North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Gause, James F., Jr. (1885-1922)

Birthplace: Wilmington, North Carolina, USA
Residences:
  • Wilmington, North Carolina
Trades:
  • Architect
NC Work Locations:
  • New Bern, Craven County
  • Craven
  • Wilmington, New Hanover County
  • New Hanover
Building Types:
  • Educational;
  • Public;
  • Religious;
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Colonial Revival;
  • Gothic Revival;
  • Spanish Colonial Revival

Fire Station No. 2 [Wilmington]

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Fire Station No. 2 [Wilmington]

Biography

James F. (Franklyn) Gause, Jr. (June 15, 1885-June 2, 1922) was a prominent architect in his native city of Wilmington during the early 20th century. On his own and during a brief partnership with James B. Lynch, he designed a range of building types including public edifices, churches, schools, and residences in the popular styles of the day.

James was the son of James F. Gause, Sr. (d. 1917), and Frances Caroline (Fannie) Jones Gause (d. 1912), who married in Wilmington in 1878. Whether Gause had any formal education in architecture is unknown; he likely obtained his professional training by working in architectural offices as a draftsman and assistant architect. He became part of a strong community of professional architects in early 20th century Wilmington, several of whom had come from other locations. Like many of them, he planned some downtown projects but also found a strong clientele among citizens and institutions who wanted new buildings in the ever expanding suburbs of the city.

Reports in Wilmington newspapers tracked the native son's peripatetic career. On March 30, 1907, the Wilmington Star noted that Gause, who had "been with Mr. Carl B. Cooper, the architect, for several years," was about to leave for a "more lucrative position" in Montgomery, Alabama. (Shortly after this, the Star announced on June 9, 1907, that Carl B. Cooper had joined architect Charles McMillen in the firm of McMillen and Cooper.) The following year, the Star reported on September 23, 1908, that Gause, "a popular young draughtsman and architectural engineer," who was back (or still) in Wilmington, was leaving that day for Ferguson, S. C., to work for Raymond Humphreys on railroad projects. In 1910, the Star noted on December 24 that Gause was "doing a successful business as an architect at Waynesville, N. C." He soon returned to Wilmington, where by 1912 he had planned "improvements" to the city market house. The Wilmington Star of August 20, 1913, reported that on August 19 the "prominent young architect of Wilmington" and Esther Virginia Edson were married at the home of her parents, Captain and Mrs. Edward Edson, 957 East 10th Street, in Brooklyn, New York. The newlyweds made their home in Wilmington at 101 North 7th Street. Gause gained several local commissions, including the Fire Station No. 2 and the Delgado School in the Delgado mill village near Wilmington.

On December 31, 1915, the Wilmington Dispatch reported that "two of Wilmington's most prominent architects"—Gause and James B. Lynch—had formed a partnership and planned to occupy Gause's offices (#29 and 30) in the Odd Fellows Building. The newspaper listed Gause's previous works in the Wilmington area, including schools, civic buildings, health facilities, and residences in the city and its environs, plus two hotels in or near Waynesville and several (unnamed) mills in the western part of the state. The article cited several projects about which little is yet known, including the Greenmeyer House and the Chadwick House in Sunset Park, the B. F. Keith House at Still Bluff and the W. L. Parsley House at Masonboro Sound, an area beloved by Wilmingtonians for summer getaways in comfortable and healthful settings. Also cited were the Winter Park Presbyterian Church in a new suburban community and a Red Cross Tubercular Sanitarium on the Castle Haynes Road.

Shortly after joining forces, Gause and Lynch gained a commission as superintending architects for the large, prominent, and costly Church of the Covenant (now St. Andrews Presbyterian Church of the Covenant) from designs by New York architect Kenneth M. Murchison, Jr.. With funding from the Sprunt family, the newly formed Presbyterian congregation erected a large and beautifully finished stone church in Gothic Revival style on a prominent site on Market Street; its progress was reported in detail by the Wilmington newspapers from 1915 through its dedication in 1918. The Wilmington Dispatch of July 19, 1916 noted that ground would be broken on August 1, as "announced in the offices of Messrs. Gause & Lynch, architects, who are associated with Mr. Kennenth M. Murchison, architect of New York City, in the construction." The contract for construction went to the local firm of Rhodes and Underwood. Gause and Lynch also took commissions for such prestigious residences as the Georgian Revival style Bluethenthal House (1917) in the 1700 block of Market Street and the Thomas H. Wright House (1917) in the Winoca Terrace suburb developed by the Wright family in the 1910s.

But the partnership was short lived. The Wilmington Star of April 20, 1917, noted that the two had dissolved their firm when Lynch resigned in anticipation of entering the U. S. Army. Later that year, Gause left for Sheffield, Alabama, to work for the J. G. White Engineering Corporation in planning a government-sponsored nitrate plant. He was subsequently transferred to the company's New York office and planned projects in Massachusetts and Canada.

Gause returned to Wilmington in 1919 and opened an office in the Odd Fellows Building. For a time, as recorded in the U. S. Census of 1920, he and his wife resided with her parents in Brooklyn, but he resumed his practice in Wilmington early in 1920 with offices in the Murchison Building. He gained commissions for Immanuel Presbyterian Church (Wilmington Dispatch, Aug. 3, 1920) and served as supervising architect for the Kenan Memorial Building, a Sunday school building for the Church of the Covenant, designed by architect Kenneth M. Murchison of New York in "modern Gothic architecture" to harmonize with the existing church (Wilmington Star, Feb. 6, 1921).

In the early 1920s the young architect Leslie N. Boney, Sr. was working for Gause as a draftsman involved in planning the Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington and at least seven elementary and high schools across the state. Among these were New Bern's Riverside Elementary School and Ghent Elementary School, located in new streetcar suburbs and credited as being the first "fire resistant" elementary schools in eastern North Carolina. The Wilmington Morning Star of April 9, 1922, reported that the Cape Fear Country Club, designed by Gause, was to be among the handsomest and best equipped country clubs in the Carolinas. These projects were underway when Gause was stricken ill in May and died in June, 1922, and Boney saw to their completion.

Gause was also active in the architectural profession, attending a meeting of the North Carolina Architectural Association in Charlotte in 1916 as well as a meeting of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (Wilmington Dispatch, January 1, 1916). In 1917 and 1920 he was appointed to the state board of architectural examination and registration (Wilmington Star, Sept. 15, 1920). He was an advocate of fireproof construction and as reported in the Wilmington Star of February 6, 1922, served on a local committee to promote that method in downtown Wilmington after destructive fires there.

Gause died at age thirty-seven at James Walker Memorial Hospital in Wilmington, following surgery for a stomach ailment. The Wilmington Morning Star of June 3 described him as a leading architect in the city and the state, and the Winston-Salem Twin City Sentinel of June 3, 1922, said he was "widely known" in the South. He was survived by his widow and his brother, Thomas J. Gause. He was buried at Wilmington's Oakdale Cemetery.

Author: Catherine W. Bishir.

Published 2015

Building List

Ghent Elementary School (New Bern, Craven County)

Craven New Bern

1922

Variant Name(s):
  • Eleanor Marshall School
Contributors:
Dates: 1922
Location: New Bern, Craven County
Street Address: SW corner of Rhems Ave. and 1st St., New Bern, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Educational
Note:

The school was credited as being the first "fire resistant" school in eastern North Carolina. It was identical to Riverside Elementary School. The building was demolished ca. 1982.

Riverside Elementary School (New Bern, Craven County)

Craven New Bern

1922

Contributors:
Dates: 1922
Location: New Bern, Craven County
Street Address: 1217 N. Pasteur St., New Bern, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Images Published In:
  • Peter B. Sandbeck, The Historic Architecture of New Bern and Craven County, North Carolina (1988).
Note:

An important institution in the Riverside streetcar suburb, the substantial brick school with Spanish Revival style details was completed by Boney after Gause's death. The school was credited as being the first "fire resistant" school in eastern North Carolina. It was identical to Ghent Elementary School, which was demolished ca. 1982.

Cape Fear Country Club (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1920

Contributors:
Dates: Ca. 1920
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 1518 Country Club Rd., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Recreational
Images Published In:
  • Susan Taylor Block, Cape Fear Lost (1999).
Note:

Leslie Boney, Sr., is cited as the primary architect for the Colonial Revival style country club. It was razed in 2002 to make way for a new and larger facility.

Thomas H. Wright House (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1917

Contributors:
Dates: 1917
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 110 N. 15th St., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Residential
Note:

The Wright house is one of several predominantly Colonial Revival style residences designed by architects in the Winoca Terrace suburb, developed by the Wright family in the 1910s and served by a trolley line. The name of the development was suggested by a schoolgirl—Wi-No-Ca—for its location.

Immanuel Presbyterian Church (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1922

Contributors:
Dates: 1922
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 1103 S. 5th Ave., Wilmington, NC
Status: No longer standing
Type:
  • Religious
Images Published In:
  • Beverly Tetterton, Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten (2005).
Note:

The congregation, a former mission church, worshiped in a frame building constructed in 1891 until a donation from James Sprunt allowed it to build a large new Colonial Revival style church in 1922 at the corner of 5th and Meares. The congregation disbanded in 1969, and the church was later abandoned and demolished. Its stained glass windows were incorporated into a new church next door. See Beverly Tetterton in Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten (2005) and Walter H. Conser, Jr., in Sacred Spaces: Architecture and Religion in Historic Wilmington (1999).

Fire Station No. 2 (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1915

Contributors:
Dates: 1915
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 600 S. 5th Ave., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Public
Note:

The boldly composed fire station features a curved façade gable and a campanile-like tower.

Fire Station No. 2

Delgado School (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1914

Contributors:
Dates: 1914; 1924; 1938; 1952
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 1930 Colwell Ave., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Educational
Note:

Originally a 3-classroom school in neoclassical style, the Delgado School was built to serve children in the Delgado Cotton Mill village and was subsequently expanded.

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church of the Covenant (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington

1916

Variant Name(s):
  • Church of the Covenant
Contributors:
Dates: 1916-1917; 1921
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 1416 Market St., Wilmington, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Religious
Note:

The complex of matching stone buildings in restrained Gothic Revival style was built in a prominent location on Market Street for the Church of the Covenant, established by First Presbyterian Church to serve residents in the northward expanding city. The sanctuary was built in 1916-1917 with donations from the Sprunt family and dedicated in 1918. The "Plymouth granite" was shipped from quarries in Massachusetts. The Kenan Memorial Building, designed by Murchison and with Gause as superintending architect, was built in 1921 to harmonize with the sanctuary, and other additions came later. In 1944 the Church of the Covenant merged with the much older St. Andrews Presbyterian Church congregation (see A. G. Bauer). The newly joined congregation adopted their combined names and worshiped in the facilities erected for the Church of the Covenant.

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church of the Covenant

James F. Gause, Jr.'s Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Beverly Tetterton, Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten (2005).
  • Tony P. Wrenn, Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural and Historical Portrait (1984).
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