Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 05: Administration – Board of Trustees
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel


Mary Rockwell Hook:
School Architect 1913-1915;  (?) – c. 1968
Member, Board of Trustees

Mary Rockwell Hook

Mary Rockwell Hook and her husband, Inghram D. Hook. [HOOK_MOD.jpg]

TAGS: Mary Rockwell Hook ; Wellesley College ; women architects ; Katherine Pettit ; Ethel de Long ; Art Institute of Chicago ; Ecole des Beaux-Arts ; Marcel Arburtin ; gender bias ; American Institute of Architects ; Kansas City, MO ; Howe, Holt, and Cutler ; Old Log ; Big Log ; Laurel House ; PMSS Board of Trustees ; Inghram D. Hook ; National Register of Historic Places ; Kansas City Landmarks Commission ; Hook and Remington ; Eric Douglas MacWilliam Remington ; International Archive of Women in Architecture ; Burton Rogers ;

While working as an architect in Kansas City, Missouri, Mary Rockwell was recruited by Ethel de Long and Katherine Pettit in 1913 to design the campus and buildings for the new Pine Mountain Settlement School. Over one hundred years later, her buildings continue to be appreciated for their attention to place and their harmonious blending with their natural surroundings, an innovative approach for an architect of her era.

View of south flank of Open House showing balcony and two levels, including sleeping porch at top. hook_album_2blk__044.jpg

View of south flank of Open House showing balcony and two levels, including sleeping porch at top. [hook_album_2blk__044.jpg]

At a time when society viewed it as improper for women to enter the field of architecture, the young Mary Rockwell was fortunate to have the support of her family as her interests in such a career developed. Miss Rockwell was born in Junction City, Kansas, on September 8, 1877, the third of five daughters of Union Army Captain and Mrs. Rockwell. Her father, Bertrand, was successful as a grain merchant and a banker. Her mother, the former Julia Marshall Snyder, saw to it that their daughters, Mary and Bertha, experienced the world through a number of trips in the United States as well as to Europe and East Asia. Bertha (1874-1970), who studied painting in Italy married Carlo (Gino) Venanzi (d. 1964), a well-known Italian painter whose family was from Perugia. Bainbridge Bunting (1913-1981), a Harvard-educated architectural historian whose work at the University of New Mexico left a legacy of over 200 measured and drawn plans of New Mexico architecture and Zuni Pueblo structures , was also a family member influenced by Hook. His study of the architect John Gaw Meem focuses on the architecture of place and regionalism, ideas held closely by Mary Rockwell Hook. The family travels brought Miss Rockwell into contact with a variety of influences and architectural designs that can be traced in her later works.

Mrs. Rockwell was also adamant that her daughters attended the best schools, sending them to a good preparatory school in the East. Mary Rockwell attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, receiving a liberal arts degree in 1900. It was at Wellesley that Miss Rockwell established the relationships that eventually brought her to Pine Mountain Settlement School.

After leaving Wellesley in 1903, Miss Rockwell enrolled in the Chicago Institute of Arts as the first woman in the school’s department of architecture. From all accounts, she was the only woman enrolled in the program in that year. Later, she continued her studies in Boston and eventually applied for the architecture program at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France.

In 1905, she was accepted into the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts and studied for one year in the studio of Jean-Marcel Auburtin. She was reportedly the second woman from the United States to be accepted into this program. (The first woman in the Paris program was Julia Morgan, later architect of the Hearst Castle in California.)

When the family of Bertrand Rockwell came to Kansas City in 1906, Miss Rockwell was 29 and just completing her work in the Paris Auburtin studio. By this time, the family wealth was well established. This advantage enabled Miss Rockwell to exercise options not available to many women of her time, but it did not protect her from on-going sexism as an aspiring professional.

Not only did Miss Rockwell experience gender bias during her years of study in a field traditionally reserved for men only, her first application for a position with an architectural firm as rejected and the American Institute of Architects denied Miss Rockwell admission. Both rejections were gender related.

After Miss Rockwell returned home from her European studies, her father purchased land in the Kansas City area on which she could build structures of her own design, providing a way to hone her skills and try out new ideas. At this time, due to her father’s urging, she also received an apprenticeship with Howe, Holt, and Cutler in Kansas City, a firm that specialized in creating large stone and brick domestic dwellings. Miss Rockwell was assigned a series of projects in the Sunset Hill and Raytown area of the city. Her style was unique and far ahead of its time in the use of recycled material, natural heating, and lighting innovations. Not long after her successful work with the Kansas City firm, she also was contracted to build homes in the Siesta Key area of Florida, near Sarasota.

It was in 1913 that Miss Rockwell was recruited by Ethel de Long and Katherine Pettit to help plan the campus and buildings for their newly founded Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky. Miss Rockwell saw the offer to develop the rugged untouched land as an enticing challenge and decided to take the long arduous journey to her new position.

Mary Rockwell Hook described her initial contact with Pine Mountain School in a talk she gave April 4, 1920 to prospective donors to Pine Mountain regarding her work with the School

You may be wondering exactly what my connection with this school has been. A little over seven years ago I received a letter from Miss Pettit and Miss de Long, neither of whom I had never met, saying that they intended to start a new school in Harlan County, Kentucky, that they had 426 acres of land, no money, dozens of children begging to come to them and would I give them some architectural assistance. As I was in California at the time and not anxious to leave, I replied that I could come under two conditions. The first was that if upon talking things over we discovered that our architectural ideals differed radically, we would proceed no further together and, second, that if I undertook the work I wanted to be present at the very start and lay out a comprehensive plan for the whole development.

I soon discovered that there could not be two more harmonious people to work with. During the seven years we have been building I have been to Kentucky two or three times every year and every visit is more delightful than the last.

After Rockwell, de Long, and Pettit did a preliminary walk about the Pine Mountain Settlement School land and studied its layout, they agreed that the valley floor should be used as farmland on which to grow the School’s food, and the surrounding steep hillsides used for the buildings, and cottages for the proposed 100 students placed at either end. Miss Rockwell’s first task in 1913 was the renovation of Old Log House, a rundown log cabin near the entrance to the School which was used as a residence while building took place. Next, she designed Miss Pettit’s residence, Big Log, which was completed in August 1914, and the School’s dining building, the original Laurel House I, completed in late 1915. Miss Rockwell’s structures were typically built with stone and wood that naturally existed in the surrounding countryside. A sawmill to cut the chestnut, poplar, hemlock and oak lumber was purchased, hauled across Pine Mountain, and installed on location because no other mill was close by.

Sawmill. The eight oxen that hauled the boiler over Pine Mountain, 1913. roe_033a.jpg

In 1921, Mary Rockwell married Inghram D. Hook, an attorney. According to the National Register application, “[Her career] was at its busiest and most fruitful stage during the first years of her marriage,” all the while living a busy life as a mother and an active member of her communities of interest. The couple adopted two children and had neices and nephews who were regularly included in the couple’s life.

Mrs. Hook’s Pine Mountain buildings involved elements that she would use throughout a successful career in designing residences in the Kansas City area, Massachusetts, Colorado, California, and Florida: arched windows and interior openings, many doors at various levels leading to open terraces, balconies and porches, metal-framed casements, and rustic stone or brick interior walls and fireplaces. A relationship between the indoors and the natural surroundings outside and a respect for local topography were her unique signatures. This signature can readily be seen in her personal home built on a small plot she owned at Pine Mountain Settlement School. Designed as a summer residence, the rustic house, called Open House,  was constructed partially from recycled remainders of the many building projects at the School. Hook frequently spent her summers in the house, a large, rambling structure that could accommodate her many guests. It relied on fireplaces for heat and cooking and had two exposed sleeping porches to the rear of the structure.

Open House, west flank. Served as Hook’s personal home while working for Pine Mountain Settlement School, Harlan, KY. cobb_alice_037

These and other features were described in 1977 by the Kansas City Landmarks Commission, on a form that nominated nine of Mrs. Hook’s Kansas City residences to the National Register of Historic Places. Her skill at designing buildings for steep hillsides was also recognized in the nomination form :

…[A development company] asked Mrs. Hook to design a home to demonstrate effective hillside construction. The site selected for this demonstration home had not only to solve the problem of hillside construction, but also to handle the unusual situation of a double frontage of streets of different elevations and on a lot of irregular proportions. Mrs. Hook masterfully conquered all of these difficulties in the design of this home and as a result, boosted the sale of hillside lots….

Such sites also allowed Mrs. Hook to compose buildings with asymmetrical facades and projecting extensions or wings.

Original appearance of the Jesse Preston Draper Industrial Building, reflected in the swimming pool, c. 1937.[II_6_swimming_draper_boys_239a]

Original appearance of the Jesse Preston Draper Industrial Building, reflected in the swimming pool, c. 1937.[II_6_swimming_draper_boys_239a]

From 1924 to 1929, Mrs. Hook maintained an architectural partnership in Kansas City, known as Hook and Remington. Eric Douglas Macwilliam Remington was a graduate of the University of Illinois and also a former student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. During this period, she designed a home for herself, her husband, and her two adopted sons. In the Italianate style, it was a combination of brick, stone, and antique materials with tiles, frescoes, and leaded pane casement windows. The Hook family lived in this home for almost a half a century until 1972. The Rockwell home in Kansas City is described in an article in the Kansas City Star from 2015. The two homes, one signaling opulence and wealth and the other, the rustic summer “cabin” at Pine Mountain were radically different in style, but both culled materials from the environment to build the structures.

Mary Rockwell Hook in Florida, c. 1935. X_099_workers_2466b_mod.jpg

Mary Rockwell Hook in Florida, c. 1935. [X_099_workers_2466b_mod.jpg]

Mrs. Hook continued designing buildings into her late 70s. In 1935, she purchased 55 acres on Siesta Key, a barrier island off the central western coast of Florida and on the Gulf of Mexico, setting aside land on part of the key for use by architects who wished to experiment with new designs. She also developed a residential area at Sandy Hook, a neighborhood on Siesta Key, where she included an octagon-shaped third home for herself. She generously shared her Siesta Key home with friends, including Pine Mountain staff, during the times she was in residence.

Mrs. Hook never forgot her Pine Mountain experience and the serenity, isolation, and old-time ways that she found there. She remained a member of the School’s Board of Trustees well into her 90s and died at the age of 101 years on September 8, 1978,  the same date as her birthday.

The American Institute of Architects, which earlier had denied her membership, presented her with a plaque for distinguished service on her 100th birthday. The fall 1991 newsletter (no. 3) for the International Archive of Women in Architecture stated the following:

Today, as the materials in the International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA) indicate, Mary Rockwell Hook will be remembered, not because she was a woman working in a ‘man’s field’, but because she was a successful designer who made her mark in the field of architecture.

Finally, her male colleagues gave her the recognition she long deserved as the country moved forward in the process of making room for the many talented women architects whose innovations and talents could no longer be ignored.

To review Mary Rockwell Hook’s architecture at Pine Mountain Settlement School, see BUILT ENVIRONMENT for specific details of the buildings.

For more information, see also the following:














Title Mary Rockwell Hook
 Alt. Title Mary Rockwell
Creator Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY
Alt. Creator Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;
Subject Keyword Mary Rockwell ; Mary Rockwell Hook ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Wellesley College ; women architects ; Katherine Pettit ; Ethel de Long ; Art Institute of Chicago ; Ecole des Beaux-Arts ; Marcel Arburtin ; gender bias ; American Institute of Architects ; Kansas City, MO ; Howe, Holt, and Cutler ; Old Log ; Big Log ; Laurel House ; PMSS Board of Trustees ; Inghram D. Hook ; National Register of Historic Places ; Kansas City Landmarks Commission ; Hook and Remington ; Eric Douglas MacWilliam Remington ; Siesta Key, FL ; Sandy Hook, FL ; International Archive of Women in Architecture ; Mary Rockwell Hook Papers : Western Historical Manuscript Collection : University of Missouri ; Kansas City Public Library ; Burton Rogers ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Junction City, KS ; Wellesley, MA ; Chicago, IL ; Paris, France ; Kansas City, MO ; California ; Massachusetts ; Colorado ; Europe ; East Asia ;
Subject LCSH Hook, Mary Rockwell, — 1877 – 1978.
Feminism and the arts.
Women — Missouri — Kansas City — Biography.
Women architects — United States — Biography.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Rural schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.
Schools — Appalachian Region.
Date digital 2007-09-14 ; 2013-10-27
Publisher Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY
Contributor  n/a
Type Text ; image ;
Format Original and copies of documents, correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet ; photograph album ;
Source Series 9: Staff/Personnel ; Series 5: Administration – Board of Trustees ;
Language English
Relation Mary Rockwell Hook Photography Album ; Line Fork Architectural Planning for Second Cabin ; This and That, Mary Rockwell Hook autobiography ; Becker, Linda F. “From the Survey,” in Historic Kansas City Foundation Gazette, March-April 1987, v. 11, no. 2, 6 pages ; Conrads, David. “Ahead of Her Time: Mary Rockwell Hook,” Kansas City Live!, April 1991, v. 2, no. 7, pp. 46-51 ; “Mary Rockwell Hook, Pioneer Architect, Dies,” Kansas City Star, September 9, 1978 , p. 10B:1 ; Conrads, David. “Mary Rockwell Hook.” Missouri Magazine, Fall 1993, v. 20, no. 3, pp. 28-33 ; Katherine Pettit ; Ethel de Long Zande ; Blacksburg, VA ;
Coverage Temporal 1887 – 1978
Coverage Spatial Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Junction City, KS ; Wellesley, MA ; Chicago, IL ; Paris, France ; Kansas City, MO ; Siesta Key, FL ; Sandy Hook, FL ; California ; Massachusetts ; Colorado ; Europe ; East Asia ; Blacksburg, VA ;
Rights Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Donor n/a
Description Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers created by or addressed to Mary Rockwell Hook ; clippings, photographs, publications by or about Mary Rockwell Hook
Acquisition n/d
Citation “[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.
Processed by Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;
Last updated 2007-00-14 hhw ; 2009-10-08 aae, hhw ; 2013-09-23 hhw ; 2013-10-27 hhw ; 2014-06-06 hhw ; 2014-10-25 hhw ; 2015-03-25 hhw ; 2016-02-05 hhw ; 2018-03-09 hhw
Bibliography By Mary Rockwell Hook
Hook, Mary R. “This and That.” Kansas City, Mo.?, 1970. Deposited in the Mary Rockwell Hook Papers, Western Historical Manuscript Collection, University of Missouri, Kansas City, and the Kansas City Public Library. A copy is held in the Pine Mountain Settlement School archive. An autobiographical account of the architect’s life that contains many of her designs for the Kansas City homes, including her early family home at 54 East 53rd Terrace, designed by Hook in 1908. She dedicated the autobiography to Burton Rogers, lifelong friend and longtime Director of Pine Mountain Settlement School.
Biographical Sources
Allaback, Sarah. The First American Women Architects. Champaign-Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2008. Print.
Conrads, David. “Ahead of Her Time: Mary Rockwell Hook.” Kansas City Live! 2 (April 1991): 33. Collection of the Kansas City Public Library. Print.
“IAWA Spotlight: Mary Rockwell Hook.” International Archive of Women in Architecture. 3 (Fall 1991). (accessed 2009-10-05). Internet resource.
Coleman, Daniel. “Biography of Mary Rockwell Hook, Architect.” Kansas City, MO: Kansas City Public Library Missouri Valley Special Collections, 2007. http://www.kchistory.orgcdm4item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/Biographies&CISOPTR=181 (accessed 2009-10-05). Internet resource.
Landmarks Commission of Kansas City, Missouri, USDI/NPS National Register of Historical Places Inventory Nomination Form. National Park Service. (1997). (accessed 05-10-2009). Internet resource.
National Register of Historical Places. “Residential Structures by Mary Rockwell Hook TR.” (1983). (accessed 2009-10-05). Internet resource.
About Mary Rockwell Hook
Becker, Linda F. “From the Survey.” Historic Kansas City Foundation Gazette. 11 (March-April 1987): 6 pages. Print. A brief article on the houses in Kansas City, MO, that were designed by Mary Rockwell Hook, including the Sunset Hill residential district and the early family home at 1004 West 52nd Street (1908 – 1909).
Conrads, David. “Ahead of Her Time: Mary Rockwell Hook.” Kansas City Live! 2 (April 1991): 46-51. Print. This biographical article describes many of Mary Rockwell Hook’s works as well as her use of recycled materials from previous structures and natural materials for insulation and lighting.
Conrads, David. “Mary Rockwell Hook.” Missouri Magazine. 20 (Fall 1993): 28-33. Print. The nomination of nine of Hook’s homes for the National Register of Historic Places and local landmarks of the Kansas City Landmarks Commission are covered by Conrads. The Landmarks Commission which prepared the nomination describes her “[a]s a woman and a practicing architect … a pioneer, opening a path for other women to follow and thus making a significant contribution to the history of American Architecture.”
Flynn, Jane Fifield. Kansas City Women of Independent Minds. Kansas City, Mo: Fifield Pub. Co, 1992. Print. Chapter 49, titled “Mary Rockwell Hook,” is devoted to a biographical sketch of Hook and her early work as an innovative architect. Print.
Historic Kansas City Foundation. “Mary Rockwell Hook Homes Tour.” manuscript papers produced by the Historic Kansas City Foundation, (September 11, 1977):10-11, 15-16, etc. Prin. Located at the Kansas City Public Library, the archive includes descriptions of homes in Kansas City, particularly the following: residence at 1004 West 52nd Street ; residences at 5012 and 4940 Summit Street ; residence at 54 East 53rd Terrace ; residences at 6435 Indian Lane (the Malcolm Lowry residence includes a den in which Ernest Hemingway wrote), and 2015 Drury Lane ; architecture of the Oak Hill Farm in Raytown, MO.
Hodges, Jessie, and Jean Austin. “Kansas City’s Wellesley Club Garden Pilgrimage.” American Home. 17 (May 1937): 148-152. Print. Describes the Wellesley Club Annual Garden Tours in Kansas City, MO, that were founded by Mrs. C.R. Woodworth to provide scholarships to Wellesley College, Hook’s alma mater.
Jones, Betty. “A Woman Ahead of Her Time.” City. 1 (May 1978): 31-32. Print. This collection of the Kansas City Public Library contains biographical information, and many photographs of her work, focusing on her work in Kansas City, MO.
 L’Heureux, Mary Alice. “Well Connected.” Urban Planning & Architecture. 8 (May 2006): 78-83. Print. This illustrated article includes extensive information on Mary Rockwell Hook, particularly her work at Pine Mountain Settlement School, KY.
 “Mary Rockwell Hook, Pioneer Architect, Dies.” Kansas City Star. (September 9, 1978): 10B:1. Print. Obituary of her death on Friday on the anniversary of her 101st birthday. She was living in her home on Siesta Key, an island off the coast of Sarasota, FL.
 Millstein, Cydney E., and Carol Grove, “Mary Rockwell Hook Residence.” Houses of Missouri, 1870-1940. New York: Acanthus Press, 2008. Print.
 Piland, Sherry. “Mary Rockwell Hook: Pioneer Architect.” Helicon Nine. 1 (Spring-Summer 1979): 14-19. Print.
 Piland, Sherry. “Mary Rockwell Hook: An Architect and Lady Who Left Her Mark in Kansas City.” Town Squire. 14 (May 1982): 50-59. Print. Biographical information and description of Hook’s Kansas City work.
 Piland, Sherry, and Elaine Ryder. “Residential Structures by Mary Rockwell Hook TR.” National Park Service. (June 29, 1983). Print.
 Sandy, Wilda. “Biography of Mary Rockwell Hook.” Kansas City Public Library “Biographies.” Print.
 Schmidtlein, Sarah. “Mary Rockwell Hook: The Hook Style.” Historic Kansas City News. 2 (October 1977): 6-7. Print. Through photographs and narrative, this article describes the contributions of Hook to Kansas City. The style of Hook is described in this article as derived from “Gothic and Moorish arches, the Spanish casa types, the Italian palazzos, California cottage style, Italian and Spanish motifs,” and more.
 Smith, Peggy and Sherry Lamb Schirmer. “Mary Rockwell Hook.” Interview for the Kansas City Public Library collections. (July 10, 1975). Print. “Currently in the Vertical Files of the library and comprised of typed cover letters, interview questions, and handwritten responses.”
 Wilding, Jennifer. “Southtown History: Where They Lived.” Southtown News Magazine. 1 (August 1985): 12-13. Print. Contains biographical information on Hook and a description of her early architectural work in Kansas City, MO.
 Locations of Hook’s papers, articles, images, reports, etc.
 International Archive of Women in Architecture, Blacksburg, VA
 Kansas City Public Library, Missouri Valley Special Collection
 Pine Mountain Settlement School Archives, Pine Mountain, KY
 Western Historical Manuscript Collection, University of Missouri, Kansas City
 **Note: The nine Kansas City residences mentioned above were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. (Pine Mountain Settlement School was added in 1978.) On the National Register application form, the Kansas City Landmarks Commission had written:
 …[Mary Rockwell Hook] managed to meld the practice of architecture with marriage, motherhood, active participation in civic affairs, and a busy social life. As a woman and a practicing architect, [she] was a pioneer, opening a path for other women to follow and thus making a significant contribution to the history of American architecture.
 Related material
 Bunting, Bainbridge (1983). John Gaw Meem: Southwestern Architect. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-0251-3

Return to: BIOGRAPHY – A-Z