Romulus Cornelius Archer was born March 11th, 1890/1891 in Norfolk, Virginia to Lissie Poindexter and Romulus C. Archer Sr. He was the oldest of five children. The Archers lived on Hale Street in the Lindenwood neighborhood. His father, Romuls Archer was a plasterer. In 1908 Romulus Jr. graduated from Norfolk Public High School and enrolled at Norfolk Mission College until 1910, he then took classes in architecture through the International Correspondence School in Scranton, Pennsylvania. For his capstone Romulus attended Columbia University in 1913, where he then went on to be a self-employed architect. Some time after graduating from Columbia, Romulus Jr. married his first wife, civil rights activist Louise Williams.
Romulus Jr. enlisted in the United States Army on March 11th, 1918. He served as a private in the Engineers Section of the National Army and was assigned to “D” Company in the 317th Engineering Regiment 92nd Division. Romulus was stationed for his initial training at Camp Sherman, Ohio from March 1918 to May 1918. In July of 1918 he was transferred to Headquarters Company of the 317th Engineers Division. On June 9th, 1918 he embarked on the USS Mount Vernon in New York and was deployed to Blondefountaine, France. While deployed in France Romulus Jr. was involved in the Meuse-Argonne offensive and while he was not on the front lines his unit served as support for Infantry and Artillery units.During his time in France, twelve of the men in his unit died of diseases in different places. After spending eight months in France, on March 6th, 1919 Romulus Jr. arrived in New York aboard the USS Corona.
After returning from France, Romulus Jr. was discharged as a Sergeant from service on April 8th, 1919 and returned to civilian life as a architect. At the end of 1921 he opened an independent architectural office in D.C. and is credited with designing Virginia University of Lynchburg. Between 1939 and 1947, he is listed as architect on over 100 permits as the builder of properties in the D.C. area. In 1954, he was the recipient of the Washington Board of Trade Award in Architecture for Superior Design. Archer was known for the numerous apprenticeships he provided for young black architects in his office and, because of this, he received the “Citizen of the Year” award from the Young Men’s Christian Association in 1964.
Romulus Cornelius Archer died on November 29, 1968, at age 77 and he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
FromThePage.com. “3.” FromThePage, fromthepage.com/lva/norfolk-va/archer-romulus-cornelius/display/644942.“Romulus C
Archer (1891-1968) – Find A Grave…” Find a Grave, www.findagrave.com/memorial/22989835/romulus-c-archer.
Abel, J., 2020. DC Architects Directory. [ebook] D.C. Available at: <https://planning.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/op/publication/attachments/Architects%20Bios%20A%20and%20B.pdf> [Accessed 1 May 2020].