We are almost certain you have never heard about Julian Francis Abele. If you haven’t it is not surprising, it is because he is one of the most uncelebrated American architects of all time. He is credited with designing some very famous buildings. Among his famous works are Duke University and a part of Harvard.
In 1902, Abele completed his architectural course at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art to become one of the first black architects in the US. He spent two years running his architectural course as he enrolled in 1898. Prior to this, he had gotten a degree in Mathematics at the Institute of Colored Youth. He excelled so much that he gave the commencement address at his graduation ceremony.
While running his course at the School in Pennsylvania, he became the president of the Architectural Society. He also won the architectural students’ competition in 1901 for designing a pedestrian gateway. The gateway was constructed on the campus of Haverford College. Immediately after school, he designed a house for his elder sister, Elizabeth Abele Cook, as his first job.
Prominent American architect, Horace Trumbauer noticed Abele while he still a young architect. He traveled extensively around Europe while studying in Pennsylvania which influenced his architecture significantly. Trumbauer employed Abele immediately after his studies in Pennsylvania and he rose under his employ to become the second highest employee in the firm.
When Trumbauer died in 1938, Julian Abele assumed his position and led his firm to design some of the most iconic structures in the US. He rose to become one of the most sought-after architects in the US despite the existence of racial issues. He was however very under-celebrated because he was of black origin.
He is credited with sketching iconic buildings like Duke University as well as the Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University. Abele also designed the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and a couple of mansions in New York.
Julian Abele was married to Marguerite Bulle and their union was blessed with three children. The couple separated after a while of being together and the gifted architect died on April 23, 1950, in his Philadelphia home.
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