Tuskegee University’s Carnegie Hall, with its proud portico, was sited on January 1 (Emancipation Day), 1901. Located near school founder Booker T. Washington’s residence (1890), which was then serving as the library, the new location faced north over the campus road and down toward Alabama Hall. The building’s projecting Ionic portico could be seen from the university’s east campus. Students erected the structure using bricks they had fired themselves. Built during the very year that Alabama’s new constitution disenfranchised most black citizens, perhaps Washington and architect Robert R. Taylor intended the library’s Ionic columns to assert the students’ worth, even though democratic rights had been stripped from most black citizens.
Funded by the Carnegie library program, the building featured stacks, reading rooms, and a librarian’s office on the ground floor, with an assembly room, study rooms, magazine rooms, and a museum located on the second. The library was remodeled in 1931 to house the music department. In 1973, the building was gutted and rebuilt from within to house university offices. Even with its renovated interior, Carnegie Hall remains as the best of Taylor’s early work on the Tuskegee campus.
Fluker, Roderick. “Tuskegee Charts a Progressive Course: 1953-1969.” Paper presented at symposium, The Architecture of Historic Black Colleges and Universities: Principles, Legacy, and Preservation. Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, November 2015.
Massey, Dean James Earl. A Bridge Between: A Centennial History of Campus Ministry at Tuskegee University 1888–1988. Tuskegee University, n.d.
Weiss, Ellen B. Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington. Montgomery, AL: New South Press, 2012.
Weiss, Ellen B. “Tuskegee: Landscape in Black and White.” Winterthur Portfolio 36, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 19-37.