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Dreck Spurlock Wilson

architect, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the eighth of eleven children of Charles Sylvester Abele and Mary Jones, a washerwoman and milliner. Charles Able changed the spelling, although not the pronunciation, of his surname to Abele after mustering out of the Union army following the end of the Civil War. Charles, who worked as a carpenter and laborer at the U.S. Treasury Customs House, a sought-after patronage job, and as a porter, died when Julian was twelve. Mary Jones Able was a descendant of Absalom Jones, the first African American Protestant Episcopal priest. Julian and his siblings were fourth generation Philadelphians and were expected by their parents to achieve recognition, marry well, and assume their rightful place in Olde Philadelphia society. Julian's oldest brother, Robert, was one of the first African American graduates of Hahnemann Medical College and a cofounder in 1907 of Mercy Hospital the only ...

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Mikael D. Kriz

architect, was born Walter Thomas Bailey in Kewanee, Illinois, to Emanuel Bailey and Lucy Reynolds. After attending Kewanee High School, Walter enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1900. There he studied in the architecture program, which was then part of the College of Engineering. The program at Illinois differed from those at most other architecture schools in the country: many schools followed in the tradition of the École des Beaux-Arts, emphasizing classical modes and principles of architecture, but the program at Illinois was influenced largely by German polytechnic methods of teaching. At Illinois, Bailey received an extensive education in the science of construction and in the history of architecture. Construction courses gave students both theoretical and practical training, while courses in the history of architecture taught them periods and styles such as Egyptian and Islamic, as well as classical.

As a student Bailey was ...

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Roberta Washington

the second African American female licensed architect, worked in both architecture and structural engineering firms in Chicago, before relocating to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where her career spanned another thirty-nine years.

Brown was born in Topeka, Kansas as the middle of five children of Carl Collins and Georgia Louise Watkins Harris. Her father was a shipping clerk in a downtown department store. Her mother, a former schoolteacher, was an accomplished classical pianist. The children attended an integrated elementary school and Seaman High School. As a child Brown loved sketching and the opportunity to work with her older brother Bryant on machinery on their semi-rural farm. One day Bryant, who had met some architecture students at Kansas State University where he studied electrical engineering, sat at the kitchen table talking with Brown about architecture as they looked up the word “architect” in the dictionary.

From 1936 to 1938 Brown attended ...

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Todd Palmer

architect, planner and developer, was born in Towson, Maryland, and grew up in Baltimore, the third child of Albert Truman and Charlotte Cassell. His father drove a coal truck and played trumpet for the Salvation Army Band; his mother brought in extra income doing washing. As a 14-year-old, Cassell expressed an ambition to build at Douglass High, a segregated public vocational school. While studying carpentry he enrolled in a drafting course with Ralph Victor Cook. Cook became a mentor to Cassell and encouraged him to pursue a college education in architecture at Cornell University, where Cook had been an early African American graduate of engineering.

Cassell entered Cornell in 1915, but two years into the program, World War I interrupted his studies. Cassell enlisted in the U.S. Army. In 1919 he returned to the United States from France with an honorable discharge Because Cornell ...

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De Witt S. Dykes

minister and registered architect, was born in Gadsden, Alabama, the second male and the fifth of six children born to Mary Anna Wade, a homemaker, and the Reverend Henry Sanford Roland Dykes, a lay minister in the Methodist Church (later the United Methodist Church), a brick mason, and construction contractor.

In the early 1900s the family moved to Newport, Tennessee, which was a racially segregated small town with a semirural atmosphere. Henry Dykes served as a circuit riding minister, conducting services on alternate Sundays at Methodist churches in three communities, including one at Newport, but earned enough to support his family as the head of a construction firm on weekdays until his death in 1945 Henry Dykes taught brick masonry and construction skills to not only his sons but also others By age fourteen Dykes had become a master mason by age seventeen he was a ...

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David Borsvold

architect, teacher. and education administrator, was born in Belvoir, Chatham County, North Carolina, one of six children of William Gaston Snipes, a white farmer, and Mary Foushee Edwards, a black homemaker and farm worker. Some uncertainty exists as to Edwards's precise year of birth, with contradictory U.S. Census records allowing for a birth date sometime between 1874 and 1879. Census records show that his parents were legally registered as living side by side on different land parcels, because interracial marriage was illegal in North Carolina during this time. Edwards's earliest education was given at home and at local schools, and he worked during the evenings as a barber and a farmhand to help support the family.

Edwards earned enough money to attend Agricultural & Mechanical College for the Colored Race (now known as North Carolina A&T State University) at Greensboro in 1896 After amassing sufficient ...

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Robin Brabham

architect, politician, and community leader, was born Harvey Bernard Gantt in Charleston, South Carolina, the first of five children of Wilhelmenia Gordon and Christopher C. Gantt. His father was a skilled mechanic at the Charleston Naval Shipyard and an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and he encouraged his son to speak out against the segregated society in which they lived. Gantt graduated in 1960 from Burke High School, where he was salutatorian of his class and captain of the football team. Only a month before graduation, he helped twenty-two other student leaders from the all-black school stage a sit-in demonstration at the S. H. Kress lunch counter. In Gantt's later assessment, the action “started a change in the minds of the whole [city]” and “ultimately ended up in a movement that spread throughout all of Charleston” (Haessly, 47).

Gantt ...

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John Hanson Mitchell

photographer and naturalist, was born in Natural Bridge, Virginia. His parents' names and occupations are unknown. In 1881, after attending primary schools in Lexington, Virginia, Gilbert was taken by his family to Lynchburg, Virginia, to complete his education. In 1886 he followed his brother William north to Boston, where he found employment as a porter on the Portland Boston steamship line. He would work various odd jobs until 1896, when psychologist James Chadbourne hired him to help with laboratory rats. Gilbert, as he was generally known in the Boston white community, also took a temporary job setting up a bird museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the renowned nineteenth-century ornithologist William Brewster. Brewster subsequently hired Gilbert as a full-time manservant, field assistant, factotum, and, as some of the early private journal records state, “friend,” to the well-respected Brewster.

Under Brewster s tutelage Gilbert learned how to develop ...

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Roberta Washington

the first African American woman licensed as an architect in the United States, was born in Chicago, the only child of James A. Greene, a lawyer, and Vera Greene, a homemaker.

Greene received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1936 and a Master of Science degree in City Planning and Housing in 1937 from the same school. After graduation she was hired by Kenneth Roderick O'Neal, the first black architect to open an office in downtown Chicago (he later hired the nation's second licensed black female architect, Louise Harris Brown). In December 1942 Greene became the first officially licensed black female architect in the state of Illinois and in the nation After working in O Neal s office Greene applied for and was eventually hired for a position at the Chicago Housing Authority This was something of a ...

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Lawana Holland-Moore

artist, was born in Los Angeles, California, the younger of two daughters of Lovie Honeywood; information about her father is unavailable. Her regular visits to relatives in rural Progress, Mississippi, and Louisiana would provide a foundation for her artwork, as would the teachers and her close-knit family who encouraged her artistic talent. Her sense of identity was honed in her youth as her family experienced prejudice upon their move into a mixed Los Angeles neighborhood. In the 1960s, she became active in civil rights protest demonstrations and rallies.

Originally aspiring to become a history teacher, Honeywood was a history major at Spelman College before switching to art. Her years at Spelman were influential to her development as a painter. Spelman's all-female atmosphere was nurturing and had a long-standing reputation for producing African American scholars and artists. While there she networked with artist-professors such as Kofi Bailey and Samella ...

Article

Imhotep  

Joyce Tyldesley

ancient Egyptian architect and administrator, lived during the earlier part of Egypt’s third dynasty (c. 2686–2613 BCE). A high-ranking courtier, he held numerous important positions; but he is best known today as the architect of Egypt’s first stone building, the Sakkara Step Pyramid, built for King Djoser (Netjerikhet). After death, Imhotep became one of the few nonroyal Egyptians to be worshipped as a nationally recognized god.

Imhotep built Djoser s mortuary complex in the Sakkara cemetery close to the city of white walls Memphis The complex included Egypt s first pyramid Imhotep s original design was for an unusual square solid stone structure with corners oriented to the flow of the Nile and the rising and setting of the sun This was then extended to form a two stepped structure cased in fine white limestone A third extension converted the square tomb to an oblong this then became the bottom ...

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Y. Jamal Ali

trained architect, urban designer, artist, author, musician, and educator, was born Renee Ersell Kemp in Washington, D.C., the only daughter of Reverend Arthur E. Kemp and Ruby E. Dunham. After her parents divorced, she was raised by her mother and her maternal grandparents, who encouraged her early artistic talents through childhood study of piano, violin, and cello. Ruby E. Dunham later married Mohammed Id, a Lebanese neurosurgeon, whose influence provided Reneé with a broad international perspective.

Graduating Theodore Roosevelt High School, Washington, D.C., in 1970, Kemp-Rotan studied architecture at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. The recipient of an American Institute of Architects (AIA)/Ford Foundation Minority Scholarship, she became the first black female to earn a degree in architecture at Syracuse, graduating cum laude in 1975. Syracuse exposed her to European design masters, and immersed her in the German Bauhaus ...

Article

Roberta Washington

architect, builder, businessman, and teacher, was born to Phillip Anderson Lankford and Nancy Ella Johnson Lankford, farmers in Potosi, Missouri. He attended public schools in Potosi and worked as a young apprentice to a German mechanic for four years. From 1889 to 1895 Lankford attended Lincoln Institute (Lincoln University) in Jefferson City, Missouri, where he studied mechanical engineering and blacksmithing. He worked at several jobs to cover school costs, including at a blacksmith shop in St. Louis where he became part owner.

From 1895 to 1896 Lankford studied at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, graduating with a certificate in steam fitting while also taking courses in chemistry and physics and working. It may have been while Lankford was at Tuskegee that he became aware of the possibility of architecture as a profession for African Americans. During 1897 Lankford and his younger brother Arthur Edward Lankford ...

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Boyd Childress

architect and educator, was born in Cumberland County, Virginia, to Julia Trent and William Henry Moses Sr., a Baptist minister who moved the family of six children several times, living in Virginia; Washington, DC; South Carolina,; Tennessee; Texas; New York City; and finally Philadelphia. Moses Jr. attended public school in Philadelphia and graduated from Central High School in 1922, showing an inclination for drawing. After two years at Penn State, Moses withdrew when the family could not afford the costs. For the next seven years he worked in a variety of jobs in architecture, first for the noted African American architect Vertner Woodson Tandy and later as a draftsman for Louis E. Jallade.

In 1931 Moses returned to Penn State and graduated in 1933 with a bachelors of science in Architecture He worked briefly for the Public Works Administration in New York before joining the ...

Article

Minna Zeesy Philips

was born in Eastman, Georgia to Connie Nappier, Sr. and Lutha Ophelia (Jones) Nappier. Public school was permitted only for white children, so Nappier was first educated by a Ms. Rose, a black woman in Eastman who taught in her own home. His family moved to Hartford, Connecticut before he was five years old, where he attended preschool on Wooster Street. At age six Nappier was walking with his father in Hartford’s North End when he heard a plane flying overhead. At that moment he decided he wanted to be a pilot. Nappier enjoyed golf and music, and studied guitar and alto saxophone at the Drago School of Music in his middle school years. He joined the Clyde Board Band, and traveled up and down the East coast playing music. By age fourteen he was being paid as a musician.

In 1939 Nappier started ninth grade at Hartford s ...

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Susan G. Pearl

architect, was born in Montgomery, Alabama, the son of Sarah Pittman, a laundress. The identity of his father is unknown. Raised by his widowed mother and educated in the black public schools of Montgomery, William enrolled in 1892 at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama, completing his studies in mechanical and architectural drawing in 1897. With financial support from Tuskegee's principal, Booker T. Washington, Pittman continued his education at Drexel Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, earning a diploma in architectural drawing in 1900. Returning to Tuskegee as an instructor, he assisted in the planning and measured drawing of several of the buildings on the campus.

In May 1905, dissatisfied with his faculty status and unable to get along with his supervisor, Pittman left Tuskegee for Washington, D.C., and began work as a draftsman in the office of architect John A. Lankford Within a ...

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Angela R. Sidman

architect, was born in Washington, D.C., to parents whose names and professions are unknown. As a child, he spent time with his grandfather, a bootblack who worked near the U.S. capitol building. Robinson would listen to the congressmen exchange banter while they had their shoes shined. In 1916 Robinson graduated from the M Street High School and began studying at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Design in Philadelphia. One year later, as the United States was entering World War I, Robinson left school to enlist in the U.S. Army Field Artillery Corps, 167th Brigade. He served in France and was in Paris for the Armistice in 1918. The city's grand buildings and expert urban planning made such an impression on Robinson that he decided to pursue the study of architecture upon his return to the United States.

In 1919 Robinson returned to Philadelphia and entered ...

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Angela Black

architect and educator, was born in Harlem, New York, the only child of Walter Merrick, a doctor, and Amy (Merrick) Willoughby of the West Indies. Sklarek was a precocious child who demonstrated a keen interest in science and math. She also had a natural talent for fine art, which she expressed through sketches, murals, and painted furniture. Her parents recognized her talents at an early age and encouraged her participation in activities that would develop her natural skills. Sklarek often spent time with her father fishing, house painting, and doing carpentry work—unconventional activities for most girls in the 1930s.

After she received her primary education at a Catholic elementary school Sklarek transferred to the New York Public school system from which she graduated A high math test score earned her admission to the prestigious Hunter High School an all girls magnet school in Brooklyn Sklarek s excelled in ...

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Roberta Washington

New York State's first registered African American architect and the most celebrated black architect in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, was born Vertner Woodson Tandy in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Emma Brice and Henry A. Tandy. Although his father was a very successful contractor, the young Tandy was more interested in the design of buildings.

In 1902, Tandy attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he studied architecture. Tuskegee first offered architectural courses in its mechanical industries department in 1892 following Booker T. Washington's recruitment of black MIT graduate Robert R. Taylor. Tandy received his certificate in architecture in 1905. He also served on the faculty before leaving. Tandy then relocated from Alabama to Ithaca, New York, where he attended Cornell University in the architecture program. In 1906 he and six friends known today as the Seven Jewels started the first black ...

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Ellen Weiss

the first academically trained African American architect and the first black graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Emily Still and Henry Taylor a literate slave who given virtual freedom by his white father and master prospered independently as a merchant carpenter and coastal trader Little is known about Emily Still other than that she was described as a mulatto and was ten years younger than her husband Presaging the future career of his son Henry Taylor also constructed a number of businesses and homes in Wilmington Robert R Taylor studied at Wilmington s Gregory Institute an American Missionary Association school where he was taught by white New Englanders who were ambitious for their charges Though it is possible that the Gregory Institute s teachers pointed Taylor to MIT the impetus might have come from other Wilmingtonians A wealthy white boy ...