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Jeh V. Johnson

Professor and architect Jeh Vincent Johnson was born on July 8, 1931 in Nashville, Tennessee to Marie Antionette Burgette and Charles Spurgeon Johnson. He graduated from Pearl High School in Nashville, Tennessee in 1949. Johnson received his A.B. degree from Columbia University in New York in 1953 before being drafted to serve in the Counter Intelligence Corps of the U.S. Army until 1954. He then earned his M.A. degree in architecture in 1958 from Columbia University.

In 1956, Johnson was hired by Paul R. Williams as a designer. After graduate school, he received the William Kinne Fellows Fellowship and traveled throughout Europe studying architecture. He later joined the architectural firm of Adams and Woodbridge Architects in 1958. In 1962, Johnson co-founded Gindele and Johnson, along with William Gindele, where the focus of their work was on single and multi-family housing, community centers, churches, and schools. Two years later, Johnson accepted a faculty position in architecture and design at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 1967, he was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve on the National Commission on Urban Problems. He also served as chair of the National Committee on Housing for the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In Detroit in 1971, Johnson co-founded the National Organization of Minority Architects along with several fellow members of AIA. In 1977, he was elected to the AIA’s college of fellows. Johnson later served as partner at the architectural and design firm of LeGendre, Johnson, McNeil Architects from 1980 to 1990. Johnson’s many architectural projects include the former Poughkeepsie Day School building, the Susan Stein Shiva Theater, the Poughkeepsie Catharine Street Center and Library, and the ALANA Center on the Vassar College campus. He retired from Vassar College in 2001 after thirty-seven years of teaching.

In 1997, Johnson was awarded a special citation from the New York chapter of the AIA for his advocacy on behalf of equal opportunity and housing issues.

Johnson and his wife, Norma Edelin Johnson, have two adult children, Jeh Charles Johnson and Marguerite Marie Johnson.

Jeh Vincent Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 8, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.028

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/8/2019

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Vincent

Occupation
Schools

Columbia University

Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

St. Vincent School

First Name

Jeh

Birth City, State, Country

Nashville

HM ID

JOH56

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

Goodness Gracious

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/8/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fresh Fruit

Short Description

Professor and architect Jeh Vincent Johnson (1931 - ) served as a professor of architecture at Vassar College for thirty-nine years and co-founded the National Organization of Minority Architects in 1971.

Employment

Vassar College

LeGendre, Johnson, McNeil Architects

Gindele and Johnson

Adams and Woodbridge, Architects

Paul R. Williams

Favorite Color

Dark Blue

James Whitley

Architect and business executive James M. Whitley was born on April 29, 1934 in Rochester, New York and raised in Warren and Cleveland, Ohio. Whitley’s father was a chemist; his mother an actress. He graduated from Kent State University in 1957 with his B.S. degree in architecture.

In 1963, Whitley founded Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners LLC, a full service architectural and planning firm specializing in institutional design, sport facility design, and commercial housing design, where he has served as president and designer. He went on to expand the firm alongside his brother, William, and his sister, Joyce, and moved Whitley/Whitley Architects to Shaker Heights, Cleveland in 1969.

Whitley/Whitley Architects has provided a substantial amount of work in Cleveland and the State of Ohio for various city and state public agencies, as well as services for cities and community groups in cities throughout the United States, including Saint Louis, Missouri; Indianapolis, Indiana; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Gary, Indiana; Chicago, Illinois; Saginaw, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; Rochester, New York; New York City, New York; Orlando, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Reading, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C. and San Diego, California. Whitley/Whitley was involved with work on Cleveland’s Tower City Center, the Cleveland State University Convocation Center, Lincoln Junior High School, the Lee-Harvard Branch of Cleveland Public Library, the Central Area Multi-Service Center, and the Cleveland Clinic Guesthouse development. Other projects have included Kent State University's Fashion Museum, Cuyahoga County Community College's Learning Center, and Cleveland’s John F. Kennedy Recreation Center. Whitley’s firm has also designed numerous housing units and worked on several rehabilitation projects.

Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners LLC has received many awards and honors, including the Progressive Architecture Design Award, the HUD Biennial Design Award, Burlington Awards, the House and Home Award, the Ohio Prestressed Concrete Design Award, the Ohio Masonry Council/ASO Award for Excellence in Masonry Design, the Cleveland Chapter of Architect’s Building Design Award, the East Ohio Energy Conservation Award, and the ASO Honor Awards Certificate of Merit.

Whitley’s son, Kent, is a project manager and architect at Whitley/Whitley.

James Whitley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 12, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.035

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/12/2014

Last Name

Whitley

Maker Category
Middle Name

M

Schools

Kent State University

Roosevelt Elementary School

John Adams High School

Alexander Hamilton Junior High School

Rawlings Junior High School

Nathaniel Rochester School No. 3

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Rochester

HM ID

WHI19

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/29/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

USA

Short Description

Architect and business chief executive James Whitley (1934 - ) founded Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners LLC.

Employment

Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners LLC

Joseph Baker Associates

Keith Haag

Favorite Color

Red

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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635982">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Whitley's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635983">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Whitley lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635984">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Whitley describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635985">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Whitley talks about his mother's education and occupation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635986">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Whitley describes the community of Marked Tree, Arkansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635987">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Whitley describes how his parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635988">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Whitley describes his parents' personalities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635989">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Whitley describes his parents' move Rochester, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635990">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Whitley lists his siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635991">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Whitley describes his family's move to Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635992">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Whitley describes his younger sister</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635993">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Whitley describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635994">Tape: 1 Story: 13 - James Whitley describes his experiences as a twin</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635995">Tape: 1 Story: 14 - James Whitley describes his neighborhood in Rochester, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635996">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Whitley describes his early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635997">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Whitley recalls his favorite childhood activities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635998">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Whitley remembers Rawlings Junior High School in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635999">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Whitley recalls transferring to Alexander Hamilton Junior High School in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636000">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Whitley describes his influential teachers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636001">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Whitley describes his coursework at John Adams High School in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636002">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Whitley describes the history of football in Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636003">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Whitley describes his activities at John Adams High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636004">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Whitley recalls his decision to become an architect</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636005">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Whitley recalls his decision to attend Kent State University in Kent, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636006">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Whitley describes his architectural training at Kent State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636007">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Whitley recalls his internship with Robert P. Madison</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636008">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Whitley recalls his experiences at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636009">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Whitley describes his decision to join the track and football teams</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636010">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Whitley remembers his mentors at Kent State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636011">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Whitley recalls joining the firm of Joseph Baker and Associates</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636012">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Whitley remembers serving in the U.S. Air Force</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636013">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Whitley recalls founding Whitley and Whitley, Architects and Planners</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636014">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Whitley describes his sister's career as an urban planner</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636015">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Whitley recalls the growth of black business during the Black Power movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636016">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Whitley recalls the election of Mayor Carl Stokes in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636017">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Whitley talks about the importance of networking in the construction industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636018">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Whitley remembers developing his architectural firm</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636019">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Whitley recalls his contract with the Cleveland Clinic</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636020">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Whitley describes his approach to architectural design</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636021">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Whitley describes the obstacles to innovation in architectural design</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636022">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Whitley describes the challenges facing African American architects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636023">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Whitley describes his hopes for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636024">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Whitley reflects upon the African American leaders of Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636025">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Whitley describes his relationship with Robert P. Madison</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636026">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Whitley recalls building facilities for the East Cleveland City School District</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636027">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Whitley describes the challenges faced by architectural firms</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636028">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Whitley remembers winning a Progressive Architecture Award</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636029">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Whitley recalls his work with the General Services Administration</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636030">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Whitley describes his relationship with the American Institute of Architects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636031">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Whitley talks about his mentorship of young architects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636032">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Whitley describes the role of lawyers in the construction industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636033">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - James Whitley describes his concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636034">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - James Whitley reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636035">Tape: 5 Story: 12 - James Whitley shares his advice to aspiring architects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636036">Tape: 5 Story: 13 - James Whitley talks about his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/636037">Tape: 5 Story: 14 - James Whitley describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$2

DAStory

8$2

DATitle
James Whitley describes his sister's career as an urban planner
James Whitley recalls his favorite childhood activities
Transcript
So your brother just came on over from--$$No, he just left, he just--but see, the fre- I'm single, I was single at this time. William [HistoryMaker William Whitley] was married [to Kaysonia Whitley] with children. I, I can live, I knew I could live six months and, and the fee was six thousand dollars no way, I mean. I was quite, quite free and able to do and with, with that, he came along. 'Cause the fee was set could do what he had to do.$$Okay, so where did you set up your offices?$$It's, the first offices was at Lee Road and, and Chagrin Boulevard.$$It's in, in Cleveland [Ohio]?$$In Cl- Shaker Heights [Ohio], really but--$$Shaker Heights (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) Cleveland, yeah.$$All right, and now, now your sister Joyce [Joyce Whitley] is I guess involved at some point. Does she--$$Now, here's what happened, then there's the (unclear). Now, now we're architects. My sister majored in anthropology. Case Western Reserve [Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio]. She went to Fisk [Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee] though, she went to Fisk. But, she smoked, so my mother [Beatrice Nivens Whitley] took her out of there. So, she finished at Reserve, anthropology. But, when she finishes school she says--and, and I don't know, happenstance, whatever. Urban, urban planning is a big deal at the University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois]. Well, she somehow gets hooked up and take- goes to University of Chicago. Takes up planning city planning, all right. Comes out and she's working for a guy named Meltzer [Jack Meltzer] in Chicago [Illinois]. And as all of this comes together, I'm leave- I'm, we're going into architecture. She's getting trained as a city planner. The riots occur, the riots occur. Now when the riots occur all the federal funds go to solve that problem. But, to solve the problem you have to have a plan, you have to have a plan to solve the problem. Meltzer is, is right in position to do it. And he jumps on it immediately. Now, Joyce is in there with, with him and sees how it's done, and it's all over the country. I mean it's all over the, planning is all over the country. Joyce comes out city planner and works- experience with Meltzer every, every major city. Cleveland. So, all of a sudden she's getting work, Cleveland, Buffalo [New York], St. Louis [Missouri], Fort Wayne [Indiana], Cincinnati [Ohio], Chinatown in Washington D.C., New York City [New York, New York], New York City, Roosevelt Island, Roosevelt Island. I mean it was all over the place. But, when you get a planning, what comes after planning? Buildings. Now we're in a position, now we're in a position--we're open [as Whitley and Whitley, Architects and Planners; Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners LLC], now this opportunity starts. Now, all over the, all these federal buildings I mean and I'm talking about multifamily, multifamily structures are going up in all the--where, where these plans are. So, then we're up and rolling then, I mean then, you know. We were knocking those things out, you know three or four a year, for many years. And the planning studies.$$So, so, so you get started in '63 [1963] but your, your sister gets involved in the late '60s [1960s] I guess--$$Yeah, it was the late '60s [1960s], '60s [1960s] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Around when the riots are happening--$$That's right, that's right, that's right.$$--and post riots.$$And when that start happening--$What were you interested in as a little kid?$$Small, real s- just playing and--oh I'll say one thing the Warren [Ohio] experience I think probably was the most memorable. But we, we lived at--Warren's a small, you know, small basically a rural kind of community. And we lived close to the edge of town. So, the woods and the trees and all of that was accessible to us, and oh we played that to death. We played that to death. I mean it was just, just pure freedom, I mean pure freedom. And we ran out the door, you ran, you ran out to woods. You could do anything you want out there, you know what I'm saying. And that's what we did. And, I, I would say maybe that's when one of the start of the creative side, anyway. During the war [World War II, WWII], we're playing war. And you could play war in the woods. You can dig, you can dig trenches, you can build, build huts. And then we, we were famous 'cause we--tree huts. We'd have 'em swing the tree. And they had a popular tree which was about a inch and half, two inch diameter. Oh you could cut down with one or two hacks, tie 'em together or nail them together. Tied 'em together was basically what we did. And you could make anything you wanted. And we had a, a cement, we found a cement mixer--hands. Boy we made that a boat. We both--and had a creek out there. You could go down the creek and the creek is maybe, say it's eight foot wide. But, but enough to float and you know, play with what you had to do. And you, we knew how to swim, so we weren't afraid of water. But, as I think back on it those experiences were very, very nice, I mean that was a--you were free to do what you wanted to do. And it's kind of of nice, but I felt I was living in the city, I didn't feel like I was living in the country. It was a city life but freedom at the edge. You could play baseball out there, you know build yourself a--it's funny. Yeah we built baseball diamonds, it's not like there was the baseball diamond out there. But, you could put that together and play. And I remember the people that--but that was basically a white community. We were in a, all those people I remember those were, were white kids.$$Okay.$$Yeah, and none those problems in the South. I mean no southern kind of problems at all. That was like, you know I remember Paul Picerelli [ph.] lived behind me. I could come down with those, those guys names, you know. The pretty girl was Shirley Novak [ph.], you know, what I'm saying. But, a good experience, and Warren was a very good experience. Then we came to the big city, Cleveland [Ohio]. Now, that's the big difference. There's a big difference there now.