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Walter Thomas Bailey

Illinois’ first black licensed architect


Walter Thomas Bailey was born on January 11, 1882, in Kewanee, Illinois. He attended Kewanee High School and in 1904 became the first African American to graduate from the School of Architectural Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was also the first licensed African American architect in the state of Illinois.

Bailey would go on to work at an architectural firm owned by Henry Eckland in Kewanee after graduation. Bailey also worked for Spencer & Temple in Champaign, Illinois where he assisted in the planning of the Colonel Wolfe School.

Colonel Wolfe School


Later in 1905, Walter Bailey was appointed as the head of the Mechanical Industries Department at the prestigious Tuskegee Institute (currently known as Tuskegee University).

He was able to accomplish this just one year after graduating from the University of Illinois. Bailey would work on several commissions across the United States, often working on commissions for the Knights of Pythias, which includes the Pythias Temple in Chicago.

First Church of Deliverance


Walter Bailey’s last major project was designed in Art Moderne style and is located in Chicago, Illinois. First Church of Deliverance was a project that stands as a rare example of a Streamline Moderne design used for a house of worship. First Church of Deliverance was built in 1939 and designated a Chicago Landmark in 1994.

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