Making waves

Cynthia Douglas Bittinger ’68 talks about trailblazing Wheaton architect on radio

Cynthia Douglas Bittinger ’68, photo by Jon Gilbert Fox

For years, instructor, author and historian Cynthia Douglas Bittinger ’68 has found inspiration in the contributions of lesser-known Vermonters who have made a lasting impact.

The late Margaret “Peg” King Hunter ’41—an alumna who blazed trails in the field of architecture—was a recent subject of her research. Bittinger spoke about Hunter’s accomplishments in modern architecture on Vermont Public Radio (VPR) during a show that aired June 13.

“I am always looking for inspiring stories for women, especially young women at this time,” Bittinger said.

After graduating from Wheaton, Hunter was one of the first women to attend Harvard’s graduate school in architecture and one of the first female professors at Dartmouth College.

“When the Hunters bravely decided to design homes for middle class families in Norwich, Vt., and Hanover, N.H., in the 1950s, they were revolutionaries in their chosen profession,” she said in the broadcast.

Some of the Vermont homes currently are under consideration for inclusion as a National Register District, according to the broadcast.

Hunter also was an activist in her profession. She returned to Wheaton in 1946 to inspire students to ask for modern dorms after a plan to update the campus had been proposed and shelved. Eventually, the dorms were built. “Her story is important to current Wheaton students, both male and female,” Bittinger said.

Bittinger graduated from Wheaton with a degree in government and enrolled in Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1969, after which she taught history at a New Jersey high school for three years. She also worked for two mayors in New York City and worked in the Massachusetts Office of Economic Affairs. She moved to Hanover, N.H., in 1988. She served as director of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation and teaches courses at the Community College of Vermont.

Listen to Bittinger’s story on VPR.