This is Alpha Chapter

This is Alpha Chapter #28 - 8/16/17

Profiles of who we are:

The Architect & Designer of the Dial
Bro. Ralph Augustine Vaughn, Alpha 1924

The Lampados Club retained Bro. Ralph Augustine Vaughn (Alpha 1924) to design the Banneker Memorial Sundial in Fall 1928.  Vaughn was born in Washington, D.C. in 1907.  He attended Armstrong Technical High School, where his father was a teacher and architect, graduating in 1923.

After completing high school early, Vaughn enrolled at Howard University in the Fall of 1923 however transferred to the University of Illinois to pursue architecture in the Fall of 1926. 

Vaughn returned to Howard in the Fall of 1928 to take classes and become an apprentice draftsman for renowned architect, Albert Cassell.  Cassell joined HU in 1920 as an assistant professor in the Architecture Department and served as a surveyor, planner, master architect and chief planner during his 18 years at Howard.  He created the master 20 Year plan for the expansion of Howard’s campus and went on to design and overseas the construction of over a dozen structures including Greene Stadium (1926), The Quad (1929-31), Chemistry Building (1936), Douglass Hall (1936) and Founders Library (1938).  During Vaughn’s apprenticeship with Cassell, he aided in the design of three of the four buildings making up Tubman Quadrangle and assisted in the development of the campus expansion plan. 

It is during this time that Vaughn designed the Sundial under Cassell’s oversight.  In a March 1929 article covering the presentation of the Sundial to HU, it’s noted that “the work was planned by Albert I. Cassell and Ralph Vaughn architects at Howard University.”  Vaughn returned to the University of Illinois in the Fall of 1930, earning his degree in architecture in 1932 and pursued his graduate degree at Illinois in 1932-33.

In 1933, Vaughn returned to D.C. where he worked for Cassell at Howard and was an Instructor of Architecture until 1936.  Vaughn moved to Los Angeles where he worked for the trailblazing African American architect, Bro. Paul R. Williams (note:  Williams was initiated into Omega through Lambda Chapter around 1924, was Omega’s Man of the Year in 1951 and received the Spingarn Medal in 1953 for his achievement and work).   During WWII, Vaughn worked for MGM Studios becoming a set designer.  After the war, he established his practice that he maintained for the rest of his career.  In 1952 and 1959, he received awards for his work from the Society of American Registered Architects.  The pinnacle of his career occurred in 1951 where he designed the Lincoln Place Apartments in Venice, CA.  Bro. Vaughn retired in 1998 and passed into Omega Chapter in 2000.

Fraternally, Vaughn was initiated into Omega through Alpha Chapter in November 1924.  Upon returning to the University of Illinois, he served as the first Basileus of the newly formed Pi Psi Chapter in 1932-33.  He is also responsible for organizing the 12th District and became its first District Representative in 1942 to 1943.

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