Booker T. Washington was born into slavery, but he grew up to become a well-known African-American educator, author, orator, and presidential adviser, and eventually lived in this splendid home that still stands today.
In 1881, Washington was chosen as the first president of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. Under Washington’s direction, and based on the idea that with self-help, people could move from poverty to success, students of the institute built their own school while learning useful trades. Tuskegee later became known as the Tuskegee Institute and in 1985 became Tuskegee University.
Washington’s home at Tuskegee, The Oaks, was completed in 1900. It was built by students, with bricks that were also made by students. Most of the furnishings were made by local craftsmen and students, and it was the first house in Macon County to have electricity and steam heating. Washington lived in the house until his death in 1915.
The home was acquired by the National Park Service in 1974, and became part of the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site. Today, the home is maintained as a historic landmark, and still retains the lovely appointment it had when Washington lived there.