... with Grace Chatterton

T HIRTY-ONE years ago this Christmas Carl E. Mohs,
      '24, gave his young wife Doris Baldwin Mohs, also '24,
      a drawing board with the suggestion that she use it to
design the kind of house in which she would like to live.
Carl, just beginning his own career as a construction engi-
neer, promised to build the house as soon as the plans were
  Doris had been an outstanding student in art education
while on campus although she was always torn between in-
terest in this field and in mathematics. Compromising, she
took as many courses as possible in each, including mechani-
cal drawing and lettering courses in the College of. Engineer-
ing. All this background was extremely helpful as she
planned her dream house on the new drawing board. The
result of her efforts was a French Tudor style house, big,
and also expensive, but, she reasoned, suitable for two
adults and perhaps several children.
   Doris laughingly says that their parents were astounded
and somewhat disturbed when they found out about the
house plans. Now, with 3 grown children of her own just
getting started she can understand why. But Carl and Doris
were not stopped by their questioning parents. They went
ahead with the construction of their house and have lived
happily in it ever since. In fact, this was the 'beginning
of an outstanding career in building for the Mohs team.
Doris became a popular designer of homes for other women.
After all who wnoldl have -n hff-,r lcnnuwlT-JAr nf whuf-

women want to live in and with than another woman? At
least 150 houses ranging in price from $5,000 (in the
1930's) to $75,000 (today) have been created on her draw-
ing board. Among them is the stunning Shorewood house
which belongs to Larry Fitzpatrick, president of the Wis-
consin Alumni Association.
  One of the happiest experiences Doris has had was in
designing a house for her daughter, Lucia Mohs Menn, '50.
She chose a steep wooded hillside as the site and then
created a three level house with large areas of glass framed
with redwood panels. The result is a dramatic combination
of Swiss Chalet and modern snuggling close to the hill.
Daughter Lucia has artistic ability, too, as well as a degree
in landscape architecture from the University. She's having
great fun developing terraces and plantings to further en-
hance the beauty of the place.
  Not all of the buildings designed by Doris Mohs have
been built by her husband. Other builders in Madison, Mil-
waukee, Medford, Merrill, Baraboo and Chicago have used
her plans.
  Nor are all of her designs for houses. A church, garages,
bowling alleys, remodeled factories, apartment houses, stores,

supermarkets, even barns are products of her talent. Not
long ago the International Harvester Company decided to
build 14 new buildings for dealers in Wisconsin and she
was chosen to adapt their distinctive plans to the locations
and needs of each of these people.
  Every few months an exciting new project calls for all
of her skill. The architectural rendering of a 59 room motor
hotel now being built on University Avenue in Madison
was on her drawing board the day we took our picture of
Doris. Her enthusiasm for her work was evident as she told
us about this new development and her heavy responsibili-
ties in connection with it. After the rooms and baths and
lounges and dining rooms were planned and the Georgian-
Colonial exterior style determined it was she who estimated
the exact amounts of furnishings needed. Then there was
the coordinating of all the colors used in the carpets, drapes,
bedding and furniture, which of course necessitated many
trips to out of town markets. "What a remarkable woman!"
I kept saying to myself as we talked together.
  Doris Mohs is, according to a survey made by Architectural
Forum, one of only 500 women home designers in the
United States, and one of a very few actually practicing in
Wisconsin. This new field opening up to women should be
a happy choice for others whose talents lie in this area. Doris
Mohs has demonstrated that it is a profession which a woman
can combine with a successful marriage, competent mother-
hood, and proud grand-motherhood. One enticing advantage
is that much of the creative work can be carried on in a
woman's own home during hours convenient for her. An-
other is that it is a profession one can practice as long and
as steadily as one wishes. But women attempting this type
of career should also remember that Doris Mohs attributes
much of her success to her capable engineer husband who
in addition to supplying drawing boards has, as she puts
it, "been her best promoter".

Mrs. Mohs: a "designing woman".


Wisconsin Alumnus, December, 1956