News Release, St. Mary’s County Library & St. Mary’s County Historical Society

The St Mary’s County Library and the St Mary’s County Historical Society partnered to host the Early Woman of Architecture in Maryland traveling exhibit on view at the Lexington Park Library through March 1, 2020, with support assistance from the St Mary’s County Art Council and the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).  

The exhibit showcases twelve extraordinary women of architecture and landscape architecture with projects throughout Maryland between 1920 and 1970.  Many of the women featured succeeded during the lean years of the Depression and World War II through sheer perseverance and determination that serve as inspiration today.

To kick off Women’s’ History Month, there will be a special presentation on March 1, 2020, on the final day of the exhibit from 2:00-3:30 pm at the Lexington Park Library.  The presentation will focus on the four women in the exhibit who designed projects in Southern Maryland: Rose Greely, FASLA (1887-1969) and Gertrude Sawyer, AIA (1895-1996), both who undertook several projects in St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties; Katherine Cutler Ficken (1911-1968) in Calvert County; and Melita Rodeck, AIA (1914-2011) in Charles and Calvert Counties.  

The presentation will also share research discovered since the exhibit was produced, including the stories of two sisters, Alberta Cassell Butler (1926-2007) and Martha Cassell Thompson (1925-1968) who were the first African American female graduates from Cornell University in 1947 and practiced as architects in Washington, DC. Continuing Education Units are available to professionals through the AIA Chesapeake Bay Chapter.

The projects in St Mary’s County include those by Rose Greely who prepared designs in 1933 and 1934 for the grounds of the Reconstructed 1676 Maryland State House in St Mary’s City.  She was the first woman to receive architectural registration in Washington, D.C. in 1926 and was elected in 1939 to the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows (FASLA) due to her exceptional contributions to the landscape architecture profession.  Gertrude Sawyer becomes registered as an architect in Maryland in 1935 and designed several buildings on the Cremona Estate in Mechanicsville as well as additions to historic homes on Jubilee Farm in Leonardtown and Mulberry Fields in Beauvue.  She was hired by the County in 1949 to restore Tudor Hall into St Mary’s County’s first library in Leonardtown.  Following the library’s move to new headquarters, Tudor Hall became the home of St Mary’s County Historical Society in 1984.

The guest presenter is Jillian Storms, AIA, an architect with the Maryland Department of Education and curator of the Early Women of Architecture in Maryland exhibit.  She organized the research behind the exhibit with the EQUITY Committee of AIABaltimore and assistance from the Baltimore Architecture Foundation and Morgan State University. A Maryland Humanities starter grant helped kick off the creation of a traveling exhibit to capture the stories they discovered of the women pioneers of the profession.  This is its first showing in Maryland’s “mother county.”

The Lexington Park Library address is located at 21677 FDR Boulevard, Lexington Park, MD 20653 and is open Monday-Thursday 9:00 am-8:00 pm, Friday-Saturday 9:00 am-5:00 pm, and Sunday 1:00-5:00 pm.  

Exhibit Research:;   AIA Chesapeake Bay Chapter:  

St. Mary’s County Library System;   St. Mary’s County Historical Society

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...