October 29, 1920: A Pioneer’s Birthday Who Founded Washington State’s First Black-Owned Architectural Firm

0 Posted by - October 29, 2021 - Looking Black On Today, On This Date

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: The Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation of Washington State

Benjamin Franklin McAdoo Jr. (pictured) is the first African American architect in history to open for business in the Pacific Northwest’s U.S. state of Washington.

He was a municipal civics pioneer and nationwide activist for the advancement of affordable housing alternatives throughout his tenure in the state. In addition, several of his house designs in the Seattle metro area have received regional praise.McAdoo created various facilities for worship, one-person residential estates, housing structures for multiple families, and landmarks for commercial businesses. He also orchestrated the designs for buildings, which were headquartered by institutions.

McAdoo built a three-decade business legacy by practicing consistently and attentively in his field. He operated in a position that Black Americans need to groom much more of in today’s era. McAdoo began his official architectural education at the University of Southern California, where he was born on October 29, 1920. McAdoo first enrolled to pursue a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Southern California.

However, at some point, during his collegiate career, he made up his mind and relocated to a different state to get a new life experience. Eventually, McAdoo went on to finish his bachelor’s degree in architectural studies at the University of Washington in 1946. McAdoo’s passion for designing the architecture of low-cost residential buildings attracted the attention of officials at the US Agency for International Development (AID) in Jamaica. From 1961-62, he served in a senior leadership position at the Caribbean-based agency.   McAdoo supported the Jamaica-based construction of residential units.

He created architectural layouts that were easy to build. This way, novice construction specialists had the ability to build the structures in a short amount of time without much training. While McAdoo was in Jamaica, his hassle-free architectural layouts were mass-produced throughout the nation. In 1964, McAdoo returned to Seattle.

He went on to serve at Public Building Services, which was an administration depo in Auburn, Washington. However, at the same time, he kept a private office in Seattle.  In the late 1960s, he resumed his architectural practice on a round-the-clock basis. A

McAdoo worked faithfully at his craft until June 18, 1981, when he died.

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