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Ruth Young McGonigle architectural papers

Identifier: MS 0022
Finding aid note: Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

Scope and Contents

This material is composed mainly of architectural drawings, sketches, and prints featuring private residences, a few public buildings, and two-three artistic sketches. Project titles indicate that the majority of these buildings were planned for Brownsville, Cameron County, and South Padre Island (Texas).


  • Creation: 1959 - 1983


Access Restriction

This material is open for research.

Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish materials from this item must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Biographical Note

Ruth Young McGonigle was born on April 5th, 1902 in Spindletop, Texas. After graduating from Houston High School in 1918, she entered the Rice Institute to take art classes, but ended up studying architecture instead.

In 1924, McGonigle was the first woman to graduate from Rice with a B.S. in Architecture. After graduation, she worked for William Ward Watkin, who was not only a Houston architect, but also a professor at Rice. McGonigle worked under his tutelage until she married former classmate, George McGonigle Jr., on September 29, 1925. She then settled in her husband’s hometown of Brownsville and began her own practice.

McGonigle was particularly known for recognizing Brownsville’s unique historical architecture and incorporating that style in her own work. Her sensitivity to19th century Creole building tradition is evident in her designs for the Brown-Young house and Hert house in Rio Viejo. Although she designed mainly single-family homes, her artistry could also be found in public buildings like the St. Paul’s Episcopal Mission and the Brownsville Art League Museum. During the 1950’s, she also designed floats for Brownsville’s annual Charro Days parades. Ruth was not only one of the first female architects to work in the lower Rio Grande Valley, but also one of the founders of the Brownsville Art League. Throughout the last decades of her life, McGonigle worked with the Brownsville Historical Association to document the city’s architectural heritage.

She and her husband had two children. Her husband was killed in a plane accident on July 2, 1954. Ruth Y. McGonigle died on April 14, 1984.

Bibliography:; Ruth Young McGonigle Papers, Woodson Research Center, Rice University.


4 Linear Feet (1 drawer, 43 architectural drawings)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of architectural drawings done by Ruth Y. McGonigle during her private practice in Brownsville, TX. She designed mostly residential houses with the exception of a few public buildings.

Acquisition Information

This collection was a gift donated by Betty McGonigle Capshaw, May 7, 1990.


Guide to the Ruth Young McGonigle architectural papers, 1959-1983
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA