Amaza Lee Meredith
|Born||August 14, 1895|
|Died||1984 (aged 90)|
|Resting place||Eastview Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia, U.S.|
|Education||Virginia State University, Columbia University|
|Partner(s)||Edna Meade Colson|
Amaza Lee Meredith (August 14, 1895 – 1984) was an American architect, educator and artist. Meredith was unable to enter the profession as an architect because of "both her race and her sex" as an African-American woman, and worked primarily as an art teacher at Virginia State University (then Virginia State College), where she founded the art department.She is best known for her residence, Azurest South, where she and her partner, Edna Meade Colson, resided together.
Meredith was born in Lynchburg, Virginia.Her father, Samuel Peter Meredith, was white, and was also a master stair builder. Her mother, Emma Kennedy was black, so her parents were prohibited by anti-miscegenation laws from marrying in Virginia. Eventually, her parents traveled to Washington, D.C. to get married. Not long after their marriage, her father began to lose business, "apparently as a result of the marriage" died by suicide in 1915.
Meredith started teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Indian Rock after she completed high school.Later, she went back to Lynchburg and taught elementary school, before returning to college. In 1922, she attended Virginia State University (then Virginia State College for Negroes), and afterwards, taught at Dunbar High School for six years. In 1926, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she attended the Teacher's College of Columbia University. She studied fine arts, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1930 and then her master's degree in 1934. she then returned to Virginia where she founded the Arts Department for Virginia State University in 1935.
Despite having no formal training in architecture, Meredith designed many homes for family and friends in Virginia, New York and Texas.Her first building was Azurest South, which was completed in 1939 and was designed "both inside and out" completely by Meredith. She and her partner, Colson, moved in together and it would be their primary residence for the rest of their lives. Azurest South is considered a rare example of Virginia's International Style and displays her interest in avant-garde design. Meredith also used Azurest South as her own art studio. Meredith was active in documenting her lifestyle and accomplishments at Azurest though photographs.
In 1947, Meredith started developing a 120 lot subdivision in Sag Harbor called Azurest North.Azurest North was created for her family and friends to use. In order to develop Azurest North, she and her friends created a group, called Azurest Syndicate, which worked to create an African American leisure community. Lots were sold to investors who built cottages in Sag Harbor. Terry Cottage and Edendot were both designed by Meredith. Meredith was also an inventor. In 1955, she received a patent for an accessory to be attached to a golf bag.
In 1958, she retired from teaching.She continued to design buildings and paint throughout the 1960s. In the 1970s, Meredith designed logos to be used for a proposed name change for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Meredith died in 1984 and is buried alongside Edna Meade Colson at Eastview Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia.
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