Nancy Lorne Allen registered as an architect in 1932; in 1935 she set up a practice in Perth with WG Bennett.
Her designs including the heritage listed Manjimup Infant Health Centre (1946) and Paxwold House, Lesmurdie (1957).
In its 2007 assessment for heritage listing of Paxwold House at the state campsite and training centre for the Girl Guides, the Heritage Council of Western Australia called it
a good representative example of the Post-War Melbourne Regional style . . . . an important demonstration of the post World War Two architectural design of Nancy Lorne Allen.
Nancy Lorne Allen was born in the New South Wales town of Glen Innes in 1908 and went to school on Perth after her family moved to Western Australia in 1917.
She became an articled pupil of Perth architects Eales and Cohen in 1927 and registered as an architect in 1932. WG Bennett had joined the firm as a partner and in 1935 the two set up their own architectural practice.The practice is best known for their many hallmark ‘moderne’ buildings produced in the late 1930s, including the Plaza Theatre and Arcade, Perth (1937), Raffles Hotel, Applecross (1937), Lord Forrest Olympic Pool, Kalgoorlie (1938) and Beverley Town Hall and Picture Gardens (1938).
The practice also completed a number of residential projects in the ‘moderne’ style. In 1937 they completed the Dyer Residence at 27 The Esplanade, South Perth. Mrs Dyer maintained that Bennett was the architect but that Allen “did most of the work, supervising and drafting”.
During the war, Nancy Lorne Allen served with the Allied Works Counci, workingl with other women architects including Margaret Morison and Zoie Fryer (Bennett) in the architectural section of the WA Works and Services Branch.
Nancy Lorne Allen returned to practise with WG Bennett after the war and became an associate with her brother Douglas Allen. By 1962 they had become partners and the firm became WG Bennett, Allen and Allen. The practice continued to gain many domestic and commercial contracts and projects for local councils such as infant health clinics. After Bennett died in 1977, Allen continued until her retirement in 1981.
Contributed by Sandy Forbes
Hanna, Bronwyn, “Australia’s Early Women Architects: Milestones and Achievements,”FABRICATIONS. Vol 12, no 1, June 2002.
Heritage Council of WA, Register of Heritage Places - Paxwold Girl Guides Camp, 2007
Matthews, Leonie, “My Brilliant Career”, The Architect March, 2009. (online newsletter), pp.15-17
Matthews, Leonie, “Nancy Allen” in The Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture, eds Philip Goad and Julie Willis, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012, p13
Willis, Julie and Bronwyn Hanna, Women Architects in Australia 1900-1950, Royal Institute of Architects (2001), Canberra