Captain George Vancouver Julia Butler Hansen Carlos Bulosan Ernestine Anderson Kurt Cobain Bill Gates & Paul Allen Home
Search Encyclopedia
Facebook
Advanced Search
Donate Now! Book Store Featured Eassy Sponsor of the Week
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
6808 HistoryLink.org essays now available      
Donate Subscribe

Shortcuts

Libraries
Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search

Features

Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Everett
Olympia
Seattle
Spokane
Tacoma
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Cyberpedia Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Ayer, Elizabeth (1897-1987), Architect

HistoryLink.org Essay 1721 : Printer-Friendly Format

Elizabeth Ayer, the first female graduate of the University of Washington's architecture program, helped fashion the residential architecture of many Seattle neighborhoods in the mid-twentieth century. Notwithstanding the growing popularity of modernism, Ayer integrated modern needs with traditional forms and throughout her career embraced historical styles.

First Female Architect from UW

Born in Thurston County, Washington, Ayer was one of the University of Washington's first architecture graduates. She received her degree in 1921, and in 1930 became the first female architect registered within the state of Washington.

Ayer initially worked in several different architectural offices. When commissions were low, she traveled abroad. In 1922, a year after graduating, she moved to New York City and worked for Cross & Cross and Grosvenor Atterbery. After a brief time in the office of Andrew Willatsen, she returned to Seattle and joined the firm of Ivey & Riley. Edwin J. Ivey provided Ayer with critical support and guidance that would shape her approach to domestic architecture. In 1924, she was principal architect for at least one residence, built in The Highlands for C. W. Stimson. (The Highlands is a "gated community" on Puget Sound immediately north of the Seattle City Limits.)

Colonial Revival

In 1927, after traveling in Europe for a year, Ayer returned to Ivey's firm, which was engaged in a number of commissions within Broadmoor and The Highlands. The designs for houses in these communities were traditional, predominantly Colonial Revival (with features such as double hung sash windows). The Langdon C. Henry residence (1927-1928), located in The Highlands, is a textbook example of the revivalist aesthetics driving domestic architectural design in the 1920s, especially in exclusive neighborhoods.

Edwin Ivey's firm produced several designs for these neighborhoods during the next few decades. Ayer collaborated in a number of works within Ivey's firm including the Seattle Children's Home (1930-1931, destroyed); the Winston W. Chambers residence (1937); and the Albert Schafer Castle (1938-1939) of Hood Canal, Washington.

Modern-Traditional Synthesis

With the growing popularization of modernism and the machine aesthetic (functional and nondecorative) in the 1930s, some designers placed less emphasis on historical styles. Within Ivey's firm, traditional interior and exterior formats gave way to open, functional floor plans. The Aubrey Naef residence (1935-1936) synthesized traditional Colonial forms such as double hung sash windows and a classically detailed cornice, with an irregular, boxy composition.

A New Partnership, Smaller Houses

After Ivey's death in 1940, Ayer formed a partnership with another University of Washington graduate, Rolland Lamping. Both worked within Ivey's office, but abandoned the large scale residential designs cultivated by that office in favor of smaller residential and commercial projects. In contrast to the many modernist designs popular in the area after World War II, Ayer continued to employ the conventional architectural details used in her earlier Colonial Revival designs.

The firm of Ayer and Lamping produced numerous modest houses that integrated an historical aesthetic with modern functionality. An example is the William E. Forland residence. Its facade is a classic adaptation of the Colonial Revival style: Its wooden shingled mansard roof, double hung sash windows, large central brick chimney, transom, six-paneled door, wooden framing and weatherboarding all convey a traditional approach to domestic architecture. The back and interior of the house, however, accommodate modern needs, integrating function with traditional design elements commonly found in American architecture for centuries.

Ayer retired in 1970 after half a century of architectural practice. The traditional forms of her designs continue to provide Seattle neighborhoods with variety and stylistic complexity.

Sources:
S. Sian Roberts and Mary Shaughnessy, Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects ed. by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner (Seattle: University of Washington Press,1994), 264-269.
Note: This essay was revised on April 30, 2001.


< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Women's History | Biographies | Women's History |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License


Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You




Elizabeth Ayer (1897-1987), 1939
Courtesy UW Special Collections


Brookwood (Elizabeth Ayer, 1924), formerly owned by C. W. Stimson, April 2000
Courtesy Phil Barrett


Langdon C. Henry residence, The Highlands, 1927-28.
Courtesy UW Libraries, Special Collections


Aubrey Naef residence, Seattle, 1935-36
Courtesy UW Libraries, Special Collections


William E. Forland residence, Seattle, 1961-63, Ayer and Lamping
Courtesy Shaping Seattle Architecture, Ochsner


Robert F. Linden residence (Ayer and Lamping), Bainbridge Island, 1962
Courtesy UW Special Collections


 
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search

HistoryLink.org is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM)
HistoryLink.org is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email admin@historylink.org