Stout, Joe W. (1883-1933)

Joe W. Stout (April 7, 1883-August 22, 1933), a brickmason and contractor headquartered in Sanford, located in an area known for its clay deposits and brick making, developed an extensive construction practice in eastern and central North Carolina. He took an important role in building downtown Sanford during the early 20th century, including the Sanford Town Hall, the Wilrik Hotel and the Temple Theatre. Beyond Sanford, Joe W. Stout and Company began with public schools and moved to more ambitious projects. Most of his projects were in the small railroad towns of eastern and central North Carolina that blossomed in this era. As these communities employed members of the growing regional architectural profession to design substantial and “modern” hotels, schools, and civic buildings to assert their rising stature, Joe W. Stout and Company was often the company chosen to build them.

A native of Randolph County, Joe W. Stout married Maggie Allred in Randolph County in 1903, and by 1920 he was listed as a contractor and head of household in Jonesboro, Lee County, with Maggie and their five children aged fifteen down to a baby. In 1930 the family, which included six children, was listed in “West Sanford.”

As related by J. Daniel Pezzoni in The History and Architecture of Lee County, Stout came to Sanford in the first decade of the 20th century and in 1906 was working with other brickmasons on the West Sanford School. Apparently his first major project was the Sanford Town Hall of 1909-1910, which became an instant landmark in the community. In 1919 he was among several investors who developed the Cumnock Brick Company, which supplied material for his and other projects. He soon incorporated a contracting firm known as Joe W. (or J. W.) Stout and Company. In the same period, Stout was elected vice president and then president of the North Carolina chapter of Associated General Contractors.

Stout’s firm appeared regularly in newspaper notices. The Raleigh Times reported on February 24, 1912, the issuance of a charter to “Joe W. Stout & Co.” of Sanford to do general contracting construction work, with an authorized capital of $10,000 and $2,000 subscribed for by Joe W. Stout, O. W. Stout, and V. C. Brown. The firm capitalized on the state’s early 20th-century push for modern public schools, which provided “bread and butter” projects for many architects and builders. In 1913 the company won the contract to enlarge the Apex Graded and High School, which the Raleigh News and Observer of July 9, 1913, asserted would be one of the “handsomest school buildings outside a city or large town in North Carolina.” Other contracts for brick schools included those in Beaufort (Farmer and Mechanic, December 1, 1914); Norlina (Norlina Headlight, August 6, 1915—the Norlina School designed by architect Christopher Gadsden Sayre) and East Sanford (Charlotte Observer, May 19, 1916). In Greensboro, which undertook a major local school building campaign in the 1920s, Stout’s company built a number of schools, including the West Lee Street School (Charles D. McIver School), designed by Starrett and Van Vleck of New York as consulting architects and Albert Carl Wirth of Greensboro as local architect (Greensboro Patriot, October 24, 26, 1922). The firm continued to bid on and execute school projects for years.

The company expanded its scope during the 1920s. Winston-Salem Journal of September 13, 1920 that Stout’s firm had built or was building a large number of buildings in the town of Farmville, including “about fifty cottages, two large residences, several big stores, a big garage building, a splendid up-to-date bank building [the Bank of Farmville], and a graded school which will have no superior in the State, it is said.” The total cost was expected to be almost a million dollars. An especially significant commission was the contract for the $400,000 granite Johnston County Courthouse in Smithfield, designed in imposing classical fashion by architect Harry Barton of Greensboro (News and Observer, May 11, 1921). The Stout company’s advertisements in the News and Observer (April 27, 1922 and other issues)—”For Stout Construction See Stout”—featured illustrations of the Bank of Farmville and the Farmers Commercial Bank, exemplary of the neoclassical banks that had begun to define key corners of many towns. In that same year, Stout’s firm took the contract for building the large, neoclassical Moore County Courthouse in Carthage, designed by architect Christopher Gadsden Sayre (Moore County News, December 14, 1922).

Success seems to have bred success. At Elon College (see Elon College Buildings) in Alamance County, the building committee to rebuild the administration building after a fire selected as architect Herbert B. Hunter of High Point. The committee was initially inclined to have a local contractor, but after “careful consideration,” unanimously decided to award the contract for the brick and steel structure to Joe W. Stout and Company. Before long, the firm had contracts for seven buildings at the college (Alamance Gleaner, March 15, 1923; Asheboro Courier, July 26, 1923). The new buildings were executed in the red brick Georgian Revival style popular at the time, which set the tone for subsequent campus architecture.

In eastern North Carolina, Stout’s firm constructed hotels that represented civic achievements and ambitions in growing railroad and tobacco and textile manufacturing towns. In Wilson, Stout’s company built the Cherry Hotel, designed by local architect Charles C. Benton, Sr., as well as the elegant Georgian Revival style W.W. Graves House planned by Greensboro architect Harry Barton. In Goldsboro, the firm was awarded the contract for a $400,000 hotel, likely the 8-story Goldsboro Hotel designed by New York hotel architect William Lee Stoddart. Surely the firm’s grandest hotel was the 11-story Hotel Kinston (1928) designed by Herbert B. Hunter as an exotically detailed skyscraper that commanded the main street of the growing tobacco town.

At his death in 1933, Stout was lauded in the Sanford Herald of August 24 as “one of the most successful and skillful contractors in the state.”

  • 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).
  • J. Daniel Pezzoni, The History & Architecture of Lee County, North Carolina (1995).
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  • Bank of Farmville

    Contributors:
    Benton and Benton, architects; Charles C. Benton, Sr., architect; Frank W. Benton, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1921

    Location:
    Farmville, Pitt County
    Street Address:

    129 S. Main St., Farmville, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Published In:

    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
    Scott Power, The Historical Architecture of Pitt County, North Carolina (1991).

    Note:

    This is one of the firm’s several neoclassical banks designed to take advantage of their prominent corner locations, here with a full-height Doric portico in antis and pilasters along the side.


  • Charles D. McIver School

    Contributors:
    Starrett and Van Vleck, consulting architects; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors; Albert Carl Wirth, associate architect
    Variant Name(s):

    West Lee Street School

    Dates:

    1923

    Location:
    Greensboro, Guilford County
    Street Address:

    617 W. Lee St., Greensboro, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Educational

    Images Published In:

    Marvin A. Brown, Greensboro: An Architectural Record (1995).

    Note:

    The classically detailed brick school is especially striking because of the arcade of five 2-story arched windows that define the main façade. It is one of four public schools in Greensboro associated with nationally known New York architects Starrett and van Vleck, who are best known as designers of department stores but also planned numerous schools in several states. In 1921 the Greensboro school officials commissioned the firm to serve as consulting architect for several local schools to be “of the most modern type,” and “with the great bulk of the architectural work done by local architects” (Greensboro Daily News, October 18, 1921). Dr. George D. Strayer of the teacher’s college Columbia University was to advise as well. See also Greensboro Daily News, October 22, 1922.


  • Cherry Hotel

    Contributors:
    Charles C. Benton, Sr., architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1919-1923

    Location:
    Wilson, Wilson County
    Street Address:

    333 E. Nash St., Wilson, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Published In:

    Kate Ohno and Robert C. Bainbridge, Wilson, North Carolina, Historic Buildings Inventory (1980).


  • Elon College Buildings

    Contributors:
    Herbert B. Hunter, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1923-1925

    Location:
    Elon, Alamance County
    Street Address:

    Elon University, Elon, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Educational

    Note:

    Drawings for the early 1920s buildings of Elon College by Herbert Hunter are in the Guy E. Crampton and William Henley Deitrick Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh. They include drawings for the Administration Building, Covered Passageway, Religious Education Building, Library, and Science Building, all dated 1923. A fire in 1923 had destroyed the earlier campus buildings, and rebuilding began promptly afterward. Hunter’s buildings set the tone for the campus. Some sources cite R. E. Mitchell of Washington, D.C. as architect, with Hunter the local architect. Contractor Joe W. Stout won the contract for the Science Building first and soon became contractor for the other buildings.


  • Farmers Commercial Bank

    Contributors:
    Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors; Charles C. Wilson, architect
    Dates:

    1921

    Location:
    Benson, Johnston County
    Street Address:

    100 Main St., Benson, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Published In:

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

    Note:

    A landmark in the small railroad town of Benson, the neoclassically detailed bank overlooks the tracks at the center of the community. Wilson’s commission for the Farmers Commercial Bank was noted in the Manufacturers’ Record, Aug. 18, 1921.


  • First Citizens Bank

    Contributors:
    Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1913

    Location:
    Smithfield, Johnston County
    Street Address:

    241 Market St., Smithfield, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial


  • First Presbyterian Church

    Contributors:
    Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors; L. M. Thompson, architect
    Dates:

    1928

    Location:
    Sanford, Lee County
    Street Address:

    203 Hawkins Ave., Sanford, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Religious

    Images Published In:

    J. Daniel Pezzoni, The History & Architecture of Lee County, North Carolina (1995).

    Note:

    The Gothic Revival church features unequal towers and a rose window on the façade.


  • 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 Kinston

    Contributors:
    Herbert B. Hunter, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1928

    Location:
    Kinston, Lenoir County
    Street Address:

    503 N. Queen St., Kinston, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Published In:

    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
    M. Ruth Little, Coastal Plain and Fancy: The Historic Architecture of Lenoir County and Kinston, North Carolina (1998).

    Note:

    With its exceptional height for its locale and its exotic Moorish and Art Deco detailing, the 11-story hotel is a dominant landmark of downtown Kinston. Its design is notable for the setbacks to provide daylight to all the rooms. The hotel was a project supported by local businessmen who were determined that the town should have a first-class hotel that would be a “skyscraper” at least 10 stories tall (Kinston Daily Free Press, January 28, 1920). In 1926 local business leaders formed a stock company, the Community Hotel Corporation, which raised enough funds to break ground. The total cost was about $350,000. Finally the headline “Hotel Kinston A Big Achievement” appeared in the Kinston Daily Free Press on February 28, 1928.


  • Johnston County Courthouse

    Contributors:
    Harry Barton, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1921

    Location:
    Smithfield, Johnston County
    Street Address:

    212 E. Market St., Smithfield, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Public

    Images Published In:

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


  • Lenoir High School

    Contributors:
    Benton and Benton, architects; Charles C. Benton, Sr., architect; Frank W. Benton, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1922

    Location:
    Lenoir, Caldwell County
    Street Address:

    100 Willow St., Lenoir, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Educational

    Note:

    Typical of the consolidated high schools of its era, the large brick building, 220 feet long, features classical detailing.


  • McIver School

    Contributors:
    Variant Name(s):

    East Sanford Graded School

    Dates:

    1916

    Location:
    Sanford, Lee County
    Street Address:

    219 Maple Ave., Sanford, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Educational

    Images Published In:

    J. Daniel Pezzoni, The History & Architecture of Lee County, North Carolina (1995).

    Note:

    Sayre cited this project in the Manufacturers’ Record (Apr. 13, 1916; May 25, 1916) and it is well known as his design.


  • Moore County Courthouse

    Contributors:
    Christopher Gadsden Sayre, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1922

    Location:
    Carthage, Moore County
    Street Address:

    Courthouse Square, Carthage, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Public

    Note:

    Sayre cited this project in the Manufacturers’ Record of (Apr. 20, 1922) and it is well known as his design.


  • Norlina School

    Contributors:
    Christopher Gadsden Sayre, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Variant Name(s):

    Norlina Christian School

    Dates:

    Ca. 1915

    Location:
    Norlina, Warren County
    Street Address:

    Heaven St., Norlina, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Educational

    Note:

    The Norlina School project was cited to Sayre in the the Manufacturers’ Record (Aug. 12, 1915) and the present building is probably his design.


  • Olive-Seymour House

    Contributors:
    Frank B. Simpson, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1917

    Location:
    Apex, Wake County
    Street Address:

    107 S. Salem St., Apex, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • Sanford Town Hall

    Contributors:
    Joe W. Stout, builder
    Dates:

    1909-1910

    Location:
    Sanford, Lee County
    Street Address:

    143 Charlotte Ave., Sanford, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Public

    Images Published In:

    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
    J. Daniel Pezzoni, The History & Architecture of Lee County, North Carolina (1995).

    Note:

    The brick building with large square tower is a landmark of downtown Sanford. It displays a variety of decorative brickwork.


  • Selma Graded School

    Contributors:
    Benton and Benton, architects; Charles C. Benton, Sr., architect; Frank W. Benton, architect; Joe W. Stout, builder
    Dates:

    1922

    Location:
    Selma, Johnston County
    Street Address:

    W. Richardson St., Selma, NC

    Status:

    No longer standing

    Type:

    Educational


  • Stroud-Hubbard Building

    Contributors:
    Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors; L. M. Thompson, architect
    Dates:

    1928

    Location:
    Sanford, Lee County
    Street Address:

    112 S. Steele St., Sanford, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Note:

    The 2-story building has terra cotta detailing in a Tudor Revival mode.


  • Temple Theatre

    Contributors:
    Eric C. Flannagan, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1924-1925

    Location:
    Sanford, Lee County
    Street Address:

    120 Carthage St., Sanford, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Recreational

    Images Published In:

    J. Daniel Pezzoni, The History & Architecture of Lee County, North Carolina (1995).

    Note:

    A landmark of Sanford, the imposing brick building combines elements of the Colonial Revival and Art Deco styles. The 450-seat performing theater and movie house began by showing traveling vaudeville and other road shows but later shifted to movies.


  • W.W. Graves House

    Contributors:
    Harry Barton, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Dates:

    1922

    Location:
    Wilson, Wilson County
    Street Address:

    800 W. Nash St., Wilson, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Published 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).


  • Wilrik Hotel

    Contributors:
    Christopher Gadsden Sayre, architect; Joe W. Stout, contractor; Joe W. Stout & Co., contractors
    Variant Name(s):

    Wilkins-Ricks Hotel

    Dates:

    1925

    Location:
    Sanford, Lee County
    Street Address:

    200 Wicker St., Sanford, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Published In:

    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
    J. Daniel Pezzoni, The History & Architecture of Lee County, North Carolina (1995).

    Note:

    The project was cited as Sayre’s in the the Manufacturers’ Record (June 5, 1924) and is well known as his design.


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