Ojai City Hall
Zelma Wilson was born in New York City in 1918. Her mother and father were Jewish emigrants from Lithuania and Belarus. She moved to California in 1924 and grew up in Santa Paula, CA. She attended UCLA, UC Berkeley and USC, graduating with a Bachelor in Architecture in 1947 from USC. She was the only woman in her graduating class.
Her husband, Michael Wilson, was a blacklisted screenwriter during the McCarthy Era. Because of this, she and her family moved to France in 1956, the same year she received her architectural license from the state of California. She continued her graduate studies at the L’Ecole de Beau and Fontainebleau School of Arts. She and her family returned to California in 1964.
In 1967, she opened her own firm in Ojai, California called The Ojai Group. The firm started out with residential projects and progressed to institutional works. She was awarded 5 AIA design awards; the most notable was the 1977 AIA ward for her San Antonio Bridge Project and the Ojai City Hall. In 1983, she was inducted into the AIA College of Fellows, one of the highest honors for architects. She not only practiced architecture but lectured and taught at California Polytechnic. She held many titles, including Executive Board member of the AIA, Ventura County chapter from 1975-80 and President of the AIA, Ventura County chapter from 1977-78.
She lived the remainder of her life in Ojai, California and died in 1996.
Major Buildings and Projects
Iwata Garden Center, Ojai , 1967
Wilson, Zelma G., House, Ojai, 1970
Ojai City Hall
Press and Awards
Laskey, Marlene L. Rebel and Architect Oral History Transcript, 1988-1989 : Zelma Wilson. Los Angeles: Oral History Program, University of California, 1994.
Gane, John F. American Architects Directory 1970. R. R. Bowker Company, 1970. 1002.