Lane, Eugenia M.

(1906 – 1967)

Born in Elwood, Indiana on April 3, 1906, the details of Eugenia M. Lane’s early life are unknown. Initially trained as a stenographer at Marion Business College in Jonesboro, Indiana, Lane gradually moved west and took a job in Gary, Indiana at the local Chamber of Commerce office. By the mid- to late 1920s she had moved to Chicago. While there she meet and married Alban B. Fiedler in 1930. 

Alban was ten years older, and while he worked as a teacher, Eugenia stayed home and took care of their two children, Florence and John, from Alban’s previous marriage. By the late 1930s she was ready to re-engage in a professional career and decided to go back to school at the age of 32.

With a keen interest in architecture, Eugenia decided to enroll at the Armour Institute in Chicago in 1938. She happened to enter the school the same year that recent German immigrant, Mies Van der Rohe, was enticed by the University’s President to become director of the architecture department. Eugenia thrived under Mies’s leadership and his new approach to architectural education.

During these early years, Mies held classes in space provided by the Art Institute of Chicago. Among his tasks were to expand the school into a new south side campus and he utilized his students to help in a real-life project. In 1940, Armour Institute and Lewis Institute merged to form Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and Eugenia became one of the first graduates of the newly renamed school in 1942.

The family remained in Chicago during WWII and it’s unclear if she started working in the field directly after graduation. For reasons unknown, the couple moved to Seattle in 1947. Reportedly Lane initially took a drafting job with architect Roland Terry. It was during that time that she became the 98th woman to join the AIA in 1950.

Her tenure with Terry was short, and she decided to open her own firm in 1951. Despite being married, she continued to use her maiden name “Eugenia Lane” professionally. Despite a five-plus year practice, no dates and no projects by her during this time have been documented. In 1957 she became a draftsperson for the firm of Wortman & Wilkins (later Wortman & Ellison) and continued working for them into the 1960s.

Lane was a frequent lecturer for a variety of organizations including the Women’s Auxiliary to the Seattle Chapter of the American Society of Engineers (1960) and served on the Seattle Times / AIA Home-of-the-Month jury in 1955. She was also heavily involved in the Seattle Audubon Society and organized several trips and fundraisers for the organization.

Lane passed away unexpectedly at the age of 61, on September 24, 1967 in Shelby, Montana. She was on a train trip to visit family and friends in Indiana.

– Michael C Houser


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