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Obituary: Patricia Cummings Loud (1930-2021)

by Family of Patricia Cummings Loud | Mar 09, 2021
Patricia Cummings Loud died peacefully at home on January 22, 2021, after leading a long life rich in experience and the love of family and friends.

Born on February 20, 1930 in Beaumont, Texas, raised as the darling only child of Patrick Cummings and Gaynelle (Guinn) Cummings, she received her BFA from the University of Texas at Austin in 1951. After teaching art for a time in Frederick, Md., she was accepted to Radcliffe College, where she received her MFA in 1954. From 1956 to 1958 she was a Ford Fellow at Brown University, teaching art history in Providence RI, while completing the course work for a PhD. in Fine Arts at Harvard University. Marriage to her beloved husband, John, and the birth of her first child, Sarah, followed by the boys, John Timothy and Alexander, interrupted her academic progress during the 1960s. After John completed his Harvard Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature, the family moved from New England to Fort Worth in 1972, where John became chair of the Modern Language Department at Texas Christian University while Patricia taught honors and survey courses in art history. In 1973, Patricia wrote to her former professors at Harvard, requesting and receiving approval for readmission to the doctoral program. However, rather than pursue her earlier research on Wassily Kandinsky, Fort Worth had given her a new interest: the architect of the Kimbell Museum, Louis Kahn. Through the 1970s and 80s, as she raised her family, helped edit her husband's scholarly publications and entertain their many academic and musical friends and associates, taught art history at the Country Day School, coordinated volunteers for the 1981 Van Cliburn piano competition, and worked as the slide librarian at the Kimbell Museum, she continued her research and writing, completing her dissertation on The Art Museums of Louis Kahn and receiving her Ph.D from Harvard in 1990. She was given the title Curator of Architecture, and continued to serve at the Kimbell until her retirement in 2009, at the age of 79.

According to her longtime friend, Fort Worth architect Mark Gunderson:
Patricia was the preeminent scholar on the architecture of the Kimbell. She was the author of several seminal texts on the life and work of Louis Kahn and the design and construction of the Kimbell Art Museum, including her book "The Art Museums of Louis I. Kahn," which has been proudly displayed in the museum bookstore since publication. There are few museums in the world with the position of a Curator of Architecture, but because of its unique place as one of the finest structures of the 20th century, Dr. Loud was perfectly suited to the task. In her decades in that position she documented and made public the story of the museum with grace and sensitivity. She prepared and reviewed many press releases and texts as well as being intimately involved in major exhibitions related to Kahn's work. She gave literally hundreds of tours of the museum for special visitors and guests as well as students and architects from around the world. She advised the owners and directors on sensitive architectural issues. She shared her knowledge with others without second thought in a mutual joy for the work and ideas.

John Loud was his wife's partner in her academic pursuits, taking his turn at being her editor, plus taking on full-time family duties while she spent months away, researching in the library of the Fogg Museum at Harvard, the Yale Art Gallery in New Haven, and the University of Pennsylvania's architectural archives. No one was prouder than John when they were both called "Dr. Loud."

Having spent her childhood in the small town of Woodsboro, Texas, Patricia was introduced to the wider world in 1949, when she accompanied other University of Texas students on a mission trip to Berlin. She sorted through bricks in bombed out buildings, and was taken to see concentration camps and burned villages across Eastern Europe. Returning from Prague, she and her fellow students accidentally ended up in the Soviet quarter of was to become East Berlin. She was profoundly affected by these experiences and had a quiet but steadfast sense of justice and empathy which guided her all her life.

Her traveling adventures continued in 1971, when she took her three young children with her to Italy and spent the summer roaming the country driving a tiny Fiat, while John studied in Leningrad. John and Patricia traveled both independently and together for their respective careers, and enjoyed the experience of going into Russia and the former Eastern bloc countries after the USSR had dissolved. In December of 1999, Patricia took an architectural tour of India and Bangladesh, and welcomed the year 2000 by watching fireworks over the Taj Majal. She took her daughter Sarah with her on a memorable trip to Estonia in 2004 to commemorate the 105th birthday of Louis Kahn, who was born on the island of Saarema, and in 2008 she made her last big trip to Machu Pichu in Peru, accompanied by her son Alex. Of all the places she traveled, however, none was as special to her as the town of Brewster on Cape Cod, where she and John spent many idyllic summers.

Patricia was a scholar, historian, teacher, writer, editor, wife, and a wonderful mother and grandmother. She leaves behind her three children that she loved unconditionally, Sarah, John Timothy, and Alexander, as well as four beloved grandchildren, Julia Anderson, and Jack, Peter, and Tad Loud. She goes to be with her husband John, who died in 2004, and her granddaughter Madeline Anderson. All of her family will miss her dearly, but we take comfort in knowing that she touched many with erudition and grace, and that she lives on in all of us.

Memorial services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, Patricia's memory would be honored by donations to the Brewster Historical Society or the Society of Architectural Historians.
Patricia Cummings Loud joined SAH in 1995 and became a Life Member in 2009.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
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Chicago, Illinois 60610