Samuel M. Plato (1882-1957)


Plato, Samuel M.

Personal Information

Birth/Death:    1882-1957
Occupation:    American architect
Location (state):    IN; KY

AIA Affiliation

Not a member of the AIA.

Biographical Sources

Biographical Directories:
Entry in Dreck Spurlock Wilson, ed., African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945 (New York: Routledge, 2004)
Biographical Information:
Contributed by the Filson Historical Society:
    Samuel Plato (1882-1957) was a prominent African-American architect and builder. He designed and/ or built a wide variety of buildings including Greek Revival and Craftsman style houses, elaborate mansions, post offices, banks, churches, theaters, office buildings and government housing projects. Plato was the first African-American architect to receive a government contract to build a U.S. post office in Decatur, AL and one of the few who received government defense housing projects during World War II. He has eight buildings on the National Register of Historic Places including his Phillipsburg, NJ Post Office and Louisville's Broadway Temple A.M.E. Zion Church.

Related Records

Archival Holdings

The Filson Historical Society, Special Collections
Mss. A P718 Plato Family Papers, 1924-1967
Papers from Samuel Plato's business as an architect and personal letters from his family members in Alabama and his accountant. Letters continue after his death with correspondence with his widow Elnora. Plato was an African-American architect who designed buildings such as post offices and churches in many parts of the country.
Link to online finding aid:
The Filson Historical Society, Special Collections
999PC35 Samuel Plato. Photograph collection, 1880s-1959
Ca. 600 photos
The collection contains photographs of Samuel Plato, his first wife, Nettie Lusby Plato (1879-1924), his second wife, Elnora Davis Plato (1891-1975), other family members and friends. It also has construction photos of post offices in Coatesville, PA, East Rochester, NY, New Philadelphia, OH, Homer, NY, Horseheads, NY, Angola, NY, Phillipsburg, NJ, Medina, NY, Morgantown, WVA, Cooperstown, NY, Greensburg, PA and Decatur, AL. Defense housing projects represented in the collection include Langston Stadium in Washington, DC, Fincastle Heights in Louisville, KY, and Sparrows Point in Dundalk, MD. Residences designed or built by Plato in the collection are the J.M. Hammon house in Louisville, and the J. Woodrow Wilson house which is now known as the "Hathaway House" and the Platonian Apartments, both in Marion, IN. Other projects in Louisville include Simmons University Boys Dormitory, Broadway Temple A.M.E. Church, Virginia Avenue Colored School, the Chestnut St. Y.M.C.A., St. Augustine Catholic Church, the Westover subdivision and the Grand Theater. Indiana projects represented include Odd Fellows Hall - Mississinewa Lodge, 1st Friends Church, 1st U.B. Church and the Pure Milk Company. There is a finding aid for this collection in the repository.
For more information: