TMH Honors North Carolina’s Pioneering Black Architects

The new online archive celebrates early Carolina pioneers

Gaston Alonzo Edwards (1875-1943), the first black architect licensed in NC.


February 4, 2011 (DURHAM, NC) – To honor Black History Month, Triangle Modernist (TMH) has launched a new online archive entitled “Pioneering Black Architects in North Carolina.” The series is a sequel to last year’s popular “Pioneering Women in North Carolina Architecture.”


This series focuses on black design professionals before 1970, those “who followed their hearts into architecture despite great resistance from both society and their own industry,” says George Smart, TMH founder and director.  Mechanics and Farmers Bank, The Michael Okoli Agency, and architect Arthur Clement provided financial support for the series.


“Today there are many minority architects in North Carolina, but before 1970 it was another story, and not a nice one,” Smart says. “The field of architecture made choosing the profession nearly impossible for minorities. In North Carolina, there were almost none for decades.”


Art Clement, the first black student accepted into the NCSU School of Design.

According to TMH research, there were only two black architects registered in North Carolina in 1950. By 1980, the number increased to 65. Among the number of black architects practicing in the state today are prominent North Carolinians Phil Freelon, FAIA, principal of The Freelon Group in Durham, and Harvey Gantt, FAIA, principal of Gantt Huberman Architects in Charlotte.


Over the next few months, the series will profile approximately 20 architects.


It begins with six:  Robert Robinson Taylor (1868-1942), a native of Wilmington, NC, and the first professionally trained black architect in the United States; Chatham County native Gaston Alonzo Edwards (1875-1943), the first black architect licensed in North Carolina and the only one for many years; William Alfred Streat, Jr., AIA (1920-1994), who served as professor and chair of the Architectural Engineering Department at NCA&T University in Greensboro from 1949 until he retired; Clinton Eugene Gravely, AIA; Joseph Henry Yongue, AIA; and Arthur John Clement, the first black student accepted into the NCSU School of Design in Raleigh.


To see Pioneering Black Architects in North Carolina, go to


About Triangle Modernist Houses


Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) is a 501C3 nonprofit established in 2007 to restoring and growing modernist architecture in the Triangle. The award-winning website, now the largest educational and historical archive for modernist residential design in America, continues to catalog, preserve, and advocate for North Carolina modernism.  TMH also hosts popular modernist house tours several times a year, giving the public access to the Triangle’s most exciting residential architecture, past and present. These tours raise awareness and help preserve these “livable works of art” for future generations. Visit the website at

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