Marjorie McLean Wintermute
One of the first women nationally to be advanced to Fellowship by AIA, Marge touched our built environment in countless ways through both her practice and her community endeavors.
She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon in 1941 and, during the war years, was the only woman in a drafting room with 175 men at Bonneville Power Authority, working on plans for hydroelectric dams. Following a stint in San Francisco for Standard Oil where, among other things, she designed a city for Arab workers in Bahrain, she returned to Portland and apprenticed with Pietro Belluschi. She was quoted in the MatriArchs exhibit: “Then I did a thing which I would never have done today. I got married in 1947 and quit working for Pietro’s office because that was what was expected in my time. I continued working out of my home – mostly residential work…. When I think of it now… I was working for Pietro and I quit! Can you imagine! Stupidest thing I ever did.”
Nonetheless, Marge went on to make a huge mark on architecture in Oregon, particularly in the area of education. She received awards for her contributions to the built environment including: a Gold Medal from the American Heart Association for a children’s activity magazine; a Gulick Award, the highest national award of Campfire Inc. for development and implementation of a city-wide environmental awareness program for the then-10,000-member Portland Council; and the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission’s Visionary Award, which was inscribed: “A visionary individual for instilling in Portland’s youth an appreciation for our architectural heritage.” In 1997, she received the Oregon Governor’s Award for the Arts.
After 22 years of independent practice and 10 years as a principal with Architects Northwest, Marge became Architect-in-Residence for Washington County Educational Service District, where she developed three publications, including “Architecture as a Basic Curriculum Builder.” The guide is still used for the Architects in Schools (AiS) program, which serves 1,250 Oregon young people each year. Marge served as coordinator and program trainer for AiS from 1985–91 when it was administered by the Oregon Arts Commission.
During her time at Washington County ESD, Marge also designed and supervised restoration work at Timberline Lodge. She said, “I was employed to do a restoration of the ground floor of Timberline Lodge. The space had been so misused – that was where everybody waxed their skis and cooked hamburgers and there was a deli where they fried French fries. When we started doing the main lobby, all the wood was black! We screened the whole thing off with plastic and used 409 wire brushes and water pressure. It took six weeks but we were able to get to the original wood.”