Architect Eleanor Raymond, FAIA, is an important member of the American architectural canon, although she is not as well known as her male peers. As a woman practicing architecture for more than 50 years beginning in 1919, she was unique in establishing a private practice in the male-dominated field of the early 20th century. She was an early adopter of modern architectural principles in New England, building the first documented modern movement home in Massachusetts in 1931 and several more thereafter. While the debate over regional modernism raged in male-dominated circles, she proved herself adept at translating the modern principles of simplicity, utility, and geometry through a New England vernacular that made it accessible to her sometimes architecturally conservative clientele. Working in several fruitful partnerships with other women, she built a roster of unique and experimental structures, including early pre-fabricated housing as well as the first house to be heated entirely by solar energy in partnership with MIT's Dr. Maria Telkes in 1948. Living to the age of 102 in a period of tremendous technological and social change, she built her homes with an understanding the past, her present, and the world's future.
My research on Eleanor Raymond for Historic New England began with Raymond's personal collection of photographs of her homes located in the Historic New England archives. Working with these photographs, archival materials at the Frances Loeb Design Libraries at Harvard University, an interview with Raymond's original biographer, and visits to Raymond's homes that are still standing, I wrote a presentation that outlines Raymond's history while examining how her homes have fared after nearly a century of living. The presentation has been given online, at the Codman Estate, and at the Lexington Historical Society, and can be given elsewhere by arrangement through the Gropius House. A recording of the online lecture is available upon request.
Research on Raymond's career for further application is ongoing.