Cornelius Henderson

Cornelius HendersonField of work: Architect

Cornelius Langston Henderson was born in Detroit on 1888, and became the second African American to earn an engineering degree from the University of Michigan in 1911.

In 1929, Henderson revolutionized the engineering field with the construction of the first all-welded-steel factory, the General Electric building in Peterborough, Canada. Henderson contributed his engineering expertise and knowledge of architectural design to two of the greatest Great Lakes Regions projects: the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Henderson was responsible for the structural steel design of the 1929 Ambassador Bridge, and the massive steel tubes of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

Henderson was actively engaged in civil rights for African American Detroiters. During the 1920s the majority of African Americans in Detroit were struggling for adequate housing, health care, wages, jobs, and equal treatment from white business owners.

Prior to 1925, African Americans in Detroit suffered unspeakable indignities because of the white-operated cemeteries. In 1925, Henderson helped found Memorial Park in Warren Michigan, the first African-American owned and operated cemetery in Michigan. Henderson designed and platted the acreage, including the road system and grave arrangements. He died in July 18, 1976, and is buried at the cemetery he designed.