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 Normal and Industrial Institute, Columbia University
Partner(s) Edna Meade Colson

Amaza Lee Meredith (August 14, 1895 – 1984) was an African American architect, educator and artist. Meredith was unable to enter the profession as an architect because of "both her race and her sex" and worked primarily as an art teacher at 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]

Architect person trained to plan and design buildings, and oversee their construction

An architect is a person who plans, designs and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek, i.e., chief builder.

Virginia State University college in Virginia, United States

Virginia State University (VSU), also known as Virginia State, is a historically black public land-grant university in Ettrick, Virginia. Founded on March 6, 1882, Virginia State developed as the United States's first fully state-supported four-year institution of higher learning for black Americans. The university is a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Azurest South

Azurest South, the home and workplace of Amaza Lee Meredith is one of the few examples in Virginia, United States of the Post World War I German style: International Style. Meredith was the founder of the fine arts department of Virginia State University in 1930. She shared the home with her companion, Dr. Edna Meade Colson, dean of the Virginia State University School of Education. When Meredith died, she left half of the property's interest to the Virginia State University National Alumni Association, and after Colson's death, the association purchased the other half of the estate.



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" and committed suicide in 1915. [2] [5]

Lynchburg, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Lynchburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 75,568. The 2017 census estimates an increase to 81,000. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River, Lynchburg is known as the "City of Seven Hills" or the "Hill City". In the 1860s, Lynchburg was the only major city in Virginia that was not recaptured by the Union before the end of the American Civil War.

In the United States, anti-miscegenation laws were state laws passed by individual states to prohibit interracial marriage and interracial sex.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first President of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

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 Normal and Industrial Institute, 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]

One-room school small rural school in which students of different ages are mixed in a single classroom

One-room schools were commonplace throughout rural portions of various countries, including Prussia, Norway, Sweden, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Spain. In most rural and small town schools, all of the students met in a single room. There, a single teacher taught academic basics to several grade levels of elementary-age boys and girls. While in many areas one-room schools are no longer used, it is not uncommon for them to remain in developing nations and rural or remote areas. Examples include remote parts of the American West, the Falklands, and the Shetland Islands.

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, with an estimated 2,648,771 residents in 2017. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects it with Staten Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has been coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

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]

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from the city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

International Style (architecture) Type of modernist architecture

The International Style is a major architectural style that was developed in the 1920s and 1930s and was closely related to modernism and modern architecture. It was first defined by Museum of Modern Art curators Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson in 1932, based on works of architecture from the 1920s.

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]

Sag Harbor, New York Village in New York, United States

Sag Harbor is an incorporated village in Suffolk County, New York, United States, in the towns of East Hampton and Southampton on eastern Long Island. The village developed as a working port on Gardiner's Bay. The population was 2,169 at the 2010 census.

Leisure time that is freely disposed by individuals

Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is time spent away from business, work, job hunting, domestic chores, and education, as well as necessary activities such as eating and sleeping. Situationist International proposes that leisure does not evolve from free time, and free-time is an illusory concept that is rarely fully "free"; economic and social forces appropriate free time from the individual and sell it back to them as the commodity known as "leisure". Certainly most people's leisure activities are not a completely free choice and may be constrained by social pressures, e.g. people may be coerced into spending time gardening by the need to keep up with the standard of neighbouring gardens or go to a party because of social pressures.

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. p. 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)