North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Cooper, Thomas Wright (1897-1957)

Birthplace: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Residences:
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
Trades:
  • Architect
NC Work Locations:
  • Durham, Durham County
  • Durham
  • Raleigh, Wake County
  • Wake
Building Types:
  • Educational;
  • Religious;
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Beaux-Arts;
  • Colonial Revival;
  • Period Revival

Thomas Ruffin House [Raleigh]

View larger image and credits

Thomas Ruffin House [Raleigh]

Biography

Thomas Wright Cooper (1897-1957), a Raleigh architect who practiced with several different associates, designed in a wide range of architectural styles from the 1920s onward, including works in Colonial Revival, Neoclassical, and Modern modes.

Cooper was born in Raleigh, a son of stonecutter Charles W. Cooper, head of the Raleigh Marble Works. He was educated at local schools before beginning his architectural training in 1914 under architect James A. Salter. Cooper left Raleigh in 1917 to work as a senior draftsman during World War I at the Newport News Ship Building Company in Virginia. After the war he returned to Raleigh and became the chief draftsman in the firm of Salter and Nelson.

In 1921, after Salter left the firm, Cooper formed a partnership with G. Murray Nelson to form G. Murray Nelson and Thomas W. Cooper (Nelson and Cooper). The firm designed several institutional buildings including Ricks Hall (ca. 1922) and the expansion of Leazar Hall (ca. 1922) at present North Carolina State University. Probably their best known work is the State Agriculture Building facing Capitol Square (1922-1923), a large stone-faced edifice of Beaux-Arts classical design subtly rendered to wrap around a key corner.

Cooper and Nelson also became recognized as residential design specialists producing stylish Colonial Revival houses for middle and upper class clients in Raleigh's expanding suburbs. With Nelson, and then alone, Cooper planned many of the fine residences in the prestigious Hayes-Barton suburb, the grandest of which is the Alfred Williams, Jr. House, a spectacularly sited replica of Mount Vernon, located at 901 Holt Drive.

About 1930 Cooper began an independent practice that produced a number of Period Revival style residences during and after the Great Depression, including his own residence in the suburb of Budleigh. In the early 1940s he was associated briefly with the firm of William H. Deitrick, was involved in military projects, and served as assistant architect at present North Carolina State University with Ross Shumaker. After World War II, Cooper entered practice with younger architects including Albert L. Haskins, Jr. and Richard L. Rice. He produced both traditional and modernist designs, the latter including Beth Meyer Synagogue on St. Mary's Street in 1951, one of Raleigh's first modernist houses of worship. Cooper was active in the American Institute of Architects, serving as president of the North Carolina chapter in 1952. He also participated in civic affairs and the Episcopal Church.

Author: William B. Bushong. Update: Dave Delcambre.

Published 2009

Building List

Leazar Hall (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1912

Contributors:
Dates: 1912; ca. 1922 [additions]; 1945 [additions]; 1947 [additions]
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: North Carolina State University Campus, Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • Burton F. Beers and Murray Scott Downs, North Carolina State University: A Pictorial History (1986).
  • Facility Coordinators, http://www.ncsu.edu/facilities/buildings/.
  • Marguerite E. Schumann, Strolling at State: A Walking Guide to North Carolina State University (1973).
Note:

Ross Edward Shumaker designed the building's east balconies.

Leazar Hall

Ricks Hall (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1922

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1922
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: North Carolina State University Campus, Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • Marguerite E. Schumann, Strolling at State: A Walking Guide to North Carolina State University (1973).

State Agriculture Building (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1922

Contributors:
Dates: 1922-1923
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 2 W. Edenton St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Public

State Agriculture Building

Thomas Ruffin House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1932

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1932
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1001 Harvey St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Julian Rand House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1931

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1931
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1544 Carr St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

The architects and builder of this classic 2-story, red brick Georgian Revival house are cited in the Hayes Barton National Register nomination. A Julian Rand project is cited in the Satterfield building list. Julian and Lillian Rand, longtime residents of Ferndell Lane (near Maiden Lane and State College) first appeared at 1544 Carr Street house in the 1932 city directory.

Julian Rand House

Nathaniel A. Dunn House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1929

Variant Name(s):
  • N. A. Dunn House
Contributors:
Dates: 1929-1930
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1105 Cowper Dr., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Note:

Nelson and Cooper's blueprints, dated 1929, for the Nathaniel A. Dunn House are in the Coffey Family Papers, Special Collections Research Center, NCSU Libraries. It is a characteristic example of the Georgian Revival style residences prevalent in Hayes Barton. The blueprints are the only set by Nelson and Cooper identified thus far.

James R. Weatherspoon House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1931

Contributors:
Dates: 1931
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1103 Cowper Dr., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

James R. Weatherspoon House

William Proctor House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1932

Contributors:
Dates: 1932
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1521 Jarvis St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Victor Sorrell House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1933

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1933-1934
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1535 Caswell St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Victor Sorrell House

John H. Johnson House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1933

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1933-1934
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 2915 White Oak Dr., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Ned Ball House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1933

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1933-1935
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: White Oak Rd., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Confederate Memorial Pavilion (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1935

Contributors:
Dates: 1935
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Oakwood Cemetery, 701 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Memorial

Confederate Memorial Pavilion

Thomas Wright Cooper House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1938

Contributors:
Dates: 1938
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1718 Canterbury Rd., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).

Thomas Wright Cooper House

J.E. Hillman House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1938

Contributors:
Dates: 1938
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 2317 Whitaker Dr., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

David F. Cannon House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1938

Contributors:
Dates: 1938
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 2613 White Oak Rd., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Rufus H. Nims House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1938

Contributors:
Dates: 1938
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1506 Canterbury Rd., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

The 1-story, ranch type house was one of the first modernist houses in Raleigh. It was designed by the young architect Rufus H. Nims (1913-2005) as his own residence, when Nims, a 1934 graduate of present North Carolina State University, was working for Cooper. Nims moved to Florida in 1943, developed a highly respected practice, and stayed there for the rest of his long life. Source: trianglemodernisthouses.com.

R.H. Longstreet House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1938

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1938
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Victoria Rd., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Baker Wynne House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1948

Contributors:
Dates: 1948
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1411 Jackson Pl., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).

Beth Meyer Synagogue (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1951

Contributors:
Dates: 1951
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: St. Mary's St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Religious

Alfred Williams, Jr. House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1920

Contributors:
Dates: 1920s
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 901 Holt Dr., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Syme Hall (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1916

Variant Name(s):
  • South Hall
Contributors:
Dates: 1916; 1922 [additions]
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: North Carolina State University Campus, Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Note:

Further research is required to ascertain the authorship of this substantial dormitory. It has been credited to Nelson and Cooper with the original section described as built in 1916 plus additions in 1922, which have been cited to Hobart Upjohn. It is unlikely that Nelson or Nelson and Cooper were involved in the 1916 portion, since their partnership was not formed until 1920 or 1921, and there is no record of Nelson's presence in Raleigh as early as 1916.

Walter L. and Violet Noneman House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1938

Contributors:
Dates: 1938
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 2106 White Oak Rd., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

Blueprints, specifications, and contractor bills for the "Mr. and Mrs. Walter Noneman Residence" are in the Thomas W. Cooper Collection, Special Collections Research Center, NCSU Libraries. The architect's specifications noted that the "masonry work shall be done by a skilled mechanic capable of mixing the stone and brick as shown" in the drawings. Contractor James A. Davidson was a leading Raleigh builder for many years. Bills for work and materials for the brick and stone house include numerous local and regional firms such as Baker-Rawls Roofing, Carolina Builders, Cherokee Brick, Dillon Supply, Martin Millwork, and Peden Steel. W. L. and Violet Louise Noneman came to Raleigh from Albuquerque, N. M., for him to open the Occidental Life Insurance Company. The family worked closely with the architect to plan the residence for comfort and convenience. The well-preserved house has remained in the family.

Jonathan Daniels House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1936

Contributors:
Dates: ca. 1936
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1540 Caswell St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Note:

The Georgian Revival style brick house is a member of the group of nearby Daniels family houses.

Jonathan Daniels House

John N. Coffey, Sr. House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1939

Contributors:
Dates: 1939 and later
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1720 Canterbury Rd., Raleigh, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Mrs. W. A. Cooper House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1930

Contributors:
Dates: 1930s
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 123 Forest Rd., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Mrs. W. A. Cooper House

T. W. Cooper House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1930

Contributors:
Dates: late 1930s
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1718 Canterbury Rd., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

T. W. Cooper House

J. Deryl Hart House (Durham, Durham County)

Durham Durham

1934

Contributors:
Dates: 1934
Location: Durham, Durham County
Street Address: 2324 Duke University Rd., Durham, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

Dr. Hart came to Duke as head of surgery and later became president of Duke University. In recent years the large Tudor Revival residence has been the home of Duke President Richard Brodhead. The architect for the house has been identified both as Nelson and Cooper and Nelson alone. Records of its construction are in Dr. Hart's papers at Duke University.

Thomas Wright Cooper's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • American Institute of Architects, Membership Records, American Institute of Architects Archives, Washington, D. C.
  • Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Carolina Architecture (1935).
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Inactive files, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Raleigh News and Observer, July 28, 1935.
  • Marguerite E. Schumann, Strolling at State: A Walking Guide to North Carolina State University (1973).
  • George Smart, Jr., Triangle Modernist Houses, http://www.trianglemodernisthouses.com.
  • Who's Who in the South and Southwest (1950).
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