Eleanor Raymond

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Eleanor Raymond (March 24, 1887 – July 4, 1989) was an American architect who built and designed the first occupied, solar-powered house in the United States.

Early life[edit]

Raymond was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1887 and graduated from Wellesley College in 1909. She was among five women architectural design students of Henry Frost and Bremer Pond in 1915.[1] She graduated from the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for Women in 1919, where she developed her interest in the relationship between architecture and landscape architecture.


She opened her own office in 1928 after working with well-known architect Henry Atherton Frost for several years. Raymond was drawn to the simple vernacular structures expressive of rural American life, avoiding the grand facades and the exclusively modern styles that were popular with her contemporaries. In 1931, after five years of work, Raymond published Early Domestic Architecture of Pennsylvania, in which she explored what she called the, “unstudied directness in fitting form to function” of very early American architecture. The book was one of the first systematic inventories of vernacular American architecture and defined Raymond’s career. Raymond became known for primarily residential designs that took cues from early American architecture, as well as for her restoration and remodeling work, which approached modern-day adaptive reuse. Raymond always worked within the “three fields” of a house—the exterior, interior, and landscape—and maintained that the architect must always know how the client will use the house. Much of her work was commissioned by women from her social group in Boston and Cambridge, although the two properties featured here were not. One client called her “an architect who combines a respect for tradition with a disrespect for its limitations.”

The Dover Sun House[edit]

In 1948, she undertook one of her most ambitious works, the Dover Sun House,[2] an innovative house with solar collectors, with Dr. Mária Telkes from the MIT Solar Laboratory.[1] Eleanor Raymond amassed more than 50 years of professional experience in the practice of architecture and in 1961 was made a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.[3]

Age discrepancy[edit]

Raymond died in Boston, Massachusetts in 1989 at the age of 102. Many literary and online sources give her dates of life as 1888 to 1989, but a look at the Social Security Death Index shows that she was born in 1887 and died in 1989, making her 102 at the time of her death.


  1. ^ a b Golemba, Beverly E. (1992). Lesser-known Women: A Biographical Dictionary. Boulder u.a.: Rienner. p. 251. ISBN 978-1-55587-301-1. 
  2. ^ Denzer, Anthony (2013). The Solar House: Pioneering Sustainable Design. Rizzoli. ISBN 978-0847840052. 
  3. ^ "Eleanor Raymond (1888-1989), architect". National Park Service. Retrieved 11 April 2013.