Makepeace, Charles R. (1860-1926)
Charles Roderick Makepeace; C. R. Makepace
Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA
- Providence, Rhode Island
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Charles R. Makepeace (1860-1926), a native of North Carolina, became a nationally important mill architect headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island. Combining his familiarity with southern conditions and his expertise in New England technology, he created a practice that covered four decades and encompassed more than 250 projects including several cotton mills in North Carolina. Only a few of Makepeace’s North Carolina commissions have been identified. These include the Thomas M. Holt Manufacturing Company Mill (1895) at Haw River; Edenton Cotton Mill (1899 and later) in Edenton; and the Eno Cotton Mills (1890s) in Hillsborough as well as others in Wake Forest and Raleigh—all of which still stand, though altered over the years. While he is best known for his cotton mills, Makepeace also planned other industrial facilities, such as the R. J. Reynolds Building No. 8 (1899) in present Winston-Salem. Additional Makepeace projects likely await identification. He is one of several major industrial designers and builders whose career merits fuller study.
Charles R. Makepeace came from a cotton manufacturing background and northern ancestry. His grandfather, George Makepeace (1799-1872), was a native of Norton, Massachusetts, who evidently arrived in North Carolina in about 1839, perhaps recruited by Randolph County textile pioneer Elisha Coffin. The Makepeace family was a large and old one in New England, especially in Massachusetts. As an expert millwright skilled in management as well as construction, George Makepeace was much in demand among the pioneering industrialists of the Carolina Piedmont. By 1850, George Makepeace and his family resided in the Randolph County industrial village of Franklinville on the Deep River where he was the mill engineer. The first cotton mill there had been established by Elisha Coffin, a Quaker disowned from the New Garden Monthly Meeting near Greensboro for marrying a non-Quaker. In about 1846 George Makepeace and others joined Coffin in forming a company to build a second mill nearby, which was in operation by 1848.
George Henry Makepeace (1825-1898), a son of George Makepeace and his wife Lucy M. (1807-1862), followed his father into manufacturing, not only in Franklinville but in Montgomery County and Fayetteville, where he also operated a bucket factory under the name of Makepeace and McRae (Raleigh Register, Oct. 24, 1860). George H. Makepeace returned to Randolph County after the war to take over his father’s interests, and he soon expanded the operations at Franklinville. He married twice, first to Mary Ann Burns (1826-1853) and in 1859 to Marion McRae (1838-1924) of an established Fayetteville family of Highland Scots background.
George and Marion’s son Charles Roderick Makepeace (Roderick after Marion’s father) was born in Fayetteville, on May 20, 1860, according to his passport application, but spent much of his youth in Franklinville. In any case, Charles had manufacturing in his blood from his earliest years. Charles R. Makepeace studied at Trinity College in Randolph County (the forerunner of Duke University in Durham) but left in 1880 before graduating. According to the United States Census of 1880, at age twenty he was a student of civil engineering residing in Providence, Rhode Island, in the home of Lorenzo and Fannie Makepeace, both aged 70; Charles was identified as Lorenzo’s nephew. Charles evidently moved to Providence in the early 1880s. He had a brief architectural partnership with Providence architect Clifton Alexander Hall (1884-1886). In 1889, according to family history, Charles married Kate A. Salisbury, a daughter of Charles and Lydia Salisbury, and they had at least four children.
How Charles attained his business success so rapidly remains unexplained—his connections with both the Makepeace and McRae families were likely involved—but by the 1890s, C. R. Makepeace and Company had become one of the nation’s foremost mill architects and engineers, planning textile plants including cotton and woolen mills, bleacheries, and dye works, and other types such as power plants and water plants. By the mid-1890s Charles was sufficiently prominent that he was presenting papers such as “Heating of a Cotton Mill” (April 26, 1893), to the New England Cotton Manufacturers’ Association in Boston. The Makepeace firm would design more than 250 facilities in twenty-four states plus Canada, Mexico, South America, and Australia. Makepeace also became a prominent business and community leader, as attested in publications of the period. North Carolina newspapers carried reports of his activities, many of which appeared first in the Fayetteville Observer. In 1909, the Raleigh Farmer and Mechanic ran a story from the Observer, noting that the Providence Journal had published a picture of the immense new Nashawena Mill under construction in New Bedford, “designed by Mr. Charles R. Makepeace, a North Carolinian, and a nephew of our townsman, Colin McRae, Esq.”
After Charles’s wife Kate Salisbury died in 1913, he reinforced his North Carolina connections in 1919 by marrying Marion MacRae (evidently his cousin, with the same name as his mother) of the Presbyterian Fayetteville family; he was 58, she 35. The wedding took place in the home of her father (and Charles’s uncle), Colin MacRae (the spelling of the surname in newspapers varied and was more often MacRae in the 20th century). On April 30, 1919, the Fayetteville Observer described the wedding in detail and noted, “Mr. Makepeace is a prominent and wealthy citizen of Providence, R. I., and is one of the largest textile manufacturers in the United States. He formerly resided in North Carolina, and his family is well known and prominent throughout the State.” After the wedding, the newlyweds “motored over to Pinehurst” before traveling to New York City and being “at home” in Providence, R. I. In 1920, the Fayetteville Observer of April 2 published the birth announcement of the couple’s daughter Marion MacRae Makepeace in Providence. Other children followed. Charles Makepeace’s death was unexpected: the Alamance Gleaner of Graham, N. C. of February 18, 1926, and other newspapers published news of the death of Makepeace, a “millionaire mill architect and engineer and native of Fayetteville,” who had not been previously ill.
- Thomas R. Butchko, Edenton, an Architectural Portrait: The Historic Architecture of Edenton, North Carolina (1992).
- Thomas R. Butchko, “Edenton Cotton Mill,” National Register of Historic Places nomination (1998).
- Providence Journal, Feb. 11, 1926.
- Providence Preservation Society Records of #289 Wayland Avenue, http://gowdey.ppsri.org/gowdey/Wayland%20Ave./289%20Wayland%20Ave.pdf.
- Reading Times (Pennsylvania), Feb. 11, 1926.
- L. M. Whatley, “Franklinville Historic District,” National Register of Historic Places nomination (1984).
- Contributors:George L. Borum, contractor; Charles R. Makepeace, architectDates:
1899; 1904; 1913Location:Edenton, Chowan CountyStreet Address:
McMullen St., Edenton, NCStatus:
IndustrialImages Published In:
Thomas R. Butchko, Edenton, an Architectural Portrait: The Historic Architecture of Edenton, North Carolina (1992).Note:
The Edenton Mill and its adjoining village survive remarkably intact and have been renovated for renewed use with the help of Preservation North Carolina.
1890sLocation:Hillsborough, Orange CountyStreet Address:
Dimmocks Mill Rd., Hillsborough, NCStatus:
The village housing is gone, but the industrial plant has been renovated for new uses.
- Contributors:C. R. Makepeace and Co., engineers; Charles R. Makepeace, engineerDates:
1897-1898Location:Clemmons, Forsyth CountyStreet Address:
Clemmons vicinity, NCStatus:
No longer standingType:
Little remains of the important facility built by the Fries Manufacturing and Power Company of Salem (Winston-Salem) as North Carolina’s first hydroelectric dam and power station that transmitted electricity over a long distance, in this case from a stone dam across the Yadkin River to a substation in Salem in present Winston-Salem. The transmission line was 13 1/2 miles long. In contrast to the lesser streams such as the Haw and Deep Rivers and their tributaries that powered early manufacturing in the central Piedmont, generating power from the long and mighty Yadkin was challenging and costly—and often highly profitable.
1899Location:Winston-Salem, Forsyth CountyStreet Address:
Church St., Winston-Salem, NCStatus:
No longer standingType:
Old photographs show a 6-story brick building with large, arched windows typical of industrial buildings of the period.
1890Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:
614 Capitol Blvd., Raleigh, NCStatus:
Raleigh was late in joining the cotton mill bandwagon but did have a few relatively modest mills alongside the rail lines. The Raleigh Cotton Mills was founded by local investors to card and spin cotton yarn for hosiery. It is a typical mill of its era, with arched openings and corner towers, now repurposed for residential use.
1895Location:Haw River, Alamance CountyStreet Address:
SW corner US 70-A and SR 1935, Haw River, NCStatus:
The millsite on the Haw River had powered cotton mills since the 1840s, and its promise was boosted when the North Carolina Rail Road crossed the river at this location. Edwin M. Holt and his son Thomas acquired the property in 1858. After the Civil War, Thomas Holt greatly expanded the plant. The factory planned by Makepeace and Company in the 189s began with a 1-story section of standard mill construction. This was followed by a large 2-story section that features V-shaped or “zig-zag” walls designed by Makepeace; the form had been patented in 1894 by Rhode Island mill engineer Charles Praray to maximize natural light in the mill. Only a few were built before the use of electric lights made the method obsolete.