Stoddart, William Lee (1868-1940)

William Lee Stoddart (1868-1940) was a prolific architect in New York City whose multi-state practice popularized Beaux Arts style hotels in the early 20th century. His typical designs were of brick with classical cast stone detailing. His work covered many eastern states, including North Carolina, where he designed several hotels and other tall buildings that followed popular national models. In some cities, Stoddart’s buildings fit into a developing urban streetscape, while in some smaller communities, his modern hotels represented new urban progress and commercial advancement as well as a new marker in the skyline.

Born in Tenafly, New Jersey, Stoddart studied architecture at Columbia University and apprenticed to two architects in Atlanta. After leaving Atlanta, he worked for New York architect George B. Post from 1895 to 1905, when he established his own practice in New York. Although he designed several banks and corporate buildings, Stoddart is best known for his large hotels and apartment houses in the eastern United States including the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, the Charleston Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, and the opulent Ponce de Leon Apartments in Atlanta.

Stoddart gained commissions in North Carolina as its small cities blossomed in the 1910s and 1920s, each one generating a demand for quality hotels to attract business travelers and symbolize urban status. His projects reached from Elizabeth City in the east to Asheville in the west, and some were the tallest buildings in their communities at the time. His first known project in the state was the O. Henry Hotel (1918-1919) in Greensboro, named for O. Henry, the pen name of Greensboro’s famous native son, William Sidney Porter. Stoddart sent his employee, the young New York architect Charles C. Hartmann, to supervise the job along with his Sheraton Hotel in High Point. (After impressing local businessmen, Hartmann subsequently moved to Greensboro and established a large practice of his own.)

Stoddart’s hotels took key places in many of the state’s growing cities and towns. The Sir Walter Hotel in Raleigh, showing the architect’s typical red brick with Georgian Revival detailing, was the capital’s premier hotel and for many years was known as the “third house” of the state legislature because of legislators’ use of it during their sessions. Stoddart’s Battery Park Hotel in Asheville was built by entrepreneur E. W. Grove as part of a major redevelopment project (1923-1924); Thomas Wolfe, who was living in Asheville at the time, expressed his views on Stoddart’s design in his novel Look Homeward, Angel when he dismissed the architect as “some gigantic biscuit-cutter.” The Nissen Building in Winston-Salem, Stoddart’s only known twin-tower building in North Carolina, was one of his few non-hotel buildings in the state, an office building for a local manufacturing family. At eighteen stories, it was briefly the tallest building in the state. In smaller communities, Stoddart’s buildings were among the largest ever built there, as is the case with the 9-story Virginia Dare Hotel in Elizabeth City, still the community’s tallest building. Stoddart’s work in the state evidently ended around the Great Depression. With a few notable exceptions, his buildings still stand as downtown landmarks.

Stoddart was among the first men licensed to practice architecture in North Carolina. His license certificate, issued in 1915, was #39 in the official registration book of the North Carolina Board of Architecture.

  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
  • Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
  • Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (1999).
  • Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • North Carolina Board of Architecture, Record Book 1915-1992, microfilmed by North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • John E. Wells and Robert E. Dalton, The Virginia Architects, 1835-1955: A Biographical Dictionary (1997).
  • Henry F. Withey and Elsie Rathburn Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased) (1970).
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  • Battery Park Hotel

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1923-1924

    Location:
    Asheville, Buncombe County
    Street Address:

    Battle Square, Asheville, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (1999).


  • Bon Marche

    Contributors:
    Variant Name(s):

    Haywood Park Hotel

    Dates:

    1923

    Location:
    Asheville, Buncombe County
    Street Address:

    26-32 Haywood St., Asheville, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    David R. Black, Historic Architectural Resources of Downtown Asheville, North Carolina (1979).

    Note:

    The Asheville Citizen of Jan. 21,1923, reported of the Bon Marche store, “Original Plans as prepared by W.L. Stoddardt [sic], well known architect, of New York City, called for a building seven stories high.” The owners decided to built it to five stores with potential to add later. On Nov. 15, 1923, the newspaper reported the opening of the store. The Pack Memorial Library in Asheville has plans for Bon Marche drawn by Stoddart in 1923. The illustration shows a view of Hawywood St. with the Bon Marche building on the left.


  • Concord National Bank and Hotel

    Contributors:
    Hunkin-Conkey Construction Company (Cleveland), contractors; Christopher Gadsden Sayre, possible architect; William Lee Stoddart, possible architect
    Dates:

    1925

    Location:
    Concord, Cabarrus County
    Street Address:

    2-14 Union St. North, Concord, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    Peter R. Kaplan, The Historic Architecture of Cabarrus County, North Carolina (2004).

    Note:

    Construction of the dual purpose building, which cost more than $400,000 to erect, was covered in the local Concord Times of May 7, 1925 and February 8, May 31, June 10, June 14, and June 17, 1926. A design for the Concord National Bank and Hotel was also prepared by architect Christopher Gadsden Sayre, as noted in the American Art Annual, Vol. 21.


  • George Vanderbilt Hotel

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    Ca. 1924

    Location:
    Asheville, Buncombe County
    Street Address:

    Haywood St., Asheville, NC

    Status:

    Altered

    Type:

    Commercial

    Note:

    The Pack Memorial Library in Asheville has plumbing and electrical plans by Stoddart for the Vanderbilt Hotel.


  • Goldsboro Hotel

    Contributors:
    William Lee Stoddart, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1924-1926

    Location:
    Goldsboro, Wayne County
    Street Address:

    100-104 S. Center St., Goldsboro, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial


  • Hotel Charlotte

    Contributors:
    J. A. Jones, builder; J. A. Jones Construction Company, builders; William Lee Stoddart, architect
    Variant Name(s):

    Queen Charlotte Hotel; White House Inn

    Dates:

    1924

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    327 W. Trade St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    No longer standing

    Type:

    Commercial


  • Independence Building

    Contributors:
    J. A. Jones, builder (1908-1909); Frank Pierce Milburn, architect (1908-1909); Milburn, Heister, and Company, architects (1908-1909); William Lee Stoddart, architect (1927-1928)
    Variant Name(s):

    Realty Building

    Dates:

    1908-1909; 1927-1928 [addition]

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    100-102 W. Trade St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    No longer standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    Mary Norton Kratt and Mary Manning Boyer, Remembering Charlotte: Postcards from a New South City, 1905-1950 (2000).
    Daniel J. Vivian, “‘A Practical Architect’: Frank P. Milburn and the Transformation of Architectural Practice in the New South, 1890-1925,” Winterthur Portfolio (Spring 2005).

    Note:

    The 12-story skyscraper was the first steel-framed skyscraper in North Carolina and an icon of Charlotte’s urban ambitions. Originally known as the Realty Building, it was renamed in 1922 for the Independence Bank that occupied it. In 1928, New York architect William Lee Stoddart added two more stories. It was imploded in 1981 amid strong controversy.


  • Johnston Building

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1924

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    212 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial


  • Nissen Building

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1926

    Location:
    Winston-Salem, Forsyth County
    Street Address:

    314 W. 4th St., Winston-Salem, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial


  • O. Henry Hotel

    Contributors:
    Charles C. Hartmann, supervising architect; William Lee Stoddart, architect
    Dates:

    1918-1919

    Location:
    Greensboro, Guilford County
    Street Address:

    101 Bellemeade St. at N. Elm St., Greensboro, NC

    Status:

    No longer standing

    Type:

    Commercial


  • Robert E. Lee Hotel

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1919; 1929

    Location:
    Winston-Salem, Forsyth County
    Street Address:

    W. 5th St., Winston-Salem, NC

    Status:

    No longer standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    Molly Grogan Rawls, Winston-Salem in Vintage Postcards (2004).


  • Sheraton Hotel

    Contributors:
    Charles C. Hartmann, supervising architect; William Lee Stoddart, architect
    Dates:

    1921

    Location:
    High Point, Guilford County
    Street Address:

    400 N. Main St., High Point, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    H. McKelden Smith, Architectural Resources: An Inventory of Historic Architecture, High Point, Jamestown, Gibsonville, Guilford County (1979).


  • Sir Walter Hotel

    Contributors:
    James A. Salter, architect; William Lee Stoddart, architect; C. V. York, contractor
    Dates:

    1922-1924

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    400 Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).


  • Virginia Dare Hotel and Arcade

    Contributors:
    J. E. Beaman, contractor; William Lee Stoddart, architect
    Dates:

    1927

    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:

    507-509 E. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).

    Note:

    The Virginia Dare Hotel is pictured on the left.


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