Early life and education
Born in Warren, Maine in 1830 to Dr. Thomas Donaldson Raeburn from Scotland and Ann Church (Burton) Raeburn, Annie’s childhood was disrupted by the death of her father in 1834. Though the family was plunged into poverty, Annie attended school through age 19.
She moved to South Boston, Massachusetts soon after her 1850 marriage to neighbor Sewall Chapman Cobb, a shipwright.
In 1866, Sewall left Boston and moved permanently to Florida. Annie stayed in South Boston with her daughter and her mother, eventually setting up a household in Newton Highlands. She joined Sewall for the winter months in Pensacola each year.
Career in Architecture
Annie’s education in the building trades began with the construction of her own house on Telegraph Street, South Boston in 1852-3. It is thought that Annie was involved with the construction in 1860 of a block of four houses on East Seventh Street, South Boston built under the legal name Cobb & Reed, her husband’s (ship chandlers) company. One of these houses was purchased by Annie Cobb for her own use a few years later.
After her partial separation from her husband, Cobb began to purchase lots in 1872 in Newton Highlands, a railroad suburb of Boston eventually designing and building at least 16 houses and putting additions onto two others.
Cobb gained recognition when she was chosen as one of a small number of women architects to exhibit their work in the Woman’s Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 held in Chicago. One of her houses on Chester Street was featured in Scientific American Architects and Builders Edition Volume XV, February, 1893. In addition, she wrote and lectured about her career and put together a book of her house designs.
Major Buildings and Projects
Chester Street, Hillside Road, Forest Street in Newton Highlands, MA
In 1888 Cobb presented a paper titled: How One Woman Became a House Builder, which described “an account of her practical experiences as an architect and builder, showing us how a capable woman can work in any direction where a well disciplined mind can order and arrange.” Newton Journal, 18 May 1888
For more information about Cobb, please contact Laura Fitzmaurice at Lauraefitzmaurice@gmail.com