Howe and Her Community

Introduction | Family and Early Life | At “The Tech” | A Woman-Owned Firm | Original Designs | “Renovising” | Howe and Her Community | Interactive Map | Works Cited | Other Links and Resources

Howe was an active member of many clubs and organizations in Cambridge. Her contributions as a long-time member of the Cambridge Historical Society include several papers and speeches delivered to the Society, as well as the donation of materials from both her personal papers and from many of the Cambridge clubs and organizations she belonged to. Apart from having established a senior organization for women students at “the Tech,” she was the first elected non-honorary woman member of the American Institute of Architects in 1901, as well as selected the first woman AIA Fellow thirty years later. Howe also served as President of the Business Women’s Club of Boston in the late 1910s.

Howe was an avid gardener, belonging to the Cambridge Plant Club where she served as President from 1938–47. Howe was also a key member of both the Old Cambridge Shakespeare Association and the Old Cambridge Photographic Club, donating materials from both organizations to the CHS collection. Her use of photography was key in building her architectural portfolio; in her photos donated to CHS one can find images of historic homes throughout New England.

In her later years after retirement in 1937 (upon dissolution of the Howe, Manning and Almy architectural firm) Howe devoted much of her spare time to the Cambridge Historical Society. She was one of the Society’s vice-presidents for over 25 years, becoming an honorary vice-president in 1961 at the age of 96. In these later years, she was a tireless presence at many of the clubs and organizations of which she was an emerita member; according to biographer Gail Morse, she could still be found at MIT Women’s Foundation meetings in her 80s and 90s, “sit[ting] in the front row at meeting with an old fashioned ‘ear trumpet'” (Morse 71). Howe’s death in 1964 marked nearly a century of life of one of the most remarkable women professionals ever to live in Cambridge and call it her home.