Facebook Twitter

Donate to BlackPast Blog
  • African American History
  • African American History in the West
  • Global African History
  • Perspectives

NOTE: will not disclose, use, give or sell any of the requested information to third parties.

15 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Rock the Vote

NAAAS & Affiliates 27th Joint National Conference

Shop Amazon and help in the Classroom

Tandy, Vertner Woodson (1885-1949)

Image Ownership: Public Domain
Vertner Woodson Tandy was born in Lexington, Kentucky where he was educated at the Candler School.  He gained an understanding of construction by watching his father build and develop homes in Lexington. These early experiences with his father led Tandy to an interest in architecture.

In 1904, Tandy attended Tuskegee Institute to study architecture and during his short stay was under the guidance of Booker T. Washington.  Tandy became the architecture program’s “prize” student and a year later, in September of 1905, he transferred to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Henry Arthur Callis recalled that Tandy showed up on the hallowed grounds of Cornell in a rather “tight cadet’s uniform with a saxophone under his arm.” Tandy, Callis and a small group of college men formed Alpha Phi Alpha Society in the spring of 1906, which would soon become the first African American Greek letter fraternity, on December 4th of the same year. During his time in the fraternity, he was treasurer, designer of the pin, and eventually was responsible for its incorporation.

Upon graduation, Vertner W. Tandy became the first African American registered architect in the State of New York.  His office was on Broadway in New York City. Among the buildings designed by the highly gifted architect are St. Philip's Episcopal Church in New York City and Villa Lewaro, the mansion of Harlem businesswoman Madam C.J. Walker, in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York.

Vertner W. Tandy later became the first African American to pass the military commissioning examination in World War I.  He was subsequently commissioned First Lieutenant in the 15th Infantry of the New York State National Guard.  Tandy died on November 7, 1949.

Herman "Skip" Mason, “'The Outspoken Jewel'—Vertner Woodson Tandy” in 2nd ed., The Talented Tenth: The Founders and Presidents of Alpha (Atlanta: Four-G Publishers, Inc., 1999); Charles H. Wesley, The History of Alpha Phi Alpha, A Development in College Life (Chicago: Foundation Publishers, 1981).


University of Washington

Entry Categories:

Copyright 2007-2017 - v3.0 NDCHost - California | | Your donations help us to grow. | We welcome your suggestions. | Mission Statement is an independent non-profit corporation 501(c)(3). It has no affiliation with the University of Washington. is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.