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As time passes, so does the memory of legislated restrictions on housing in American cities. In Washington State, the history of “redlining,” a term that indicated areas deemed as “hazardous”, aka predominately Black, existed until 1977 when Governor Dixie Lee Ray signed House Bill 323 prohibiting the practice. A 1975 report by the Central Seattle Community Council Federation outlined redlining practices in the Central Area and Rainier Valley and defined it as, "the practice by banks and other lending institutions of refusing home loans or requiring higher interest rates and larger down payments to otherwise credit-worthy people because they happen to live in a certain area."

Black architects more often than not, have an acute awareness of the impacts of restrictive covenants on housing and embrace their role in creating living and working spaces that push back on the notions of segregation and segregated design. Such was the case for Benjamin McAdoo, the first registered Black architect in Washington and the first African American to maintain a practice in the state.

Last year, Crosscut’s Black Arts Legacies profiled Black architects Benjamin McAdoo and Laurie Wilson, and now through April 30, 2023, From the Ground Up: Black Architects and Designers is a featured exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry. The exhibit, originally created by the Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago, explores the past, present, and future of architectural talent while offering insights into Black pioneers in the field and their innovation and impact across the US. Local curatorial support was provided by Hasaan Kirkland and co-developed with the Black Heritage Society of Washington State.

Visit to learn more about the enduring impact of Black architectural design and the continuing legacy of local professionals reshaping concepts that reclaim the significance of community, place, and belonging and explore the exhibit.

Black and white image of middle aged Black man in glasses and a suit in his architecture office
Benjamin F. McAdoo Jr., image courtesy of MOHAI


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