One of our readers sent us some fantastic links and photos regarding Isabel Roberts and Ida Annah Ryan. Many people know Ms. Roberts as Frank Lloyd Wright's secretary during the Oak Park years and whose beautiful Wright-designed house can still be found in River forest, Illinois. However, she was way more talented than her coffee-making/dictation-taking title would suggest...
As stated in her Wikipedia entry:
A clear understanding of Isabel Robert’s role in the Oak Park Studio comes from Wright’s son John Lloyd Wright who relates the contributions made by Miss Roberts and other figures of the Prairie School. John Lloyd Wright relates that William Drummond, Francis Barry Byrne, Walter Burley Griffin, Albert McArthur, Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts and George Willis were the draftsmen. He further clarifies that they made up the five men and two women who each were making valuable contributions to Prairie style architecture for which Wright became famous.
After Wright fled to Europe in 1909 and the Studio's doors closed:
Isabel Roberts and her mother Mary moved to St. Cloud, Florida a decade after the Isabel Roberts House was completed. Mary Roberts was in failing health due to the lingering effects of influenza. Isabel’s sister Charlotte and her husband John B. Somerville were by that time established residents of St. Cloud. Mary Roberts died in Florida, in 1920.
Once in Florida, Isabel Roberts went into architectural practice with Ida Annah Ryan, who was the first woman in the United States to earn a masters degree in architecture, from MIT. As the firm of “Ryan and Roberts”, they were among no more than a dozen architecture firms active in Orlando in the 1920s. Their business is listed under the heading “Architects” as Ryan and Roberts in the 1926 and in the 1927 Orlando City Directories, at the Kenilworth Terrace address. One of only 10 so listed in 1926, and 12 firms so listed in Orlando in 1927.
Many of the buildings that Rand and Roberts designed and built can still be found in Florida. Follow the link and read down to see a list. Thanks again to Marty for the heads-up on this very cool insight into the life of the talented Ms. Roberts.
Roberts House photo copyright Peter Beers.