North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Kramer, Joseph Perry (1867-1924)

Variant Name(s):
  • Joe P. Kramer
Birthplace: Watsontown, Pennsylvania, USA
Residences:
  • Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Trades:
  • Architect;
  • Builder
NC Work Locations:
  • Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
  • Pasquotank
Building Types:
  • Commercial;
  • Educational;
  • Religious;
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Bungalow;
  • Colonial Revival;
  • Craftsman;
  • Queen Anne

Charles O. Robinson House [Elizabeth City]

View larger image and credits

Charles O. Robinson House [Elizabeth City]

Biography

Joseph Perry Kramer (1867-1924), a carpenter, builder, and architect, planned and constructed many of Elizabeth City's buildings during the early 20th century. He was a representative example of the many builders who worked in a locale for many years, producing a wide range of building types that shaped the architectural character of their communities.

Born in Pennsylvania, Joseph P. Kramer was the son of Daniel S. Kramer, a builder and manufacturer who moved from Pennsylvania with his family to Elizabeth City shortly after the Civil War, when Joseph was a small child. Joseph Perry Kramer, known as Joe P. Kramer, spent his life and career in Elizabeth City, and was responsible for much of the city's architecture during a key period in its growth. Although Joseph worked with his brothers Charles, John, and Allen, in the family manufacturing and contracting business, he was mainly a builder and architect. According to family accounts, after 1914 he devoted his time exclusively to building and became one of Elizabeth City's leading builders.

Joseph P. Kramer's work is known primarily from the recollections of his son, Joe P. Kramer, Jr. (1908-1987). Because of his son's accounts, the extent and variety of Kramer's work in Elizabeth City illustrate with unusual completeness the diverse accomplishments of a local builder. His work included custom buildings planned and built for a variety of clients, as well as investment properties built by the family. Many of the materials for construction came from the family's sawmills and sash and blind factories. Kramer worked in a wide range of styles and forms, from modest bungalows to imposing Colonial Revival residences.

Like many builders of his day, he sometimes constructed buildings from other architects' designs, but often developed his own designs for the buildings he erected. Especially character-defining in Elizabeth City are the many middle-class houses Kramer built as freestanding houses in rows, two stories tall with strong Queen Anne-Colonial Revival style features. Of a type seldom seen elsewhere in North Carolina communities, they are an important element in Elizabeth City's unusually urban streetscapes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Whether all or only some of these were planned and built by Kramer and his brothers is not known.

Kramer was one of the first licensed architects in North Carolina. His license certificate, issued in 1915, was #48 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.

Kramer's obituary stated that he "drew the plans for many of the city's most important structures." His son, Joe, Jr., noted that his father's role as architect was chiefly in designing buildings that he also constructed. Kramer died while one of his buildings, the Louis R. Chappell House, was still under construction.

Author: Thomas R. Butchko. Update: Catherine W. Bishir.

Published 2009

Building List

Barrett-Scott House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1915

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1915
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 107 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Margaret B. Blount House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1918

Contributors:
Dates: 1918
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 105 Pearl St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
Note:

The boldly detailed though small bungalow is among the city's prime examples of the Craftsman style.

Louis R. Chappell House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1924

Contributors:
Dates: 1924
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 1104 N. Road St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Commander-Kramer House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1913

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1913
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 1000 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).

C. A. Cooke House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1915

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1915
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 105 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Culpepper Hardware Building (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1920

Contributors:
Dates: 1920
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 116 N. Poindexter St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Commercial

Jim and Rob Fearing Houses (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1919

Contributors:
Dates: 1919
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 1001-1006 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).

First United Methodist Church (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1919

Contributors:
Dates: 1919-1922
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 205 S. Road St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Religious
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
Note:

The red brick church epitomizes McMichael's signature format with portico and dome; his plans are in the possession of the church.

First United Methodist Church

Mary Blades Foreman House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1912

Contributors:
Dates: 1912-1913
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 108 N. McMorrine St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Gilbert-Pearson-Owenley (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1901

Contributors:
Dates: 1901
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 306 S. Martin St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Gregory-Kramer Houses (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1901

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1901-1903
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 407-413 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
Note:

The distinctive row of narrow, 2-story Queen Anne style houses, highly characteristic of Elizabeth City's urban fabric, was built as rental and speculative properties, some for John Allen Kramer and some for Willis N. Gregory. They were probably planned and built by J. A. Kramer's brother Joseph P. Kramer. Their design suggests that other similar rows that distinguish Elizabeth City might have been the Kramers' work as well.

Hinton Building (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1912

Contributors:
Dates: 1912
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 400-414 E. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Commercial

Warren Jennette House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1914

Contributors:
Dates: 1914
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 805 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Allen K. Kramer House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1902

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1902
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 406 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Kramer Building (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1909

Contributors:
Dates: 1909
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 500-512 E. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Commercial
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
Note:

The largest commercial building in downtown Elizabeth City, the neoclassically detailed 3-story brick structure was erected by the Kramer family as an investment property and has been the home of many enterprises.

C. E. Kramer Rental Houses (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1908

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1908
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 610-612 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Frank Kipp Kramer House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1919

Contributors:
Dates: 1919
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 1016 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
Note:

The spacious "foursquare" house features a strikingly bold, undulating porch and porte cochere; it was built by Joseph Kramer for his nephew Frank Kipp Kramer (1893-1970), who continued in the family lumber business and wrote a memoir about the Kramer family.

Joe P. Kramer Rental Houses (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1914

Contributors:
Dates: Ca 1914-1923
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 404- 406 N. Road St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

John A. Kramer House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1909

Contributors:
Dates: 1909
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 313 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
Note:

The Queen Anne style house with Colonial Revival details was built for lumberman John A. Kramer by his brother, Joseph.

Kramer-Worth House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1918

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1918
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 904 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).

Morgan-Harris Building (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1914

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1914; 1923
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 505 E. Church St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Commercial

Joshua Munden House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1914

Contributors:
Dates: 1914-1915
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 111 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Charles O. Robinson House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1914

Contributors:
Dates: 1914
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 201 E. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • 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).
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
Note:

The massive frame house was built for Elizabeth City's lumber magnate Charles O. Robinson and his wife Ivy Blades Robinson by her father, New Bern's lumber leader James B. Blades. It is among the state's most imposing surviving examples of the full-blown "Southern Colonial" style complete with portico, wraparound porches, and lavish classical detailing.

Charles O. Robinson House

Stevens-Bell House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1917

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1917
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 113 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

Tillett Rental Houses (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1914

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1914-1923
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 404-408 W. Church St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
Note:

These simplified Queen Anne-Colonial Revival style houses, narrow in form and two stories tall, are among the many such houses built by the Kramers in Elizabeth City.

George A. Twiddy House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1920

Contributors:
Dates: 1920s
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 504 W. Church St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential

John L. Wells House (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County)

Pasquotank Elizabeth City

1914

Contributors:
Dates: 1914
Location: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
Street Address: 115 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

Selden St. developed as a middle and working class street in the early 20th century, and the Kramers built several neat but modest houses there.

Joseph Perry Kramer's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
  • Elizabeth City Daily Advance, various issues.
  • F. K. Kramer, "Kramers--90 Years in the Lumber Business in Elizabeth City," unpublished manuscript, Kramer Family Manuscript (#347), Special Collections Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina (1977).
  • North Carolina Board of Architecture, Record Book 1915-1992. Microfilmed by North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
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