Ruth Maxon Adams

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Ruth Maxon Adams (1883–1970) was an American architect. Adams grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, the only child of Yale professor George Burton Adams.[1] As a child, she visited England with her father, where she was first exposed to William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. She graduated from Vassar College in 1904, with no intention of practicing architecture.[1]

Six years later, she enrolled in the New York School of Applied Design for Women to study interior design. Adams received commissions from Vassar to remodel several campus buildings in 1914. The following year she decided to open her own interior design firm in New York City. During that first year, she received a commission to design a house for two Vassar professors, Edith Fahnestock and Rose Peebles. Adams would go on to design at least six Vassar residences over the course of forty years. Their architectural styles varied, including medieval, Tudor, and neoclassical architecture. She also served as a design consultant for Vassar until 1942. In this position she compiled annual inventories of all of the buildings owned by the college.[1]

In 1921, Adams became the architect for Yelping Hill in Connecticut.[2] The neighborhood, a part of West Cornwall, was a summer getaway in the Berkshires.[1] Adams designed all the residences, co-planned the community, and served as a construction foreman.[1] The houses had no kitchens, as all dining took place in a communal dining room. Childcare was also a community task. These concepts and executions by Adams are considered by architecture historians to be an expression of Adams' feminist ideals.[2] Despite focusing on architecture, Adams described herself as a "designer," rather than an architect.[1]


Adams' achievements are located in the collection of the Vassar College archives. The records pertaining to her work with Yelping Hill are held by the Yelping Hill Association Archives.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sarah Allaback (23 May 2008). The first American women architects. University of Illinois Press. pp. 41–42. ISBN 978-0-252-03321-6. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Ruth Maxon Adams". Retrieved 2016-11-30.