North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Corbin, John T. (1871 or 1873-1955)

Birthplace: Jackson County, North Carolina, USA
Residences:
  • Asheville, North Carolina
Trades:
  • Stonecutter
NC Work Locations:
  • Asheville, Buncombe County
  • Buncombe
Building Types:
  • Fraternal;
  • Public;
  • Religious;
  • Residential
Styles & Forms:
  • Art Deco;
  • Chateau Style;
  • Gothic Revival;
  • Romanesque Revival;
  • Rustic

Biography

John T. Corbin (April 3, 1871 or 1873-June 12, 1955), an expert stonecutter and tile worker, practiced his trade in Asheville for many years, and helped to construct several landmark buildings. A native of North Carolina and probably the son of Jackson County farmer Lemuel Corbin and his wife Barcela, John was a man of many skills: he was listed in the 1899-1900 Asheville city directory as a foreman at the Biltmore Nursery; the 1904-1905 directory listed him as a "tool dresser, S.I. Bean & Co."; and the United States Censuses of 1910 and 1920 listed him as a stonecutter and head of a household that included his wife, Allie, and their children.

Corbin probably formed his association with stone contractor Samuel I. Bean at Biltmore, where both men were employed in the 1890s. At his death, the Asheville Citizen of June 13, 1955, reported, "Corbin was well known for his tile and stone masonry work at Grove Park Inn, the Masonic Temple, the Vanderbilt Estate, Central Methodist Church, and the Buncombe County Courthouse." Corbin's craftsmanship, like that of his colleague Bean and others, played an important role in defining the character and quality of important Asheville buildings designed by various leading architects. His projects included buildings notable for the diverse and striking effects in his trade, such as the elaborate stonework at Biltmore, the rustic boulders at the Grove Park Inn, and the rough-cut stone walls at Central Methodist Church.

Authors: Zoe Rhine and Catherine W. Bishir.

Published 2012

Building List

Biltmore Estate (Asheville, Buncombe County)

Buncombe Asheville

1888

Contributors:
Dates: 1888-1895
Location: Asheville, Buncombe County
Street Address: Biltmore Ave., Asheville vicinity, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Agricultural;
  • Residential
Images Published In:
  • Paul R. Baker, Richard Morris Hunt (1980).
  • Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
  • Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (1999).
  • John Morrill Bryan, Biltmore Estate: The Most Distinguished Private Place (1994).
  • Susan Stein, ed., The Architecture of Richard Morris Hunt (1986).

Central Methodist Episcopal Church (Asheville, Buncombe County)

Buncombe Asheville

1900

Variant Name(s):
  • Central United Methodist Church
Contributors:
Dates: 1900-1905; 1924 [addition]
Location: Asheville, Buncombe County
Street Address: 27 Church St., Asheville, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Religious
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (1999).
Note:

Asheville's Methodist congregation began fundraising for a new church in 1899 and soon commissioned a design from Hunt. On August 1, 1901, the Asheville Citizen reported that Hunt had visited Asheville recently, "bringing with him the plans and specifications for the proposed structure," from which the paper printed an illustration. The Manufacturers' Record of Sept. 5, 1901, reported that the congregation had let the contract to Asheville builder J. M. Westall. A delay ensued when the quarterly Methodist conference advised abandoning the project, but the congregation persisted. In 1902 the plans were returned to Hunt for changes suggested by a new building committee, and Westall was engaged to superintend construction. The final design was similar to the original but adjusted to reduce the cost estimate from about $60,000 to $50,000. The cornerstone was laid on August 25, 1902; the Sunday school was ready for use in 1904; and the first service was held in the auditorium on November 5, 1905. Hunt subsequently planned a 1924 renovation and expansion (costing more than $200,000) including a large Sunday school addition.

Central Methodist Episcopal Church

Scottish Rite Cathedral and Masonic Temple (Asheville, Buncombe County)

Buncombe Asheville

1913

Contributors:
Dates: 1913
Location: Asheville, Buncombe County
Street Address: 80 Broadway, Asheville, NC
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Fraternal
Images Published In:
  • David R. Black, Historic Architectural Resources of Downtown Asheville, North Carolina (1979).

Scottish Rite Cathedral and Masonic Temple

Grove Park Inn (Asheville, Buncombe County)

Buncombe Asheville

1912

Contributors:
  • John T. Corbin, stonemason and tile setter;
  • G. W. McKibbin, architect and engineer;
  • Oscar Mills, construction supervisor;
  • Fred Seely, project manager and designer;
  • Southern Ferro-Concrete Company
Dates: 1912-1913; 1921 (additions planned)
Location: Asheville, Buncombe County
Street Address: Macon Ave.
Status: Standing
Type:
  • Commercial
Images Published In:
  • Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
  • Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (1999).
  • Bruce E. Johnson, Built for the Ages: A History of the Grove Park Inn, (2004).
  • Bruce E. Johnson, "Built Without an Architect: Architectural Inspirations for the Grove Park Inn," in Robert S. Brunk, ed., May We All Remember Well: A Journal of the History and Cultures of Western North Carolina (1997).
Note:

John T. Corbin was one of many stonemasons involved in constructing the massive inn of local boulders.

Grove Park Inn

John T. Corbin's Work Locations

Bibliography

  • Asheville City Directories 1899; 1904-1905.
  • Bruce E. Johnson, Built for the Ages: A History of the Grove Park Inn, (2004).
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