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Jacqueline & Louis Eliasberg, Jr. Residence, Owings Mills c.1947)Jillian Storms
Architect Biographies

Webster, Ida Brown

1899–1983

“Building a home without an architect is as foolish as having an operation without a surgeon—he’s likely to take out the wrong thing.”

Ida graduated from MIT’s architecture program and won its coveted Chandler Prize in Architecture in 1923. She settled New York City and became one of the first female partners in an architecture firm in 1933. By 1947, she had established her own practice with colleague Saul Edelbaum. In addition to commercial and institutional projects, their work included large-scale middle-income projects, union-sponsored housing, and community-based social service centers. She was a member of two enormously influential community non-profit organizations focusing on education, policy research for public housing, and community preservation. A smaller portion of their work was creating custom homes for prominent Jewish merchant families seeking Modernist houses.

In Maryland, her tour de force is the exquisite Eliasberg Residence nestled on a 6 acre wooded lot in Owings Mills. Ida designed this residence for Jackie and Lou Eliasberg, Jr. in the late 1940s and it remained their family home until Lou’s death 52 years later. The couple fell in love with the open modern spaces, the attention to detail, and the use of warm, natural materials. High clerestories create light-filled spaces and views of the treetops. Jackie spoke highly of Ida’s design and technical proficiency. Jackie noted that there was ample built-in storage providing a place for everything. The casework, fabricated in New York, fit precisely when installed. Jackie said of the home: “It was the most perfect house to raise a family…So comfortable, but not ostentatious…Her attention to fine craftsmanship, elegant materials, and refined details was appreciated every day.”

Ida was listed as a Maryland registered architect in 1957 and several local newspapers of the period shared her thoughts on home design. If you know of other residences she may have designed in Maryland, please contact Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

Timeline

1899 – Born Ida Brown Adelberg, August 8, Rochester, NY to Abraham & Nora

1921 – Receives Bachelor of Arts from Adelphi College

1923 – Receives B.A. in Architecture from MIT with Chandler Prize

1924 – Marries Wall Street broker Morton S. Webster, a childhood friend

1924-1927 – Work as draftsman in various NY firms and travels

1928 – Son Richard Allen Webster born

1931 – Daughter Katherine Webster Aibel born

1933-1942 – Becomes Partner at Evans, Moore Woodbridge Architects

1940 – Designs the interiors for the Dual Duty Home in the New York World’s Fair Town of Tomorrow

1943-1944 – Works as USO Regional Director of Building Services, NYC

1945-1948 – Forms Edelbaum & Webster in New York with Saul Edelbaum (Other partners drafted into WWII)

1947 – Begins design of Eliasberg Residence, Owings Mills, MD (construction completed 1951)

1948 – Obtains New York registration in Feb & joins AIA (New York Chapter)

1957 – Obtains Maryland registration; joins The Women’s City Club of New York (member of the club 26 years); served on the board and the Club’s Housing & Planning Committee

1958 – Salisbury’s Daily Times features Ida in article Woman Architect Blames Fads for Home Designs, August 30; Article in The Free Lance-Star

c.1960-1972 – Chair of Housing Consulting Committee for AIA New York Chapter

1960 – New York Times features in Women Gain Role In Architecture, March 13; Baltimore Sun features in Closed Door Policy, an article on changes in home design, August 21

1969 – Merges firm with Weiss and Whelan to become Weiss Whelan Edelbaum Webster;  the firm designs many public housing projects in New York

1978 – AIA Member Emeritus

1983 – Passes away at age 84

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