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Charles Rosenberg

real estate developer, publisher, insurance broker, architect, and philanthropist, was born in Stock Township, Harrison County, Ohio, the son of William Blue and Adeline L. Blue, who married in Ohio in 1863. His father, a farm laborer, was born in Virginia in 1843 and may have been at one time enslaved to Thomas Blue in Hampshire County. He may also have been related to Thomas Fountain Blue, an acclaimed librarian in Louisville, Kentucky. Blue's mother was born in Ohio in 1845, to parents also born in Virginia. He had an older brother, William Benjamin, born in 1864, and a younger brother, Richard J., born in 1871. During the 1870s the family moved to New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, where William Blue worked as a teamster.

Welcome T. Blue found work in Canton Ohio around 1889 where he lived ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Victoria Perry

In the 18th century ‘West Indians’ were among the great patrons of art and architecture. ‘West Indians’ is an 18th‐century term for wealthy absentee Caribbean sugar planters and merchants who, unlike mainland American plantation owners, chose to live in Britain. They were predominantly, but not uniquely, of white British origin, as fathers of mixed‐race children would sometimes send them to live with British relatives or to boarding school in England. Nathaniel Wells, mixed‐race heir to several plantations in St Kitts and owner of Piercefield Park in Monmouthshire, was one such person, described by a contemporary as ‘a Creole of large fortune, a man of very gentlemanly manners, but so much a man of colour as to be little removed from a Negro’.

West Indians were notorious in 18th‐century Britain for their conspicuous wealth, coarse, flamboyant manners, and love of turtle soup. Sir Peter Pepperpot, the hero of The ...

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Marilyn L. Geary

television journalist, was born Belvagene Davis in Monroe, Louisiana, to Florence Howard Mays and John Melton, a lumber worker. She grew up in Berkeley and Oakland, California, with her mother's family. As a child, Belva lived in housing projects, all eleven family members cramped into two small rooms. In 1951 she graduated from Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. Although her grades were exceptional and she was accepted into San Francisco State University, she could not afford the tuition. Instead she began work in a clerical position with Oakland's Naval Supply Center.

In 1950 she married her boyfriend and next-door neighbor, Frank Davis Jr. and they moved to Washington, D.C., where Frank was stationed in the air force. Belva Davis took a job with the Office of Wage Stabilization. The couple's first child, Steven, was born in 1953 Frank s next station was Hawaii but after two ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Rhonda D. Jones

civil rights activist, philanthropist, and expert in child education, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Dan and Robert Fairfax and Inez Wood Fairfax.

Fairfax inherited a strong belief in the importance of education from her parents, who both earned their college degrees at the turn of the century. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 1941, and completed her master's degree in Comparative Religion at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University in 1944. Fairfax later attended Harvard University as a Radcliffe visiting scholar, from 1984 to 1986.

Her professional career in education began as dean of women at Kentucky State College from 1942 to 1944, and at Tuskegee Institute from 1944 to 1946 In addition to education her parents who were members of the Congregational Church instilled in her a strong set of core values that interwove faith ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Butler Medal recipient, was born in Surry County, Virginia. Likely a former slave, Gilchrist enlisted for service in the 2nd North Carolina Colored Volunteers Regiment at Hampton, Virginia, on 3 October 1863 for three years Military records list his age as twenty four his height 5 10½ his skin color as brown and his occupation as carpenter One of the regiment s enlistees at its inception composed largely of blacks from North Carolina and Virginia Gilchrist surely showed leadership qualities from the start as he soon rose from the rank of private to sergeant in Company K He was likely promoted because of his aptitude age and size nearly all of the other men in his company were farmers or laborers with an average age of approximately twenty two years and averaged around 5 6 in height Indeed Gilchrist s intelligence demonstrated by his ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...