Clara Richardson

February 1896 class photo of Indiana Technical School (today Manual). Clara Richardson possibly bottom right. Photo courtesy: Parry family

Clara Richardson
(23 Aug 1878 – 20 Jan 1971)

Born in 1878 in Franklin, Indiana, to James and Matilda (Brown) Richardson (both buried in Crown Hill Cemetery), Clara Maude Richardson was the third of six children born to the couple. James was a carpenter, and in 1890, he moved his family to the southeast side of Indianapolis where he became a successful carpenter, contractor and builder, first with “Richardson & Craig” and then two years later as “James D. Richardson, Carpenter, Contractor, & Builder.”

Clara entered high school at a time when learning the technical skills to become an architect had just started; in 1888, Indianapolis High School (located at Michigan & Pennsylvania streets) began offering a curriculum in mechanical drawing.

On the celebration of Clara and Edward Parry’s 50th wedding anniversary, November 1952. Photo courtesy:

As the population of both the city and its high school grew steadily in the early 1890s, it was decided that a second high school was needed — and this time it was to be located on the south side of downtown. However, in the interim, Calvin Fletcher School at 520 Virginia Avenue became a temporary high school to handle the excess students from Indianapolis High School until the new school opened. Given that the Richardson family lived at 253 S. Alabama (now part of the CityWay development along South Street), Clara likely attended the interim school until the Industrial Technical School (ITS) opened at Meridian and Merrill streets in 1895, where it exists today as The Union. She graduated in 1896 and her contemporaries at ITS included Anton and Herman Scherrer, sons of Indianapolis architect Adolf Scherrer (buried in Crown Hill), who also became architects.

After graduation, Clara began an apprenticeship to continue her training as an architect. Her name is associated with three different architecture firms in Indianapolis: David Gibson, Jr., Dupont & Johnson, and Herbert Foltz. An Indianapolis News article in 1900 says that Clara was working with David Gibson, Jr. “in the second year of her studies.” A 1952 50th wedding anniversary newspaper article says she worked for Herbert Foltz, but it does not provide dates. Her obituary states that she worked at Dupont & Johnson “from the late 1800s until 1902,” the year she got married.

Interestingly, there are a few connections that indicate that Clara would have known another young woman in Indianapolis studying to be an architect — Jessie Gibson. Born four years after Clara, Jessie was home-schooled, attended Indianapolis High School, and then went on to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). One of her classmates at MIT, Herman Scherrer, was a classmate of Clara Richardson’s at ITS. Additionally, Jessie Gibson’s father was architect Louis Gibson. His brother was David Gibson, Jr., with whom Clara had an apprenticeship.

Once Clara married Edward Parry in 1902, she ceased her architecture practice and stayed home to raise their four children — Roger, John, Edward, and Mary Elizabeth. She died in 1971.

Burial Location: Section 95, Lot 641 GPS (39.8146007, -86.1724110)