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“Preserving Minerva Parker Nichols, America’s First Solo Female Architect”

November 11, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

On Wed. November 11, the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides (APT) will hold its monthly meeting. It kicks off at 7 pm with a lecture, “Preserving Minerva Parker Nichols, America’s First Solo Female Architect,” by Molly Lester, the Associate Director of the Urban Heritage Project at PennPraxis, the nonprofit arm of the Stuart Weitzman School of Design at Penn.

Although her formal independent practice lasted just 8 years and was concentrated in the Philadelphia area, Minerva Parker Nichols (1862-1949) built a career and clientele of national significance in the late nineteenth century’s professionalizing field of architecture. Trained as an apprentice, Nichols designed over 60 commissions around the country, earning plaudits and extensive press coverage from her peers. Yet, she is rarely recognized today for her contributions to the field of architecture—in particular, on behalf of female clients and women’s clubs in an era of growing economic independence for women. This oversight neglects one of the earliest case studies of a woman successfully contributing dozens of structures to the American built environment—including spaces explicitly for women—and creating a business model as an independent female architect when there was none. https://www.minervaparkernichols.com

Margaret (Molly) Lester has been researching Minerva Parker Nichols for the last 9 years. Her portfolio includes research, documentation, and community engagement projects related to historic buildings and cultural landscapes. In addition to her role with PennPraxis, Molly is a 2020 grantee of the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation at Penn, leading an interdisciplinary cultural heritage project centered on “building ghosts” in Philadelphia. She was also a 2019/2020 Fellow for the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation, for which she produced an independent media project exploring the career of architect Minerva Parker Nichols. She holds a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Architectural History from the University of Virginia.

The lecture will be followed by the general APT meeting and some social zoom time.

APT meetings are open to aspiring and working tour guides as well as anyone with an interest in Philadelphia-focused history. For the foreseeable future all meetings are free for anyone and all are welcome!

APT has decided to waive 2021 membership fees for all 2020 members. If you have not yet joined or renewed for 2020, now is the time!


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Meeting ID: 811 1339 4932
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November 11, 2020
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm