Historic Markers Across Alabama

Carolyn Cortner Smith Female Architect Pioneer / Designed Delano Park Structures

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of Gordon Drive Southeast and 8th Avenue Southeast, Decatur, Alabama
County: Morgan
Coordinates: N 34° 35.891    W 086° 58.663
  34.59818333    -86.97771666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Carolyn Cortner Smith
Female Architect Pioneer

Born in 1894 in Normandy, Tennessee, Carolyn Cortner was raised in the Courtland area of Lawrence County, Alabama. She attended Ward-Belmont College in Tennessee. She married Wilburn Smith in 1912. She did not attend formal architecture school but studied design textbooks to become Alabama's first licensed female architect, designing her first home by 1914. Mrs. Smith acquired three area lumber mills and ran them as the Carolyn Lumber Mills. In the 1920's, the Mars family put her in charge of constructing their Milky Way Farms in Pulaski, Tennessee. A world traveler, Mrs. Smith died in 1987 at 93, leaving a legacy in the history of design and historic preservation in Alabama.

Carolyn Cortner Smith
Designed Delano Park Structures

Carolyn Cortner Smith was among the first women in Alabama to enter the field of architecture early in the 20th century. During the Depression-era 1930's, she designed buildings for the federal government as part of the Civil Works Administration and Works Progress Administration. She directed the WPA restoration of the Old State Bank and designed the National Guard Armory and several phases of Delano Park, including the Rose Garden, bathhouse, and bandstand. During her distinguished career, Mrs. Smith designed more than 700 homes and churches. She built a number of homes in the Decatur area and was influential in creating the Tudor-style of architecture that is predominant in the Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook.

Erected by State of Alabama.

End of Carolyn Cortner Smith Female Architect Pioneer / Designed Delano Park Structures