"C" is for Cooke, William Wilson (1871-1949)

Feb 28, 2019

Credit SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cooke, William Wilson (1871-1949). Architect. A native of Greenville, Cooke worked as a carpenter’s apprentice until he entered the Literary and Industrial Department of Claflin College. After graduating from Claflin, he studied architecture at M.I. T. and art history at Columbia University. Between 1902 and 1907 he practiced architecture in South Carolina. In 1907 he qualified for a civil service position with the supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury Department. In 1909 he oversaw the construction of federal courthouses and post offices in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. During World War I he transferred to the War Department where he trained Negro troops in labor battalions. After the war he settled in Indiana where he was the first licensed African American architect. The Depression ruined William Wilson Cooke’s business and he returned to the supervising architect’s office in Washington.