continued these themes: an L-shaped combined living room and dining room embodied the open planning principles of European modernism, while the retention of a central hall plan and the inclusion of decorative wood trim and antique Chinese hardware on the built-in cupboards disavowed the Machine Age aesthetic. This merging of American and European influences is particularly significant because the Raymond House predates by six years the house Walter Gropius designed for himself in Lincoln, Massachusetts—a work routinely credited with being the first manifestation of a regional modernism.

Several other projects by Raymond, including a modernist studio built for Boston sculptor and philanthropist Amelia Peabody on her Dover estate (1933) and a pioneering solar-heated house designed in conjunction with MIT scientist Dr. Maria Telkes with funding from Peabody (1948), pointed to a missing chapter in the traditionally male history of modernism and building technology. But Raymond's work was

not consistently modern: much of it reflected a conventional accommodation of regional building traditions and revivalist forms. The 1942 compound Raymond designed for the mining heiress Natalie Hays Hammond in Gloucester, Massachusetts, for example, harks back to the domestic architecture of seventeenth-century New England (Figure 19). Each of the four buildings (three individual houses for Hammond and two of her cohorts and a central lodge for communal dining and servants' quarters) features steeply pitched roofs, small-paned casement windows, and dark-stained clapboarding.[23] Other houses in Raymond's oeuvre combined both modernist and historical influences, creating a hybrid not entirely imitative but not exactly innovative, either. But if I left these projects out of the discussion altogether, wouldn't I be creating a canon of my own—a canon whose limited scope only confirmed suspicions that, to paraphrase Linda Nochlin, there have been no great women architects? For me, the answer seemed to be to avoid the subjective, qualitative questions that were responsible for creating a canon in the first place and to try to evaluate Raymond's work on its own terms. Why did Raymond's domestic architecture follow such a broad and varied course? If gender was an overriding factor in so many aspects of her career, did it play a role here too?

Unfortunately, women architects of Raymond's generation were not prone to architectural theorizing. Julia Morgan granted few interviews and wrote nothing for publication, insisting that she was not “a talking architect.”[24] Eileen Gray, according to her biographer, “shied away from any personal revelations” and was critical of the proselytizing of her male modernist colleagues.[25] In the case of Raymond, for every suggestion of a personal aesthetic there was a disclaimer, a retraction. In a 1961 interview, Raymond professed her longtime interest in modern architecture but quickly interjected a warning about becoming a “slave” to a favorite style. “I think it is up to the architect,” she argued, “to express what the client wants and not to superimpose his own ideas.”[26] Such sentiments, present in almost all of Raymond's public statements, are a far cry from the uncompromising egotism of modernism's most celebrated architects and seem to suggest a lack of conviction. But as architectural historian Sarah Whiting has pointed out in an essay on Eileen Gray's work, “being anti-theory is, really, a theory in itself” and merits deeper exploration.[27]

It is tempting to attribute Raymond's responsiveness to her clients' demands to some “feminine” quality of accommodation. Previous treatments


19. Eleanor Agnes Raymond, Natalie Hays Hammond House, Gloucester, Mass., 1942

of Raymond have tried to locate her entire career within socially acceptable parameters of feminine behavior. Doris Cole's 1981 monograph, for example, defends Raymond against the charge of unoriginality by claiming that her work possessed “a subtle simplicity without succumbing to architectural exhibitionism.”[28] But the desire for client satisfaction suggests not so much feminine modesty as a practical acknowledgment of the business, as opposed to the art, of architecture. Working alone or often with one full-time draftswoman, Raymond profited only from commissions she herself generated, and a domestic practice was inherently less lucrative than one that included big-budget civic and commercial commissions. Few clients in conservative Boston proved amenable to the abstract forms and Machine Age philosophy of modernism, and dogmatically championing an aesthetic that clients did not want constituted professional suicide, as a number of local male architects acknowledged.[29] Surely Natalie Hammond, a member of the Medieval Academy of America and amateur historian of preindustrial England, would have sought out the assistance of another architect if Raymond had not been willing to design a “colonial village” for her and her cohorts. Gender issues only exacerbated the problem, as dealing with
suspicions about the capabilities of a woman architect increased the need to be responsive to the client. Raymond's own ambivalence about strict modernism must also be considered—even the Raymond House reflects her desire to “soften” the Machine Age aesthetic through the use of natural materials and traditional construction.

Over two hundred of Raymond's projects completed between the late 1920s and the early 1970s are documented in her office archives. Meeting the demands of her clientele may not have secured Raymond a place in the modernist canon, but it did earn her professional loyalty. Typically commissioned to design a primary residence, the architect was often hired again for additions, renovations to summer houses, or the design of various outbuildings. Raymond also designed artists' studios, churches, one factory addition, and even a luxury piggery for Amelia Peabody's Dover farm. I still have not visited all of Raymond's works; a number of minor renovation or alteration projects seem out of the scope of my research, and unknown street addresses and changes of ownership have made some domestic projects difficult to track down. But writing a catalogue raisonné, a daunting task given the longevity of Raymond's career and the sketchy documentation of her later work, has never been my intention. Her biography, coupled with my own feminist outlook, suggested a thematic approach, one that would deal with several key projects within the larger context of gender, patronage, and the modernist discourse. This strategy, which emphasizes the individual without denying the centrality of other historical agents and avoids the rigid format of a chronological treatment, may provide one way out of the monograph “trap.” Admittedly, this is just one part of a feminist analysis of women and architecture. A truly comprehensive design history would also include women's relationship with architecture as users and patrons and would examine the influence of nonprofessional women on the built environment.[30] But telling the story of the lives of women architects is an essential part of this process; indeed, it is as valuable as recounting our own experiences as historians writing about women artists and architects.


1. Pioneering investigations of women's relationship to the built environment include Matrix's Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment (London: Pluto Press, 1984); Daphne Spain's Gendered Spaces (Chapel

Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992); and Leslie Kanes Weisman's Discrimination by Design: A Feminist Critique of the Man-Made Environment (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992).

2. Recent anthologies focusing on the role of gender and sex in architectural discourse include Sexuality and Space, ed. Beatriz Colomina (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992); Architecture and Feminism, ed. Debra Coleman, Elizabeth Danze, and Carol Henderson (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996); and The Sex of Architecture, ed. Diana Agrest, Patricia Conway, and Leslie Kanes Weisman (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996). In response to these anthologies' focus on architecture's role in the formation of female identities, Joel Sanders has recently edited an anthology of essays dealing with architecture and the construction of the male identity. See Stud: Architectures of Masculinity (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996).

3. The most notable monographs include Judith Paine, Theodate Pope Riddle: Her Life and Work (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1979); Virginia L. Grattan, Mary Colter: Builder upon the Red Earth (Flagstaff, Ariz.: Northland Press, 1980); Doris Cole, Eleanor Raymond, Architect (Philadelphia: Art Alliance Press, 1981); Sara Holmes Boutelle, Julia Morgan, Architect (New York: Abbeville Press, 1988); Doris Cole and Karen Cord Taylor, The Lady Architects: Howe, Manning and Almy (New York: Midmarch Arts Press, 1990); David Gebhard, Lutah Maria Riggs: A Woman in Architecture, 1921–1980 (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Capra Press, 1992); and Peter Adam, Eileen Gray: Architect/Designer (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1987).

4. According to data collected by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, less than 2 percent of all American architects practicing in the first three decades of the twentieth century were women (cited in Sophonisba Breckinridge, Women in the Twentieth Century: A Study of Their Political, Social and Economic Activities [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1933], 188). Today, according to the July 1999 issue of Architecture magazine, women constitute nearly 40 percent of architecture students in America but still own fewer than 9 percent of the nation's architecture firms. Educational obstacles, professional discrimination, and enduring stereotypes about women's unsuitability for architecture are just some of the factors that help account for such discouraging figures.

5. In her book review of published monographs on Theodate Pope Riddle, Mary Colter, Eleanor Raymond, and Julia Morgan, architectural historian Abigail Van Slyck argues that “the growing sophistication of feminist theory requires a serious reassessment of the usefulness of the architect's biography as a tool for reintroducing women in architectural history.” See Abigail A. Van Slyck, “Women in Architecture and the Problems of Biography,” Design Book Review 25 (Summer 1992): 19.

6. For an introduction to the issues raised by feminist biography, see Sara Alpern et al., ed., The Challenge of Feminist Biography: Writing the Lives of Modern American Women (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992).

7. For the period 1890–1910, the number of female students at women's colleges increased by 348.4 percent, while the number of women at coeducational institutions increased by 438 percent. See Joyce Antler, The Educated

Woman and Professionalization: The Struggle for a New Feminine Identity, 1890–1920 (New York: Garland, 1987), 48–49. Raymond was the first of three daughters to attend Wellesley. Her sister Rachel graduated in 1916; her sister Dorothy left Wellesley after three years to get married in 1912.

8. Like many female college graduates of her generation, Raymond found the transition to postcollegiate life somewhat difficult in that her years at Wellesley had provided ample opportunity for personal growth but few practical or marketable skills. Volunteer activities and political causes like the suffrage campaign were common outlets for this generation's energy. For a more detailed discussion of these issues, see Rosalind Rosenberg, Divided Lives: American Women in the Twentieth Century (New York: Hill and Wang, 1992).

9. Raymond was able to purchase the Beacon Hill house because of a substantial inheritance left to the architect upon the death of her father. Such financial considerations and the larger implications of class should not be overlooked in the study of women architects and artists of the period, many of whom share upper-middle-class backgrounds.

10. This 1981 interview, perhaps the most extensive record of Raymond's personal views, was conducted by Doris Cole in conjunction with an exhibition of Raymond's work at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. See Eleanor Raymond: Architectural Projects, 1919–1973 (Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1981), unpaginated.

11. Van Slyck, “Women in Architecture,” 19.

12. Quoted in Eleanor Raymond: Architectural Projects.

13. See Nancy F. Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1987), 226–28.

14. For a discussion of the impact of professionalization on women architects, see Elizabeth G. Grossman and Lisa B. Reitzes, “Caught in the Crossfire: Women and Architectural Education, 1880–1910,” in Architecture: A Place for Women, ed. Ellen Perry Berkeley (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), 27–39. In the 1981 interview cited above, Raymond reflected on her own decision not to apply to MIT's program: “I knew that MIT was accepting women, but they were not making them very welcome.”

15. Raymond's comments are published in Eleanor Raymond: Architectural Projects.

16. An alumnae survey conducted in the early 1930s revealed that 83 percent of all Cambridge School graduates were active in the profession. Of those working, 34 percent either had entered into independent practice or were serving as partners in small firms. Slightly more graduates, 39 percent, were employed as draftswomen in private firms, and 10 percent of alumnae were working in related fields such as teaching or editorial work. The results of this survey were published in the March 1932 brochure of the school, a copy of which is included in the Cambridge School Archives at Smith College. For a general history of the school, see Dorothy May Anderson, Women, Design and the Cambridge School (West Lafayette, Ind.: PDA Publishers, 1980).

17. To date, the most detailed examination of female-network building appears in the scholarship on women and the American political system. In particular,

see Blanche Weisen Cook, “Female Support Networks and Political Activism: Lillian Wald, Crystal Eastman, Emma Goldman,” Chrysalis 3 (1977): 43–61, and Estelle Freedman, “Separatism as Strategy: Female Institution Building and American Feminism, 1870–1930,” Feminist Studies 5 (Fall 1979): 512–29. For the importance of female client networks in architecture, see Boutelle, Julia Morgan, Architect. Deborah Cherry's Painting Women: Victorian Women Artists (New York: Routledge, 1993) suggests the importance of female colleagues and patrons in the nineteenth-century art world, while Bridget Elliott and Jo-Ann Wallace's Women Artists and Writers: Modernist (Im)positionings (New York: Routledge, 1994) raises similar issues for twentieth-century artists.

18. In American Architects and the Mechanics of Fame (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991), Roxanne Kuter Williamson investigates the common reasons for fame in the architecture profession, including proper networks and social connections, well-known mentors, and prestigious degrees. Not surprisingly, not a single woman is included in Williamson's 236-person “Index of Fame.”

19. In her monograph on Julia Morgan, Boutelle dismissed Morgan's sexuality in the introduction without further exploration, claiming that “devoted to her career, [Morgan] seems never even to have considered marriage.” See Boutelle, Julia Morgan, Architect, 7. Despite Peter Adam's repeated emphasis on Eileen Gray's professional relationships with several men and women throughout the main body of his book, his introduction discloses his choice to refrain “from probing too deeply into the private lives of those who were at times her most intimate friends,” as this constituted an area of Gray's life that had “little bearing on [her] work.” See Adam, Eileen Gray, 2.

20. Two general surveys of lesbian and independent American women of the twentieth century were particularly helpful in contextualizing Raymond and Power's relationship: Lillian Faderman's Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America (New York: Penguin Books, 1991) and Trisha Franzen's Spinsters and Lesbians: Independent Womanhood in the United States (New York: New York University Press, 1996).

21. As cultural historian Irit Rogoff has argued in an essay on the role of “gossip” in art historical writing, the legitimization of “distinctly feminized” modes of communication is an important step in countering the conventional male narratives of modernism. See Irit Rogoff, “Gossip as Testimony: A Postmodern Signature,” in Generations and Geographies in the Visual Arts, ed. Griselda Pollock (New York: Routledge, 1996), 58–65.

22. Unfortunately, no one has yet undertaken a scholarly examination of this important publication. The years of Power's tenure are particularly difficult to document, as House Beautiful did not transfer their records from the Boston office when they relocated to New York in 1934.

23. This is not to say that the Hammond Compound is unworthy of close examination. The nontraditional lifestyle of Natalie Hammond provides a compelling case study of architectural patronage. Like Raymond, Hammond was a single woman who chose to live her life surrounded by other professional

women. An accomplished painter, costume designer, and inventor, she settled in Gloucester during World War II to run the Massachusetts Women's Defense Corps—a volunteer paramilitary organization that trained women in civilian defense. Alice Laughlin and Phyllis Connard, Hammond's fellow residents, were also founding members of the corps. In addition to their wartime activities, Laughlin was an Arts Student League–trained artist and Connard was an actress and painter. Each house included a large studio or office for independent work and a compact galley kitchen, as most meals were prepared by servants and eaten in the separate dining hall.

24. Boutelle, Julia Morgan, Architect, 110.

25. Adam, Eileen Gray, 8.

26. Quoted in Nan Trent, “Award Winner Designs Houses Inside Out,” Christian Science Monitor, October 31, 1961, 6.

27. See Sarah Whiting, “Voices between the Lines: Talking in the Gray Zone,” in Eileen Gray: An Architect for All Senses, ed. Caroline Constant and Wilfried Wang (Tubingen: Ernst J. Wasmuth, 1996), 72. Whiting's essay examines Gray's writings, composed primarily in the form of dialogues, and suggests how the architect's approach to discourse deliberately differed from the style adopted by her male colleagues.

28. Cole, Eleanor Raymond, 10. The author also maintains that Raymond's work reflected “the needs of people and the concerns of the feminine world” (10).

29. Royal Barry Wills, a New England architect noted for his Colonial Revival houses, also flirted with a more modernist vocabulary but concluded that he was not “rabid enough to wage an unholy war against the inherent desires” of his clients. See Royal Barry Wills, “Confessions of a Cape Codder,” Architectural Record 105 (April 1949): 134.

30. An excellent analysis of the role of women as patrons of modern architecture is contained in Alice Friedman's Women and the Making of the Modern House: A Social and Architectural History (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998). Dolores Hayden's groundbreaking history of feminist designs for American homes and cities, The Grand Domestic Revolution (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1981), is an exemplary model for future investigations of the contributions of nonarchitects.


Preferred Citation: Frederickson, Kristen, and Sarah E. Webb, editors Singular Women: Writing the Artist. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c2003 2003.