She was a graduate of Syracuse University, at a time when few women were graduating in what was then a traditionally “male” field: architecture. She founded Alpha Gamma Delta fraternity, broke ground as the first licensed female architect in the state of Michigan, and became the principal of the firm Butterfield & Butterfield. And she was a beloved painter in her hometown of Farmington, Michigan.

Her name was Emily Butterfield.

Farmington’s own female architect is the subject of an upcoming history lecture hosted by Preservation Farmington: “Emily Helen Butterfield: Artist, Architect & Activist,” to be held the evening of Thursday, Sept. 20 in Farmington Hills. The lecture will be presented by historian Ken Klemmer, chair of the Farmington Hills Historic District Commission.

Klemmer’s interest in Butterfield’s work is personal: He and his wife live in a 1920s Butterfield home, which they have painstakingly restored. Like many historic home owners, they’re proud of their home’s heritage, and they like to share its story. You can even have a behind-the-scenes peek at their blog.

The Sept. 20 event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a brief walking tour of several sites designed by Butterfield, all located in the Oaklands subdivision in Farmington Hills.

Following the walking will be the lecture and then a tour of Oakewood Cottage, the Klemmers’ home: another Butterfield masterpiece, located at 31805 Bond Blvd.

Admission is $5/person.

Please RSVP by emailing or via the event’s Facebook listing, so the organizers can ensure enough seating. Tours will leave from the Klemmer home.

Preservation Farmington is a local-history advocacy group dedicated to preserving the architectural heritage that defines downtown Farmington. Learn more at or

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