North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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McKim, Mead and White

Founded: New York City, New York, USA
Headquarters:
  • Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina
Trades:
  • Architect
NC Work Locations:
  • Roanoke Rapids, Halifax County
  • Halifax
  • Chapel Hill, Orange County
  • Orange
Building Types:
  • Commercial;
  • Educational;
  • Industrial;
  • Memorial;
  • Religious;
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Beaux-Arts

Louis Round Wilson Library [Chapel Hill]

View larger image and credits

Louis Round Wilson Library [Chapel Hill]

Biography

The nationally renowned New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White had an influential role in North Carolina both directly and indirectly. Most notably, as consulting architects for the University of North Carolina the firm employed Beaux-Arts classical principles in defining the early twentieth century campus expansion with their on-site architects being William Kendall, H. P. Alan Montgomery and Arthur C. Nash. Earlier on, Stanford White, one of the original partners in the firm, provided plans for industrial development at Roanoke Rapids. As well, these and other architects active in the state such as Henry Bacon, and Charles C. Hartmann gained experience and expertise while working for the firm which they carried forward in their careers.

The firm was founded in 1879 by partners Charles Follen McKim (1847-1909), William Rutherford Mead (1846-1929), and Stanford White (1853-1906). Expert in the principles of Beaux Arts architecture and planning, they took a major role in directing American taste away from the exuberant eclecticism of the post-Civil War era toward a more ordered, formal, and hierarchical approach to both city planning and architecture as defined the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. They were well known nationally for their shingled country house and resort architecture and for such monumental works as the Boston Public Library, Madison Square Garden, and Columbia University. Especially influential was their role in planning the Beaux Arts "White City" visited by millions at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, which spurred the popular acceptance of the City Beautiful movement and the renewal of classical architecture. The firm, which included numerous architects, continued under the same name after the deaths of the founding principals. A little-known and early project in the state involved the creation of the industrial town of Roanoke Rapids in northeastern North Carolina. It was one of three industrial towns planned by the firm in the late 1800s, the others being at Niagara Falls, New York, and Naugatuck, Connecticut. The story is told that one of the investors in the mill development to exploit the mighty water power of the Roanoke River—an eccentric man and heir to the Astor estate named John Armstrong Chanler (Chaloner)—commissioned his friend Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White, to design a knitting mill and possibly another manufacturing plant, a church, a hotel, and about 50 houses. Evidently local builders executed the drawings without supervision from the New York firm. Most of the buildings are long gone. Portions of the mill are said to survive within a paper mill that stands by the river, and local tradition asserts that a few small houses with a gambrel roof shape locally called "turtle-back" houses date from the Stanford White era, but this is not documented.

Far better known and more important is the firm's central role in defining the expansion of the University of North Carolina after World War I. In 1920, the University of North Carolina embarked a multi-million dollar expansion program based generally on a plan proposed in 1917 by urban planner John Nolen, to extend the campus by creating a second quad southward beyond South Building. Under the leadership of President Harry Chase, the university hired McKim, Mead and White as consulting architects to develop Nolen's plan more fully. (See also James A. Salter.)

The resulting multi-year project was a vast and complex enterprise that involved an immense work force, many technical challenges, and numerous architects. By this time, two of the founding principals at McKim, Mead and White had died, and other architects were operating the firm. The Aberthaw engineering firm of Atlanta was employed to advise as well. The T. C. Atwood Organization, engineers, of North Carolina was commissioned to design specific buildings with McKim, Mead and White as consulting architects. Key figures in the multi-year project were architects H. P. Alan Montgomery; Arthur C. Nash (who formed an association with Atwood in 1922); and William Kendall of McKim, Mead and White. According to Henderson, The Campus of the First University), during McKim, Mead and White's "regime as 'consulting architects,': the official architects for T.C. Atwood, engineer, were H. P. Alan Montgomery (for Ruffin, Mangum, Manly, and Grimes dormitories, and Saunders, Murphey, Manning, and Bingham halls) and Arthur C. Nash for Venable Hall, Aycock, Graham, Everett, Lewis, and Stacy dormitories, Spencer Hall (women's dormitory), Graham Memorial, and the Library. Additional buildings were planned in similar spirit by these and other architects.

To create the south quadrangle as a grand and inviting Beaux-Arts ensemble, the architects added a monumental portico to the south face of South Building and framed the south quadrangle and its cross-axial secondary quadrangles with red brick edifices in a "colonial" style they saw as complementing the older buildings on campus. At the south end of the new quadrangle they designed the monumental, neoclassical Louis Round Wilson Library (1929)—planned by Arthur Nash and William Kendall of the McKim, Mead and White office—as a contrasting domed edifice in pale Indiana limestone that echoes McKim, Mead and White's celebrated Low Library at Columbia University in New York. The firm's last project at the university before a hiatus in construction during the Great Depression was the Venetian-inspired campanile, the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower (1930-1931), built on axis south of the library with a donation from benefactors John Motley Morehead III and Rufus Lenoir Patterson. . The Beaux-Arts classical tradition prominently modeled by McKim, Mead and White flourished in the state, including numerous buildings designed by Arthur Nash alone and by Atwood and Nash, as well as by Henry Bacon, Charles C. Hartmann, and others influenced by the firm.

Authors: Catherine W. Bishir and Leland M. Roth. Contributor: Charlotte V. Brown.

Published 2014

Building List

Bingham Hall (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1920

Contributors:
Dates: 1920s
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
Note:

Bingham Hall, which completed the east side of the South Quad, was initially designed by H. Alan Montgomery, but was built a few years later with Arthur C. Nash as building architect. It anchors the southeastern corner of the quad.

Graham Memorial (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1929

Contributors:
Dates: 1929-1931
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
  • William S. Powell, The First State University: A Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina (1992).
Note:

The Daily Tar Heel of April 11, 1922 reported that Thomas C. Atwood and William Kendall (of McKim, Mead and White) had conferred with the Graham Memorial Building Committee concerning the best location for a campus edifice to honor the late university president, Edward Kidder Graham, an idea conceived as early as 1920. Other architects had been considered: Hobart B. Upjohn, R. B. McGoodwin, and Charles C. Hook. On May 12, the Daily Tar Heel reported that the T. C. Atwood Organization was busy working on plans; in the interim, architect Arthur C. Nash had come to Chapel Hill to serve as chief architect for the Atwood organization. The building was constructed in stages and remained unfinished for several years because donations sufficient for completion were slow in coming, but a large gift finally enabled it to be completed in 1931 and dedicated in January, 1932. Based on Archibald Henderson's list of buildings, this was the last of the campus buildings for which the contractors were T. C. Thompson and Brothers; thereafter a variety of contractors constructed the university buildings. It was also the last for which the firm of McKim, Mead and White was listed as consulting architects to Arthur C. Nash.

Graham Memorial

Kenan Stadium (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1927

Contributors:
Dates: 1927-1934
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Altered
Type:
  • Recreational
Images Published In:
  • William S. Powell, The First State University: A Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina (1992).
Note:

Kenan Stadium has been much enlarged and changed over the years to accommodate larger crowds and more elaborate seating areas. Still remaining from Nash's design is the Beaux-Arts plaque with the names of William Rand Kenan and his wife who dedicated the structure to his parents. It is set against Nash's original stones. For Kenan Stadium, 12 blueprints, tracings, and oilcloth drawings from Atwood and Nash are at University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill, in Collection Number 40102, "Physical Plant of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1904-1963."

Kenan Stadium

Kenan Stadium Field House (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1927

Contributors:
Dates: 1927
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Recreational
Images Published In:
  • William S. Powell, The First State University: A Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina (1992).
Note:

The Spanish Colonial Revival style Field House was razed in 2010 to make way for new seating and other accommodations.

Kenan Stadium Field House

Louis Round Wilson Library (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1928

Variant Name(s):
  • Wilson Library
Contributors:
Dates: 1928-1929
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • John V. Allcott, The Campus at Chapel Hill: Two Hundred Years of Architecture (1986).
  • Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
Note:

The Daily Tar Heel of October 13, 1929, carried a long story about the library and its dedication ceremony, at which Governor O. Max Gardner was to present the building on behalf of the people of North Carolina, and John Sprunt Hill, chairman of the university board of trustees, was to accept it on behalf of the university trustees. The article noted that the library was "designed by Atwood and Nash, Inc., University architects and engineers, with the firm of McKim, Mead, and White as consulting architects. T. C. Thompson and Brothers were the constructors [sic]." The article described the edifice including the limestone façade with its portico of Corinthian columns, and interior spaces finished with marble, terrazzo, and travertine. The building was planned to hold 400,000 volumes, with the expectation of future expansion to hold more than a million. The library, which evokes McKim, Mead and White's famed Low Library at Columbia University, was a fitting terminus to the grand new southern quadrangle of the university. It is among the finest Beaux-Arts classical buildings in the state and remains revered and well used.

Louis Round Wilson Library

Lower Quad Dormitories (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1924

Variant Name(s):
  • Aycock Hall;
  • Everett Hall;
  • Graham Hall;
  • Lewis Hall
Contributors:
Dates: 1924-1928
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
  • William S. Powell, The First State University: A Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina (1992).
Note:

The four dormitories form the Lower Quad. A fifth, Stacy, was added in 1938.

Lower Quad Dormitories

Spencer Hall (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1924

Contributors:
Dates: 1924; 1958 (addition)
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
  • William S. Powell, The First State University: A Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina (1992).
Note:

For the original Spencer Hall, 32 sheets of blueprints from Atwood and Nash are at University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill, in Collection Number 40102 ("Physical Plant of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1904-1963"). For the 1958 addition, that collection includes 16 sheets of blueprints by H. Raymond Weeks.

Spencer Hall

Venable Hall (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1925

Contributors:
Dates: 1925
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • William S. Powell, The First State University: A Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina (1992).

Wagstaff House (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1925

Contributors:
Dates: 1925
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: 214 North Boundary St., Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

The house was built for Henry and Mary Wagstaff, who had owned a ca. 1908 house on the lot; they moved that house to the northeast corner of the lot and erected the present Colonial Revival residence.

Wagstaff House

Zeta Psi Fraternity House (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1920

Contributors:
Dates: 1920s
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: 200 W. Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Manning Hall (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1923

Contributors:
Dates: 1923
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
Note:

According to Archibald Henderson, The Campus of the First State University (1949), Manning Hall's architects included both H. P. Alan Montgomery and Arthur C. Nash, suggesting that Montgomery initially designed it but Nash as his successor completed the building.

Manning Hall

Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1930

Contributors:
Dates: 1930-1931
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Memorial
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).

Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower

Roanoke Rapids Mill, Houses, Church, Other Buildings (Roanoke Rapids, Halifax County)

Halifax Roanoke Rapids

1890

Contributors:
Dates: 1890s
Location: Roanoke Rapids, Halifax County
Street Address: Roanoke Rapids, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Industrial;
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Leland M. Roth, "Three Industrial Towns by McKim, Mead & White," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 38.4 (Dec. 1979).
  • Henry V. Taves, The Historic Architecture of Halifax County, North Carolina (2010).
Note:

It is believed that some portion of the cotton mill designed by Stanford White may remain within the present industrial plant beside the Roanoke River. A small number of "turtle-back" houses have been described as survivals from the mill housing planned by Stanford White, but this is not documented. See Leland M. Roth, "Three Industrial Towns by McKim, Mead & White," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 38, no. 4 (Dec. 1979).

Ruffin, Mangum, Manly, Grimes Dormitories (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1921

Contributors:
Dates: 1921
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).

Ruffin, Mangum, Manly, Grimes Dormitories

Saunders Hall (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1922

Contributors:
Dates: 1922
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Note:

The postcard shows Saunders Hall on the left.

Saunders Hall

Murphey Hall (Chapel Hill, Orange County)

Orange Chapel Hill

1922

Contributors:
Dates: 1922
Location: Chapel Hill, Orange County
Street Address: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus, Chapel Hill, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • M. Ruth Little, The Town and Gown Architecture of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1795-1975 (2006).
Note:

The postcard shows Murphey Hall on the right.

Murphey Hall

McKim, Mead and White's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
  • Zeb R. Denny, A City's Heritage (1972).
  • Archibald Henderson, The Campus of the First State University (1949).
  • Leland M. Roth, A Concise History of American Architecture (1979).
  • Leland M. Roth, "Three Industrial Towns by McKim, Mead & White," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 38.4 (Dec. 1979).
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