Women in Architecture: Anna Keichline

Women have been making strides in the field of architecture and design for centuries. Our Women in Architecture series recognizes the pioneering ladies that came before us, and paved the way for a more inclusive and innovative industry today. One such figure is Anna Keichline, whose impressive resume includes titles such as: American architect, inventor, suffragist and World War I Special Agent. 

The Life of Anna Keichline

Anna Keichline was born on May 24, 1889 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The youngest of four children, Keichline showed creative genius at a young age. Gifted a workshop and carpentry tools by her parents, she spent her free time creating furniture and — at just 14 years old — won a prize at a county fair for a table and chest she’d made. The judges praised her work as comparing “favorably with the work of a skilled mechanic” and she told local reporters she intended to devote her life to industrial design.

It was no surprise then, when she pursued a degree in mechanical engineering, first at Pennsylvania State College and then at Cornell University. It wasn’t unusual during this time for schools to award women “certificates” rather than “degrees,” but when a rumor of this potential began to spread, Keichline’s classmates rallied and threatened to disrupt the commencement ceremony unless she received the degree she had earned. Kiechline graduated in 1911 and became the fifth woman ever to receive an architectural degree from Cornell. Though entering the male-dominated field was a daunting prospect at the time, Keichline felt sure of her place and purpose.

Keichline was an agent of change in all areas of her life: In 1913, she led a Suffragist protest march in her hometown of Bellefonte. She also served as a Special Agent in the Military Intelligence Division in Washington D.C during World War I, describing herself as: “twenty-eight and physically somewhat stronger than the average. Might add that I can operate and take care of a car [she owned her own automobile]. The above might suggest a drafting or office job, but if you should deem it advisable to give me something more difficult or as I wish to say more dangerous, I should much prefer it. You have asked for my salary in order to rate me… last year my fees amounted to something over six thousand. [the equivalent of $92,000 today].”

As Keichline tackled these feats and more, she was simultaneously setting the foundation for her successful career and the impact she would leave on the architectural world.


Anna Keichline, The Juanita Colony Country Clubhouse, Mt. Union, Penn., 1927. Archives of Nancy J. Perkins
Anna Keichline, The Juanita Colony Country Clubhouse, Mt. Union, Penn., 1927. Archives of Nancy J. Perkins

The Work of Anna Kiechline

Keichline believed that there was a place for women in the field of architecture, thanks in part to their unique and innate understanding of space in a home. 

During her post-graduate career, Keichline shared an office with her father (an attorney) and amassed an impressive portfolio of both residential and commercial buildings. She is renowned for becoming the first registered woman architect in Pennsylvania in 1920, where much of her work occurred.

Her work included the Plaza Theater in her hometown Bellefonte (1925) and the Juanita Colony County Clubhouse in nearby Pennsylvania town Mount Union (1927), among many others. She explored many architectural styles throughout her impressive career as well, including Colonial Revival, Gothic Revival and picturesque cottage houses. 


Anna Keichline, Building Block, #1,653,771 A, filed March 16, 1926, issued December 27, 1927. Anna Keichline Papers, Ms1989-016, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Anna Keichline, Building Block, #1,653,771 A, filed March 16, 1926, issued December 27, 1927. Anna Keichline Papers, Ms1989-016, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

In addition to designing buildings, Keichline was also an inventor and created many “time- and motion-saving” designs for kitchens and interiors. Overall, she owned seven patents — six for utilities and one for design. While her inventions span from a combination sink and washtub, to a foldaway sleeping bed compartment, to a portable partition replete with doors, windows, and eaves, her most famous invention by far is the “K Brick,” patented in 1927 and honored by the American Ceramic Society in 1931.

A forerunner of concrete block design today, the K Brick was an inexpensive, light, fireproof clay brick that could be filled with insulating or sound-proofing material, used for hollow wall construction. Keichline said of her K Brick that it “requires less to make than brick and because of its design takes less time to fire – the tile would reduce the weight of the wall by one-half.”

While Keichline passed away in 1943, her innovations and impact on the architectural field live on today — making her a remarkable figure and woman in history.

John Lloyd Wright and the Story of Lincoln Logs

If John Lloyd Wright’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his father, Frank Lloyd Wright, is an icon in the architecture world. But his son left his legacy with something more playful; John was the original inventor behind Lincoln Logs, a childhood toy many cherish fondly. So how did the son of an architect come to invent one of the most well-known toys in America? Today, we dive into John Lloyd Wright and the story of Lincoln Logs, and an interesting piece of architecture trivia. 

John grew up in Oak Park, Illinois in a home designed by his father, now known as the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. He was immersed in the world of architecture from a young age, but his childhood was far from perfect. After Frank Lloyd Wright abandoned his wife and children, the two became estranged and their relationship never fully recovered. However, John decided to pave his own way, determined to get out of his father’s shadow. 

In his early years of practice, John worked on the West Coast and the Midwest before agreeing to work with Frank on Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel in Japan. The two were faced with the challenge of building a structure that could withstand the frequent earthquakes of Japan, and their original design used a system of interlocking timber beams to let the hotel to sway but not collapse. Before the hotel was even constructed, father and son once again parted ways, this time over a dispute concerning John’s salary.

Vintage Lincoln Logs print ad

Now out of work, John turned his attention to his passions and hobbies, including toy design and invention. Taking inspiration from the plans of the Imperial Hotel, he perfected the idea for Lincoln Logs in 1916. Using notched pieces of wood for the miniature logs allowed the toys to withstand playtime instead of earthquakes. Wright received a patent in 1920, eventually selling it as Lincoln Logs grew in popularity. 

After his years dedicated to Lincoln Logs, John returned back to the world of architecture, designing a handful of buildings and homes in the Midwest. John’s legacy in the world of toy design is one that has spanned decades, with Lincoln Logs inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1999. More than 100 years after their inception, Lincoln Logs are still a toy well-loved by generations — and potential young architects.

person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

    Acceptable file types: *.pdf | *.txt | *.doc, max-size: 2Mb