Elizabeth Ayer is responsible for many of the region’s most notable structures in the revival tradition. She was not only among the University of Washington’s first architecture graduates, but she became the first licensed female architect registered in the state of Washington in 1930.
Ayer’s work is informed by a great interest in classic architectural forms, reinforced by significant European travel and work early in her career. Her eye for traditional and historic detail is evident in several commissions that she worked on in The Highlands and Seattle’s Broadmoor community while she was employed by the firm of Ivey & Riley. It was during this busy period that she embraced the spare lines and formal detail of the Colonial Revival style and elevated it to its local apex in a wide range of domestic and commercial commissions that include this residence, the original Seattle Children’s Home (since destroyed) and the Albert Schafer Castle on Hood Canal.
As her career developed and the economy in which she practiced evolved, Elizabeth Ayer integrated traditional aesthetics into more modern building styles that could better accommodate the shifting needs of contemporary society. With time, this interest led to a partnership with fellow University of Washington graduate, Rolland Lamping. Together, they collaborated on a more modest form of traditional domestic architecture that better accommodated the needs of modern families in a number of Seattle’s most popular neighborhoods. Their work was in direct contrast to the modernist-influenced architecture that prevailed after World War II, and would go on to help define the complex texture and fabric of Seattle’s neighborhoods through the latter half of the twentieth century.
Ayer retired in 1970 after a diverse and influential career that helped shape Seattle and its surrounding areas. 166 Boundary Lane represents an epoch of her creative brilliance and refined design sensibility.