Edward Wayne Barnett’s childhood desire to draw houses led him to earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia.
He loved drawing houses and sketched house plans for an aunt, who displayed them frequently to friends and relatives in Virginia and Ohio.
Barnett went on to work on architectural projects in Ghana through the Peace Corps, and other parts of West Africa, Georgia, West Virginia and Virginia.
Now, the late Botetourt County native has a scholarship recognizing his achievements. A 1972 UVa graduate, Barnett is one of two African American graduates to have diversity scholarships named for them.
The University of Virginia School of Architecture established the scholarships to recognize the school’s first African American male and female graduates: Barnett and Audrey Spencer Horsley, a 1975 grad.
Four $5,000 scholarships will be awarded to first-year students each year.
The scholarships recognize Barnett and Horsley “for their ability to break boundaries within their fields and for their dedicated advocacy on behalf of the underserved or underrepresented,” said a news release.
Throughout his life, Barnett, who died in 2009, was a testament to breaking boundaries, according to his family and the architecture school.
He initially attended all-black Academy Hill and Central Academy schools in Fincastle before graduating in 1968 as salutatorian at the formerly all-white James River High School.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in architecture, he earned a master’s degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and received honors. His first architect job was with Hayes, Seay, Mattern and Mattern in Roanoke.
Throughout his career, he was involved with the renovations and additions to churches throughout the Roanoke Valley, and with gaining grants for a research project to build a collection of artifacts, documents, images and stories that focused on Botetourt County’s African American community.
Barnett posthumously received an education award from the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation for his efforts to preserve historic buildings and community fixtures.
Barnett, who also collaborated to develop research on the noted filmmaker Oscar Micheaux and his Roanoke connections, served on numerous arts and cultural commissions and boards throughout the Roanoke Valley.
His sister, Judy Barnett, remembers that her younger brother “loved putting things together,” whether it was model cars, train sets or go-carts, which he assembled from spare lawn mower parts.
According to a news release, Barnett’s passion and commitment to tell the untold stories of the African American community are defining characteristics that the UVa School of Architect wanted to recognize.