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Robert P. Madison

Architect and entrepreneur Robert P. Madison was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1923. He graduated from Cleveland’s East Technical High School with honors in mathematics and science in 1940. He attended the School of Architecture at Howard University, but left to serve in World War II as a second lieutenant. He was wounded in action in the Italian Campaign, receiving the Purple Heart and three combat ribbons. He received a B.A. in architecture from Case Western Reserve University, an M.A. in architecture degree from Harvard University, and completed additional studies as a Fulbright Scholar at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France in urban design and prestressed concrete.

Madison served as an assistant professor of architecture at Howard University until he opened his office, Robert P. Madison International, in Cleveland in 1954, the first such office in Ohio opened by an African American architect and only the ninth in the country. Major building projects for the firm have included the United States Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, the Nuclear Facility at Tuskegee Institute (Alabama), and the Cleveland Browns Stadium.

His professional affiliations include the American Institute of Architects, Cleveland Chapter, the Architects Society of Ohio and the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Howard University (1987), the Cleveland Arts Prize (2000), the American Institute of Architects Ohio Gold Medal Firm Award (1994) and induction into the Northeast Ohio Business Hall of Fame.

Madison is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Sigma Pi Phi and Epsilon Delta Rho Fraternities.

Accession Number

A2004.026

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/17/2004

Last Name

Madison

Maker Category
Middle Name

P.

Occupation
Schools

East Technical High School

Harvard University

Case Western Reserve University

Howard University

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

MAD02

Favorite Season

April to November

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Favorite Quote

Far Better It Is To Dare Mighty Things,To Win Glorious Triumphs Even Though Checkered By Failure, Than To Rank With Those Timid Spirits Who Neither Enjoy Nor Suffer Much Because They Live In The Gray Twilight That Knows Neither Victory Nor Defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/28/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Bacon, Eggs (Breakfast); Peanut Butter, Jelly S,wiches (Lunch); Fish, Chicken (Dinner)

Short Description

Architect Robert P. Madison (1923 - ) was the founder of Robert P. Madison International, in Cleveland in 1954, the first African American architecture firm in Ohio, and only the ninth in the country at that time.

Employment

Howard University

Robert P. Madison International

United States Army

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216646">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert P. Madison's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216647">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert P. Madison lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216648">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert P. Madison describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216649">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert P. Madison describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216650">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert P. Madison explains how his family came to settle in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216651">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert P. Madison talks about his maternal and paternal grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216652">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert P. Madison describes his father's career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216653">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert P. Madison talks about the Great Migration</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216654">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert P. Madison recalls his experiences at East Technical High School in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216655">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert P. Madison describes the childhood aspirations of himself and his siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216656">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert P. Madison talks about his decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216657">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert P. Madison talks about living in Washington, D.C. during the 1940s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216658">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert P. Madison describes his experiences at Howard University in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216659">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert P. Madison talks about entering the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer during World War II</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216660">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert P. Madison talks about serving as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Rome-Arno Campaign in World War II</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216661">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert P. Madison describes segregation in the U.S. Army during World War II and receiving the Purple Heart</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216662">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert P. Madison shares his thoughts about the use of the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216663">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert P. Madison talks about the push to integrate the U.S. armed forces at the end of World War II</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216664">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert P. Madison describes courting Coretta Scott King and his wife, HistoryMaker Leatrice Branch Madison</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/214572">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert P. Madison talks about entering Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio to study architecture</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/214573">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert P. Madison describes his experiences at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/214574">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert P. Madison talks about serving on the board of trustees at Case Western Reserve University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/214575">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert P. Madison explains how he came to marry HistoryMaker Leatrice Branch Madison</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/214576">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert P. Madison talks about the career of his wife, HistoryMaker Leatrice Branch Madison</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/214577">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert P. Madison recalls his experiences at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/214578">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert P. Madison describes his tenure as a professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/214579">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert P. Madison talks about starting his own architectural firm, Robert P. Madison, Architect</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216665">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert P. Madison describes the growth of his family firm, which began as Robert P. Madison, Architect</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216666">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert P. Madison recalls designing Captain Arthur Roth Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio and its subsequent controversy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216667">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert P. Madison remembers the death of Rev. Bruce Klunder in 1964</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216668">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert P. Madison describes the education and careers of his two daughters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216669">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert P. Madison talks about his involvement with the fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216670">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert P. Madison talks about his membership at St. John A.M.E. Church in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216671">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert P. Madison describes his involvement with the NAACP during the 1960s and 1970s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216672">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert P. Madison talks about the election of Carl Burton Stokes as mayor of Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216673">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert P. Madison describes the power wielded by African American mayors in the 1960s and 1970s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216674">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert P. Madison talks about the Black Power Movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216675">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert P. Madison reflects upon the impact of integration on black-owned businesses in recent decades</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216676">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert P. Madison talks about public housing projects in Cleveland, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216677">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert P. Madison describes the importance of the arts and his patronage of art institutions</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216678">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert P. Madison recalls how he came to love the opera</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/216679">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert P. Madison talks about his future plans for Robert P. Madison International</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/214595">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert P. Madison narrates his photographs</a>

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Robert P. Madison describes courting Coretta Scott King and his wife, HistoryMaker Leatrice Branch Madison
Robert P. Madison describes the growth of his family firm, which began as Robert P. Madison, Architect
Transcript
I don't want to get into the Cold War period yet, because I also understand that you met your wife [HistoryMaker Leatrice Branch Madison] in the nation's capital [Washington, D.C.] before going to Europe?$$Um-hm.$$Okay, to serve in the [U.S.] Army, so can you tell me about Mrs. Madison and how you came to meet her?$$Okay, (laughter) sure, I was in Washington, I was at Howard [University, Washington, D.C.], and I told you I went to an all-boys school [East Technical High School, Cleveland, Ohio], and I was an absolutely devout churchgoer at St. John A.M.E. Church [Cleveland, Ohio], and I had no sisters (laughter) which meant (laughter) that I was totally ignorant about ladies, girls or women at all, and I remember going on the first date that I was, which is a blind date, and that was a disaster (laughter). So I was around there being very disgusted and I said to one of my friends, "You know, I'm not for girls, I don't--I can't get along with these women." He said, "I got somebody I want you to meet," and he mentioned Leatrice Lucille Branch, who lived in Washington, D.C. and I called her up on the telephone, and I went to see her and I fell in love with her, but she didn't love me (laughter) at all. It was nice and crazy, I was, I told you I was commandant of the cadet corps at Howard [University, Washington, D.C.]. That was that interim period between Camp Croft [Spartanburg, South Carolina] and going to Fort Benning, Georgia. I was so much in love with her I decided to have a parade for her on a Thursday afternoon, and I called out all my troops, and marched through the quadrangle there, and she was standing behind me when I received all present and accounted for and I received the salute and there was--she wasn't impressed at all (laughter). I said I got the whole cadet corps out there. At any rate, I went away to [World] War [II, WWII] and I stayed in touch with her, and I came back, and when I came back she was, had somebody else that she had found that she liked very much, and shortly thereafter I got back I met a young lady whose name was Coretta Scott, from Antioch College [Yellow Springs, Ohio] and we were very close for about a couple of years, and then I decided, no, we decided I was trying to be an architect, and she was going to be an opera singer, that wasn't going to work. So we decided not to get married, and it happens I married Leatrice, and then when I was at Harvard [University, Cambridge, Massachusetts], we were walking across the yard there one day and here's this voice, "Hi, [HistoryMaker] Bob [Robert P. Madison]." I looked up, it's Coretta, and at that time she'd just met [Reverend Dr.] Martin [Luther King, Jr.], so she came over our house and we had quite a little chat and I met, she met Leatrice and I said I'm gonna (unclear) and so Leatrice was why I--and so I married, I met Leatrice and I've been married to her for fifty-four years now.$$Okay.$$That's right, isn't it, yeah (laughter).$$So this is 19--$$Forty-nine [1949].$$Forty-nine [1949], okay, all right, so then, oh, this is gonna be your fifty-fifth anniversary this year?$$Um-hm.$$Okay, and the date of your wedding?$$April the 16, 1949.$$And I just wanna state for the record too, this is Coretta Scott and Martin as in King.$$That's right.$$Martin Luther King, Jr.$$Exactly.$$Okay.$$That's right (laughter), that's right, oh yeah. Everybody teases me about that now. I said, "Well she wanted to be famous, and so she is," but no, I haven't seen her. I saw her once after Martin died and we spent a little while talking. I met him when he came to Cleveland [Ohio] you know, he was a remarkable person. Yes, that's, that's her.$[HistoryMaker] Mr. [Robert P.] Madison, you were talking about the launching of your firm [Robert P. Madison, Architect; Robert P. Madison, International, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio] in 1954, and then the early changes in the name as we moved through the '60s [1960].$$Yeah, yeah during the '50s [1954], '54 [1954] after we opened--after we, you know our practice was pretty much our friends, and we had a doctor who wanted me to do his office over and his wife wanted me to do the back porch and do the recreational room and the basement. That was work. And then Nick Hood [Reverend Nicholas Hood, Sr.] out of Detroit [Michigan] had a church [Plymouth United Church of Christ, Detroit Michigan], and we started doing a church as well as what we call 221(d)(3) housing, federal government housing, and we did a number of government housing projects throughout Detroit and Columbus [Ohio] and Washington, D.C. and Bernard [Madison]--it was Julian [Madison], Julian joined in '56 [1956], and it was Madison and Madison, and then Bernard came on in 1960 after he graduated from his school [Howard University, Washington, D.C.], and so it's Madison, Madison and Madison [Architects and Engineers], and we practiced like that for ten years, and which as I said before he was getting a little bit, and he was right. People would come into the office and say, "I want to speak to the big boss," you know. He was never given the kind of recognition that a partner should get, so he just decided to go out on his own. He went to Washington, Baltimore, Maryland, and we sort of gave him a stipend and he started his own practice, and he practiced until about two years ago. Then it was Madison, then we went back to Madison, Madison International in 1970, right, and that was Julian and I, and we practiced there until 1983, in which Julian's daughter, Sharon [Madison], who was in Detroit, had joined him; and Julian and I had problems all along, the thirty years of practice. They were ideological problems. He was--I'm an architect, he's an engineer and we didn't recognize this early on, but architects are dreamers, wild-eyed, "Look, the beauty of the thing is the essence of it," but Julian was far more practical, he was an engineer and for thirty years the struggle between me and the creative effort and Julian the good old practice, "let's get bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger." Julian was a tremendous person in marketing, he was outgoing, he was a lot like my father [Robert J. Madison] with a kind of bon vivant attitude about life, but in 1983 we'd gotten to a point where he wanted to keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and I said, "Gee whiz I'm tired of getting bigger and bigger," because we had, we had 150 people working for us at one time. We had offices in Detroit, Chicago [Illinois], Philadelphia [Pennsylvania], Atlanta [Georgia] and New Jersey, Newark [New Jersey], and I said, "You know Julian, I go to Chicago, and I meet people who are on my payroll I don't even know, (laughter) and what can they do," and I'd go to Detroit, same way, and I said, "so we said look, we've proven we can do so let's just say okay, let's prove that we can still go our separate ways." So, he, we broke up. He took over the offices in Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee [Wisconsin], and I took over the offices in Cleveland and Atlanta. Soon the office in Atlanta closed, and I retrenched pretty much, because most of the work we had was in Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee, and he, his office thrived and he did very well, and he was killed, as you may have heard, in 1989 which I was just stunned by, but that was why the Robert P. Madison, Madison, Madison; Madison, Madison, Madison; Madison, Madison; and now back to Robert P. Madison, go the full circle.$$Okay, in fifty years. So when was it officially Robert P. Madison, International? Was that a rather recent?$$Nineteen eighty-five [1985].$$Oh, '85 [1985].$$Eighty-five [1985] yeah, '85 [1985], yeah 'cause we left, we started the separation in '83 [1983] and we finally signed the papers in '85 [1985].