Lord, William H. (1864-1933)
William Henry Lord
Syracuse, New York, USA
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Syracuse, New York
Styles & Forms:
William Henry Lord (1864-1933), a native of Syracuse, New York, came to Asheville in 1899 and emerged as one of the most important architects in the city during the early twentieth century as well as a leader in the development of the architectural profession in the state.
According to an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times of September 20, 1903, before arriving in Asheville in December, 1899, Lord had resided in Syracuse and was associated with A. L. Merrick in the firm of Merrick and Lord, architects, until 1891. He then left Syracuse in that year and spent several years working for the United States government supervising building construction across the country for the war department. He married Helen Anthony of Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1896 in Chicago.
In 1899, Lord resigned from his government position and decided to “make his home in Asheville,” which was then a growing railroad and resort community. For a brief period, William and Helen resided with Helen’s sister Maud Anthony and her husband Octavius (Octave) Battle and their family. This family relationship linked William Lord to Octavius’s brother, the prominent Asheville physician Dr. Samuel Westray Battle and to the long established Battle family of Tarboro and Rocky Mount, North Carolina. William and Helen’s son, Anthony Lord (1900-1993), born soon after their arrival in Asheville, would become a prominent regional architect headquartered in Asheville. In 1900 William Lord completed construction of a house for his family at 267 Flint Street in the Montford neighborhood. (According to an interview with his son Anthony, William Lord was encouraged to move to Asheville by architect Richard Sharp Smith. One of Lord’s first projects was an addition to the Clarence Barker Hospital at Biltmore Village,where the original building was designed by Smith. There is no evidence that Lord formed a lasting association with Smith.)
Lord’s architectural practice in Asheville began promptly after his arrival and attracted the attention of the local newspaper. The Asheville Citizen-Times of September 20, 1903 noted Lord’s work on several substantial projects, including the enlargement of the Clarence Barker Memorial Hospital at Biltmore—of which Lord’s in-law Dr. Samuel Westray Battle was medical director; school buildings at Valle Crucis; offices for the Asheville Street Railway Company; and various residences in Asheville, plus the “new National Bank building” in Waynesville.
A decade later, the Asheville Citizen-Times of September 29, 1912, noted Lord’s continued productivity. Commending the city’s architectural character, the writer noted with pride that unlike many cities of its size which had to employ outside architects for their principal building projects, “Asheville is an exception to the rule, and instead the work of its architects may be found in a radius of many miles.” The article singled out Lord as being “among the best known of the local architects,” and stated that since coming to Asheville in 1900, he had “been actively involved with the phenomenal growth and progress of the city,” and had designed some of its “most substantial business structures and handsomest residences,” as well as notable buildings elsewhere. Among those noted in the 1912 article were the Asheville Electric Company on Patton Avenue, the Palace Theater, and the First Church of Christ, Scientist as well as residences such as the Dr. Marion C. Millender House, the George S. Powell House, and the William H. Westall House. There were also banks in Canton and Bryson City, North Carolina. Other projects soon followed as Asheville’s growth mounted through the 1920s. Especially significant among his projects beyond Asheville was his design for the Champion Fibre Company Main Office (1918) in Canton for the giant industrial company in western North Carolina. After Anthony Lord completed his studies at Georgia Tech and Yale, he joined his father’s firm in 1929. For the Lords and other architects, the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression created a near hiatus in building.
Well trained in classical architectural styles, William H. Lord designed residential, commercial, and institutional buildings, in addition to a number of schools, and his buildings display sound proportions and tasteful ornamentation. His early work in Asheville consisted primarily of houses in the Montford neighborhood, including his own, which incorporated elements of the Colonial Revival and Shingle styles. Around 1910 Lord worked on two important church buildings, solidifying his reputation as a renowned local architect. He designed the interiors for the First Church of Christ, Scientist, a handsome Neoclassical Revival-style building designed by S. S. Beman of Chicago and constructed 1909-1912. The orange brick church features a central, pedimented Doric portico and a hip-roof auditorium. Lord also served as the supervising architect for the rebuilding of Trinity Episcopal Church in 1912-1913. Designed by noted architect Bertram Goodhue of the Boston firm of Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson, the church is a restrained Tudor Gothic Revival-style brick structure with granite trim. The church projects are indicative of the versatility and high standards of Lord’s own practice.
Lord designed the E. D. Latta Nurses’ Home, a three-story Neo-Georgian building completed in 1929 across Woodfin Street from the hospital. The three-story, L-shaped, hip-roof, brick building features include rusticated brickwork on the first story, limestone belt course, and a pedimented entrance topped by a Palladian window. Lord’s design for the YWCA on Grove Street, built 1924-1925, consists of a two-story, hip-roof Neo-Federal main block with a gymnasium wing located to the rear. Two pedimented pavilions frame the façade, which also features soldier course water table and lintels, dentil cornice, modillions, demi-lune windows in the pavilion pediments, classical entrance surround, and an elliptical fanlight over the single-leaf entry.
Among his numerous school projects, Lord designed the Asheville High School (originally called the David Millard High School) in downtown Asheville in 1916. Located at the corner of Oak and College streets in downtown Asheville, the three-story brick Tudor Gothic-style school displayed a central pavilion, curved parapets, large window groups, and limestone trim. The school cost $300,000 to build, but was delayed such that when it opened in September 1919, it was already too small for the student population. Lord also designed the two-story Flat Creek School in 1926 north of Weaverville and the stately two-story-plus-basement Biltmore High School, completed in 1927. Located on slight rise overlooking Hendersonville Road, the brick and limestone Biltmore High School featured an auditorium block with pedimented portico at the front of the building, an L-shaped classroom wing at the rear, and a three-story entrance pavilion set at a forty-five degree angle where the auditorium and classroom wing meet. The school projects designed by William Lord were part of a broader statewide trend in the 1910s and 1920s of substantial public investment in consolidated high schools and elementary school facilities.
Unlike two of his fellow architects in Asheville, Richard Sharpe Smith (1852-1924) and Douglas D. Ellington (1886-1960), Lord’s architectural legacy is characterized by substantial, conservative buildings that formed the solid framework of Asheville’s distinctive architectural character. Whereas the prolific Smith contributed stylistically unique buildings heavily influenced by English antecedents and the Arts and Crafts movement, and whereas Ellington’s brief period of activity in Asheville was marked by an innovative amalgamation of his training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, modern Art Deco stylistic elements, and local context, Lord was a more devout classicist in his designs. His adherence to more traditional architectural styles does not diminish his work in any way, but serves to distinguish Lord’s buildings, which helped to define a number of Asheville institutions and businesses.
Not long after his arrival in Asheville, W. H. Lord emerged as a leader in the local and state architectural profession. In 1913 he became a charter member of the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and he was the first architect in the state to become an AIA Fellow (FAIA). According to historian Louise Hall, as cited in Brown and Jackson’s History of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, W. H. Lord was “instrumental” in the state legislature’s passage of the architectural practice act in 1915, which regulated the profession and provided for the licensing of architects. Lord served as president of the state chapter of the AIA from 1917 to 1921, and as president of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
W. H. Lord died tragically in an automobile accident near Salisbury in July 1933, following the summer meeting of the North Carolina chapter of the AIA in Hickory. On his way to Tarboro to visit relatives, Lord was riding with Greensboro architect Harry Barton when their car was struck by an oncoming vehicle and forced off the road, where it overturned and burst into flames. Some of the records of the NCAIA were lost in the fire. Just prior to his death, Lord had been elected president of the North Carolina Board of Architectural Examination and Registration at the meeting in Hickory. William Lord is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Asheville.
At Lord’s death in 1933, a writer for the local newspaper lauded his character as well as his accomplishments: “For more than thirty years he practiced his profession in this community. He drew the plans for innumerable buildings—schools, hospitals, churches, business structures and homes. Utterly incapable of jerry-built construction, he devoted to every project his best thought and energy and refused to consider his task ended until the job had been finished with scrupulous fidelity to specifications. He avoided the garish and showy. He sought always after that beauty which is a happy blending of simplicity and usefulness.”
Note: The Pack Library in Asheville contains a large collection of architectural records for William H. Lord (and Anthony Lord). In the accompanying building list, the notations [Pack ARD or SA plus a number] indicate these records. The building list here includes only a portion of the contents of the collection. Further research may determine the status of others.
- Asheville Citizen, Sept. 25, 1919; July 28, 1933.
- Catherine W. Bishir, Charlotte V. Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury, and Ernest H. Wood III, Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building (1990).
- C. David Jackson and Charlotte V. Brown, History of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1913-1998 (1998).
- “Anthony (Tony) Lord,” Aug. 2, 1979, Bruce S. Greenawalt Oral History Collection, D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville, North Carolina, http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/oralhistory/SHRC/lord_tony.html.
- “William Henry Lord—Biography,” Heritage of Western North Carolina, http://web.archive.org/web/20081204160552/http://www.heritagewnc.org/architects/lord_w_h/biography_lord_w.h..htm.
- Variant Name(s):David Millard High SchoolDates:1916-1919Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:Oak St., Asheville, NCStatus:No longer standingType:EducationalNote:Information from W. H. Lord Collection, University of North Carolina at Asheville. The school, originally called the David Millard School, was demolished in the 1960s.
- Variant Name(s):Asheville Electric Company Office BuildingDates:Ca. 1902Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:Patton Ave., Asheville, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialNote:The L-shaped building designed by W. H. Lord in 1902 at the corner of Patton Avenue and Bailey Street (present-day Asheland Avenue) served as a consolidated car barn and office building for the Asheville Street Railway and the Asheville Electric Company, which had acquired the street railway in 1900. See Pack SA0231, SA1108, photo B811-4, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, and Asheville Citizen-Times, September 29, 1912.
- Dates:1926Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:4 Vanderbilt Park Dr. (Hendersonville Rd.), Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:EducationalNote:See Pack SA0018, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, and W. H. Lord Collection, University of North Carolina at Asheville.
- Contributors:William H. Lord, probable architectDates:1908Location:Bryson City, Swain CountyStreet Address:Main St., Bryson City, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (1999).Note:The Asheville Citizen-Times of September 29, 1912, credited William H. Lord with designing the bank in Bryson City, and it is more than likely the present brick building with arched openings and broad eaves.
- Dates:1920Location:Swannanoa, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:102 Upper College Rd., Swannanoa, NCStatus:StandingType:RecreationalNote:Bryson Gymnasium, named for Holmes Bryson, former mayor of Asheville and a major contributor to the building's construction, contained the first regulation size basketball court in western North Carolina. Information from W. H. Lord Collection, University of North Carolina at Asheville, and Pack SA1465.
- Dates:1912Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:62 Cumberland Circle Ave., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:See Pack ARD0149, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville. This is now operated as the Applewood Manor Inn.
- Dates:1918Location:Canton, Haywood CountyStreet Address:14 Main St., Canton, NCStatus:StandingType:IndustrialImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (1999).
Camille Wells, Canton: The Architecture of Our Home Town (1985).Note:A principal landmark in Canton, the handsome office building was headquarters for the firm that built the town's principal industry the Champion Paper Company. The Champion Log noted that the brick came from Fletcher, N. C., and the granite from Mount Airy. The Asheville Citizen-Times of September 29, 1912, also credited William H. Lord with designing a bank in Canton and another in nearby Waynesville (the latter was also cited in the same paper in September 1903). These have not been identified.
- Dates:1902; 1916Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:1 Village Ln., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:Health CareNote:See Pack SA0966 and SA0967, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, and W. H. Lord Collection, University of North Carolina, Asheville.
- Dates:1929Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:59 Woodfin Pl., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:Health CareNote:This is now known as the Interchange Building.
- Dates:1909-1912Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:64 N. French Broad Ave., Asheville, nCStatus:StandingType:ReligiousNote:Source: Asheville Gazette-News, December 3, 1912.
- Dates:1923Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:Biltmore Ave., Asheville, NCStatus:No longer standingType:EducationalNote:See Pack SA1470-1471, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville. Florence Stephenson, a Presbyterian missionary, was the long-serving principal of the Home Industrial School for Girls, which evolved into the Asheville Normal & Collegiate Institute. Located on a prominent plateau south of town, the school operated until the mid-1940s, when the campus was sold. Drs. Charles and Russell Norburn purchased the property and converted Florence Stephenson Hall into a 120-bed hospital and clinic. Victoria Hospital, as it came to be known, was donated in 1950 to Mission Hospital as the site of a new consolidated medical center.
- Dates:1908Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:346 Montford Ave., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:The large Colonial Revival style house was built on a spacious lot for the president of the firm that began development of Montford. See Historic Montford, Pack SA1064, and photo A640-8, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville.
- Dates:Ca. 1913Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:265 Pearson Dr., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:See Pack SA1017, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville. A descendant of the pioneering Davidson family in Buncombe County and the widow of William Spencer Child, Mary Elizabeth Child was one of the founders of Mission Hospital. Asheville Times, November 3, 1944.
- Dates:1910Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:28 Forsythe St., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ReligiousNote:See Pack ARD0207, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville. In the early 1970s, the North Asheville Baptist congregation sold this building, which is now known as Forsythia Hall.
- Dates:Ca. 1910Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:76 Patton Ave., Asheville, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialNote:Lord's drawings identify the building as the W. T. Weaver Building on Patton Avenue. Half of the first story contained a theater (See Pack SA1125, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville). Asheville Citizen-Times, September 29, 1912. At that time it was referred to as the Palace Theater and Air Dome.
- Dates:1930Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:10 N. Liberty St., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ReligiousNote:See Pack SA1076, A1078, SA1079, and ARD0059, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville.
- Dates:1912-1913Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:60 Church St., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ReligiousImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir, Michael T. Southern, and Jennifer F. Martin, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina (1999).Note:As suggested in correspondence from Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson in the William H. Lord-Trinity Episcopal Church Papers, the principal architect for Trinity was Goodhue. Their correspondence is lively reading, including various clashes over authority of design among the vestry, the local architect, and the national firm, the latter being insistent on its full authorship and control of the design. See William H. Lord Collection, University of North Carolina at Asheville. Lord also supplied designs for a Sunday school addition in 1921.
- Dates:1919Location:Madison CountyStreet Address:4884 Chapel Hill Rd., Laurel community, Madison County, NCStatus:StandingType:Health CareNote:Presbyterian missionary Frances Goodrich helped to organize White Rock Hospital, the first and only hospital built in Madison County. Dr. George Packard of Massachusetts served as the first physician in charge. William Lord designed the building, with drawings dating from 1916 and 1917. The hospital was completed in 1919 and remained open until the 1940s. See Pack SA1066, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, and Francis R. Bellamy, The Story of White Rock (New York: Education Department, Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1921).
- Contributors:William H. Lord, architect (additions)Dates:Ca. 1900Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:301 Pearson Dr., Asheville, NCStatus:AlteredType:ResidentialNote:See Michael T. Southern, Asheville's Historic Montford, Asheville, North Carolina (1985) and photo Pack A658-8, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville.
- Dates:1900Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:267 Flint St., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:Lord built this house for himself and his family shortly after arriving in Asheville. See Pack SA1140, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville.
- Dates:Ca. 1910Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:4 Clayton St., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ReligiousNote:The Asheville Citizen-Times of September 29, 1912, mentioned the William H. Westall House among Lord's works; at the time of that article, Westall lived at 4 Clayton St.