Kramer, Joseph Perry (1867-1924)

Variant Name(s):

Joe P. Kramer

Birthplace:

Watsontown, Pennsylvania, USA

Residences:

  • Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Trades:

  • Architect
  • Builder

Styles & Forms:

Bungalow; Colonial Revival; Craftsman; Queen Anne

Joseph Perry Kramer (1867-1924), a carpenter, builder, and architect, planned and constructed many of Elizabeth City’s buildings during the early 20th century. He was a representative example of the many builders who worked in a locale for many years, producing a wide range of building types that shaped the architectural character of their communities.

Born in Pennsylvania, Joseph P. Kramer was the son of Daniel S. Kramer, a builder and manufacturer who moved from Pennsylvania with his family to Elizabeth City shortly after the Civil War, when Joseph was a small child. Joseph Perry Kramer, known as Joe P. Kramer, spent his life and career in Elizabeth City, and was responsible for much of the city’s architecture during a key period in its growth. Although Joseph worked with his brothers Charles, John, and Allen, in the family manufacturing and contracting business, he was mainly a builder and architect. According to family accounts, after 1914 he devoted his time exclusively to building and became one of Elizabeth City’s leading builders.

Joseph P. Kramer’s work is known primarily from the recollections of his son, Joe P. Kramer, Jr. (1908-1987). Because of his son’s accounts, the extent and variety of Kramer’s work in Elizabeth City illustrate with unusual completeness the diverse accomplishments of a local builder. His work included custom buildings planned and built for a variety of clients, as well as investment properties built by the family. Many of the materials for construction came from the family’s sawmills and sash and blind factories. Kramer worked in a wide range of styles and forms, from modest bungalows to imposing Colonial Revival residences.

Like many builders of his day, he sometimes constructed buildings from other architects’ designs, but often developed his own designs for the buildings he erected. Especially character-defining in Elizabeth City are the many middle-class houses Kramer built as freestanding houses in rows, two stories tall with strong Queen Anne-Colonial Revival style features. Of a type seldom seen elsewhere in North Carolina communities, they are an important element in Elizabeth City’s unusually urban streetscapes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Whether all or only some of these were planned and built by Kramer and his brothers is not known.

Kramer was one of the first licensed architects in North Carolina. His license certificate, issued in 1915, was #48 in the official registration book of the North Carolina Board of Architecture, one of the early group of men who were licensed in the state based on their having been in professional practice prior to the licensing act of 1915.

Kramer’s obituary stated that he “drew the plans for many of the city’s most important structures.” His son, Joe, Jr., noted that his father’s role as architect was chiefly in designing buildings that he also constructed. Kramer died while one of his buildings, the Louis R. Chappell House, was still under construction.

  • Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
  • Elizabeth City Daily Advance, various issues.
  • F. K. Kramer, “Kramers—90 Years in the Lumber Business in Elizabeth City,” unpublished manuscript, Kramer Family Manuscript (#347), Special Collections Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina (1977).
  • North Carolina Board of Architecture, Record Book 1915-1992, microfilmed by North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Sort Building List by:
  • Allen K. Kramer House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    Ca. 1902
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    406 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • Barrett-Scott House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    Ca. 1915
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    107 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • C. A. Cooke House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    Ca. 1915
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    105 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • C. E. Kramer Rental Houses

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    Ca. 1908
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    610-612 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • Charles O. Robinson House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1914
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    201 E. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
    Note:
    The massive frame house was built for Elizabeth City's lumber magnate Charles O. Robinson and his wife Ivy Blades Robinson by her father, New Bern's lumber leader James B. Blades. It is among the state's most imposing surviving examples of the full-blown "Southern Colonial" style complete with portico, wraparound porches, and lavish classical detailing.

  • Commander-Kramer House

    Contributors:
    Joseph Perry Kramer, attributed builder
    Dates:
    Ca. 1913
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    1000 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).

  • Culpepper Hardware Building

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1920
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    116 N. Poindexter St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Commercial

  • First United Methodist Church

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1919-1922
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    205 S. Road St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Religious
    Images Puslished In:
    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
    Note:
    The red brick church epitomizes McMichael's signature format with portico and dome; his plans are in the possession of the church.

  • Frank Kipp Kramer House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1919
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    1016 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
    Note:
    The spacious "foursquare" house features a strikingly bold, undulating porch and porte cochere; it was built by Joseph Kramer for his nephew Frank Kipp Kramer (1893-1970), who continued in the family lumber business and wrote a memoir about the Kramer family.

  • George A. Twiddy House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1920s
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    504 W. Church St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • Gilbert-Pearson-Owenley

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1901
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    306 S. Martin St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • Gregory-Kramer Houses

    Contributors:
    Joseph Perry Kramer, probable builder
    Dates:
    Ca. 1901-1903
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    407-413 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
    Note:
    The distinctive row of narrow, 2-story Queen Anne style houses, highly characteristic of Elizabeth City's urban fabric, was built as rental and speculative properties, some for John Allen Kramer and some for Willis N. Gregory. They were probably planned and built by J. A. Kramer's brother Joseph P. Kramer. Their design suggests that other similar rows that distinguish Elizabeth City might have been the Kramers' work as well.

  • Hinton Building

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1912
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    400-414 E. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Commercial

  • Jim and Rob Fearing Houses

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1919
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    1001-1006 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).

  • Joe P. Kramer Rental Houses

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    Ca 1914-1923
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    404- 406 N. Road St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • John A. Kramer House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1909
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    313 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
    Note:
    The Queen Anne style house with Colonial Revival details was built for lumberman John A. Kramer by his brother, Joseph.

  • John L. Wells House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1914
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    115 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Note:
    Selden St. developed as a middle and working class street in the early 20th century, and the Kramers built several neat but modest houses there.

  • Joshua Munden House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1914-1915
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    111 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • Kramer Building

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1909
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    500-512 E. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Commercial
    Images Puslished In:
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
    Note:
    The largest commercial building in downtown Elizabeth City, the neoclassically detailed 3-story brick structure was erected by the Kramer family as an investment property and has been the home of many enterprises.

  • Kramer-Worth House

    Contributors:
    Joseph Perry Kramer, probable builder
    Dates:
    Ca. 1918
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    904 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).

  • Louis R. Chappell House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1924
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    1104 N. Road St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • Margaret B. Blount House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1918
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    105 Pearl St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
    Note:
    The boldly detailed though small bungalow is among the city's prime examples of the Craftsman style.

  • Mary Blades Foreman House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1912-1913
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    108 N. McMorrine St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • Morgan-Harris Building

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    Ca. 1914; 1923
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    505 E. Church St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Commercial

  • Stevens-Bell House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    Ca. 1917
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    113 Selden St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

  • Tillett Rental Houses

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    Ca. 1914-1923
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    404-408 W. Church St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential
    Images Puslished In:
    Thomas R. Butchko, On the Shores of the Pasquotank: The Architectural Heritage of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, North Carolina (1989).
    Note:
    These simplified Queen Anne-Colonial Revival style houses, narrow in form and two stories tall, are among the many such houses built by the Kramers in Elizabeth City.

  • Warren Jennette House

    Contributors:
    Dates:
    1914
    Location:
    Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County
    Street Address:
    805 W. Main St., Elizabeth City, NC
    Status:
    Standing
    Type:
    Residential

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