Albert Irvin Cassell

Albert Irvin Cassell was born in Towson, Maryland on June 25, 1895, the third child of Albert Truman Cassell and Charlotte Cassell. Albert Cassell began his education in the segregated Baltimore public school system, but moved to New York in 1909 where he began attending Douglas High School. At Douglas High, Cassell studied drafting under Ralph Victor Cook. With Cook's assistance, Cassell was admitted to the Cornell University architecture program in 1915. After completing two years at Cornell, Cassell's studies were interrupted by service in the US Army in World War I. He served in France, but not in combat, and was honorably discharged in 1919 as a second lieutenant in the 351st Heavy Field Artillery Regiment. In 1919 Cassell was awarded his degree from Cornell University, and began his career working with architect William A. Hazel. In 1920, Mr. Cassell joined in the Architecture Department of Howard University as assistant professor. Just two years later, in 1922, Cassell had become University Architect and head of the Architecture Department at Howard.

Campbell Ave Church, Washington, DC, 1917
Carver War Public Housing, Arlington, VA, 1942
Catholic Diocese, Washington, DC
Corinthian Baptist Church, Washington, DC
Crownsville Hospital Housing & Recreation Center, Crownsville, MD, 1950
Glenarden City Hall, Glenarden, MD
Howard University Armory, Washington, DC, 1925
Howard University Baldwin Hall, Washington, DC, 1951
Howard University Chemistry Building, Washington, DC, 1936
Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC, 1927
Howard University Crandall Women's Dormitory, Washington, DC, 1931
Howard University Dining Hall, Washington, DC, 1922
Howard University Douglas Men's Dormitory, Washington, DC, 1936
Howard University Founders Library, Washington, DC, 1937
Howard University Frazier Women's Dormitory, Washington, DC
Howard University Greene Stadium and Football Field, Washington, DC, 1926
Howard University President's Home, Washington, DC
Howard University Truth Women's Dormitory, Washington, DC
Howard University Wheatley Hall, Washington, DC
Howard University Women's Gym, Washington, DC
James Creek Public Housing, Washington, DC
Mayfair Garden, Washington, DC
Morgan State College (various buildings), Baltomore, MD
Odd Fellows Temple, Washington, DC and Baltmore, MD, 1932
Provident Hospital, Baltimore, MD, 1928
Seaton Elementary School, Washington, DC
Soller's Point War Housing, Dundalk, MD
St. Paul's Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD
Tuskegee Institute Trade Buildings, Tuskegee, AL
Virginia Union Hartshorn Dormitory, Richmond, VA, 1928
Wheatley YMCA, Washington, DC

"Albert Cassell," Roper Library, Morgan State University Archives, manuscript collection.


Julian Francis Abele

Julian Abele was born on April 29 in 1881. From South Philadelphia, Julian Francis Abele was the son of Charles R. and Mary A. Abele. He was educated at the Institute for Colored Youth before entering the University of Pennsylvania in 1898. He was the first African-American to graduate from the Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts and Architecture in 1902. That year he was asked by Horace Trumbauer to join his firm, which had been exclusively white up to that point. Trumbauer sent Abele to Paris to study at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts.

By 1908, Abele was the chief designer in the firm of Horace Trumbauer & Associates and owns a list of buildings that is impressive. In addition to Widener Library, he designed Philadelphia’s Free Library and Museum of Art, the chapel and many other buildings of Trinity College in Durham, N.C. (which was later renamed Duke University) and the James B. Duke mansion on Fifth Avenue and 78th Street in New York City (now NYU’s Graduate Institute of Fine Arts). Abele's role in the firm of Horace Trumbauer was neither a well-kept secret nor a well-publicized fact.

The histories of Widener Library to date only mention the firm of Horace Trumbauer and never make mention of Abele himself. It was Mrs. Widener’s choice of this Philadelphia firm to design the library that would bear the name of her son, and it is unclear whether she knew Abele or just Trumbauer. In any case, his work stands and society and scholarship are catching up in order to give him the proper credit he deserves. Julian Abele died on April 23, 1950, after designing the Allen Administration Building at Duke University. He is considered the first major African-American architect in the United States.