Amaza Lee Meredith

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Amaza Lee Meredith
Photo of Amaza Lee Meredith.jpg
BornAugust 14, 1895
Died1984 (aged 90)
Resting placeEastview 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. [1] She is best known for her residence, Azurest South, where she and her partner, Edna Meade Colson, resided together. [1]



Azurest South AzurestSouthView1.JPG
Azurest South

Meredith was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. [2] Her father, Samuel Peter Meredith, was white, and was also a master stair builder. [3] Her mother, Emma Kennedy was black, so her parents were prohibited by anti-miscegenation laws from marrying in Virginia. [2] Eventually, her parents traveled to Washington, D.C. to get married. [4] Not long after their marriage, her father began to lose business, "apparently as a result of the marriage" died by suicide in 1915. [2] [5]

Meredith started teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Indian Rock after she completed high school. [3] Later, she went back to Lynchburg and taught elementary school, before returning to college. [3] In 1922, she attended Virginia State University (then Virginia State College for Negroes), and afterwards, taught at Dunbar High School for six years. [3] In 1926, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she attended the Teacher's College of Columbia University. [4] She studied fine arts, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1930 and then her master's degree in 1934. [4] she then returned to Virginia where she founded the Arts Department for Virginia State University in 1935. [3]

Despite having no formal training in architecture, Meredith designed many homes for family and friends in Virginia, New York and Texas. [4] Her first building was Azurest South, which was completed in 1939 and was designed "both inside and out" completely by Meredith. [6] She and her partner, Colson, moved in together and it would be their primary residence for the rest of their lives. [7] Azurest South is considered a rare example of Virginia's International Style and displays her interest in avant-garde design. [8] Meredith also used Azurest South as her own art studio. [7] Meredith was active in documenting her lifestyle and accomplishments at Azurest though photographs. [9]

In 1947, Meredith started developing a 120 lot subdivision in Sag Harbor called Azurest North. [3] Azurest North was created for her family and friends to use. [7] 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. [9] Lots were sold to investors who built cottages in Sag Harbor. Terry Cottage and Edendot were both designed by Meredith. [5] Meredith was also an inventor. In 1955, she received a patent for an accessory to be attached to a golf bag. [10]

In 1958, she retired from teaching. [3] She continued to design buildings and paint throughout the 1960s. [3] 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). [3] Meredith died in 1984 and is buried alongside Edna Meade Colson at Eastview Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia.

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  1. 1 2 Upton, Dell (1998). Architecture in the United States . Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp.  273. ISBN   9780192842176.
  2. 1 2 3 "Amaza Lee Meredith". Living Places. The Gombach Group. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Sadler, Mary Harding (2004). "Amaza Lee Meredith". In Wilson, Dreck Spurlock (ed.). African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945. New York: Routledge. pp.  280–282. ISBN   0415929598.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. "Azurest South". African American Historic Sites Database. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  5. 1 2 "Amaza Lee Meredith (1895-1984)". Virginia State University Alumni Association. Virginia State University. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  6. "A Guide to the Amaza Lee Meredith Papers, 1912, 1930-1938". Johnston Memorial Library. Virginia State University. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 Loth, Calder, ed. (1995). Virginia Landmarks of Black History: Sites on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia. pp. 17–19. ISBN   0813916003.
  8. "Azurest South". Virginia State University Alumni Association. Virginia State University. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  9. 1 2 "Azurest at VAF 2014 - Participation". Cinnamon Traveler. 21 May 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  10. African-American architects : a biographical dictionary, 1865-1945 . Wilson, Dreck Spurlock. New York: Routledge. 2004. ISBN   0415929598. OCLC   60712152.CS1 maint: others (link)