Marye, P. Thornton (1872-1935)
Philip Thornton Marye
Newport News, Virginia, USA
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Washington, D.C.
- Newport News, Virginia
Styles & Forms:
Art Deco; Beaux-Arts; Gothic Revival
Philip Thornton Marye (1872-1935), architect, developed a practice in Atlanta that reached across the South and included several notable Beaux Arts and Art Deco style buildings in North Carolina. During the early twentieth century, he planned a series of fine Beaux-Arts style buildings in Raleigh including a trio of elegant banks, which together gave downtown Raleigh new panache. Because most of these works have been lost, Marye’s contribution to the city’s early 20th century character is not widely recognized. His best known surviving work is the State Administration Building (Ruffin Building), which exemplifies his subtle handling of neoclassical elements to create a monumental building in a tight urban site and set the tone for government buildings around Union Square.
Marye was born in Newport News, Virginia, and grew up near Fredericksburg. After studying at Randolph Macon College (1888-1889) and the University of Virginia (1889-1890), he worked in the architectural office of Glenn Brown, then opened his own practice in Newport News and had an office in Washington, D.C. (1902-1903). He also served in the Spanish American War and in World War I.
A commission for the design of Atlanta’s railroad terminal prompted Marye’s move to that city in 1904. After operating his own firm in Atlanta for several years, in the 1920s and 1930s he engaged in various partnerships, with Barrett Alger (Marye and Alger, 1920-1921); Richard Alger (Marye, Alger & Alger, 1922-1925); Oliver J. Vinour (Marye, Alger and Vinour, 1926-1929); and J. Nisbet Marye and J. Warren Armistead, Jr. (Marye, Vinour, Marye and Armistead, 1930-1935). His firms’ best known buildings in Atlanta include the Fox Theater (formerly the Shrine Mosque), St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and the Southern Bell Building. His works appeared throughout the Southeast in the 1910s and 1920s, and in the late 1920s the firm landed a plum client when Southern Bell Company employed Marye, Alger, and Vinour to design its buildings throughout the region.
While still practicing on his own, Marye gained key commissions in Raleigh during the city’s growth and rebuilding spurt in the 1910s. Erected when taste in Raleigh as nationally was shifting from the eclecticism of the late 19th century to the Beaux Arts esthetic, Marye’s work constituted some of some of Raleigh’s earliest and most sophisticated examples of Beaux Arts design and showed his command of Beaux Arts principles in compositions of various forms and styles. While other architects active in the state at this time competed with him for some projects, his designs appealed strongly to local clients seeking an up-to-date and imposing architectural presence. Marye’s first major commission in Raleigh, which he obtained in 1909, was evidently the Raleigh City Hall and Auditorium (1910-1911), a major public edifice in robust neoclassical style, which the Raleigh Times of May 31, 1911 cited as evidence of the “New Raleigh Spirit.” It was followed by the elegant, stone State Administration Building designed to harmonize with the State Capitol which it faced. A rebuilding of the Wake County Courthouse in stone with a full-height portico supplanted an ornate Second Empire edifice of the 1880s.
At the same time, Marye also designed three distinctive Beaux Arts banks in downtown Raleigh. The News and Observer of May 11, 1914 carried a story applauding “three great banking buildings” erected downtown in the last three years, each one displaying “perfection of art and construction”: Raleigh Banking and Trust Company, the Citizens National Bank, and the Commercial National Bank. All three “by singular coincidence,” were designed by Marye, who had attracted favorable attention with Raleigh Banking and Trust, and the other two bank commissions soon followed. The newspaper writer stated that the Raleigh Banking and Trust Building was modeled on the “Madelene of Paris”; the Commercial National Bank featured a Gothic Revival style unusual among office buildings of the day and comparable to the famed Woodworth Building in New York; and the Citizens National Bank adhered to the “Ionic order of Roman architecture” with the banking room inspired by the Renaissance. When the “house warming” was held for the Commercial National Bank, the News and Observer of October 21, 1913, provided enthusiastic coverage and several photographs. “There is nothing in North Carolina comparable to it, nothing in half a dozen states. It is of it is own kind and as complete a bank building as can be found in the country. . . . It will make you think of the Vatican and give you a touch of the Old World.” Taken together, the banks and public building built within a few blocks and years of one another did much to transform Raleigh’s architectural character in the “new spirit” conveyed by Beaux Arts precepts expertly rendered.
During the late 1920s, the firm of Mayre, Alger, and Vinour planned four Southern Bell office buildings in North Carolina—in Charlotte, Greensboro, Salisbury, and Winston-Salem—which featured an Art Deco mode suitable to the novelty and modernity of the telephone system. After 1930, the Southern Bell Company returned to a more traditional Georgian Revival style. Although Mayre was head of the firm, and his signature appears on the drawings for the North Carolina telephone buildings, some writers credit Oliver Vinour, who joined the firm in the 1920s, with the Art Deco designs for Southern Bell.
- Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Linda L. Harris and Mary Ann Lee, An Architectural and Historical Inventory of Raleigh, North Carolina (1978).
- Lucian L. Knight, A Standard History of Georgia and Georgians (1917).
- Raleigh Illustrated (1910).
- Raleigh News and Observer, Oct. 11, 1915; Oct. 12, 1915.
- Who’s Who in American Art, 1938-1939 (1939).
- Dates:1912-1914Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:NE corner Fayetteville St. at Martin St., Raleigh, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Norman D. Anderson and B. T. Fowler, Raleigh: North Carolina's Capital City on Postcards (1996, 2000, 2002).Note:The architect of this slender and unusually graceful 11-story skyscraper was identified as P. Thornton Marye in an article in the Raleigh News and Observer of May 11, 1914, which also noted his authorship of the Raleigh Banking and Trust Company Building and the Commercial National Bank. The Citizens National Bank was only 3 bays wide facing Fayetteville Street, but 6 bays deep along Martin Street, creating a strong feature in views facing down Fayetteville Street. It was razed in the 1960s for another bank.
- Dates:1910-1911Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:Fayetteville St. at Davie St., Raleigh, NCStatus:No longer standingType:PublicImages Puslished In:James Vickers, Raleigh: City of Oaks (1982).Note:The Raleigh Times reported on July 17, 1909, that several in-state architects had competed for the project, including Herbert Woodley Simpson of New Bern, Hook and Rogers of Charlotte, C. H. Stevens of Wilmington, and Barrett and Thompson of Raleigh, but "Mr. Marye's plans "excelled them all," especially his design for the auditorium. Barrett and Thompson would serve as local associated architects. The grand, Beaux Arts style civic auditorium burned in 1930.
- Variant Name(s):First Citizens BankDates:1912-1913Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:14-20 East Martin St., Raleigh, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Linda L. Harris and Mary Ann Lee, An Architectural and Historical Inventory of Raleigh, North Carolina (1978).Note:Briefly the tallest building in the city, the beautiful Gothic Revival skyscraper was razed in 1992. Photographs of Marye's blueprints and some construction photographs are in the North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
- Contributors:P. Thornton Marye, probable architectDates:Ca. 1914Location:Hickory, Catawba CountyStreet Address:1st Ave. NW at 2nd St. NW, Hickory, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Kirk Franklin Mohney and Laura A. W. Phillips, From Tavern to Town: The Architectural History of Hickory, North Carolina (1988).Note:In 1914 a notice in the Manufacturers' Record stated that P. Thornton Marye had designed the First National Bank in Hickory, to be built with granite and terra cotta; the contractor was to be J. A. Jones. The Beaux-Arts classical bank depicted in postcards is believed to be Marye's design; it was replaced by an Art Deco building in 1941, which still stands.
- Dates:1913; 1928-1929; 1935-1936Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:5 West Hargett St. at Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Norman D. Anderson and B. T. Fowler, Raleigh: North Carolina's Capital City on Postcards (1996, 2000, 2002).Note:The Raleigh Banking and Trust Company originated in 1865. By 1868 the bank had built a brick, Italianate building at the corner of Fayetteville and Hargett streets in downtown Raleigh. That building was razed to make way for a 3-story classically designed building by P. Thornton Marye. Marye designed it as a boldly classical 3-story edifice with tall Ionic columns along the 3-bay front and 7-bay sides. Built with load-bearing walls, a steel interior frame, and reinforced concrete floors, it was designed to enable more stories to be added. In 1928, the officials of the company decided to erect an additional eight stories. After the bank failed early in the Great Depression, a new company acquired and remodeled it, including altering the original 3-story section to give it a sleeker, more modern appearance. See http://goodnightraleigh.com/2014/06/raleigh-banking-and-trust-co-raleigh-n-c/, and http://goodnightraleigh.com/2013/07/the-raleigh-building-the-short-story-of-a-tall-building/.
- Dates:1929Location:Greensboro, Guilford CountyStreet Address:124 S. Eugene St., Greensboro, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Marvin A. Brown, Greensboro: An Architectural Record (1995).Note:Drawings for this building are dated Sept. 14, 1929, "made by H." Copies from Southern Bell Archives.
- Dates:1928-1929Location:Charlotte, Mecklenburg CountyStreet Address:208 North Caldwell St., Charlotte, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialNote:Drawings for the Charlotte Southern Bell Building are dated July 11, 1928 and were drawn by "A. P. A. and B. W. H." Copies from Southern Bell Archives. As Thomas Hanchett has described it, the 4-story, limestone façade featured diverse motifs including an Indian chief, tobacco plants, flamingos, and gryphons.
- Dates:1928Location:Salisbury, Rowan CountyStreet Address:121 W. Council St., Salisbury, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialNote:Drawings dated April 26, 1928, were drawn by "A. P. A." Copies from Southern Bell Archives.
- Variant Name(s):Ruffin BuildingDates:1913Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:1 West Morgan St., Raleigh, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicNote:As state government required more space in the early 20th century, a plan was developed to enlarge the North Carolina State Capitol (see Frank Pierce Milburn). But an outcry stopped that project, and instead the State Administration Building was erected facing Union Square, taking design cues from the State Capitol. Marye's drawings for the State Administration Building are in the North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh. Several architects sought the commission. According to the Asheville Gazette-News of June 8, 1911, "the fight to become the architect of the state administration building occupied most of the day yesterday before the building committee." After other contenders were eliminated, the vote was three and three for Hook and Rogers of Charlotte and P. Thornton Marye of Atlanta, until a deciding vote went for Marye. "Some of the North Carolina architects have criticised the committee for giving the work to an out-of-state company." Marye was associated for the project with Frank B. Simpson of Raleigh. The building was to contain spaces for the Supreme Court, the state library, the hall of history, and numerous officers and commissions.
- Dates:1915Location:Raleigh, Wake CountyStreet Address:Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NCStatus:No longer standingType:PublicImages Puslished In:Steven Stolpen, Raleigh : A Pictorial History (1977).Note:The large, Beaux Arts edifice, which had a long colonnade of Corinthian columns set in antis, was razed in the late 1960s to make way for the present Wake County Courthouse.