Thursday, December 17, 2015

Juliet Peddle, Indiana's first licensed female architect

Interested in knowing more about architect Juliet Peddle? She is known for her Modern designs in her hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana, as well as her interest in preserving historic architecture. She created a series of holiday cards, one of which is above, to send to friends and clients, and also designed cards for others. 

A small collection of her work was donated recently, and has been digitized and made available in the University Libraries' Digital Media Repository. Below is a brief biographical sketch from the finding aid to the collection:

Juliet Alice Peddle was born June 7, 1899 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Her father, John Peddle, worked as a professor of machine design at Rose Polytechnic Institute in Terre Haute.[1] She attended King Classical School during her formative years and began studying architecture at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1918. At the University of Michigan, Peddle was friends with fellow student, Bertha Yerex Whitman, who was the first female graduate from the architecture school when she graduated in 1920.  Whitman and Peddle both belonged to the  T-Square Society, a club for female and engineering students established in 1915.[2]

Upon graduation in 1922, Peddle followed Whitman to Chicago to work at the architecture firm Perkins, Fellows, and Hamilton, which specialized in designing school buildings. [3] She continued her education through courses at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she also taught briefly, and at the Berkshire Summer Art Institute.

Peddle received her license to practice architecture in Illinois in 1926, and was one of only seven female architects to receive licenses that year. In 1927, she embarked on a six-month sketching trip through England, France, and Italy. She studied and sketched historical buildings, views of canals, and other old world architecture.

After her trip to Europe, Juliet returned to Chicago and worked for Edwin H. Clark from 1927 to 1931. During her time in Chicago, Juliet Peddle and Whitman, along with seven other women architects, founded the Women’s Architectural Club of Chicago. The group exhibited their work at the first Women’s World’s Fair in Chicago in 1927, and later held exhibitions in the library and social hall of Perkins, Fellows, and Hamilton. Peddle served as an editor at The Architrave, the club’s publication.

After losing her job due to the Depression, she began working for the Historic American Building Surveys (HABS) program sponsored by the government. In 1935, she moved back to Terre Haute, Indiana

In 1928, she was prompted to move closer to home when her father, with whom she was close, suffered a stroke. In 1931, due to the Great Depression Juliet Peddle lost her job and began working with the government sponsored Historic American Building Surveys (HABS). During her employment with HABS, Juliet Peddle gained considerable knowledge in the field of historic preservation and restoration, in part because she attended a seminar in Colonial Williamsburg.[4]

She headed back to Terre Haute and opened her own office in 1939. Juliet Peddle was the first registered female architect in Indiana. She continued working and remained in business until her death in 1979. Clients appreciated her modern designs, but Peddle also appreciated the past and worked with the Virgo Historical Society documenting the historic architecture buildings of her community. She opened her office in the Grand Opera House and worked there for the following years until her death on September 6th 1979.

[1] American Machinist: A Practical Journal of Machine Construction, Vol. 40, No14 .1914 (Hill Publishing Co. New York), pg. 598
[2] University of Michigan, Michiganensian, Vol. 24, 1920 (published by the Senior Classes of the University of Michigan)., pg. 665, 704-705.
[3] Allaback, Sarah, The First American Women Architects, (Univ. of Illinois Press, Illinois, 2008), pg. 168. accessed:
[4] Allaback, Sarah, The First American Women Architects, (Univ. of Illinois Press, Illinois, 2008), pg. 168. accessed: