Reference Entry

Bethune, Louise Blanchard

Lisa B. Reitzes

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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Bethune, Louise Blanchard (21 July 1856–18 December 1913), architect, was born in Waterloo, New York, the daughter of Dalson Wallace Blanchard, a schoolteacher and principal, and Emma Melona Williams, also a schoolteacher. Called Jennie by family and friends, Louise Blanchard was educated at home and then attended Buffalo High School, where she showed “great aptitude in planning houses and various other structures.” After graduating in 1874, she spent two years in preparation for entering the newly established architecture program at Cornell University but eventually decided instead to become a draftsman for Buffalo architect Richard A. Waite. During her apprenticeship, she learned technical drawing and architectural design, visited construction sites, and studied a wide range of works in the office library. Eventually she became Waite’s assistant. In 1881, recognizing Buffalo’s prosperity and the need for practicing architects, Louise Blanchard decided to open her own office, an event that was announced at the Ninth Congress of the Association for the Advancement of Women and that made her the “first professional woman architect” in the United States. In December 1881 she married and formed a professional partnership with Robert Armour Bethune, a Canadian-born draftsman who had worked in Waite’s office. The firm became Bethune, Bethune & Fuchs in 1883, the year she gave birth to her only child....

Reference Entry.  705 words. 

Subjects: Architecture

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