Downtown Church honors architect Claude Braganza | People
The name of a Memphis architect will be remembered in perpetuity by those visiting St. Patrick Community Outreach, Inc. at 4th Street and Pontotoc Avenue in Downtown Memphis.
It's an appropriate honor for Claude Braganza, who designed the center building as well as the elementary school located behind St. Patrick Catholic Church.
Braganza's widow, Astrid, received a bouquet of flowers as St. Patrick Pastor Rev. Timothy Sullivan blessed the space in memory of the gifted architect.
"Claude Braganza was a man of great generosity and love," said long time friend Ray Terry. Braganza, a native of Bombay, India, was the youngest of 11 children.
He graduated from St. Xavier College and the JJ School of Art in Bombay and then attended the University of Liverpool where he took a bachelor's degree in architecture.
Braganza immigrated to the US and lived in Nashville briefly before moving to Memphis in 1960.
Because of his dark complexion, Terry said "Claude knew from personal experience how African Americans felt when the subject of racial prejudice was discussed."
Terry, a retired Memphis director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Memphis, said "Claude experienced denial of service in some public places as a result of his skin color."
Yet Braganza persevered in his work as a professional and community volunteer.
Braganza worked with noted Memphis architect Walk C. Jones and Gassner Nathan and helped design First Tennessee Bank's Downtown headquarters as well as Temple Israel in East Memphis.
In 1977, he was a founding partner of BWB Architects and dove headfirst into designing numerous Holiday Inns across the country as well as elderly housing complexes for the Good Samaritan group. Braganza's largest project was the Harrah's Marina Casino in Atlantic City, NJ which was featured in Architectural Record.
In 1988, Braganza formed Braganza Associates and designed projects for Baptist Memorial Hospital, Clorox, Papa Johns, Delta Faucets and Sacred Heart School in north Mississippi.
Generous with his time and gifts for design, Braganza helped the founding Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, Carroll Dozier, with all kinds of projects when Dozier went to work as Bishop in 1971.
Longtime members of St. Patrick Church, the Braganza family helped focus the mission of the small parish on the impoverished neighborhood in the 38126 zip code, the city's poorest. Claude and Astrid Braganza had two children, Brian and Miriam.
The family's photograph will hang in the Claude Braganza room at St. Patrick Community Outreach where the designer spent so many years sharing his smile and big heart.