Riggs, Lutah Maria, 1896-

Alternative names
Birth 1896-10-31
Death 1984-03-08

Biographical notes:

Biographical Note

Lutah Maria Riggs was born in Toledo Ohio in 1896. She received her education at the Santa Barbara city Junior College in 1917, then went on to get her architecture degree at the University of California Berkeley in 1919. She finished her graduate coursework at Berkeley in 1920.

She began her career as a drafts woman and designer for Ralph D. Taylor, and then became a drafts woman for George Washington Smith in Santa Barbara, 1921. She continued in this capacity as full partner through 1930. In 1928 she received her architecture license, and Smith assisted her in acquiring the finances to purchase land for the structure of "Clavelitos, " a Spanish colonial revival house that Riggs designed for her own use. She would use this home is her personal offices for the rest of her life. When Smith died suddenly of a heart attack in 1930, Riggs became partner in with Harold Edmundson in Santa Barbara, and following the dissolution of that partnership in 1931, worked on her own through 1942 until she became partner in Riggs and Shaw architects in 1946. After 1950 she worked on her own until roughly 1980 and always in Santa Barbara. Although she is best known for her Spanish revival style, Riggs was also capable of modernist housing as she revealed in the Alice Erving house in 1951.

The Casa del Herrero 1923, shows how her hand influenced George Washington Smith. Originally built for the family of George Fox Steedman, with gardens designed by landscape architect Lockwood De. Forest, the design showcases some of Riggs best-known flourishes including fountains, courtyards and a singular dedication to Mexican idealism and Spanish revival. In some cases it is difficult to know just how much her influence was felt in George Washington Smith's work, since everything that she did in service of his architecture has been attributed to him.

Lutah Maria Riggs was by far George Washington Smith's most noted associate and one of Southern California's first licensed female architects. She died in Montecito California in 1984.

From the guide to the Lutah Maria Riggs Collection, 1896-1984, (Architecture & Design Collection)


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  • Architects--California


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