Women’s History Month: Beverly L. Greene – Architect & Urban Planner (1915-1957)

Senior Portrait circa 1936

Photo Credit:  University of Illinois

Born Chicago, IL, Beverly Loraine Greene is believed to be the first registered African-American woman architect in the United States. The only child of a lawyer and a homemaker, Greene attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign going on to earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in architectural engineering in 1936 and a Master of Science (M.S.) in city planning a year later. In December 1942, Greene registered as an architect with the State of Illinois. She was 27 years old at the time.

Upon finishing her graduate education, Greene returned to Chicago and was hired by the Chicago Housing Authority, breaking the racial and gender glass ceilings at the agency. In 1945, Greene moved to New York City to work on the development of Stuyvesant Town a private housing complex on the east side of Manhattan. Greene did not believe she would be able to work on the project due to her reading about Stuyvesant Town “not allowing Negroes to live in the development” however, she was hired to work on the development, only to leave soon after to accept a scholarship from Columbia University to study city planning. Greene received a masters in architecture from Columbia University in June 1945.

During her career, Greene worked for several noted architects including Isadore Rosefield, Edward Durell Stone and Marcel Breuer. Below is a list of projects Greene worked on during her career:

Project Location Year
Christian Reformation Church (now Christian Parish for Spiritual Renewal) New York City 1956
New York University New York City (c) 1956
Sarah Lawrence College Theater Bronxville, NY 1952
United Nations Headquarters Paris, France 1950s
Unity Funeral Chapel New York City 1954
University of Arkansas Theater Fayetteville, AK 1951

At the age of 41, Greene died on August 22, 1957. A memorial service was held for Greene at Unity Funeral Chapel, one of the projects she designed.


African-American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, 1864-1945 (New York: Routledge, 2004)

“Beverly Greene,” Jet Magazine, September 5, 1957

Greene, Beverly Loraine (1915-1957) – BlackPast.org http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aah/greene-beverly-loraine-1915-1957

Mitchell, Melissa, “Research Project Spotlights African-American Architects from University of Illinois http://news.illinois.edu/news/06/0209architects.html

“Woman Architect Blazes a New Trail for Others,” Amsterdam News, June 23, 1945