The Ohio History Connection Archives & Library recently received the generous donation of a student portfolio by Kenyon Hayden. She studied architecture at The Ohio State University and became, if not the first, one of the earliest licensed female architects in Ohio. This portfolio complements the personal papers of Kenyon (collection number MSS 389) and her sister Dr. Gillette Hayden (collection number MSS 394) that are held in the Ohio History Connection Archives & Library.
She was born Florence Kenyon Hayden in 1882 to Horace William Hayden and Kate Bemis Hayden in St. Louis, Missouri. Kate, who was originally from McConnellsville, Ohio, brought Kenyon and her sister Gillette to Columbus around 1892 after Horace died. Kenyon and Gillette both graduated from East High School in Columbus. The three women were all suffragists and active members of the National Woman’s Party. Held in the Archives & Library is a suffrage speech titled “Women Awake!” given by Kenyon. While some suffragists celebrated partial suffrage victories, Kenyon argued that it was premature to celebrate until the 19th Amendment was ratified. In a 1920 suffrage speech she stated:
“. . . [S]ince the question concerned the fundamental political liberties of half the adult people of the nation, it could be regarded as a national, political issue second to none in importance.”
Kenyon’s involvement in women’s activism did not end when the passage of the 19th amendment gave some American voting rights. She remained active in the National Woman’s Party and their efforts to achieve fair working conditions and economic equality for women. A 1935 Columbus Dispatch article describing plans for the National Woman’s Party conference held in Columbus recognizes Kenyon Hayden Rector as one of the Columbus women who was a founding member of the organization. Some records of the National Woman’s Party, collection number MSS 909, are held by the Ohio History Connection Archives & Library.
Kenyon began her architecture studies at Ohio State in 1901 where she worked with Professor Joseph Bradford. However, she left the University in 1903 and did not graduate. By the time Kenyon started college she had begun to go by F. Kenyon or just Kenyon, rather than Florence. In her 20s she received a major commission as an architect to design Oxley Hall. Located at 1712 Neil Avenue, it was the first dormitory for female students on the campus of The Ohio State University. Professor Bradford had recommended her for the job, but there were others who felt she needed the assistance of a male associate. Officially Wilbur T. Mills was her collaborator, though it is generally believed that the vision for the building was Kenyon’s. There is a story that she got so frustrated with Mills she locked him out of their shared office in order to finish her final plans for the building and was able to draft them in just 27 days. Oxley Hall opened in 1908. Another project Kenyon took on early in her career was assisting her uncle, L. Howard Hayden, to design the seating plan for Madison Square Garden.
Kenyon married physician James M. Rector in 1910. Kenyon was actually quoted extensively in a 1922 article in the Columbus Dispatch discussing her views on whether or not women should keep or change their surnames after marriage. Her general opinion was that unless women were well known by their maiden name, changing their names upon marriage was an accepted custom. While she thought hyphenated names were inconvenient, Kenyon felt strongly about women retaining family names:
“… I like the custom of the signature of the wife retaining her own name to be used with her husband’s surname and that I like the custom of naming the children with the family name of the mother, since she gives up her family name herself.”
She practiced this after her marriage as she was usually called Mrs. Kenyon Hayden Rector, rather than Kenyon Rector or Mrs. James Rector. Her two children were named Horace Hayden Rector and Gillette Hayden Rector, after her father and sister.
A particular architectural specialty of Kenyon’s was designing medical facilities, including a sanitarium in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and a doctors’ office building at Sixth & State streets in Columbus. A reception she and her husband held to mark the opening of this building was reported in the Columbus Dispatch on December 4, 1914. She was also credited with designing dining rooms for Lazarus department store and the Southern Hotel, now the Westin Hotel, in Columbus.
Kenyon and her sister Gillette, who was a dentist and periodontist, were founding members of the Columbus branch of Altrusa International. Altrusa, founded in 1917 in Nashville, Tennessee, has been deemed the first organization of business and professional women. The Columbus branch, which organized in 1918, described the club as “…the first in Columbus with a classified and selective membership for women executives in diversified fields.” Women invited to join were considered the top practitioners of their professions. Both sisters were active for many years. Records of the Columbus branch of Altrusa are held in the Ohio History Connection Archives & Library, collection number MSS 423.
In the 1920s Kenyon designed her family’s personal residence constructed at 878 Franklin Avenue in Columbus. The three story, light colored stucco home stands out in a neighborhood largely consisting of more traditional brick and wooden Victorian houses. Unique features of the house include a covered entryway, a built-in green house, her third floor studio that is bathed in natural light and a garden terrace on the roof. She practiced architecture until the 1930s and lived here until her death in 1973. Her daughter, Gillette, continued to reside in the house. It is still a private residence and has been lovingly restored.
The Kenyon Hayden portfolio recently acquired by the Ohio History Connection Archives & Library was a generous donation of Geralyn Campanelli. Comprised of 66 architectural drawings that date circa 1901-1903 when she was an architecture student, the portfolio is a rare record of Kenyon’s budding talent. Almost every piece in the collection is signed, but her signature varies from F. Kenyon Hayden, Kenyon Hayden, F.K. Hayden or Florence Kenyon Hayden. It is rare to find pieces signed with her first name, Florence, as she rarely used this name professionally.
Other pieces found in the portfolio include:
• “Plates in Shades, Shadows and Perspective,” 4 plates
• Drawings of composite, Corinthian, Doric and Ionic columns
• Two pencil drawings labeled “O.S. University Detail, Knuckle Joint” and “O.S. University Knuckle Joint”
The Kenyon Hayden Portfolio, the Kenyon Hayden Rector Papers, and the Gillette Hayden Papers, as well as records of the National Women’s Party and the Altrusa Club Records for the Columbus group, are part of the collections of the Ohio History Connection Archives & Library. You are encouraged to search the Archives Only catalog at https://aspace.ohiohistory.org/ for more information about these and other collections. The Archives & Library is open to researchers by appointment 12:30-3 PM on Wednesdays and 10 AM to 3 PM on Thursdays and Fridays. Please see the Archives & Library page at www.ohiohistory.org for more information about scheduling an appointment.
Arter, Bill, “Columbus Vignette, “Oxley Hall’s Designer,” Columbus Dispatch, May 31, 1970.
Behne, Adam, “Oxley Hall,” The Lantern, July 16, 2003. Accessed online:
“Eastern – Stars,” Columbus Dispatch, February 27, 1997.
“Few Women Care to Keep Maiden Names at Marriage,” Columbus Dispatch, March 26, 1922.
“Gillette Hayden,” Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia. Accessed online:
International Archive of Women in Architecture. “Florence Kenyon Hayden Rector,” IAWA Biographical Database. Accessed online: https://iawadb.lib.vt.edu/index.php
Jordan, Jenice, “Golden Anniversary Year, Times Have Changed Since the Founding of Altrusa,” Columbus Dispatch, April 23, 1967.
“Plans Completed for Opening of Feminists’ Meet Saturday,” Columbus Dispatch, November 28, 1935.
Rector, Kenyon Hayden. Women Awake!, Columbus, Ohio, 1920 (?).