Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Famed Colorado Springs architect Elizabeth Wright Ingraham dies at age 91

By Wayne Heilman Updated: September 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, architect for about 150 buildings in Colorado Springs, her home for 65 years, died Sept. 15 of congestive heart failure in San Antonio. She was 91, the same age her grandfather, architecture giant Frank Lloyd Wright, was when he died in 1959.

Among the buildings she designed in the Colorado Springs area were the Vista Grande Community Church, a home called "Solaz" on Crystal Park Road in Manitou Springs, a home for Bob and Mildred Beadles in the Old North End neighborhood and a major expansion of the Fountain branch of the Pikes Peak Library District. One of her three daughters, Catherine Ingraham, is an architect who is a professor of graduate architecture and urban design and headed the graduate architecture program at the Pratt Institute in New York from 1999-2005.

Wright Ingraham was critical of the local architecture: In a 1999 profile in The Gazette, she said that the high percentage of people who have moved to the area from other places meant "they bring their own styles. We have to encourage people to learn about Colorado instead of dragging their baggage and parking it down somewhere."

Daughter Anna Grady said her mother "had a lot to say about a lot of things, and she wasn't afraid to share them." She said Wright Ingraham "touched a lot of lives and was a role model and mentor for many young people. She loved the intellectual stimulation of young people and loved to engage in conversation on a number of subjects."

Stephen Powell, president of American Institute of Architects Colorado South affiliate, said the group's statewide organization "was sad to hear of the loss of Elizabeth Wright Ingraham as she had an amazing life and was an incredible architect. Elizabeth was a powerhouse of creativity. The state and our local chapter will miss her wisdom, knowledge and humor greatly." A video of an interview the group did with her last year is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rnV_zFYcZU.

Betty Ross, a local artist and longtime friend, said Wright Ingraham was "larger than life. She was motherly, sisterly and could be both stern and helpful. I feel lucky to have been one of her good friends. She was brave, tough and strong and made me a stronger, braver person."

Wright Ingraham was born in Oak Park, Ill., in 1922 to John Lloyd Wright, an architect and inventor of the Lincoln Logs line of children's toys, and Hazel Lundin. She studied architecture with Mies van der Rohe at the Armour Institute, now the Illinois Institute of Technology, and also attended the University of California at Berkeley. She met her future husband, Gordon Ingraham, while both were studying at Taliesin, the architectural school founded by Frank Lloyd Wright. The couple traveled 11,000 miles around the nation looking at communities before deciding to move to the Springs.

The couple formed an architecture firm called Ingraham & Ingraham, Architects, that designed more than 90 homes, including the Beadles home in 1951. She later formed her own firm called Elizabeth Wright Ingraham and Associates, designing the church in 1987, Solaz in 1998 and the Fountain library addition in 2006. Wright Ingraham served on many boards and task forces for the architecture industry.

She founded the Wright-Ingraham Institute in 1970 to encourage and develop opportunities contributing to the conservation, preservation and wise use of human and natural resources. The institute, now headed by a board that includes two of her three daughters, attracted students and visiting faculty from schools nationwide and hosts conferences and workshops on environmental issues. She also started an international exchange program called Crossroads in affiliation with Colorado College, and cofounded the Women's Forum in Colorado.

She moved from Colorado Springs to San Antonio in January to live with her son, Michael Ingraham. Grady said she remained in "remarkably good health" until recently, when she began showing early signs of dementia. On a visit with Grady the day before she died, Wright Ingraham was "her old self," Grady said.

Wright-Ingraham is survived by her son and three daughters, which also includes Christine Ingraham of Guilford, Conn.; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A local memorial service is planned in late fall and an exhibit featuring her work is planned at the Fine Arts Center.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Marian House, 228 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

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