Louise Blanchard Bethune
|Louise Blanchard Bethune|
July 21, 1856|
|Died||December 18, 1913|
Personal life 
Bethune was born Jennie Louise Blanchard in Waterloo, New York in 1856. The Blanchard family moved to Buffalo, New York when she was a child. She graduated from the Buffalo High School in 1874.
In 1881 she wed Robert Bethune and they had a son, Charles, in 1883.
Bethune was reported to be the person who purchased the first woman's bicycle to go on sale in Buffalo. She was a very active member of the local Wheel and Athletic Club.
Bethune was planning on going to architecture school at Cornell. Instead, in 1876, she took a job working as a draftsman in the office of Richard A. Waite and F.W. Caulkings who were well known architects in Buffalo, New York. At the time it was more common to learn architecture while working for a firm rather than in a classroom. She worked for this company for 5 years and with this company she received a “man’s” education and proved that she could hold her own in this masculine profession.
In 1881, she opened an independent office partnering with Robert Bethune in Buffalo, earning herself the title of the nation's first professional woman architect.
Bethune was elected a member of the Western Association of Architects in 1885, of which she later served a term as vice president. She was the first female associate of the American Institute of Architects (A.I.A.) in 1888 and she became a fellow of the institute in 1889.
In 1891 she refused to compete in a design competition for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago because of the difference in how men and women were being treated. The men were paid $10,000 to design other buildings for the fair while the women only got $1,000 for their designs.
Bethune designed mostly industrial and public buildings. She disliked working on private home projects since they were not a challenge for her and they paid very little money. She is known for designing some of Buffalo’s best hotels and schools. Sadly, a lot of the buildings she designed have been destroyed to make room for newer, updated buildings. One of her most well known designs, and her masterpiece, was the neoclassical Hotel Lafayette which was commissioned for $1 million to design. It was completed in 1904. It had 256 rooms and was one of the finest hotels in the U.S. in its time. She and her husband worked together to design a music store in Buffalo that was one of the first buildings in the United States to be built using a steel frame and poured concrete slabs. Two other buildings that she designed that are still standing today are the Iroquois Door Plant Company warehouse and the large Chandler Street Complex for the Buffalo Weaving Company.
Bethune retired in 1908 and died in 1913 at the age of 57. In 1910, between the time she retired and the time she died, there were 50 women working professionally as architects.
See also 
- Ladies of the Wheel, Buffalo Morning Express, August 14, 1892. Reproduced online by fultonhistory.com. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
- Louise Blanchard Bethune (1856-1913, Women in Architecture (University of Illinois ). Retrieved 2011-11-14.
- Jennifer Walkowski (April 2010). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Buffalo Meter Company Building". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2013-02-21. See also: "Accompanying 16 photos".
- National Register of Historic Places Registration: Hotel Lafayette, June 2010
- Buffalo Feminist and America's First Woman Architect, Buffalo Architecture and History. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
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