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Elizabeth Evans Rivard

Born: February 7, 1899, Kansas City, Missouri. Married: Melvin Rivard, circa 1926, Kansas City. Died: February 9, 1988, Kansas City, Missouri.

Elizabeth Evans Rivard was born February 7, 1899, in Kansas City, Missouri to William Reese and Grace Truman (Crouch) Evans. Shortly thereafter the Evans family moved to Lawrence where she grew up and attended the University of Kansas. Despite her childhood interest in designing homes, Evans started out in general studies. During World War I she found summer employment with the drafting department of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad in Parsons. In order to prepare, she took a short course in drafting that served her well in her position with the railroad. Being one of the first women to work in the field, Evans had to prove herself a capable draftswoman. The praise she received renewed her sense of determination.

When her work at Parsons was finished, Evans applied for admittance to the University of Kansas’ architecture department. Though the head of the department, Goldwin Goldsmith, was unconvinced of her ability, Evans was admitted as the first woman in the program. During her first semester she realized she lacked many essential introductory classes. Despite her challenges, Evans excelled throughout her studies. With her success in the classroom, Evans was encouraged to compete in design competitions but conceal the fact she was a woman and she received acclaim for her design of a petite countryside chapel. In 1922 Evans graduated with honors, the first woman to do so, from the architecture school.

Few firms at that time were willing to hire a woman as an associate architect. She found brief employment with firms specializing shops and schools, but Evans wanted to build homes. In 1923 she moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to accept a position with the Falkenberg Brothers Company who saw the value of a woman’s insight into requirements needed for a new home. Evans specialized in moderately sized homes for first-time home buyers and young families.

“The husband and wife of good taste deserve good architectural service whatever their income. Their home often represents years of saving. It is the reward of denial and loving sacrifice. The actual building of the house is often the realization of a long cherished dream. But the average American of modest means cannot afford to employ an individual architect to handle his individual problem. And for that matter, most architectural office won’t handle the small residence, it simply does not pay. And that is where my work comes in...”- A. Elizabeth Evans

The styles most characteristic of Evans’ work included Tudor Revival, Mediterranean Revival, and Colonial Revival. Evans commissioned more than 200 buildings over the course of her 10-year career including ones from Mission Hills to Paseo Boulevard. Her talent helped further the reputation of the Falkenberg Brothers firm. He work was featured in The Saturday Evening Post in 1924.

Evans married Melvin Rivard in about 1926 and the lived in Fairway, Kansas. She earned an architectural award for the Paxton home. In 1933 she retired to start a family. The Rivards continued to live in the Kansas City, Missouri, area. Evans died on February 9, 1988.

Entry: Rivard, Elizabeth Evans

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: March 2013

Date Modified: August 2019

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.