Grace E. Crosby, a native of Fort Wayne, was born in 1874. Grace graduated from Fort Wayne High School, and then did an apprenticeship with several architectural firms In Fort Wayne which became her formal architecture training. By 1894 listed under the city directories as a “tracer” of architectural plans and then by 1900, Grace was serving as a “draughtswoman” with the architectural firm of Alfred Grindle. Grace Crosby worked for Grindle’s firm until 1909 when she joined the Wildwood Builders with Joel Ninde and Joel’s husband Lee Ninde. Crosby and Joel Roberts Ninde worked in partnership as the design department and construction supervisors.

By 1912 several houses that had been designed by Ninde, Crosby and possibly Pellen had been published in both the Wildwood Magazine and in a book of home plans published by Ninde and Crosby titled, Wildwood Homes: Being a Collection of Houses and Details with Suggestions for the Home Builder, in 1912. Both the magazine and the book were nationally distributed. A newspaper article listed in August, 1914 stated that Joel Ninde and Grace Crosby had opened their own firm. Their new firm included both architecture and interior design, the article also stated that the two would continue their work at Wildwood Builders. Unfortunately the partnership was short lived between Grace Crosby and Joel Roberts Ninde when it ended abruptly when Joel Roberts Ninde died from a stroke in 1916 at age 42.

After Joel Ninde’s death, Grace continued to work as an architect for Wildwood Builder and even briefly own had her own firm in 1917. This was due to the First World War, because of all the men who had left for military service and there was still a demand for architects’ it allowed her to open her own firm. Her own firm was located at 409 E. Berry Street. After the war she would continue to work in Fort Wayne first as a designer, at Steele-Myers Department Storein 1918 and then as an draftswoman in 1919. Grace was a draftswoman for the S.F. Bowser Company, her position designed gasoline pumps and filling stations. She later joined the firm of Griffith and Goodrich. Her final employer was the architecture firm of Bradley & Babcock. Grace would work at Bradley & Babcock as an architect until her retirement in 1930. Crosby lived until 1962, and her obituary noted that she had worked over 35 years in the architectural field. She died at the age of 88.

Grace E. Crosby 1874-1962

grace-house

The Crosby Family home.

Further Reading

  1. Allaback, Sarah. The First American Women Architects. University of Illinois Press, 2008. Pp. 204-205.
  2. Grace E. Crosby House, 413 West DeWald Street, City of Fort Wayne Historic Preservation Commission Staff Review, July 23, 2007.
  3. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, “Ft. Wayne Women Form New Architect Firm.” August 30, 1914.
  4. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, “Grace E. Crosby.” May 18, 1962.
  5. Indianapolis Star, “Mrs. Joel Roberts Ninde of Ft. Wayne Broadened Her Womanly Sphere By Becoming an Architect and the Creator of Fair ‘Honeymoon Row’.” November 7, 1914

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