Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ella Castelhun (1868-1961) – Second Woman Architect Licensed in California


Mountain View Cemetery has the unique distinction of having both the first and second woman licensed to practice architecture in California Julia Morgan received license number B344 in 1904, followed by Ella Castelhun, who received license B358 in 1905.

Unlike Morgan, Castlehun is largely unknown since she had difficulty being taken seriously as a female architect. She had to support herself as a school teacher for 50 years, since her work as an architect couldn’t sustain her financially. Newspaper accounts show her teaching at the Horace Mann School in 1896 after transferring from the Agassiz Primary School.

Castlehun attended the University of California from 1894-1898 and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree of Philosophy in Architecture. She spent much of the next six years as a graduate student at the College of Social Sciences, taking classes in architecture, civil engineering and architectural drawing. She did not receive her graduate degree.

He first project is a house at what is now 3054-56 Market Street and was built for a widow named Mrs. Winifred McKeown. Her second house, pictured above, was built in 1907 at 265-7 Lexington Street for Mrs. Mathilda Olander, also a widow. She remained a licensed architect with the state until at least 1920.

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