The life journey of Mary Lowther Ranney from the late 19th century into the twentieth; from her birthplace in Chicago to Pasadena, California; from teacher to architect to founding headmistress, is remarkable. From the particular perspective of the school she founded, shaped, and led with an intelligent and graceful sensibility for 25 years, her life and work were pivotal. She came of age in Chicago as that city was literally rising from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871 and was no doubt fascinated by the architectural boom around her. She attended a girls’ Episcopal boarding school, Kemper Hall Academy, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and then returned to Chicago to become a teacher and enrolled in classes at the recently established University of Chicago.
In 1904, she moved with her parents to Pasadena, California, where she secured a job as a draftsman with the Greene & Greene architectural firm. Just a few short years later, she responded to a request from a group of parents in southwest Pasadena to open a school for girls. For Westridge, the “rest is history.” Much of what defines the essence of Westridge School in its Centennial Year can be found in the values held by Mary Ranney as a teacher, an educational thinker, and as a person. Westridge, and all who have passed through its doors, are in her debt. Her hidden hand has nurtured the dreams of generations and created a lasting legacy.