Studied: Virginia State University
Buried: Eastview Cemetery, Petersburg, Petersburg City, Virginia, USA
Azurest South, the home and workplace of Amaza Lee Meredith (one of the nation’s first black female architects) is one of the few examples in Virginia of the Post World War I German style: International Style.
Address: 2900 Boisseau St, Petersburg, VA 23806, USA (37.2406, -77.41708)
Type: Private Property
National Register of Historic Places: 93001464, 1993
Meredith was the founder of the fine arts department of Virginia State University in 1930. She shared the home with her companion, Dr. Edna Meade Colson, dean of the Virginia State University School of Education. When Meredith died, she left half of the property's interest to the Virginia State University National Alumni Association, and after Colson's death, the association purchased the other half of the estate. Azurest South displays "a fascination with modernity, a familiarity with new materials and construction details, and a love of nature." The building is located in a dell on the eastern edge of campus.
Who: Amaza Lee Meredith (August 14, 1895 – 1984) and Edna Meade Colson (October 7, 1888 – January 17, 1985)
Amaza Lee Meredith was an African American architect, educator and artist. Meredith was unable to enter the profession as an architect because of "both her race and her sex" and worked primarily as an art teacher Virginia State College, where she founded the Art Department. Her father, Samuel Peter Meredith, was white, and was also a master stair builder. Her mother, Emma Kennedy was black, so her parents were prohibited by anti-miscegenation laws from marrying in Virginia. Eventually, her parents traveled to Washington, D.C. to get married. Not long after their marriage, her father began to lose business, "apparently as a result of the marriage" and committed suicide in 1915. In 1926, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she attended the Teacher's College of Columbia University. She then returned to Virginia where she founded the Arts Department for Virginia State University in 1935. Despite having no formal training in architecture, Meredith designed many homes for family and friends in Virginia, New York and Texas. Her first building was Azurest South, which was completed in 1939 and was designed "both inside and out" completely by Meredith. She and her partner, Colson, moved in together and it would be their primary residence for the rest of their lives. Colson was among the first African American women to register to vote after ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. A charter member of the Delta Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., she received life memberships in both the American Teachers Association and the National Education Association. In 1950 Colson was the first black Virginia woman to become a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The Virginia State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc., named her "Woman of the Year" in 1958. She is buried at Eastview Cemetery, Petersburg, alongside Amaza Lee Meredith. Colson Auditorium in Harris Hall, erected in 1970 as headquarters of the education department, was named in Colson’s honor.
Queer Places, Vol. 1 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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