Clarence W. ("Cap") Wigington was a man of firsts--the first registered African American architect in Minnesota and the first African American municipal architect in the nation. The public buildings that he designed for the city of St. Paul are a continuing legacy, helping to define the city's character. And his achievements, both as an architect and as a leader in the state's African American community, are all the more significant given the limitations of the times in which he lived.
Between 1915 and 1947, in the Office of the City Architect of St. Paul, he designed an array of schools, fire stations, park structures, and municipal buildings that continue to define the city's landscape. Three of his buildings--the Highland Park Water Tower (1928), the Holman Airfield Administration Building (1939), and the Harriet Island Pavilion (1941, renamed the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion in 1998)--are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wigington's nearly sixty St. Paul buildings now constitute one of the most extensive collections of works by an early African American architect.
Wigington's most ephemeral work, however, may have been his most creative. From 1937 to 1947, he designed six ice palaces and a number of secondary structures for St. Paul's famous Winter Carnival. These stunningly fanciful designs are Wigington's most imaginative and exuberant.
Alternating chapters by Taylor and Larson examine the man, his times, his leadership in the African American community, and his architectural work. Richly illustrated with photos of Wigington's buildings and his drawings, the book also contains a list of works attributed to Wigington. His life story shows the struggles and the achievements of a talented individual facing and conquering long odds.