Amaza Lee Meredith was in every sense and anomaly. In the mid-1930s this African American female architect designed an International Style house adjacent to the campus of Virginia State University. Her home, which she named Azurest South, sits now in quiet obscurity.
Its maker, Amaza Lee Meredith was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on August 14, 1895, the eldest child of Samuel Meredith, a respected carpenter and Emma Kennedy. Because her father was white and her mother black, Amaza’s parents could not be legally married in Virginia. The two traveled to Washington, D.C., in racially segregated railroad cars to tie the knot. But Samuel Meredith lost much of his business as result of the controversial marriage and took his life in 1915. Despite this family tragedy, Amaza Meredith graduated from high school the same year at the top of her class, and enrolled at the Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute near Petersburg, which was later to become Virginia State University. There she met Dr. Edna Meade Colson, the daughter of James Major Colson III, one of the Institutes founding faculty members. Edna Colson would go on to become dean of the School of Education and, in time, became Amaza Meredith’s lifelong companion.