Rose, William P. (1870-1952)
W. P. Rose; William Preston Rose
Johnston County, North Carolina, USA
- Johnston County, North Carolina
- Wayne County, North Carolina
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Greensboro, North Carolina
- Goldsboro, North Carolina
Styles & Forms:
Beaux-Arts; Colonial Revival; Gothic Revival; Queen Anne
William Preston Rose (1870-1952), architect and contractor, designed and constructed many buildings large and small in eastern and central North Carolina. A native of Johnston County, he typified the fluidity of the building professions during his long career. He began as a carpenter, then emerged as a self-taught architect in the late 1890s. About 1910 he shifted toward the contracting business and established one of the state’s largest contracting firms of the early 20th century. Rose lived briefly in Raleigh, Rocky Mount, and Greensboro, but by 1920 he had settled down in Goldsboro. When his contracting business failed early in the Great Depression, he founded a building supply company that he operated for the next two decades.
William P. Rose was the son of planter and millwright George P. Rose and Nancy Brunt Rose. He was born in Johnston County but moved with the family to Wayne County. He was educated at the local Grantham School, the Turlington Military Academy, and the Burlington Institute at Smithfield. In his youth William worked on the family farm and as a carpenter. After completing school he returned to Wayne County, where he built with his own hands a small frame church near Grantham.
Rose “broke into the building designing business” in the 1890s after educating himself from books available at the time (Goldsboro News-Argus, March 1, 1951). His older brother, David Jeptha Rose had established himself as a contractor in Wilson in the early 1890s; William joined him for a few years as part of “D. J. Rose and Brother”, and the firm published in 1897 a drawing for an elaborate Queen Anne style residence in the regional journal, Southern Architect. One of the houses built in Wilson in this period was their E. F. Nadal House, one of the town’s best preserved examples of the Queen Anne cottage mode.
Soon the brothers went out on their own, William to work as an architect in Raleigh, and David J. as a large contractor in Rocky Mount (his firm D. J. Rose has continued). In 1899 in Raleigh, William joined briefly with architect Charles W. Barrett in the partnership of Rose and Barrett, and the two published a drawing for a “complete modern Southern home” in Southern Architect in March, 1899, and a photograph of their Queen Anne style E. M. Fleming House in Wilson in the same journal the following July.
By 1900 William P. Rose was working alone. In that year he was listed in Raleigh as an “architect” and head of a small family including his wife, Fannie Grantham of Goldsboro, and their young children. (In 1902 Fannie died along with their newborn son; William soon married his second wife, Virginia [Jennie] Pollock, a native of Virginia.) To promote his career as a budding architect, Rose published a promotional volume entitled That House in 1900, which showed designs chiefly in the Queen Anne and early Colonial Revival styles. Many of the plates presented only drawings proposed for various projects, but some of his designs had been constructed and were shown in photographs, such as the Queen Anne-Colonial Revival residence of Dr. Thomas M. Jordan, located on North Wilmington Street in Raleigh, and other houses in Raleigh, Tarboro, and elsewhere.
Between 1900 and 1909 Rose published numerous notices of his work in the Manufacturers’ Record, typically announcing that architect W. P. Rose of Raleigh had provided plans for various projects including houses, schools, and commercial buildings. In 1907-1909, the firm of Rose and Weston (probably W. P. Rose and Frank A. Weston) of Greensboro placed notices in the Record for projects in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Salisbury. During the first decade of the 20th century, Rose’s firm attracted promising young men as draftsmen and assistant architects to join him in the business. Both Harry P. S. Keller (Wilmington Star, May 20, 1904) and James Matthew Kennedy (Wilmington Dispatch, May 13, 1905, formerly employed by Henry E. Bonitz) moved from Wilmington to Raleigh to work with Rose, and later established their own respected practices. How much of the firm’s design work was by Rose himself and how much by his draftsmen and associates is unknown. In this period, when he focused on the role of architect, Rose was active in the North Carolina Architectural Association, of which he served as vice president in 1909. (The president was Joseph F. Leitner of Wilmington; Franklin Gordon of Charlotte was the secretary-treasurer, and other board members included Herbert W. Simpson, New Bern, and Willard G. Rogers of Charlotte.)
About this time, “just after the first decade” of the 20th century, the ambitious young man took his family west to seek his fortune in Oklahoma City, but they returned after a year to North Carolina, after finding the west a “lawless community” and being “well satisfied that North Carolina was the best state in the Union.” (The exact year of the western venture is not clear.) After 1910, it appears that he began to define himself more as a builder than an architect; the reasons for this transition are unknown.
In 1910 William P. Rose was listed as a contractor and a resident of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, head of a family that included his wife, Virginia, and children. According to a contemporary account, Rose established his contracting business in 1910 and quickly developed a solid reputation as a builder. His work was recognized for his fastidiousness and attention to detail. It was said that Rose was known for testing new house construction by walking into the center of a room and jumping up and down to see if the floor had the slightest quiver (he weighed between 250 and 280 pounds).
Between 1914 and 1931, his contracting business grew to be one of the largest in eastern and central North Carolina, securing many large commissions that amounted to as much as $25 million. Flourishing in a time of extensive public construction, his firm built numerous courthouses, hospitals, and schools, including buildings at the present University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) and present North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh. These were designed by a variety of architects active in the state. During the same period, there was an architectural firm active in Durham called Rose and Rose, to whom many Durham buildings are attributed. The relationship between that firm’s principals, possibly including architect J. P. Rose, has not been determined.
In Goldsboro, where he was residing in 1920 and established himself as a solid member of the community, the builder Rose was active in civic affairs, serving on the city council and in various local enterprises. He was associated with one of the town’s most memorable events, the midnight removal of the train tracks that ran down the center of the main street. After a long battle with the Atlantic Coastline Company to get the tracks removed, frustrated citizens decided to take matters into their own hands, and overnight the tracks mysteriously disappeared. According to an interview in the March 1, 1951, News-Argus, “Rose remember[ed] that the course of action taken by the irate citizens was his idea.” Rose said further, “That track should have been pulled up two more blocks and one more block on the south. . . . If I were a young man today, I think I’d see what I could do about that.”
In 1930 and 1931, Rose suffered substantial losses due to the Great Depression and the closing of the Peoples Bank of Goldsboro, of which he was a director. He secured a loan from his brother to start a building supply business in Goldsboro in 1932. W. P. Rose Supply Company, also known as Builders Supply Company of Goldsboro, operated for many years, and he continued to do occasional contracting as well. Rose also entered farming, owning one of the largest farms in Wayne County with over 1,500 acres of hay, beans, small grain and tobacco crops, as well as a huge gravel pit that supplied his brick-making operation. During his long career, Rose was architect or contractor for many, many projects. The building list focuses on works whose locations are known, and especially those still standing. Less is known about many other projects or plans cited in various sources including the Manufacturers’ Record, such as a hospital at Fort Bragg, Cumberland County; a building at the Caswell Training School near Kinston in Lenoir County; a hotel in 1901 in Smithfield, Johnston County; a structure at the Greensboro College for Women in Greensboro; houses for S. D. Wait and Mrs. J. R. Barkley in Raleigh in 1900; a city school in Goldsboro in 1901; a school in Haw River (MR 7/23/03); a bank in Hertford (MR 8/13/03); a dormitory by Rose and Weston of Greensboro at Wake Forest College (MR 9/19/07; a jail for Davidson County in Lexington (MR 6/11/08); a 14-room house in “colonial style” for Mr. Creelman of High Point (MR 11/19/08); a 5-story office building for the Southern Life Insurance Company in Fayetteville (MR 11/26/08); and numerous others.
- 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).
- Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- R.D.W. Connor, North Carolina: Rebuilding an Ancient Commonwealth, 4 (1941).
- Goldsboro News-Argus, Mar. 1, 1951.
- Manufacturers’ Record, various issues.
- William P. Rose, That House: Wm. P. Rose, Architect, Raleigh, N. C. (1900).
- Dates:1914-1915Location:Goldsboro, Wayne CountyStreet Address:100 S. James St., Goldsboro, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialNote:The Borden Building, at six stories a skyscraper in its day, was described as Rose's work in his interview with the Goldsboro News-Argus, March 1, 1951.
- Variant Name(s):Golden Leaf ApartmentsDates:1921-1922; 1924Location:Wilson, Wilson CountyStreet Address:211 Kenan St. West at Moss St., Wilson, NCStatus:StandingType:EducationalImages Puslished In:Kate Ohno and Robert C. Bainbridge, Wilson, North Carolina, Historic Buildings Inventory (1980).Note:Wilson's commission for Wilson's first high school, for white students, was noted in the Manufacturers' Record (Dec. 15, 1921, Jan. 12, 1922, and Aug. 28, 1924). The red brick school with neoclassical detailing is named for Wilson County's school superintendent, an educator of statewide renown, who is credited with making Wilson County's consolidated county school system a model for the state. The red brick building features neoclassical detailing. It is now the Golden Leaf Apartments.
- Dates:1902Location:Goldsboro, Wayne CountyStreet Address:214 N. Center St., Goldsboro, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).Note:The Manufacturers' Record reported on April 3, 1902, that plans for the city hall and market in Goldsboro had been accepted from W. P. Rose, and on July 10, 1902, that a contract had been let for the city hall and market to Porter and Godwin, with Rose and Eaken of Raleigh "architects in charge." However, the distinctive design has been credited generally to architect Herbert W. Simpson of New Bern.
- Dates:1914-1915Location:Whiteville, Columbus CountyStreet Address:Corner Madison St. and Jefferson St., Whiteville, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).Note:The Manufacturers' Record, Aug. 20, 1914, noted Leitner as architect for the courthouse. The brick edifice with broad Doric portico is the centerpiece of Whiteville. Commissioned originally to design a fireproof building, Leitner produced a plan for a domed building with an estimated cost of $100,000. Amendments to reduce the cost to $50,000 eliminated the dome and limited the fireproof construction to the vaults.
- Dates:1924-1926Location:Fayetteville, Cumberland CountyStreet Address:Intersection of Franklin St., Gillespie St., and Russell St., Fayetteville, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicImages Puslished In:
- Dates:Ca. 1896Location:Wilson, Wilson CountyStreet Address:Wilson, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Kate Ohno and Robert C. Bainbridge, Wilson, North Carolina, Historic Buildings Inventory (1980).
William P. Rose, That House: Wm. P. Rose, Architect, Raleigh, N. C. (1900).Note:Pictured in Rose's 1900 publication, That House, the Queen Anne style cottage is among Wilson's best examples of the style. It was evidently built during his association with his brother, D. J. Rose.
- Dates:1908Location:New Bern, Craven CountyStreet Address:400 Pollock St., New Bern, NCStatus:StandingType:FraternalImages Puslished In:Peter B. Sandbeck, The Historic Architecture of New Bern and Craven County, North Carolina (1988).
- Dates:1904-1909Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:101 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh, NCStatus:StandingType:ReligiousNote:The Manufacturers' Record (Oct. 15, 1903) announced that the First Baptist Church (colored) was to erect a new brick church 100 feet by 50 feet, with the architect being W. P. Rose. The cornerstone was laid in 1904. The predominantly black First Baptist Church on Salisbury Street traces its origins to 1812, as does the predominantly white First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street, across Union Square. The two congregations became separate after the Civil War.
- Dates:1902Location:Goldsboro, Wayne CountyStreet Address:214 N. Center St., Goldsboro, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicImages Puslished In:Note:The Goldsboro Daily Argus reported on March 26, 1902, that architects from "all over the State" had submitted drawings and explained the advantages of their designs for the Goldsboro City Hall, and the building committee chose W. P. Rose, "whose work was by far the most handsome from an artistic standpoint." The Manufacturers' Record reported on April 3, 1902, that plans for the city hall and market in Goldsboro had been accepted from W. P. Rose, and on July 10, 1902, that a contract had been let for the city hall and market to Porter and Godwin, with Rose and Eaken of Raleigh "architects in charge." The Goldsboro Daily Argus of September 9, 1902, reported that W. P. Rose of Raleigh, "the architect who furnished the plans and specifications for the new City Hall," had arrived to inspect the work on the building and adjudged that Porter and Godwin were doing the work in a "very satisfactory manner."
- Dates:Ca. 1900Location:Salisbury, Rowan CountyStreet Address:100 N. Main St., Salisbury, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
Davyd Foard Hood, The Architecture of Rowan County North Carolina: A Catalogue and History of Surviving 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Century Structures (1983).Note:The image shows the Grubb-Wallace Building on the right.
- Dates:1918Location:Greensboro, Guilford CountyStreet Address:301 W. Market St., Greensboro, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
Marvin A. Brown, Greensboro: An Architectural Record (1995).
- Variant Name(s):Evergreens Rest HomeDates:Ca. 1922Location:Greensboro, Guilford CountyStreet Address:N. Side of E. Bessemer and Franklin Blvd., Greensboro, NCStatus:No longer standingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Ruth Little-Stokes, An Inventory of Historic Greensboro: Greensboro, North Carolina (1976).
- Dates:Ca. 1900Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:612 N. Blount St., Raleigh, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Charles W. Barrett, Colonial Southern Homes (1903).
Charles W. Barrett and Frank E. Thomson, Photographs, Barrett & Thomson, Architects, 1900 (1900).
William P. Rose, That House: Wm. P. Rose, Architect, Raleigh, N. C. (1900).Note:The Miller House, which still stands, might have been designed by Charles W. Barrett when he was working with William P. Rose, which might explain why it appears in three different promotional booklets.
- Dates:1903Location:Elizabeth City, Pasquotank CountyStreet Address:310 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
- Dates:1899Location:Salisbury, Rowan CountyStreet Address:302 S. Ellis St. Salisbury, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Davyd Foard Hood, The Architecture of Rowan County North Carolina: A Catalogue and History of Surviving 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Century Structures (1983).
William P. Rose, That House: Wm. P. Rose, Architect, Raleigh, N. C. (1900).
- Variant Name(s):MaplewoodDates:1890sLocation:Tarboro, Edgecombe CountyStreet Address:1103 St. Patrick St., Tarboro, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:William P. Rose, That House: Wm. P. Rose, Architect, Raleigh, N. C. (1900).
- Dates:1901Location:Kinston, Lenoir CountyStreet Address:333-337 N. Queen St., Kinston, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialNote:In the Manufacturers' Record (Apr. 25, 1901) William P. Rose reported plans to build the Mewborn Mercantile Building in Kinston; it may be this building, which was the Mewborn Wholesale Grocery.
- Dates:Ca. 1906Location:Burlington, Alamance CountyStreet Address:Main St. at Front St., Burlington, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Allison Harris Black, An Architectural History of Burlington, North Carolina (1987).Note:The pedimented, 3-story commercial building in neoclassical style was a landmark of downtown Burlington until it was razed during urban renewal in the mid-20th century.
- Dates:1902; 1920 (remodeling)Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:North Carolina State University Campus, Raleigh, NCStatus:No longer standingType:EducationalImages Puslished In:Murray Scott Downs, North Carolina State University: A Pictorial History (1986).Note:The Manufacturers' Record (Feb. 20, 1902) reported that Rose was preparing plans for a building at the A&M College in Raleigh to contain a dining room, chapel, and library; this was the large building called Pullen Hall. The same announcement noted that (his former partner) Charles W. Barrett had provided plans to rebuild Watauga Hall, which had burned. James A. Salter did additional work in 1920; he also designed two unidentified dormitories at present NC State at about the same time. Pullen Hall burned in an arsonist's fire in 1965; another building of the same name was built in 1987 at a different campus location.
- Dates:1925-1927Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:2 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicNote:The Revenue Building is one of several state buildings around Union Square designed to harmonize with the State Capitol across the street.
- Contributors:William P. Rose, architect and contractorDates:1919-1921Location:High Point, Guilford CountyStreet Address:209 S. Main St., High Point, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
H. McKelden Smith, Architectural Resources: An Inventory of Historic Architecture, High Point, Jamestown, Gibsonville, Guilford County (1979).
- Dates:Ca. 1900Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:N. Blount St. at Peace St., Raleigh, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:The Jordan House was built at the corner of N. Wilmington St. and Peace St., where it stood until it was moved east to N. Blount St. on August 23, 2008.
- Dates:1907-1908Location:Warrenton, Warren CountyStreet Address:Market St. at Bragg St., Warrenton, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicNote:The Manufacturers' Record (July 31, 1907) reported that W. P. Rose of Raleigh had been commissioned to prepare plans for a proposed municipal building. This is probably the handsome brick structure, combining town hall and fire department, that still stands.
- Dates:1913Location:Goldsboro, Wayne CountyStreet Address:224 E. Walnut St., Goldsboro, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicImages Puslished In:J. Daniel Pezzoni and Penne Smith, Glimpses of Wayne County, North Carolina: An Architectural History (1998).
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 courthouse was described as Rose's work in his interview with the Goldsboro News-Argus, March 1, 1951.
- Contributors:William P. Rose, contractorDates:1920Location:Goldsboro, Wayne CountyStreet Address:311 N. George St., Goldsboro, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:The red brick house with multi-gabled roof of patterned slate was built as the home of William P. Rose.
- Dates:1923-1925Location:Wilson, Wilson CountyStreet Address:125 E. Nash St., Wilson, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
Kate Ohno and Robert C. Bainbridge, Wilson, North Carolina, Historic Buildings Inventory (1980).
Wilson Daily Times, Aug. 7, 1923.Note:The Wilson Daily Times from August 7, 1923 shows the original design drawings while Bainbridge and Ohno, Wilson, North Carolina, Historic Building Inventory depicts the building as it was built.