Azurest South

Historical Significance

Azurest South was a residence and studio designed by Amaza Lee Meredith (1895-1984), one of the nation's first black female architects. Meredith was born in Lynchburg to a white father and black mother. Due to anti-miscegenation laws, Meredith's parents could not be legally married in Virginia, so they traveled to Washington D.C. to marry lawfully. In 1915 Meredith graduated from high school and subsequently completed her studies at the Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute. After college, she taught in Botetourt County and then moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1926, enrolling in the Teacher's College of Columbia University where she majored in fine arts. She received a bachelor's degree with honors in 1930 and a master's degree in 1934. Meredith returned to Virginia where she founded the Fine Arts Department at Virginia State University (VSU) in 1930, remaining there until her retirement in 1958. 

Despite having received no formal training in architecture, she designed her house, Azurest South, in 1939 and lived there until her death. Meredith shared the home with her companion, Dr. Edna Meade Colson, dean of the Virginia State University School of Education. Although never formally registered as an architect, Meredith designed homes for friends and family in Virginia, Texas, and New York. She also worked with her sister to create a neighborhood of vacation homes for middle-class African Americans in Sag Harbor dubbed "Azurest North." Meredith lived at Azurest South during the academic year and vacationed at Azurest North from 1939 until her death in 1984. Her remains were cremated and her ashes placed in a crypt in Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg, Virginia.

In 1993, Azurest South was listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and in 1994 in the National Register of Historic Places.

Physical Description

Azurest South, a five-room, single-story dwelling, functioned in part as a design laboratory and studio for Meredith, and was thought to be "one of the most advanced residential designs in the state in its day." It is one of a few examples in Virginia of the Post World War I German style known as the International Style. Today the house serves as the official Alumni House/Office of the Virginia State University Alumni Association.

Geographical and Contact Information

2900 Boisseau St
Ettrick, Virginia
23803

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Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Azurest South,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed June 29, 2017, http://aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/30.

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