TUSKEGEE, ALA. — Tuskegee University welcomed the Robert R. Taylor U.S. postage stamp home recently during a dedication ceremony. The United States Postal Service (USPS) partnered with the university to honor Taylor, the most prolific contributor to the campus structural design and the namesake of the architecture and construction school.
Feb. 12, the architect’s work and life were remembered with the issue of a new limited edition of the Forever Stamp. The stamp was officially unveiled in Washington, D.C. Today’s ceremony, held in the auditorium of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center at Tuskegee University, highlighted the lasting impact that Taylor had at the university as an architect, administrator and educator.
Tuskegee University’s President, Dr. Brian L. Johnson, said that the legacies of Washington and the people he recruited to this institution are still alive and active and the foundation of a great trajectory for the future.
“He brought here to Tuskegee University the very best and brightest. We know that there was none brighter than Robert R. Taylor,” Johnson said.
Spent almost entire career at university
Recruited by Tuskegee’s first president, Booker T. Washington, Taylor came to the university in 1892 and spent nearly his entire career teaching, developing the architecture and construction trade program, and designing more than 20 campus buildings until his death in 1942.
Today’s speakers also included: Dr. Richard Dozier, architecture historian and Dean Emeritus of the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science and Dr. Ellen Weiss, author, “Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: an African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington.”
Weiss said Taylor buildings on campus are in the Colonial style, which was fashionable among educational building at white institutions at the time. But, she said Taylor’s building were not mere copies, but had an elegance and cleverness that were distinctive.
“Taylor’s buildings also displayed the richly textured and multi-colored bricks that the students had made,” Weiss said. “Taylor contributed the buildings’ individual shapes, the elegant proportions, witty details and occasional rhythmic syncopations in window shapes and placements… Taylor would not do boring.”
Students Shelby Thomas and Marcel Walker spoke about the benefit of learning on the campus that Taylor designed.
“When I realize that I am part of an ongoing legacy, it keeps me here. The teachers do too. They constantly remind me that we, the students, are the bricks, ” said Thomas, a construction science major.
Walker, an architecture major, added, “We are the foundation upon which our communities are built. We hold each other up and, through unity, we elevate one another to new heights.”