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City of Bothell News

Posted on: February 3, 2022

Black History Month, The Life of Benjamin McAdoo

Benjamin McAdoo

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the extraordinary contributions Black Americans have made in our nation's history. This month, we are honored to share the story of Benjamin McAdoo, Washington State's first licensed Black architect who at one point in time, made Bothell his home.

Benjamin McAdoo (1920-1981) was born in Pasadena, California on October 29, 1920. He attended the University of Southern California before transferring to the University of Washington to complete his B.A. in Architecture in 1946. He later worked at Chiarelli and Kirk before becoming the first African American architect to be licensed in Washington state and starting his architecture practice in the kitchen of his Seattle apartment in 1947.  

During the first decade of his career, McAdoo worked on many residential and commercial projects in the Seattle area including houses, churches and office buildings.  In 1951-1952 he was one of several local architects who designed small, economical houses in the Central District of Seattle for the Houses of Merit program which, by some estimates, consisted of nearly 100 affordable homes and in 1957, he designed a home for his own family in unincorporated Bothell, reportedly after some urging from a Bothellite with whom he had established a friendship.  

The Benjamin F., Jr. and Thelma McAdoo House is located in the Westhill neighborhood, south of Bothell High School, where it sits on over half an acre that was originally part of an orchard during Bothell’s early days as an agricultural mecca.  A shining example of his style, the design blends modernism with regionalism to create a modern home integrated with the natural landscape and built to take advantage of the Lake Washington views.