House & Home

Mary Rockwell Hook: A female architect in a man’s world

Mary Rockwell Hook
Mary Rockwell Hook

Mary Rockwell Hook (1877-1978)

Working in architecture at the turn of the century, Mary Rockwell Hook was a woman in a man’s world. It was a time when men were “openly antagonistic” to women joining the profession, The Star noted, but she didn’t let this stop her from founding her own firm and designing multiple homes in the Kansas City area.

Most of these residences, including Rockwell Hook’s own home, utilized Italian elements of design and combined stone, brick and antiques with fresco painting and tile work. These structures “serve as her monument,” The Star wrote.

At 50th and Summit streets, Rockwell Hook built her beloved “Pink House.” The exterior was made of pink plaster, and the dining room floor was native stone. “Using the native stone had been suggested by a man who sold stone and marble on Southwest Boulevard,” she wrote in her autobiography, “This and That.”

Rockwell Hook lived to be 101 years old. In her later years, she became blind, but she still imagined designs and even suggested improvements to the White House.