About the Architect: Harvey N. Johnson
The architect for the Attucks Theatre was Harvey N. Johnson (1892-1973). Born in Richmond’s Jackson Ward, the son of a successful carpenter, Johnson was educated at Virginia Union University in Richmond and the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh Carnegie Institute of Technology. After the Carnegie Institute, where he attended classes at night and worked as a carpenter by day, Johnson returned to Virginia and opened his architectural office in Norfolk. Johnson's practice in Virginia catered to an African American population which desired new, architect-designed homes, but Johnson also designed a number of churches in the area.
He designed and supervised the construction of Mt. Herman Baptist Temple First Baptist South Portsmouth, and New Bethel. He delighted in remodeling old structures, designing renovations to several churches in the Norfolk area, including Ebenezer Baptist Church, St. John A.M.E. Church, First Baptist Bute Street, Queen Street Baptist, and Garrett’s Community Church all of Norfolk. A man of strong faith, Harvey Johnson studied theology at Virginia Union University from 1920 to 1924 and was a beloved minister for many years, most notably at Portsmouth’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he served from 1931 to 1973. Mr. Johnson was also a vital leader in the community. He became the first African American board member of the Portsmouth Community Chest, served on the Portsmouth School Board from 1961 to 1968, and was one of the founders of the Norfolk Division of Virginia Union University—which today is Norfolk State University.