Theodore Shealtiel Clerk was the first Ghanaian to excel in architecture. He is celebrated for his outstanding knowledge in designing, building, and construction. With hard work and resilience, Clerk rose to fame at a time when British architects dominated the Gold Coast.
Theodore Shealtiel Clerk was born on September 4 1909 in Larteh- Akuapem in the Eastern region of Ghana. His father, Nicholas Timothy Clerk was a Basel-trained theologian, and his mother, Anna Alice Meyer was of Ga-Danish descent.
He received his basic education at the Basel Mission in Larteh and Salem School at Osu. He furthered to the Achimota school for his secondary education where he studied technical drawing and draftsmanship. After secondary school, he received a scholarship to study architecture at Edinburgh College of Art from 1938 to 1943 and later became an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1943.
In 1954, Clerk was appointed as the Chief Architect and Town Planner of the Tema Development Corporation. He led a team of English architects to design the very first three communities in Tema. He rose through the ranks to become the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Tema Development Corporation after it became a public-owned corporate entity.
Clerk joined the Town and Country Planning Department in Accra in 1946 and was transferred to the Sekondi-Takoradi office from 1948 to 1953. For a while, Clerk was the only Ghanaian architect in the country and one of three Ghanaian architects in the late 1950s. By 1960, Clerk had led the design, urban planning, and development of the post-independent port city of Tema, a project commissioned by Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah. In planning the first three Communities at Tema, Clerk and his team designed affordable, standard houses, with four out of every five houses reserved for low-income industrial workers.
Theodore Shealtiel Clerk was the first president of the Ghana Institute of Architects (GIA), which had its early beginnings in 1963. He was also an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Town Planning Institute. Clerk had previously served as the president of the erstwhile Gold Coast Society of Architects during the British colonial era. Later, President Kwame Nkrumah reassigned him to the Ghanaian presidency as a senior advisor. Theodore Clerk was also an external examiner at the Department of Architecture of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
In 1948, Clerk tied the knot with Paulina Quist who was a midwife in Accra. Paulina was the daughter of the first African President of the Legislative Council.
Clerk died in 1965 of an illness. To appreciate his service to the nation, the Ghanaian government at the time named a street between Akojo School Park and Tweduaase Primary School at Site 6 of Community in Tema T.S. Clerk Street. Theodore Shealtiel Clerk has been a major source of inspiration for many upcoming architects in Ghana and around the world.
Information from https://yen.com.gh/191650-meet-theodore-s-clerk-ghanas-first-architect.html and https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/All-about-the-first-Ghanaian-architect-who-made-Ghana-proud-1484135 was used in this story