Last Updated on April 23, 2021 by Kim Labriola
Anne Rysdale – One of the First Female Architects in Arizona
Anne Rysdale was born in Detroit in 1920 and raised in Tucson. Rysdale attended Tucson High and the University of Arizona. She graduated from UA in 1940 with a degree in Engineering and Fine Arts, since UA did not have an architecture program yet. Later she moved to Washington state and earned a architecture degree there. Anne Rysdale was the only female registered architect in the state of Arizona between 1949-1960. (Annie Rockfellow, Arizona’s first female registered architect, had retired by 1938).
In her early career Anne Rysdale worked for Henry Jaastad and Arthur Brown, two prominent Tucson architects. Rysdale helped introduce an anonymous application system to become a state registered architect. Although, it still took her 5 years before being admitted into the American Institute of Architects (AIA). She felt that in the male dominated profession, she had to produce more and better work to stay competitive in the field.
Initially Rysdale started out designing residential projects. Rysdale designed many homes in Tucson Country Club Estates, Winterhaven, Colonia Solana, and El Encanto. Her firm was also hired to design the homes in the San Paulo Village and Miramonte Terrace subdivisions, and she is thought to have designed the homes in the Flair subdivision (although I cannot find any written documentation that supports this).
As her career progressed, she found the residential sector becoming too competitive and started working on more commercial projects. Some well known commercial buildings designed by Rysdale include the Sun Building (2030 E. Speedway), the Tucson Inn (127 W. Drachman), The Old Spanish Trail Motel (Benson Hwy), The Shelter (4155 E Grant), Pima Plaza (2030 E. Broadway), Gila County Courthouse (Globe, Arizona), and one of my favorites, the Haas Building (2610 E. Broadway).
After the University of Arizona started an architecture program in 1958, Rysdale lectured as an adjunct professor. The local paper featured Rysdale as a writer in the women’s section. There she wrote frequently about home building, architecture, and her career. Anne Rysdale moved to Florida and continued to work in her later years. She died in 2017.