In the 1920s, Rice brought her design aesthetic to a small village north of San Diego. Those who live there continue to respect her vision.

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times.

Rice lived and worked in the village she designed from its inception until she died of ovarian cancer on Dec. 22, 1938. She was 49. And while she did branch out — going “full-on English Tudor” in La Jolla, Calif., according to May, and designing an award-winning clubhouse for the women’s rowing club, of which she was a member and onetime president — her legacy is inextricably tied to “the Ranch,” as it is called by its residents.


Rice made clear her design philosophy in a 1928 article in an architectural journal.

“With the thought early implanted in my mind that true beauty lies in simplicity rather than ornateness, I found real joy at Rancho Santa Fe,” she wrote. “Every environment there calls for simplicity and beauty — the gorgeous natural landscapes, the gently broken topography, the nearby mountains. No one with a sense of fitness, it seems to me, could violate these natural factors by creating anything that lacked simplicity in line and form and color.”