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New Angle: Voice


Aug 14, 2023

1913 was the year of the grand march for suffrage in Washington DC, the 250,000 marchers and attendees eclipsed the coverage the following day of the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson.  Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, population 4216, had its own march, on the fourth of July. Costumes were di rigeur, with a goodly number of  stately toga clad ladies and a few wild harridans on horseback, along with our intrepid girl in her Cornell cap and gown:  Anna Wagner Keichline… a native Bellefutian. We had to see this for ourselves. 

So I saddled up my 2002 Honda Minivan, and made the five hour drive from New York City west on Route 80 through gently rolling Allegheny mountains to find Bellefonte and interview Nancy Perkins, her grand niece.  Nancy, a designer herself, has become the engine of Anna’s transformation from a local talent to a polymath of invention.  Nancy is dedicated to preserving the work of her aunt.   She has gathered photos, patents, plans and drawings, and even has a “k-brick”, perhaps Anna’s best known invention - a composite form of brick that foreshadows our modern and ubiquitous concrete block.    

Not every architect has the opportunity to build skyscrapers. In Bellefonte, Anna used her talents to improve the lives of her neighbors, by designing their houses and gathering places.  She adopted a gently accommodating architectural style in the shadow of all that high Victorian lacery, and designed sturdy churches, theaters, homes, schools, and recreation facilities in her hometown that still stand well and firmly in their context.

Today, we present her story:  Anna Wagner Keichline: The Legacy of Invention.

 

Special thanks in this episode to Nancy Perkins, Sarah Lichtman, and Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler.

This podcast is produced by Brandi Howell, with editorial advising from Alexandra Lange.   Thanks also to production assistant Virginia Eskridge.

New Angle Voice is brought to you by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.  Funding for this podcast comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation.