Inventors are inspirational. Anna Wagner Keichline was an inventor, architect, suffragist, and World War I Special Agent. She held seven patents, however she started inventing young. Her parents encouraged her, gave her a workshop and carpentry tools. She is known for time and space saving inventions, as well as, the “K Brick” or “Building Block”. This was a hollow clay brick that led to her receiving honors in 1931 from the American Ceramic Society.
Anna Keichline was born in 1889 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. She had three older siblings. When she was 14 she entered a county fair with a table and chest she had made. This was in 1903, she won a prize, and her work was praised. In 1906, she graduated from Bellefonte High School. Her college career started at Pennsylvania State College studying mechanical engineering, then she transferred to Cornell University to study architecture. There, she was a class officer, a member of the drama club and a sorority, and was on the women’s basketball team. She earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1911. In 1920, a state exam became necessary. She passed and became the first female registered architect in the state of Pennsylvania.
Her first patented invention came before her career. It combined a sink and a washtub. She continued inventing. Her kitchen design, inventions for children, and an apartment wall bed were all patented. She led a parade of follow suffragists in Bellefonte on July 4, 1913. Also before being registered as an architect, she volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1918. She was assigned to be a Special Agent in the Military Intelligence Division in Washington D.C. and lived there until the war ended.
As an architect, she designed several buildings in Bellefonte. She designed the Plaza Theatre, the Cadillac Garage and Apartments, the Harvey Apartments, as well as, homes. She passed away in 1943. In 2002, she was honored with an official state of Pennsylvania historical marker. It was placed in front of the Plaza Theatre. Be inspired! Have a bright day!