Date of Award


Access Control

Campus-Only Access

Degree Name

Museum Studies, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Nancy Weekly, M.A.

First Reader

Cynthia Conides, PH.D.



THROUGH THESE GATES: Buffalo’s First African American Architect

John Edmonston Brent

The purpose of this research is to reintroduce the architectural and historic cultural contributions that John Edmonston Brent (1889-1962) made to the city of Buffalo, Western New York and beyond. A significant number of renderings, artifacts and photos from Mr. Brent’s forty-seven year architectural career were unearthed. This cache of rediscovered forgotten contributions made by John Brent would align him with other African American architectural pioneers during the mid-20th century.

John Brent was educated by the first class of professionally educated and trained African American architects of the Progressive Era. Brent’s architectural career can be divided into three categories: draftsman, registered architect and landscape architect. Following a brief biographical sketch, the thesis focuses on the second half of Brent’s career from 1926 to a junior landscape architect for the Department of Parks and Buildings in the City of Buffalo until his retirement in 1959. The city’s storage vault revealed renderings of city squares, parks and neighborhood playgrounds from his twenty-four year tenure. As a result, Brent’s legacy was manifested in a five-month exhibition at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, as well as a min-documentary video – both created in partnerships between the author and professionals in the museum and media fields.