Robert Robinson Taylor

Robert Robinson Taylor, born in Wilmington Virginia, was the son of a white slave-owner and black mother, and as such had been allowed enough freedom before the Civil War to go into business for himself. He developed a prosperous career as a contractor and builder, constructing cargo ships that plied trade routes between the United States and South America via the Caribbean. Also active in building construction, he erected a number of commercial and residential edifices in the Wilmington area and elsewhere. He went to Boston in 1888 to study and MIT, receiving his degree in 1892. During that period, Taylor met Booker T. Washington, the prominent black educator and race leader from Tuskegee, Alabama, who in 1881, had founded Tuskegee Institute--a black school that started as a normal (teacher training) school, but that within a couple of decades became one of the best-known African-American schools in the nation. Taylor arrived at Tuskegee in the fall or winter of 1892 and with the exception of a brief period from 1899-1902, when he returned to Cleveland to work on his own and as a draughtsman for the architectural firm of Charles W. Hopkinson, his entire career was spent at Tuskegee. There he served as instructor in architectural drawing and as architect to the institution and eventually as the director of "mechanical industries" (sometimes referred to simply as "industries" or as "industrial training") until his retirement in the mid-1930s. He built several buildings on campus and elsewhere and was noted as a strong promoter of other African-American architects.

From 'Tech' to Tuskegee: The Life of Robert Robinson Taylor, 1868-1942
Clarence G. Williams