Hunter, Herbert B. (1890-1976)
Herbert Bernard Hunter
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
- High Point, North Carolina
- Charlotte, North Carolina
Styles & Forms:
Colonial Revival; Georgian Revival; Tudor Revival
Herbert Bernard Hunter (October 5, 1890-March 31, 1976), architect, worked widely in North Carolina and elsewhere, with his principal North Carolina projects occurring in the 1920s. Born in Charlotte, according to his obituary he attended the Charlotte Military Academy before studying at the Beaux Arts Architectural School in New York. He worked as a draftsman for Charlotte architect Leonard L. Hunter (probably a relative) for a few years, and then established his own firm in High Point in the early 1920s. He was an early member of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and was pictured among the group at the annual meeting in Charlotte in 1929. He also served as architect for the National Park Service, designing numerous park buildings. A special opportunity came, as his obituary stated, when he was “personally selected by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to make the drawing for the White House Oval Room.” He served in the Navy in both World Wars, planning hospitals and other facilities. He and his wife Johnsie had two children, Herbert Bernard, Jr., and Haynes N. In 1965 Hunter retired to Asheville, and he died in nearby Hendersonville at age 85.
Hunter designed a variety of buildings in North Carolina, chiefly in the 1920s. He is best known for his campus work, typically in the popular Georgian Revival-Colonial Revival style with red brick accented by bold classical detailing. He worked in this mode in planning the campus and designing the original buildings of High Point College (High Point College Buildings; 1920-1924; now High Point University), a newly established Methodist school. He continued the style with the Elon College Buildings (now Elon University), where after a fire, the industrialist Holt and Duke families sponsored construction of five buildings “all of colonial architecture.” And he used a similar vocabulary at the new campus of the Junior Order United Mechanics National Orphans Home (1925-1932), which was generally modeled on the University of Virginia.
Hunter was also eclectic in his use of styles and forms, as evidenced by his striking design for the 12-story Hotel Kinston (1928), an exotic blend of Moorish, Mission, and Art Deco motifs that towers over Kinston’s main street and is one of the few skyscrapers in eastern North Carolina. Also in Kinston, he planned a Tudor Revival mansion, the Harvey C. Hines House (late 1920s), for a leading businessman who was an organizer of the hotel project. Hunter’s obituary in the Asheville Citizen (April 2, 1976) also mentioned buildings at Mount Mitchell State Park, houses in Blowing Rock and Charlotte, and a residential project for James B. Duke, but these have not been identified.
- Asheville Citizen, Apr. 2, 1976.
- 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).
- Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (1999).
- Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- C. David Jackson and Charlotte V. Brown, History of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1913-1998 (1998).
1923-1925Location:Elon, Alamance CountyStreet Address:
Elon University, Elon, NCStatus:
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.
1922-1923Location:Burlington, Alamance CountyStreet Address:
400 S. Broad St., Burlington, NCStatus:
ReligiousImages Published In:
Allison Harris Black, An Architectural History of Burlington, North Carolina (1987).
Late 1920sLocation:Kinston, Lenoir CountyStreet Address:
1118 N. Queen St., Kinston, NCStatus:
ResidentialImages Published In:
M. Ruth Little, Coastal Plain and Fancy: The Historic Architecture of Lenoir County and Kinston, North Carolina (1998).
1921-1924Location:High Point, Guilford CountyStreet Address:
High Point University, Montlieu Ave. at College Dr., High Point, NCStatus:
EducationalImages Published In:
H. McKelden Smith, Architectural Resources: An Inventory of Historic Architecture, High Point, Jamestown, Gibsonville, Guilford County (1979).Note:
At the newly established High Point College, now University, Hunter designed many buildings, establishing the campus’s red brick Colonial Revival style.
1928Location:Kinston, Lenoir CountyStreet Address:
503 N. Queen St., Kinston, NCStatus:
CommercialImages 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.
- Variant Name(s):
American Childrens Homes HomeDates:
1925-1932Location:Lexington, Davidson CountyStreet Address:
Jct. NC 47 and NC 8, Lexington vicinity, NCStatus:
InstitutionalImages Published In:
Paul Baker Touart, Building the Backcountry: An Architectural History of Davidson County, North Carolina (1987).
1928Location:Troy, Montgomery CountyStreet Address:
206 N. Russell St., Troy, NCStatus:
Herbert B. Hunter designed the English Revival house in 1928 for Mrs. N.W. Smitherman, a widow with two children who owned Troy’s Smitherman Cotton Mill. The family sold the home in 1989 to a local dentist, who in turn sold it to the current owners in 1996. The brand name for the brick used for the building’s exterior was called “Damn Ugly” by the brick’s manufacturer.
1927Location:High Point, Guilford CountyStreet Address:
Elva Pl. at Springfield Rd., High Point, NCStatus:
A blueprint and correspondence concerning Herbert Hunter’s design for the Springfield Friends Meeting House (Quaker Church) are in the John J. Blair Papers at the North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
1927-1928Location:High Point, Guilford CountyStreet Address:
N. Main St., High Point, NCStatus:
ReligiousImages Published In:
H. McKelden Smith, Architectural Resources: An Inventory of Historic Architecture, High Point, Jamestown, Gibsonville, Guilford County (1979).