Biography Projects Biographical References Related Architects Images printer-friendly version  

[Elizabeth R. H. Fleisher Pennsylvania State Architecture License]
Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Local ID #: 001-ML-001

Born: 8/28/1892, Died: 6/8/1975

Only the fourth woman in Pennsylvania to pass the exams required to become a registered architect, Elizabeth R. Hirsh Fleisher was born in Philadelphia to Harry B. Hirsh, the founder of the Belmont Iron Works, and his wife Minnie Rosenberg Hirsh. She graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls in 1910 and then received her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1914, having taken one year abroad at the University of Berlin (1912-1913). Her original intention was to become a physician, but instead, after her marriage, she pursued architecture, obtaining her architectural education at the Cambridge School of Architecture, then affiliated with Smith College, and graduating with her M.Arch. in 1929, again having availed herself of foreign study by spending the summer of 1928 taking several courses at Oxford University in England.

After graduation from Smith College, Fleisher moved to Philadelphia and was immediately employed by Edward P. Simon, with whom she remained until 1931, when she left in order to undertake research and practice in building economics and housing with John Craig Janney, A. M. Davis, and D. Owen Stephens. This resulted in projects assigned to Fleisher, Janney & Davis (1934-1935), Fleisher & Stephens (1935-1937), and Fleisher, Stephens & Fleisher (1936). From 1937 to 1941 she operated independently, but in 1941 she and Gabriel Roth established a partnership which produced theatres, factories, automobile showrooms, and a number of other building types. She would remain with Roth until her retirement in 1968, designing the Parkway House (1952) and working on the Queen Lane Housing Project (1955).

Fleisher's philanthropic and civic activities were legion. She served as an editor for the Archives of Environmental Health and as editor for the Intercollegiate Community Services Association (1915-1919) and was a board member for both the College Settlement of Philadelphia and the Women's Medical College. In 1935 she was appointed secretary of the Mayors Housing Committee.

Married to landscape architect Horace Fleisher, Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher was also a gifted painter and a generous contributer to local organizations.

Written by Sandra L. Tatman.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • Philadelphia Art Alliance
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
  • Wellesley Club of Philadelphia

School Affiliations

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Smith College
  • University of Berlin (Germany)
  • Oxford University (England)
  • Wellesley College


Philadelphia Architects and Buildings | About | Participating Institutions | Feedback | Search | Login
Website and System: Copyright © 2020 by The Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Data and Images: Copyright © 2020 by various contributing institutions. Used by permission.
All rights reserved.