Skip to content
building plan by Maude Parlinbuilding plan by Maude Parlin

Maude Parlin Collection

A snapshot of a woman’s architectural career

Maude Darling was the only woman in her graduating class at MIT in 1907. Though she was not the first woman to study architecture at the Institute, she was the first to practice in Fall River, an important industrial city 45 miles south of Boston. After studying at MIT and the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, she settled back in her hometown of Fall River where she designed several buildings independently and worked on others in partnership with her father, also a local architect (as was her grandfather) and, later, her brother. Her early work consisted of residential projects as well as several local banks and theaters, especially after the disastrous Fall River fire of 1928, which left an urgent need for new buildings downtown. During the 1930s Parlin worked for the then-new Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), which offered jobs documenting the historic architecture of the United States to out-of-work architects and photographers. In the post-WWII boom, Parlin continued to design institutional buildings, especially schools. Parlin retired in 1975 after a nearly seventy-year architectural career.

The MIT collection offers a small, cross-sectional view of Parlin’s work, beginning with the portfolios she used while studying building construction and architectural drafting and lettering at MIT. Surviving renderings of a proposed hotel and an elementary school show the variety of her commercial and institutional work before and after WWII, always keeping pace with contemporary architectural trends. The collection also includes Parlin’s copies of HABS drawings of structures in Bristol County, Massachusetts. The copies have annotations by Parlin indicating that she conducted the research and measurements though the various men who delineated the drawings were the only ones officially credited.

In addition to the Maude Parlin Collection, the MIT Museum also holds drawings from Parlin’s senior thesis project for a “Community Dining Hall”. According to her written description of the project, the building was an experimental communal solution to “the present economic problems which confront housewives.” Parlin took the lessons from her thesis project into her career, designing several schools, a community center, and a woman’s center, all with careful attention to social use.

Partial listing of Maude Darling Parlin’s architectural work

Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) numbers listed in parentheses when available.

Hannah Kelly House, Bigelow Street, Fall River, 1914

Buffington Building, 10–18 Purchase Street, Fall River, circa 1916 (FLR.1199)

Sullivan Building, 157 South Main St Fall River, circa 1916 (FLR.404)

Woman's Club of Fall River, 542 Walnut Street, Fall River, 1925 renovation and extension (FLR.1537)

Baptist Temple, 195-213 South Main Street, Fall River, circa 1926 (FLR.406)

Mohican Hotel, Fall River, unbuilt, circa 1928

Fall River Cooperative Bank, 26-30 Bedford Street, circa 1929 (FLR.1202)

Fall River Trust Company Building, 25-35 North Main Street, Fall River, 1929 (FLR.245)

Fall River Home for Aged People/Adams House, 1168 Highland Avenue Fall River, 1936 addition (FLR.169)

Borden Farm Barn, 73 Brayton Point Road, Westport, 1954 conversion and renovation (WSP.644)

Hector Belisle School, 40 Clarkson Street, Fall River, 1951

School for Christian Education, First Baptist Church, Fall River, 1955

Bristol County Agricultural School Dormitory, 84 Center Street, Dighton, 1959

Russell C. and Dorothy Smith Residence, Highland Avenue, Dartmouth, 1968

Title: Maude Parlin Collection

Creator: Maude Frances (Darling) Parlin

Dates: 1892–1971; bulk 1935–1968

Extent: 64 drawings; 2 portfolios; 1 folder archival materials

Language: English

Repository: MIT Museum

Access: Online and by appointment

Copyright: Some copyright restrictions may apply

Credit: Maude Parlin Collection, MIT Museum