Cooper, Thomas Wright (1897-1957)

Birthplace:

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Residences:

  • Raleigh, North Carolina

Trades:

  • Architect

Styles & Forms:

Beaux-Arts; Colonial Revival; Period Revival

Thomas Wright Cooper (1897-1957), a Raleigh architect who practiced with several different associates, designed in a wide range of architectural styles from the 1920s onward, including works in Colonial Revival, Neoclassical, and Modern modes.

Cooper was born in Raleigh, a son of stonecutter Charles W. Cooper, head of the Raleigh Marble Works. He was educated at local schools before beginning his architectural training in 1914 under architect James A. Salter. Cooper left Raleigh in 1917 to work as a senior draftsman during World War I at the Newport News Ship Building Company in Virginia. After the war he returned to Raleigh and became the chief draftsman in the firm of Salter and Nelson.

In 1921, after Salter left the firm, Cooper formed a partnership with G. Murray Nelson to form G. Murray Nelson and Thomas W. Cooper (Nelson and Cooper). The firm designed several institutional buildings including Ricks Hall (ca. 1922) and the expansion of Leazar Hall (ca. 1922) at present North Carolina State University. Probably their best known work is the State Agriculture Building facing Capitol Square (1922-1923), a large stone-faced edifice of Beaux-Arts classical design subtly rendered to wrap around a key corner.

Cooper and Nelson also became recognized as residential design specialists producing stylish Colonial Revival houses for middle and upper class clients in Raleigh’s expanding suburbs. With Nelson, and then alone, Cooper planned many of the fine residences in the prestigious Hayes-Barton suburb, the grandest of which is the Alfred Williams, Jr. House, a spectacularly sited replica of Mount Vernon, located at 901 Holt Drive.

About 1930 Cooper began an independent practice that produced a number of Period Revival style residences during and after the Great Depression, including his own residence in the suburb of Budleigh. In the early 1940s he was associated briefly with the firm of William H. Deitrick, was involved in military projects, and served as assistant architect at present North Carolina State University with Ross Shumaker. After World War II, Cooper entered practice with younger architects including Albert L. Haskins, Jr. and Richard L. Rice. He produced both traditional and modernist designs, the latter including Beth Meyer Synagogue on St. Mary’s Street in 1951, one of Raleigh’s first modernist houses of worship. Cooper was active in the American Institute of Architects, serving as president of the North Carolina chapter in 1952. He also participated in civic affairs and the Episcopal Church.

  • American Institute of Architects, Membership Records, American Institute of Architects Archives, Washington, D.C.
  • Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Carolina Architecture (1935).
  • Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Inactive files, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Raleigh News and Observer, July 28, 1935.
  • Marguerite E. Schumann, Strolling at State: A Walking Guide to North Carolina State University (1973).
  • George Smart, Jr., Triangle Modernist Houses, http://www.trianglemodernisthouses.com.
  • Who’s Who in the South and Southwest (1950).
Sort Building List by:
  • Alfred Williams, Jr. House

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1920s

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    901 Holt Dr., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • Baker Wynne House

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1948

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1411 Jackson Pl., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina’s Capital, Raleigh (1967).


  • Beth Meyer Synagogue

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1951

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    St. Mary’s St., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Religious


  • Confederate Memorial Pavilion

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1935

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    Oakwood Cemetery, 701 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Memorial


  • David F. Cannon House

    Contributors:
    Coffey Family, contractors; John N. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey and Son, contractors; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; Nelson and Cooper, architect
    Dates:

    1938

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    2613 White Oak Rd., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.


  • J. Deryl Hart House

    Contributors:
    Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; George W. Kane, builder; Nelson and Cooper, architects; G. Murray Nelson, architect
    Dates:

    1934

    Location:
    Durham, Durham County
    Street Address:

    2324 Duke University Rd., Durham, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Note:

    Dr. Hart came to Duke as head of surgery and later became president of Duke University. In recent years the large Tudor Revival residence has been the home of Duke President Richard Brodhead. The architect for the house has been identified both as Nelson and Cooper and Nelson alone. Records of its construction are in Dr. Hart’s papers at Duke University.


  • J.E. Hillman House

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1938

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    2317 Whitaker Dr., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • James R. Weatherspoon House

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    1931

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1103 Cowper Dr., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • John H. Johnson House

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    Ca. 1933-1934

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    2915 White Oak Dr., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • John N. Coffey, Sr. House

    Contributors:
    Coffey Family, contractors; John N. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey and Son, contractors; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect
    Dates:

    1939 and later

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1720 Canterbury Rd., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    No longer standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.


  • Jonathan Daniels House

    Contributors:
    Coffey Family, contractors; John N. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey and Son, contractors; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect
    Dates:

    ca. 1936

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1540 Caswell St., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Note:

    The Georgian Revival style brick house is a member of the group of nearby Daniels family houses.


  • Julian Rand House

    Contributors:
    Coffey Family, contractors; John N. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey and Son, contractors; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; G. Murray Nelson, architect; Howard E. Satterfield, builder
    Dates:

    Ca. 1931

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1544 Carr St., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Note:

    The architects and builder of this classic 2-story, red brick Georgian Revival house are cited in the Hayes Barton National Register nomination. A Julian Rand project is cited in the Satterfield building list. Julian and Lillian Rand, longtime residents of Ferndell Lane (near Maiden Lane and State College) first appeared at 1544 Carr Street house in the 1932 city directory.


  • Leazar Hall

    Contributors:
    Thomas Wright Cooper, architect (ca. 1922); Harry P. S. Keller, architect (1912); Nelson and Cooper, architects (ca. 1922); G. Murray Nelson, architect (ca. 1922); Northup and O'Brien, architects (1947); Ross Edward Shumaker, architect (1945)
    Dates:

    1912; ca. 1922 [additions]; 1945 [additions]; 1947 [additions]

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    North Carolina State University Campus, Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Educational

    Images Puslished In:

    Burton F. Beers and Murray Scott Downs, North Carolina State University: A Pictorial History (1986).
    Facility Coordinators, http://www.ncsu.edu/facilities/buildings/.
    Marguerite E. Schumann, Strolling at State: A Walking Guide to North Carolina State University (1973).

    Note:

    Ross Edward Shumaker designed the building’s east balconies.


  • Mrs. W. A. Cooper House

    Contributors:
    Coffey Family, contractors; John N. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey and Son, contractors; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect
    Dates:

    1930s

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    123 Forest Rd., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.


  • Nathaniel A. Dunn House

    Contributors:
    Coffey Family, contractors; John N. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey and Son, contractors; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; Nelson and Cooper, architects
    Variant Name(s):

    N. A. Dunn House

    Dates:

    1929-1930

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1105 Cowper Dr., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Note:

    Nelson and Cooper’s blueprints, dated 1929, for the Nathaniel A. Dunn House are in the Coffey Family Papers, Special Collections Research Center, NCSU Libraries. It is a characteristic example of the Georgian Revival style residences prevalent in Hayes Barton. The blueprints are the only set by Nelson and Cooper identified thus far.


  • Ned Ball House

    Contributors:
    John W. Coffey, contractor; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect
    Dates:

    Ca. 1933-1935

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    White Oak Rd., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.


  • R.H. Longstreet House

    Contributors:
    Dates:

    Ca. 1938

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    Victoria Rd., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • Ricks Hall

    Contributors:
    Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; Nelson and Cooper, architects; G. Murray Nelson, architect
    Dates:

    Ca. 1922

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    North Carolina State University Campus, Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Educational

    Images Puslished In:

    Marguerite E. Schumann, Strolling at State: A Walking Guide to North Carolina State University (1973).


  • Rufus H. Nims House

    Contributors:
    Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; Rufus H. Nims, architect; Thomas Cooper, architects
    Dates:

    1938

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1506 Canterbury Rd., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Note:

    The 1-story, ranch type house was one of the first modernist houses in Raleigh. It was designed by the young architect Rufus H. Nims (1913-2005) as his own residence, when Nims, a 1934 graduate of present North Carolina State University, was working for Cooper. Nims moved to Florida in 1943, developed a highly respected practice, and stayed there for the rest of his long life. Source: trianglemodernisthouses.com.


  • State Agriculture Building

    Contributors:
    Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; Nelson and Cooper, architects; G. Murray Nelson, architect; James A. Salter, preliminary architect
    Dates:

    1922-1923

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    2 W. Edenton St., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Public


  • Syme Hall

    Contributors:
    Thomas Wright Cooper, architect (1922); Nelson and Cooper, architect (1922); Hobart Upjohn, architect (1916)
    Variant Name(s):

    South Hall

    Dates:

    1916; 1922 [additions]

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    North Carolina State University Campus, Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Educational

    Note:

    Further research is required to ascertain the authorship of this substantial dormitory. It has been credited to Nelson and Cooper with the original section described as built in 1916 plus additions in 1922, which have been cited to Hobart Upjohn. It is unlikely that Nelson or Nelson and Cooper were involved in the 1916 portion, since their partnership was not formed until 1920 or 1921, and there is no record of Nelson’s presence in Raleigh as early as 1916.


  • T. W. Cooper House

    Contributors:
    Coffey Family, contractors; John N. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey and Son, contractors; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect
    Dates:

    late 1930s

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1718 Canterbury Rd., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.


  • Thomas Ruffin House

    Contributors:
    Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; Nelson and Cooper, architects; G. Murray Nelson, architect
    Dates:

    Ca. 1932

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1001 Harvey St., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • Thomas Wright Cooper House

    Contributors:
    John W. Coffey, contractor; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect
    Dates:

    1938

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1718 Canterbury Rd., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
    Elizabeth C. Waugh, North Carolina’s Capital, Raleigh (1967).


  • Victor Sorrell House

    Contributors:
    John W. Coffey, contractor; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect
    Dates:

    Ca. 1933-1934

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1535 Caswell St., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.


  • Walter L. and Violet Noneman House

    Contributors:
    Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; James A. Davidson, contractor
    Dates:

    1938

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    2106 White Oak Rd., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Note:

    Blueprints, specifications, and contractor bills for the “Mr. and Mrs. Walter Noneman Residence” are in the Thomas W. Cooper Collection, Special Collections Research Center, NCSU Libraries. The architect’s specifications noted that the “masonry work shall be done by a skilled mechanic capable of mixing the stone and brick as shown” in the drawings. Contractor James A. Davidson was a leading Raleigh builder for many years. Bills for work and materials for the brick and stone house include numerous local and regional firms such as Baker-Rawls Roofing, Carolina Builders, Cherokee Brick, Dillon Supply, Martin Millwork, and Peden Steel. W. L. and Violet Louise Noneman came to Raleigh from Albuquerque, N. M., for him to open the Occidental Life Insurance Company. The family worked closely with the architect to plan the residence for comfort and convenience. The well-preserved house has remained in the family.


  • William Proctor House

    Contributors:
    Coffey Family, contractors; John W. Coffey, contractor; Thomas Wright Cooper, architect; Nelson and Cooper, architects; G. Murray Nelson, architect
    Dates:

    1932

    Location:
    Raleigh, Wake County
    Street Address:

    1521 Jarvis St., Raleigh, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Houses By Coffey, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.


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