Eleanor Raymond was born on March 24, 1887 in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Cole 1). After graduating from Wellesley College in 1909, Raymond traveled throughout Europe and enrolled in the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in 1917 (Cole 89). This school was created to solely educate women as professionals, with a specific emphasis on the Beaux-Arts curriculum, which focused on residential design. It was at this institution that Raymond developed her interest in the relationship between landscape architecture and residential architecture; she also formed a strong interest in building systems, innovative materials, and technology (Graduate School of Design 1). In 1919 Eleanor Raymond opened a firm with Henry Atherton Frost, the co-founder and director of the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture who “believed that women were ‘particularly suited to domestic architecture’” (Cole 1). Raymond followed her experience with Frost by opening her own small firm in 1928, which focused on residential design that incorporated modernity, traces of rural American life, and a lack of grand facades (Cole 90).
While male architects were associated with designing public structures such as office buildings in the 20th century, it was socially acceptable for women to be architects due to their training in residential and landscape design; female architects, especially Eleanor Raymond, specialized in these fields because one, they rarely received other commission, and two, because these two categories were historically female domains. Naturally most all of Raymond’s clients were females, many of whom were associated with the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, known as “the Cambridge Group” (Cole 90).
Throughout her career as an architect, Raymond was most interested in integrating her designs with their surrounding environment as well as combining technology with new materials, such as Masonite and plywood (CSA 1). Beginning in 1919, Raymond’s designs were built mostly to female clients in the eastern United States (CSA 1).
In 1931, Raymond’s career was defined by the publication of her book called Early Domestic Architecture of Pennsylvania, where she explored the “unstudied directness in fitting form to function” (Places 2). Not only did this work record both the interior and exterior views of facilities, but it was also one of the first to recognize the architectural value and beauty of smaller, more primitive structures (Logobook.com 1). She then became known for her residential, remodeling, and restoration designs, and always considered three fields in each of her designs: the landscape, the interior, and the exterior (Places 3). Not only was it important for Raymond to fulfill her client’s functional design needs, it was essential for her as a designer to include the general requirements for modern life (Cole 90). Throughout her prime, Raymond’ focus on designing with the International Style is traced with International United States Style House in 1931, the Plywood House in 1940, and finally the Dover Sun House in 1949, which was the first occupied solar-heated and solar-powered in the Northeast (Places 2). The Sun House, also known as the Peabody Sun House, was sponsored and built for Amelia Peabody (The Encyclopedia of Earth 1).
Most recently, the Rachel Raymond House in Belmont, Massachusetts, was demolished. Eleanor Raymond designed this house for her sister in 1931 after a vacation to Germany with Ethel Brown Power, the editor for Raymond’s practice and her former classmate. This Park Avenue modern design was purchased by the Belmont Hill School, a private school for boys, and was declared the first modern house in Massachusetts by the Architectural Forum in 1931.
Raymond practiced until 1973, and passed away on July 4, 1989 in Boston, Massachusetts at the age of 102 (The Encyclopedia of the Earth 2). Throughout her career as an architect, she was affected by the national changes in women’s rights, new shifts in professional statuses for women, and the change in architecture from the Beaux-Arts classicism, which Raymond was trained with at the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, to the Modern Movement’s International Style, which Raymond later developed and used in many of her designs (Cole 90). In her time, Eleanor Raymond was one of the first women to become a working professional in her field, as well as one of the earliest architects to use modern design and technological advancements in designing American homes (Cole 89).
Major Buildings and Projects
Dover Sun House, 1949
International US Style House, 1931
Peabody Plywood House, Dover, 1940
Press and Awards
Cole, Doris. (1981). Eleanor Raymond, Architect. Philadelphia: The Art Alliance Press.
CSA Illumina. (2007). Eleanor Raymond. Retrieved November 4, 2007, from https://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=TRD&recid=200204202469CE&q=%22Eleanor+Raymond%22&uid=791703137
The Encyclopedia of Earth. (Date N/A). Telkes, Maria. Retrieved November 18, 2007, from https://www.eoearth.org/article/Telkes,_Maria
Graduate School of Design. (2002-2006). Julia Allen Field: The Amazonia 2000 Collection. Frances Loeb Library: Special Collections. Retrieved November 18, 2007, from https://www.gsd.harvard.edu/loeb_library/special_collections/collections/ index.html
Logobook.com. (Date N/A). Early Domestic Architecture of Pennsylvania, Eleanor Raymond, Schiffer. Retrieved November 7, 2007, from https://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://www.logobook.ru/make_simage.php%3Fuid%3D11124678%26wsize%3D70&imgrefurl=https://www.logobook.ru/prod_show.php%3Fobject_uid%3D11125604&h=90&w=70&sz=7&hl=en&start=9&um=1&tbnid=bhFzq7Rm6KNAfM:&tbnh=78&tbnw=61&prev=
Places Where Women Make History. (March 1998). John Lovejoy Abbot House and Solomon Higgins House. Retreived November 16, 2007, from https://www.nps. gov/history/nr/travel/pwwmh/ma50.htm
Murphy, Kevin D. “The Vernacular Moment: Eleanor Raymond, Walter Gropius, and New England Modernism between the Wars.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 70 (September 2011): 308-29.