Theodore Clerk: Ghana's First Architect and the man who Designed Tema Harbour

Theodore Clerk: Ghana's First Architect and the man who Designed Tema Harbour

Theodore Shealtiel Clerk was the very first formally trained architect Ghana ever had and was known for being the first to have accomplished a number of things in his lifetime.

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He has since inspired many to follow in his footsteps and has paved the way for Ghanaian architects. has put together history information about Ghana's very first architect.

Theodore Clerk,Ghana's First Architect and the man who Designed Tema Harbour
Theodore Clerk with his sister, Matilda Johanna Clerk on the left. Source: UGC
Source: UGC

Growing up

Theodore was born on September 4, 1909, to Nicholas Timothy Clerk who was a theologian and a founding father of Presbyterian Boys' Secondary School, Legon and his mother, Anna Alice Meyer

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He had eight siblings in all.

Academic Background

Theodore had his basic education in three different schools; Basel Missionary primary school, Salem school at Osu and the Boys' boarding middle school.

He completed his secondary education at Achimota College and was one of the earliest students to have attended.

He was in Achimota school around the same time, Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, was also a student there.

After secondary school, he acquired 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.

He was also an associate member of the Roya Town Panning Institute.

Personal life

Clerk was married to Paulina Quist who was a midwife in Accra.

Paulina was the daughter of the first African President of the Legislative Council.

He was an organist, served as a Presbyter and was the choir president of Ebenezer Presbyterian church in Osu.

Professional background

Moving back to Ghana, Clerk joined the Town and Country Planning Department in Accra in the year, 1946 and transferred to the Sekondi branch in 1948.

In 1954, he got appointed as the Chief Architect and Town Planner of Tema Development Corporation.

Theodore Clerk 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 of the Tema Development Corporation after it became a public-owned corporate entity.

Passing on

Theodore Clerk died in 1965 from stomach cancer.

The government of Ghana named a street in Tema after him in appreciation of his pioneering services to the development of Ghana.

Three things he was the first to do

  1. First formally trained and professionally certified Ghanaian architect
  2. First chief executive officer of Tema Development Corporation.
  3. First President of the Ghana Institute of Architects earlier published that, a historic video has emerged of Ghana’s first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, commissioning the Tema Harbour on February 10, 1962.

The video, which captures the entire ceremony in less than two minutes, shows Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his entourage opening the Tema Port after successfully unveiling the memorial plaque.

Also present, were some chiefs and proud Ghanaians who graced the occasion at the time.

In the video sighted by, a man dressed as a clown, paraded the events grounds with a placard around his neck with inscriptions that read, ''Africa’s Messiah, your dream has been realized.''


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