John A. Lankford

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John Anderson Lankford
John A Lankford.png
Born December 4, 1874
Potosi, Missouri
Died July 2, 1946 (1946-07-03) (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Suitland, Maryland
Residence Washington, D.C.
Nationality African American
Alma mater Shaw University
Morris Brown College
Wilberforce University
Occupation Architect

John A. Lankford (December 4, 1874 – July 2, 1946) was an American architect. He was the first professionally licensed African American architect in Virginia in 1922 and in the District of Columbia in 1924. He has been regarded as the "dean of black architecture".[1]


John Lankford was born on a farm near Potosi, Missouri on December 4, 1874. He attended Lincoln Institute and Tuskegee Institute, historically black colleges. He studied architectural and mechanical drawing from the International Correspondence School. He earned a bachelor of science from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1898. He earned master of science degrees from Morris Brown College and Wilberforce University.

He married Charlotte Josephine Upshaw in 1901. She was a granddaughter of Henry McNeal Turner, a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal church, the first independent black denomination founded in the United States.

Lankford's former residence in Logan Circle, Washington, D.C.

In 1902, Lankford moved to Washington, D.C. to finish the design of the True Reformer Building. He was appointed supervising architect for the African Methodist Episcopal denomination. He organized the National Negro Business League chapter in Washington, D.C. in 1905. His Southern Aid Society building in Richmond, Virginia is considered the "first exclusively African American office building in the country, being the result of a collaboration between a black patron, architect, and contractor."[2]

He lived and worked at 1448 Q Street, NW, in Washington.

Lankford died on July 2, 1946 in Washington, D.C. and is buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland.[3]

Buildings he designed include:


  1. ^ "Chapelle Administration Building, Richland County (Allen University, 1530 Harden St., Columbia)". National Register Properties in South Carolina listing. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  2. ^ Built by Blacks: African American Architecture and Neighborhoods in Richmond by Selden Richardson, 2008.
  3. ^ D. S. Wilson, African American Architects Biographical Dictionary: 1865 - 1945, Routledge, Taylor and Francis, New York, 2004, pp. 253-257, ISBN 0-415-92959-8.

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