Davis, Archie Royal (1907-1980)

Archie Royal Davis (July 17, 1907-October 29, 1980) was a prolific North Carolina architect headquartered in Durham whose work encompassed a wide variety of buildings over his long career including many prestigious edifices. He was also prominent in professional and civic organizations. His collection of architectural records, the Archie Royal Davis Papers, 1926-1980, encompassing more than 500 projects, is held by the Special Collections Research Center, NCSU Libraries; the following brief account is drawn primarily from the finding guide to that collection, prepared by Cilia Golas (1999), augmented by information from other published accounts.

For a list of his projects, see the finding guide to the collection. Several of his residences are featured in the website https://ncmodernist.org/davis.htm. Further study needed to identify and analyze his projects and illuminate developments in the architectural profession during his tenure.

Davis was born in Morehead City, North Carolina, son of Allen C. and Louvenia R. Davis. He attended Morehead City Schools and in 1930 earned a degree in architectural engineering in 1930 from North Carolina State College. In 1936, he married Frances Carlton. The couple had two daughters, Frances and Charlotte. In 1939, Davis established his own architectural firm in Durham, North Carolina. Beginning in 1948, Davis also served for many years as the Orange County public schools architect. Most of his projects were in North Carolina and included schools, colleges, churches, and public buildings plus some residences, commercial buildings, and works at the beach in his native Carteret County. In keeping with his clients’ preferences, he drew strongly on Colonial Revival and classical idioms, and in a few instances worked in modernist modes. He also planned restorations and renovations of historic buildings.

Long active in professional organizations, Davis joined the American Institute of Architects in 1944. He later served as secretary and treasurer of the North Carolina Chapter of the AIA. Davis also served on the North Carolina Board of Architecture from the mid-1960s until 1979. He served as executive director of the Southern Conference of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and was an active member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the North Carolina Society of Engineers, the Durham Council of Architects, and the Durham Engineers Club. Prominent in community leadership, Davis served on the Durham Planning and Zoning Commission and the Durham County Stadium Authority, and was a member of the Durham Chamber of Commerce, the Committee of 100 of Durham, the Allied Arts of Durham, the Parents and Teachers Association, and the Greater Morehead City Chamber of Commerce. He was affiliated with the Trinity Methodist Church as well as a variety of social organizations and fraternal orders, professional and educational foundations, and the Occoneechee Council of the Boys Club of America.

Archie Royal Davis Papers, 1926-1980, Special Collections Research Center, NCSU Libraries

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  • University Lodge Motel

    Coffey Family, contractors; John N. Coffey, contractor; John W. Coffey and Son, contractors; Archie Royal Davis, architect

    early 1960s

    Chapel Hill, Orange County
    Street Address:

    NC 54, Chapel Hill, NC


    No longer standing



    Images Published In:

    Daily Tar Heel, Mar. 19, 1952.


    The Daily Tar Heel of Mar. 19, 1952, carried an article about the soon to be built University Lodge, a “motor court” with 34 rooms which was to help accommodate the growing numbers of visitors anticipated when the University of North Carolina hospital was completed. It was to be built in a “brick colonial design in keeping with Chapel Hill architecture.” After many years as a favorite Tar Heel inn, it was razed for new development. Drawings for the University Lodge are in the Archie Royal Davis Collection, Special Collections Research Center, NCSU Libraries.

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