Edla Muir

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Edla Muir (January 23, 1906 – November 5, 1971) was an American architect, best known for designing residences in Southern California.

Early life and education[edit]

Muir was born in 1906, in San Francisco, California. Her father was Joseph Muir, a throat surgeon and diplomat; and her mother Ethel Fitch Muir was an operatic soprano, the granddaughter of politician Thomas Fitch.[1][2] Her unusual first name is from her father's earlier wife, Edla Coleman McPherson, who died in 1901.[3][4] Edla Muir’s parents divorced in 1916.[5]

As a schoolgirl, she worked weekends and summers for a Santa Monica-based architect, John Byers. She graduated from Inglewood High School in 1923, and then began working full-time in Byers' office.[6] In 1927, she won a cash prize for her designs, from the Rondith Corporation.[7]


Muir focused on designing modern private homes, especially for clients in Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and other affluent Southern California communities.[8][9][10] Among her celebrity clients were Shirley Temple, Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck.[11][12][13] She earned her architecture license in 1934, and continued at the Byers office until 1942.[14][15] After World War II she opened her own office, and was an independent architect until the end of her life. Her designs were featured in Sunset magazine, Architectural Digest, and other publications, as representative of the modern California home.[16] She also designed some public and commercial buildings, such as a supermarket and the City Hall in Ellensburg, Washington, and a corporate office in Mexico City.[17][18][19] Her design for the Zona Hall residence in West Los Angeles won the Honor Award of the Southern California chapter, American Institute of Architects, in 1952.[20]

She also designed her own family's residence, a dramatic structure on the side of a cliff at Mandeville Canyon.[21]

Personal life and legacy[edit]

Edla Muir married Clyde Lambie, and had one son, Alec. She died in November 1971, age 65. In 1982 the Organization of Women Architects honored Edla Muir and Lutah Maria Riggs as pioneering women in architecture, in a publication to mark the group's tenth anniversary.[22] She was also one of the women architects highlighted in a 1989 exhibit at the Pacific Design Center.[23][24]

Muir's papers are in the Architecture and Design Collection at University Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara.[25]

[26]Works outside southern California[edit]

Name City US State/


Completed Other Information Image
Balcom, Mr. and Mrs. Maurice ranch house alterations Thorpe Washington/USA 1954
Brotherton, Harley house alterations Ellensburg Washington/USA 1954
Chase, Goodwin ranch alterations Ellensburg Washington/USA 1954
Coppock house Ellensburg Washington/USA undated
Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce board room Antlers Hotel Ellensburg Washington/USA 1955
Dane, Mr and Mrs. Harrison K. House Ellensburg Washington/USA 1956
Dano Harrison K. Overland Ellensburg Washington/USA 1956
Dwyer house Ellensburg Washington/USA undated


  1. ^ Robert Alter, "Los Angeles Likes the Ellis Club's Patriotic Concert," Pacific Coast Musical Review 33(February 14, 1918): 5.
  2. ^ "Seventh Night of Wagner," New York Times (August 18, 1911).
  3. ^ "Joseph Muir, M. D.," in New York State's Prominent and Progressive Men: An Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Biography (New York Tribune 1902).
  4. ^ "Death of Mrs. Edla Muir; Daughter of Senator McPherson Was Here to Contest Mother's Will," New York Times (December 31, 1901).
  5. ^ ”S. F. Beauty Plans Suit for Divorce: Mrs. Ethel Muir,” ‘’San Francisco Chronicle(May 21, 1916): 24.
  6. ^ Sarah Allaback, ed., The First American Women Architects (University of Illinois Press 2008): 156-158. ISBN 0252033213
  7. ^ "Four Win Money in Designing: Prizes Totalling $1850 to be Awarded Today by Corporation," Los Angeles Times (May 8, 1927): E3, notes "Special interest is attached to the fact that the winner of the second prize, Miss Edna Muir, is a girl who has established a precedent by being named among the first three."
  8. ^ Ethel McCall Head, "A View with a House," Los Angeles Times (November 13, 1949): G4.
  9. ^ "Delightfully Californian," Los Angeles Times(March 3, 1946): E3.
  10. ^ Steven Barrie-Anthony, "Landscape of Constant Change," Los Angeles Times (July 7, 2005).
  11. ^ "Shirley Temple Home Listed at $1.75 Million," Los Angeles Times (April 23, 1983): L1.
  12. ^ John F. Kasson, The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America" (W. W. Norton 2014): 208. ISBN 0393240797
  13. ^ "House Planned for Motion Picture Couple," Los Angeles Times (February 22, 1948): 20.
  14. ^ "Novel Ideas in New Home; Southern Charms Portrayed," Los Angeles Times (August 23, 1936): E4.
  15. ^ Susan Cloke, "Hometown Hero: John Byers, Santa Monica Architect," Santa Monica Mirror (January 27, 2012).
  16. ^ "Remodeling of Home Described in Lambie Magazine Article," Ellensburg Daily Record (October 2, 1958): 5.
  17. ^ "Pick Architect for City Hall," Ellensburg Daily Record (January 19, 1954): 1.
  18. ^ "Local Architect Planning Building for Mexico City," Ellensburg Daily Record (January 28, 1955).
  19. ^ "Owners Praise Architect of Supermarket," Ellensburg Daily Record (October 12, 1955).
  20. ^ "Winner of Honor Award, Southern California A.I.A. Awards, for residence of Miss Zona Hall, West Los Angeles," Architectural Record 12(1952): 32-34.
  21. ^ "An Architect's Home That Clings to a Cliff: Inside, Privacy with an Air of Freedom," Los Angeles Times (April 22, 1962): K22.
  22. ^ Nanci Baker and Mui Ho, "In Celebration of Women in Architecture," Organization of Women Architects 1982.
  23. ^ Evelyn de Wolfe, "Women Architects Mark First 100 Years; Exhibit Celebrates the Progress of the Fastest-Growing Segment of AIA," Los Angeles Times (June 25, 1989): 2.
  24. ^ Harriet Rochlin, "A Distinguished Generation of Women Architects in California," AIA Journal 66(9)(1977): 38-42.
  25. ^ Finding Aid for the Edla Muir Papers, University of California, Santa Barbara, Online Archive of California.
  26. ^ "Finding Aid for the Edla Muir papers, circa 1917-1986 0000160". oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 2019-03-22.