This web site is a growing reference work that contains brief biographical accounts, building lists, and bibliographical information about architects, builders, and other artisans who planned and built North Carolina’s architecture. As a biographical dictionary, it focuses on people and their works in the state.
In many respects, this web site is a companion to the book, Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building (Catherine W. Bishir, Charlotte V. Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury, and Ernest H. Wood III (UNC Press, 1990). See Project History for more details.
What is it?
It’s a biographical dictionary.
As a biographical dictionary, this site focuses on people and their work. The many ways you can search and browse the site relate directly to the people for whom there are biographical entries. You can look them up by name, work locations in North Carolina, place of origin, residence, types of buildings, and more. Search and browse functions take the user primarily to the person, and secondarily to their buildings. (For more information see Using This Site.)
It’s not a database of buildings.
This site is not a database of historic and notable buildings in the state, nor does it include searchable information about the architectural styles, condition, history, and other data about specific buildings. Such information will be a valuable component of the building database that is being created by the State Historic Preservation Office. For printed works on the state’s historic architecture see:
- Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (UNC Press, 1990).
- Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (UNC Press, 1996).
- Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (UNC Press, 2003).
- Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (UNC Press, 1999).
See also the many published local architectural surveys accomplished through the State Historic Preservation Office.
Does this site cover all architects and builders who worked in the state and all their known buildings?
No–no such list can be comprehensive or all-inclusive.
The Biographical Dictionary covers a representative and ever-growing collection of architects and builders who planned and constructed buildings in North Carolina, and lists of many of their buildings (see “Building Lists” below).
Thousands of people worked as architects and artisans in North Carolina’s building industry, and they built millions of buildings. Only a small proportion of these people have been identified or linked with specific buildings. Even those for whom some information is known–a name in a census, an inscription on a cornerstone, a runaway slave notice, a signature on a bill–probably number in the thousands.
The purpose of this Biographical Dictionary is to cover as many as feasible of the architects and builders for whom a reasonable amount of information has been discovered and to present this information in a usable fashion. We hope eventually to encompass as many as possible of the best known figures and their key works, plus a representative selection of many other lesser-known people and buildings as local research and interested contributors permit. This reference tool will never be “complete” or include “everybody” or “everything,” but as one contributor has commented, “it brings so many of these people into the light of history for the first time.”
Who is represented in the biographical dictionary?
Artisans as well as architects.
The dictionary covers a wide range of practitioners who planned and built North Carolina’s architecture from the 1600s onward. In contrast to some biographical dictionaries it is not restricted to architects. It encompasses also many carpenters, brickmasons, contractors, plasterers, and others who were responsible for our architectural heritage. Few building projects, especially before the 20th century, involved architects at all, and most of the state’s buildings owed their quality and sheer existence to the artisans who predominated in the building industry.
How many people will be covered?
Eventually 500 to 600.
We anticipate a total of some 500-600 entries within the next few years. Others will be added more gradually later on. Some have been drafted and await updating and editing; others have to be researched and written from scratch. These will be posted as soon as they are ready.
What periods will be covered?
Mostly pre-World War II for now.
Much of the research for this Biographical Dictionary was conducted in the 1970s and 1980s during the project that produced Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building (see Project History), and the majority of the biographical entries and building lists were drafted then. Most of these cover people and buildings dating from before World War II. Although there are many important practitioners whose careers extended past or began after World War II, only a few entries have been written for these so far. We plan to include these in the future as part of the growing Biographical Dictionary. The current policy is not to include living architects and builders.
For those individuals whose practices took place mainly between the Civil War and World War II, research data and draft biographies prepared in the 1970s and 1980s are contained in the Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers at Special Collections Research Center at North Carolina State University Libraries. These draft biographies will be updated and completed as time permits. See the collection guide for a list of individuals represented in that collection; many but not all of these will be featured in entries in the Biographical Dictionary.
What’s in the biographical entries?
For each individual presented, there is a biographical summary heading, a brief biographical entry, a bibliography, and, in most cases, a building list.
What’s in the biographies?
It depends on the person.
For each individual treated, a biographical account depicts his or her career and life, with chief emphasis on North Carolina works. Beyond this, the length and level of detail depends on the person.
The lengths of these accounts vary according to several factors. Two major factors are (1) the level of information available and (2) the nature of the research conducted by the author. Thus some accounts reflect years of research, a thesis, or a published work by the author; others may be brief summaries from readily accessible sources, with room for more research in the future.
The approach within biographical accounts likewise varies. For some subjects for whom little information is available–especially builders from the distant past and enslaved artisans–the entries contain as many clues as possible. For other subjects about whom a great deal is known and published, the entry summarizes what is known and refers the user to other available sources.
In contrast to some biographical dictionaries and databases about architects and builders, where possible we have highlighted the human side of the building industry and the relationships among builders and their clients, and have included quotes and anecdotes that illuminate the times and the personalities.
What’s included in the building lists?
It depends on the person.
For each individual for whom building projects are known, there is a list of buildings. No building list is ever likely to be truly complete, just as no list of architects and builders will ever be complete. For this Biographical Dictionary, the comprehensiveness of the building lists varies with the situation.
Some building lists include all known buildings. For the many individuals for whom a small to medium sized number of buildings is known, the building list is as complete as possible. All buildings that have been identified are listed with as full information as possible.
Other building lists are selective. For some individuals with especially large or long-lived architectural practices, there are hundreds–possibly thousands–of their buildings about which some information is known. It is not feasible to include these all in this site. In such cases, the building lists are selective, according to premises explained in the biographical account. Typically these include the architect’s or builder’s best-known buildings, plus representative buildings according to period, location, type, and style, and those for which fullest information or best images are available. Readers are also referred to archival collections or published sources for more complete information.
For some individuals, published references such as notices in the Manufacturers’ Record and other sources supply information about a proposed or planned project. However, not all of these commissions were awarded to the individual mentioned; not all were built; and not all survive. Every effort has been made to track down information from these references, but many remain unconfirmed. In such cases, especially where these are numerous, a paragraph listing “mystery buildings” is included in the biographical account, and preparation of building list entries awaits receipt of more complete information.
What’s in each building entry?
Basic information only.
Building list entries generally give the name; date; contributors (artisans, architect, etc.) involved; location; sources of published illustrations; status (altered, standing, no longer standing, unbuilt, unknown); type (purpose); and in some cases an informational note. The building lists do not contain architectural descriptions as is often the case in building databases or architectural survey catalogs. The publications cited as illustration sources and in the bibliographies provide further information about individual buildings.
What about pictures?
As many as we can…as soon as we can.
Our goal is to have at least one picture to illustrate the work of each person represented, if at all possible. We also hope to present additional illustrations in the building lists. Although it is not feasible to illustrate every building cited, we will enhance the entries with as many pictures as time, sources of high quality images, and acquisition of permissions allow.
Image credits: Note that by clicking on each published image in the building list and biographies, you can get a larger image and full credits.
Please contact us for questions and to offer updated information and corrections!
North Carolina Architects and Builders: Home
The homepage of North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary provides you with various ways of discovering information about the people—the individuals, families, and firms—to whom the project is dedicated. Most obvious, you can turn to the featured biography or select an entry listed under “Recent Additions”. Beyond this, the home page also offers a search box for performing keyword searches, plus links to additional search options, browse pages, and the building index.
How to search and browse the site
Every page in North Carolina Architects and Builders contains a link to the site search form. This search form allows to perform a simple keyword search, and it also enables you to construct precise search queries using many different options.
Focusing your search
Here are some tips for using the site’s Search page. By default, this page offers you the following search options:
- Keyword (Example: Raleigh architect, or lilac, or Flemish bond)
- Name (Example: John A. Waddell, or Appleget)
- Birthplace (Example: Germany, or New Bern)
- Residences/Headquarters (Example: Durham, or Wayne County, or New York)
- Work Locations (Restricted to North Carolina. Example: Chapel Hill, or Wilmington, New Hanover County)
By clicking on “Show More Options,” you can add six drop-down menus from which you can select values for these fields:
- Styles & Forms
- Flourished Dates
Performing a search brings up a page of search results. From there, you can narrow your search (see About Facets and Faceted Searches, below). Please note: By performing an empty keyword search, you can retrieve all entries that are currently available.
Note: Two ways to find an architect, builder, or other person
If you simply put the name of a person in the general “Search” box or “Key Word” box, you will retrieve taken to all the entries that contain that name. If you put the name in the “Name” box on the Search page, then you will retrieve only that person’s entry.
Besides allowing you to search for specific items, North Carolina Architects and Builders also offers you multiple options for browsing through the Browse page. You can browse for people (individuals, families and firms) based on five criteria:
- Names: Names are displayed in alphabetical order. Where available, alternative versions of a person's name (such as alternative spellings or nicknames) are listed below the canonical name, i.e., the name by which the person was most commonly known.
Clicking on the name of the individual, family or firm takes you directly to the relevant biographical entry. For the other four categories, clicking on a link takes you to lists of search results.
- NC Work Locations: Counties and cities in North Carolina where the person worked in North Carolina.
- Active Years: Decades during which the person was active in North Carolina.
- Trades: Trades in which the person worked in North Carolina.
- Building Types: Principal types of buildings the person designed or built in North Carolina.
The values (options) in these sections are automatically drawn from the biographical entries currently in the system. Thus, not every county and town in North Carolina is represented yet, nor is every decade, trade, or building type. More values, especially work locations, will be added as more entries are posted. Please note: If you are browsing in “building types,” and select a given building type, such as public or religious, etc., you will get a list of the people who built examples of that type. Within each person’s entry, you can then link from the “building types” in that person’s heading to the examples in his or her building list. Likewise, if you browse in locations, you will get to a list of people who built in that location, and then you can go to the examples in that list.
How can I find buildings?
Since North Carolina Architects and Builders is a biographical dictionary, the search and browse functions focus on the discovery of the people in the system, not the buildings (see About this Project). There are two ways to find a building by its name. Each one takes you to the biographical entry for a person who has worked on this building. We provide an alphabetical index of all buildings that are included in the building lists. You can get to the building’s listing by clicking on the name of any of the individuals, families or firms listed under the building name. You can also perform a simple keyword search for a building name. If you use just “search” with the search button in the upper right corner, you will retrieve all entries in which the building is mentioned. If the building appears in the entry’s building list, it will be highlighted on the search results page and listed under the heading “Building Matches.”
Changing Font Size
You can use the following keyboard shortcuts to change the font size in your browser:
- Increase font size: Hold down the “Ctrl” key and press “+”
- Decrease font size: Hold down the “Ctrl” key and press “-“
- Increase font size: Hold down the “Command” key and press “+”
- Decrease font size: Hold down the “Command” key and press “-“
- The Hood Waldo and Mary Munch Rood Library Endowment
- Catherine W. Bishir (Editor in Chief)
- Markus Wust (Product Manager)
- Joseph Ryan (Technical Project Manager)
NC State University Libraries Team
- Jason Casden (Lead Developer)
- Brian Dietz (Image Management)
- Babi Hammond (Content Editor)
- Cory Lown (Developer)
- Niqui O'Neill (Developer)
- Jason Ronallo (Technical Product Manager)
- Shelby Shanks (Project Team)
- Tito Sierra (Project Consultant)
- Built Heritage, NCSU, Raleigh NC. This is a collaborative project of the NC State University Libraries and Preservation North Carolina to create an online collection of measured drawings and photographs of North Carolina buildings dating from the 18th century through the 20th century.
- Christ Episcopal Church, Elizabeth City, NC.
- Andre deCoppett Collection, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library, Princeton, NJ.
- Design Library Image Collection, North Carolina State University, Libraries, Design Library, Raleigh, NC.
- Empire Properties, Inc., Raleigh, NC.
- Environment and Resource Conservation Department of Orange County, Hillsborough, NC.
- Forsyth County Public Library, Winston-Salem, NC.
- Edward T. Funkhouser Photographs, 2001-2008, NCSU, Raleigh, NC.
- Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C.
- Internet Archive
- NC Architects/Builders Biographical Dictionary Project Collection, Betsy Ross Design, Raleigh, NC.
- Joseph Molitor Collection, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York City, New York.
- Historic Charlotte Postcards from the Mary Boyer Collection, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
- New Hanover County Public Library, Wilmington, NC.
- North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.
- North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.
- Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC.
- Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Winston-Salem, NC.
- Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, NC.
- Digital Smith, Inez Moore Parker Archives, James B. Duke Memorial Library, Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Preservation North Carolina, Raleigh, NC.
- State Historic Preservation Office, Raleigh, NC.
- Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens, New Bern, NC.
- University Archives Photograph Collection, NCSU, Raleigh, NC.
- Personal collection of Catherine W. Bishir.
- Personal collection of Benjamin Briggs.
- Personal collection of Martha B. Caldwell.
- Personal collection of Sarah David.
- Personal collection of Thomas W. Hanchett.
- Personal collection of Richard Jarvis.
- Personal collection of Patrick Lee Lucas.
- Personal collection of Richard Mattson.
- Personal collection of Steve Minor.
- Personal collection of Molly Grogan Rawls.
- Personal collection of Adam Ronan.
- Personal collection of Janet K. Seapker.
- Personal collection of Ellen Turco.
- Personal collection of Christian Wust.
- Personal collection of Markus Wust.
- Gerald Allen
- Jean Bradley Anderson
- Peter Austin
- Robert C. Bainbridge
- Paschal Baumstein
- Nancy Beeler
- Catherine W. Bishir
- David R. Black
- Laura Blokker
- Leslie N. Boney, Jr
- Charles H. Boney, Sr.
- Benjamin Briggs
- David L. S. Brook
- Claudia R. Brown
- Charlotte V. Brown
- Claudia Brown
- J. Marshall Bullock
- William B. Bushong
- William Bushong
- Thomas R. Butchko
- Martha B. Caldwell
- Bruce S. Cheeseman
- Angie Clifton
- Angela Clifton
- John W. Coffey II
- Sarah Woodard David
- Dave Delcambre
- Mary Claire Engstrom
- Marie Claire Engstrom
- Heather Fearnbach
- Richard L. Funderburke
- Robert Gamble
- Tim Green
- Maurice C. York; Greenville
- Clay Griffith
- Thomas W. Hanchett
- Frank Harmon
- Jason Harpe
- Terry Henderson
- Lynda Vestal Herzog
- Wendy Hillis
- Davyd Foard Hood
- Marvin C. Housworth
- William H. Huffman
- Robbie D. Jones
- Robbie Jones
- William E. King
- John Larson
- M. Ruth Little
- Carl R. Lounsbury
- Nathan Love
- Patrick Lee Lucas
- Robert B. MacKay
- Michelle Ann Michael
- Cynthia de Miranda
- William Mitchell
- Lu-Ann Monson
- Elizabeth Vann Moore
- Elizabeth Reid Murray
- Kate Ohno
- Ian Parsons
- C. Ford Peatross
- Lucy R. Penegar
- J. Daniel Pezzoni
- Philip A. Rees
- Zoe Rhine
- Joseph D. Robinson, Jr
- Adam Ronan
- Leland M. Roth
- Leland Roth
- Peter B. Sandbeck
- Penne Smith Sandbeck
- John L. Sanders
- Janet K. Seapker
- Felicity Smith
- Margaret Supplee Smith
- Michael T. Southern
- Gwynne Stephens Taylor
- Beverly Tetterton
- Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr
- Robert H. Topkins
- Gavin Townsend
- Edward F. Turberg
- Ellen Turco
- James Vaseff
- Daniel J. Vivian
- Helen Walton
- Sally Warther
- Ellen Weiss
- John E. Wells
- John B. Wells
- Camille Wells
- Catherine Westergaard
- George-Ann Willard
Advisers and Contributors
- Frank Ainsley
- David Bergstone
- Jan Blodgett
- Charles Boney, Jr
- John H. Bonitz, Jr
- Mary M. Boyer
- James Brawley
- Marvin A. Brown
- Charlotte Vestal Brown (Wainwright)
- Cynthia Brown
- Marvin Brown
- Fam Brownlee
- S. Allen Chambers
- J. Randall Cotton
- Hazel Ruth Edwards
- Richard Funderburke
- Richard D. Funderburke
- John B. Green
- John B. Green III
- Thomas Hanchett
- Gary Kueber
- Jo Leimenstoll
- Jennifer Martin
- Kirk Franklin Mohney
- William C. Moose
- Audrey Moriarty
- Dan Morrill
- Vanessa Patrick
- Laura A. W. Phillips
- Annette Parker Sechen
- G. Milton Small III
- Paul F. Stephens
- Gregory Stoch
- Gwynne S. Taylor
- Edgar F. Thorne
- Michael A. Tomlan
- Dell Upton
- Hugh E. White (II)
- Hugh E. White, Jr. (III)
- Tony P. Wrenn
In memory of four “true friends and good writers” who were vital to this project
- Charles David Jackson (1966-1998)
- James Marshall Bullock (1955-2002)
- Robert Paschal Burns (1933-2005)
- William B. Bushong (1953-2016)
The idea of compiling a biographical dictionary of architects and builders responsible for buildings in North Carolina originated in the late 1970s with Catherine W. Bishir, Charlotte V. Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury, and Ernest H. Wood III, who shared an interest in and knowledge of the state’s architecture and wanted to know more about the people who designed and built that heritage. In the 1980s, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (Grant #1919-80), these four authors, research assistants J. Marshall Bullock and William B. Bushong, and contributing authors completed extensive research and writing on more than 200 draft biographical entries. The authors’ original concept was to publish a single volume including both a history of building practice and biographical entries. But, because the material uncovered was much richer than expected, they decided to publish the volume on building practice first and to complete and publish the biographical entries at a future time. Their book, Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 1990. For the biographical dictionary, a hiatus then ensued.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, new information became available. Publications during the period 1990-2004 included Bishir’s North Carolina Architecture (University of North Carolina Press, 1990); C. David Jackson and Charlotte V. Brown’s History of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1913-1998: An Architectural Heritage (1998); Catherine W. Bishir, Jennifer F. Martin, and Michael T. Southern’s three-volume regional guides to the historic architecture of the state (1996, 1999, 2003); and numerous architectural surveys conducted under the auspices of State Historic Preservation Office. In 1994 NC State University Libraries established the Architectural Records Collection at Special Collections Research Center, to encompass architectural drawings and other records from architects and builders. Charlotte V. Brown donated her research files from the “Architects and Builders” project, covering mainly the period from the Civil War to World War II, to the Special Collections Research Center (Charlotte Vestal Brown Collection). And, not least, the Internet became a research tool that gave access to far more information than was available in the 1980s.
In 2004, with the support of Preservation North Carolina, the statewide non-profit preservation organization, and the encouragement of the co-authors of Architects and Builders in North Carolina, Catherine Bishir re-activated the biographical dictionary project, planning to produce a companion volume to the 1990 book. This project was aided in 2004-2006 by grants from the Archie Davis Foundation of the North Caroliniana Society and the Michel Family Foundation of Greensboro. Bishir and research assistants Angie Clifton and Dave Delcambre completed or updated drafts of approximately 60 biographies.
Late in 2006, the project underwent a serendipitous paradigm shift. At the suggestion of John Bishir, in November, 2006, Catherine Bishir proposed to Todd Kosmerick, university archivist at NC State University Libraries, the idea of developing the biographical dictionary as a web-based resource/publication rather than as a traditional book. Susan Nutter, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries, and Greg Raschke, Associate Director for Collections and Scholarly Communication, jumped on the idea immediately, as a suitable pilot project for the Libraries’ nascent digital collections and digital publishing efforts. The newly conceived project, part of the Libraries’ Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center, got underway early in 2007. The initial project team at the Libraries’ Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center, including Monica McCormick and Bishir, began to develop the format, to produce updated biographies, and to recruit new contributing authors. In 2008, a new technical team was established to expedite development of the online publication and to bring experimental resource management and discovery tools to the project. Markus Wust and Joe Ryan became project managers and Jason Casden, Cory Lown, and Tito Sierra contributed to the technical development.
The long history of the project has proved serendipitous. Originally conceived as a book in the late 1970s, thirty years later it has materialized as a web-based publication and a much better format for such a research tool. As a web site launched on June 24, 2009, North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary can continue to grow as more research is done, new or corrected information is added, and additional biographies and building lists are completed. Thanks to all those who have helped this project along its long path toward this web site and to all those who will contribute to its future development.
To date, North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary has been recognized by three state and national awards:
- Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit (Preservation North Carolina)
- Award of Merit (American Association for State and Local History)
- Paul E. Buchanan Award (Vernacular Architecture Forum)
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