Back in the Day with GMJ: Henrietta Dozier

Back in the day Henrietta Dozier

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville's first female architect had a hand in creating the Federal Reserve Bank Building in Downtown and many other beautiful structures in the River City. In celebration of Women’s History Month, Back in the Day with GMJ delves into the works of Henrietta Cuttino Dozier.

The words of Dozier, an interview preserved in the Library of Congress details the discrimination she faced as a woman in a field dominated by men.

Dozier: “He picked up a 2 by 4 and came at me saying: ‘God a mighty never intended a man to be bossed by a woman.’”

"I guess she was trying to correct a sub-contractor about his work,” said Joel McEachin. “This guy picked up a 2 by 4 and she had to run for her life."

McEachin could share a story about each of Dozier's Jacksonville designs. He's the city's planner supervisor, and helped to write Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage- Landmarks for the Future, a project detailing the work of architects such as Dozier.

"She many times would wear pants to work sites and also a construction helmet to sort of disguise herself a little bit,” said McEachin. “She listed herself professionally as H.C. Dozier."  

Wanting to be thought of as an architect and not as a woman.

Dozier: “I have always had to compete with men, yes. In submitting designs, plans, bids, I have never asked any consideration at any time because I happened to be a woman."

The Old Federal Reserve Bank Building on North Hogan Street  was constructed in 1923, three years after women were granted the right to vote. Important dates for the building's associate architect, Henrietta Dozier.

"On one job in Atlanta she was not selected because she was not a voter and of course she couldn't be a voter because it was before 1920 and women couldn't vote,” said McEachin. “Crazy stuff."

Born in Fernandina Beach, Dozier was the only one of three women in a class of 176 students to graduate with an advanced degree in architecture from MIT in 1899.

"It's very mind blowing because I don't know of a similar situation, definitely not in the state of Florida probably in the entire south of a woman that early getting a professional architectural degree, going into practice designing buildings," said McEachin. "She leaves quite a legacy. She was not only unique by being a woman architect. She also had a very unique distinctive style. And you can see it in a lot of her buildings and the way she approached her designs."

Her work in Jacksonville includes Phillips Episcopal on Pearl Street, an English style church building, an elegant home on Goodwin off the river and an unusual apartment building in Springfield called Lampru Court. The structure was demolished a decade ago. It reflected a Mediterranean style.

"All of it is very unusual in the sense that she'll do asymmetrical designs, beautifully detailed," said McEachin.

There are homes and buildings scattered about the River City with Dozier's signature. Sights McEachin believes should be appreciated and admired.

"She definitely developed her own style,” said McEachin. “When it was pointed out that she designed it you could sorta see, yes that's Henrietta Dozier."

 

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