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Robert R. Taylor

Robert R. Taylor

Robert Robinson Taylor was an American architect; by some accounts the first accredited African American Architect in the United States.

Taylor enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1888, the first African American student at MIT, and was associated with Tuskegee University once called Tuskegee Institute, designing most of the buildings on campus completed prior to 1932, and even serving as second-in-command to Tuskegee’s founder and first President, Dr. Booker T. Washington. He died while attending services at the Tuskegee Chapel, a building he considered his finest achievement.

He was born on June 8, 1868 in Wilmington, North Carolina. In 1888 he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In June 1890 and again in September 1891, he was recommended for the Loring Scholarship, which he held for two consecutive academic years: 1890-1891 and 1891-1892. During his course of study at MIT, Taylor talked in person on more than one occasion with Booker T. Washington.

What Washington had in mind was for Taylor to develop the industrial program at Tuskegee and to plan and direct the construction of new buildings for the campus. At the MIT faculty meeting on May 26, 1892, Taylor was one of 12 students in Course IV recommended for the degree in architecture.

The class of 1892 was the largest on record since MIT’s founding. After graduation Taylor did not head directly to Tuskegee. Robert Taylor finally accepted the Tuskegee offer in the fall or winter of 1892.

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