North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Keller, Harry P. S. (1869-1938)

Variant Name(s):
  • H. P. S. Keller
Birthplace: Laurel, Maryland, USA
Residences:
  • Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
Trades:
  • Architect
NC Work Locations:
  • Rocky Mount, Nash County
  • Nash
  • Wilmington, New Hanover County
  • New Hanover
  • Raleigh, Wake County
  • Wake
Building Types:
  • Commercial;
  • Educational;
  • Religious;
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Colonial Revival;
  • Prairie Style;
  • Romanesque Revival

Biography

Harry P. S. Keller (1869-1938), a versatile architect active in Wilmington and Raleigh in the early 20th century, planned a variety of buildings from residences to commercial buildings and college buildings at present North Carolina State University.

Harry Keller was the son of Samuel Prescott Keller of Laurel, Maryland. Little is known of his training and early work except that he was a draftsman in the office of Washington, D. C. architect Glenn Brown in the late 1890s. He apparently began his career in North Carolina as chief draftsman for Charles McMillen in Wilmington, and by 1901 was operating a branch office of McMillen's firm in Greensboro. (No work by the firm has been identified in that city, however.) In 1903 Keller opened his own office in Wilmington, and designed a number of Colonial Revival residences and remodelings in the port city.

In 1904 he moved to Raleigh to work as a designer for the prolific contractor/architect William P. Rose, and probably planned some of the buildings associated with Rose. In Raleigh, Keller again went out on his own, establishing his own practice in 1907, and his career gained momentum after 1910. In 1909, as reported by the Manufacturer's Record of September 9, Keller provided designs to the congregation of Raleigh's St. Paul's A. M. E. Church, for rebuilding their large brick church which had burned a few months earlier. His work encompassed a range of popular styles, including free adaptations of Colonial Revival and Romanesque Revival modes, sometimes combined with elements of industrial architecture and the Prairie style.

At present North Carolina State University, he displayed a bold and vivid rendition of the Colonial Revival style, combining freely-interpreted classical details and industrially-inspired forms, with red brick walls accentuated by highly contrasting yellow brick and concrete keystones, columns, and moldings. His substantial and handsome residences included the massive Southern Colonial style Machaven (also known as the Hines House) in Rocky Mount and the Zebulon M. Caveness House in Raleigh, the latter presenting a robust blend of the Colonial Revival in its symmetry and formality with the horizontality and simple forms of the Prairie style. Keller's blueprints for the Caveness House are in Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries.

Keller was one of the first licensed architects in North Carolina. His license certificate, issued in 1915, was #20 in the official registration book of the North Carolina Board of Architecture, one of the early group of men who were licensed in the state based on their having been in professional practice prior to the licensing act of 1915.

In 1920, Keller was listed in the U.S. census as a resident of Raleigh, a 49-year-old architect and head of a household that included his wife, Alice, 36, and children Harry, Jr., 12 and Mary, 6. Ten years later he was still listed as an architect, with Alice working as a teacher, Harry, Jr., a manufacturer's agent, and Mary at home. Although he continued as an architect, Keller's work during the 1920s has not been identified. During the Great Depression, he was employed as a superintendent of school construction for eastern North Carolina. Given the quality and variety of his work, further study of his training and career is in order.

Author: William B. Bushong. Update: Dave Delcambre and Catherine W. Bishir.

Published 2009

Building List

Machaven (Rocky Mount, Nash County)

Nash Rocky Mount

1907

Variant Name(s):
  • James W. Hines House
Contributors:
Dates: 1907-1908
Location: Rocky Mount, Nash County
Street Address: 306 S. Grace St., Rocky Mount, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Richard Leonard Mattson, The History and Architecture of Nash County, North Carolina (1987).
Note:

The imposing Southern Colonial style brick house was built for Hines, known as the "ice king of the state" for the ice plants he established along the railroad lines from Rocky Mount to Salisbury.

Machaven

Gooding-Lawrence-Grant House (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1904

Contributors:
Dates: 1904
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 210 Ann St., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Historic Wilmington Foundation, http://www.historicwilmington.org.

John W. Harper House (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1903

Contributors:
Dates: 1903
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 113 S. Front St., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Historic Wilmington Foundation, http://www.historicwilmington.org.

Samuel F. Harman House (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1903

Contributors:
Dates: 1903
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 113 N. 4th St., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Henry Latimer House (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1882

Contributors:
Dates: 1882-1883; 1903 [remodeled]
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 220 S. 3rd St., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Historic Wilmington Foundation, http://www.historicwilmington.org.
  • Tony P. Wrenn, Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural and Historical Portrait (1984).
Note:

The Wilmington Morning Star of December 10, 1903, reported that architect H. P. S. Keller had drawn plans for an "extensive" remodeling of the "splendid" Henry Latimer House, to cost $8,500. Based on Sanborn Maps of the period, the remodeling produced the tall mansard roof that supplied a third story to the house.

1911 Building (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1909

Contributors:
Dates: 1909
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).

1911 Building

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

Zebulon M. Caveness House (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1914

Contributors:
Dates: 1914-1916
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 1804 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

Keller's blueprints for the handsome Prairie style-Colonial Revival style house are in the Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries.

Zebulon M. Caveness House

Park Shops (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1914

Contributors:
Dates: 1914
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 101 Current Dr., North Carolina State University Campus, Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • Facility Coordinators, http://www.ncsu.edu/facilities/buildings/.

Christ Episcopal Church Parish House and Chapel (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1913

Contributors:
Dates: 1913-1914
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: SE corner Wilmington St. and Edenton St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Religious
Images Published In:
  • Davyd Foard Hood, To the Glory of God: Christ Church, 1821-1996 (1997).
  • Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina's Capital, Raleigh (1967).

Globe Building (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1915

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1915-1920
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: S. Wilmington St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Unknown
Type:
  • Commercial

Raleigh Savings and Loan Building (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1915

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1915-1920
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: Raleigh, NC
Status: Unknown
Type:
  • Commercial

St. Paul's A. M. E. Church (Raleigh, Wake County)

Wake Raleigh

1884

Contributors:
Dates: 1884-1901; 1909-1910 [rebuilt]
Location: Raleigh, Wake County
Street Address: 402 W. Edenton St., Raleigh, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Religious
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
Note:

The imposing brick edifice in Gothic Revival style is the home of the city's oldest independent black congregation, which began when black members of Edenton Street Methodist Church held separate services as early as the 1840s; they moved to this site in 1853, worshiping in a frame church (formerly Christ Church) that was moved to the site. After the Civil War, the church—known as the "African" church"—hosted the 1865 and 1866 state Freedmen's Conventions, and soon allied with the A. M. E. denomination. The congregation built a large brick church over several years, as funds permitted, only to see it go up in flames in July, 1909, just a few years after it was completed. Raleigh citizens contributed to its rebuilding, from designs by Henry P. S. Keller. (See the Manufacturers' Record, Sept. 9, 1909, where the congregation was advertising for bids for "edifice plans by H. P. S. Keller.") The rebuilding evidently incorporated the surviving brick walls.

St. Paul's A. M. E. Church

Harry P. S. Keller's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Glenn Brown Papers, Architect's Collections, American Institute of Architects Archives, Washington, D. C.
  • Zebulon Caviness Papers, North Carolina Buildings Collection, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • "Compilation of Buildings," North Carolina State University Archives, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Linda L. Harris and Mary Ann Lee, An Architectural and Historical Inventory of Raleigh, North Carolina (1978).
  • North Carolina Board of Architecture, Record Book 1915-1992. Microfilmed by North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Raleigh News and Observer, Jan. 17, 1938.
  • William Reaves Collection, New Hanover County Public Library, Wilmington, North Carolina.
  • Marguerite E. Schumann, Strolling at State: A Walking Guide to North Carolina State University (1973).
  • Wilmington Dispatch, Aug. 8, 1903, Dec. 10, 1903.
  • Wilmington Messenger, Aug. 29, 1901.
  • Wilmington Star, Mar. 8, 1903, Mar. 11, 1903, May 20, 1904, July 30, 1907.
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