“How did I happen to take up architecture - an unusual occupation for a woman? Well, even in my childhood I wanted to study architecture, and have drawn plans since I was seven. In fact, when I was just a little tot I used to draft patterns for doll dresses for my own and the neighbor children’s dolls. So it seemed the natural thing when I reached the age to decide what my life work was to be, to select architecture as a vocation.”

Henrietta Dozier WPA interview in 1939

Born in Fernandina Beach to Henry Cuttino and Cornelia Ann (Scriven) Dozier, Henrietta Cuttino Dozier (1872-1947) is recognized as the first female architect in the state of Georgia and the city of Jacksonville. She moved to Atlanta as a child, and by the time she reached high school the fields of architecture and astronomy had become of great interest to her. Selecting to move forward with architecture, she attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she become one of three women in a class of 176 to graduate with an architecture degree in 1899.

Through her career, she primarily designed churches, schools, government buildings, apartments and houses. Her career began in Atlanta, and some of her earliest commissions took place in Jacksonville, which had been largely destroyed by the Great Fire of 1901. Her works include the John C. Cooper Sr. residence at Market and Duval Streets (site of the Cathedral School today) in 1902 and the St. Philips Episcopal Church in Hansontown in 1903. After thirteen years of practicing in Atlanta she relocated to Jacksonville in 1914, initially working with the city’s engineering department before opening her own office in the Bisbee Building (Laura Street Trio) in 1918.

To overcome discrimination, she was known to disguise her gender with various male-sounding or gender-neutral names such as Cousin Harry, Harry and H.C. Dozier. Nevertheless, there were still situations in which she still lost commissions she believed should have been given to her.

“Then in 1925 the Women’s Club of Jacksonville, of which I had been a member for a number of years, transferred their old clubhouse at 18 East Duval Street to the City of Jacksonville and purchased a location on the St. Johns riverfront at 861 Riverside.

“I submitted my designs, asking for consideration on account of my membership in the club. The job was given to a man, whose wife was a member also, and who I learned had bought a considerable quantity of the bonds then being offered to finance the new building.

“Again it was my great pleasure to go before the board of this organization, and give them my personal opinion of such ‘political bargaining.’ It is needless to say, I withdrew my membership, as it has never been my policy to belong to any organization engaged in unfair dealings. Were their faces red? I’ll say they were!

Henrietta Dozier WPA interview in 1939

Also a woman that despised modern architecture but loved genealogy and fishing, Dozier practiced in Jacksonville until her death in 1947. 72 years later, many of her works still stand as validation to an ultimate trailblazer who helped paved the way for women in the field of architecture. Here are a few of the buildings in Jacksonville were designed by Henrietta Cuttino Dozier.

St. Philips Episcopal Church

801 North Pearl Street

Dozier designed this Episcopal church in Hansontown for an African-American congregation as one of her first commissions in Jacksonville.

“A church - St. Paul’s Negro Episcopal - on Newman Street is one of the best examples of English architecture in Jacksonville, with the possible exception of the Church of the Good Shepherd. The negro mechanics of the congregation built the church, giving their services free. They changed the inside somewhat, but the outside is practically as I designed it, and is a beautiful example of its kind.” – Henrietta Dozier in 1939

Source: Library of Congress.