Peeps, William H. (1868-1950)

Birthplace:

London, England

Residences:

  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan

Trades:

  • Architect

Styles & Forms:

Colonial Revival; Gothic Revival; Rustic; Tudor Revival

William H. Peeps (March 3, 1868-September 10, 1950), an English-born architect, was a key figure in Charlotte’s early 20th-century development into a regional business hub and center of architectural activity. Working in a variety of styles and with an elegant and restrained touch, Peeps designed some of the city’s finest downtown buildings as well as numerous residences and other buildings in Charlotte and a few other towns. According to George W. Hamilton’s 1928 publication, William H. Peeps, A.I.A., Architect, “In addition to the designing of many of the homes, the decorations and furnishings have also been handled by Mr. Peeps,” a role that reflected his early training and experience in furniture design.

William H. Peeps was born in London as one of several children of James Abraham Peeps, an ornamental wood carver, and Hannah Barnes Peeps. He immigrated in 1872 with his family to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where his father became a cabinetmaker, wood carver, and designer for the Phoenix Furniture Company. In 1880 the family included James and Hannah and their children Charles, likewise a woodcarver, and William, in school. (The older Peeps children, Walter, Amelia, and George, had left the household by that time. Walter Peeps and his wife Mary had a son, William H. Peeps [1875-1930], also a wood carver, who has sometimes been confused with Walter’s brother William H. Peeps who eventually moved to Charlotte.)

Probably learning his craft from his father and brother, William apprenticed in furniture design and architecture and in 1888 went to Chicago, where he worked for architect Frederick W. Perkins. In 1890 in Grand Rapids he married Ellen Jane (Nellie) Blakeslee, a native of Muskegon, Michigan. By 1900, William and Nellie had moved to Atlanta, where he was employed as a woodwork designer; his widowed father, James, was residing in the household working as a woodcarver. Whether Peeps received any formal architectural training is not known, but his background in design stood him in good stead in an era where the definition of the architectural profession was still open and fluid.

Accounts vary as to when Peeps came to Charlotte. His obituary gave the date as 1905, while some local sources indicate 1911, and the United States Census of 1910 recorded William and Nellie in Grand Rapids, where he was working as a furniture designer. It appears that he ventured to Charlotte for a brief period, for in 1907 the Manufacturers’ Record noted that he had drawn plans for an “Office Building & Interurban Depot” for the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company (4 C’s), a dynamic development firm headed by entrepreneur Edward Dilworth Latta.

In any case, probably impressed by fast-growing Charlotte’s prospects for an architect and perhaps with the encouragement of developer Latta, soon after 1910 William and Nellie Peeps made what proved to be a permanent move to the city: Peeps stated in a form he filled out for the National Census of Engineering and Architectural Personnel in 1940 that he had established his architectural practice in Charlotte in 1912. He joined a thriving architectural community that already included such practitioners as Charles Christian Hook, Louis H. Asbury, and Oliver Duke Wheeler and his various partners. He was among the first men certified to practice architecture in North Carolina, obtaining license 27 in 1915 along with other architects who were licensed in that year based on being in practice prior to 1915.

Although not as prolific or wide-ranging as some of his contemporaries in Charlotte, Peeps found a strong clientele among the Queen City’s civic and business leaders and established a long-lived practice that included some of the city’s most distinguished buildings, especially those of the 1910s and 1920s. He captured local attention with his reputation-making Latta Arcade and Brevard Court, built in 1914 for Edward Dilworth Latta’s 4C’s development company that created the Dilworth suburb and spurred Charlotte’s growth of the era. The skylit arcade with stylized classical details was described by the local newspaper as “a departure in all particulars from the usual style of office buildings.” One of his most prestigious downtown commissions was the elegant J. B. Ivey Department Store, a 5-story building clad in Gothic Revival style terra cotta, a landmark in Charlotte’s downtown regional shopping mecca of flagship department stores. Although his practice focused on Charlotte, Peeps also had commissions in nearby communities such as Gastonia, Concord, and Salisbury and a few mountain towns. His oeuvre encompassed commercial buildings, hospitals, and clubhouses, and especially, handsome residences, including several in Charlotte’s stylish young suburbs of Dilworth and Myers Park.

Known for the high quality of his designs, Peeps was like others of his generation a nimble eclectic, working confidently in all the popular styles of the day, including Renaissance Revival, Colonial Revival, Shingle style, Tudor and Gothic modes, and even a Moorish motif in the small, romantically picturesque commercial façade of Charlotte’s Ratcliffe Flower Shop. Like other architects in Charlotte, he excelled at the Tudor Revival residential style which was highly popular in the city; among his works in that style are the Lethco House in Charlotte’s Myers Park, the E. T. Cannon House built for a Concord textile executive, and the Hanford House in Salisbury. He was equally adept in variations on the Colonial Revival and Federal Revival styles, including the W. W. Flowe House in Concord and many others.

A leader in the state’s architectural profession, he became a national AIA member in 1921 and was active in the North Carolina chapter as vice president and as president in 1924 and 1925. In his address to the NCAIA meeting in Charlotte in 1925, Peeps encouraged the chapter members to expand the organization and encourage recognition of the profession.

After the death of his wife Nellie in 1940, Peeps married Margaret Linehan Berry, a native of New York born in 1897. His obituary noted that at the time of his death Peeps was a member of the Church of the Holy Comforter, of Excelsior Masonic Lodge No. 261, and the Charlotte Commandery, Knights Templar. He was buried in Charlotte’s Elmwood Cemetery. His widow Margaret survived him for a year. He evidently left no children, though his obituary mentioned his stepson, Jack Berry of Charlotte.

Note: The building list includes a sampling of Peeps’s work focusing on his best known projects. His papers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte include about 80 drawings and photographs for these and other projects. Additional entries will be made in the building list as status, dates, and locations can be confirmed. A fuller study of his work is needed.

  • Charlotte Daily Observer, Jan. 4, 1914.
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, designation reports, various properties, http://www.cmhpf.org/homehistoricproperties.htm.
  • Charlotte Observer, Sept. 11, 1950.
  • “Descendants of George Peeps,” http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pepys/pepysons/peeps/pafg12.htm.
  • George W. Hamilton, ed., William H. Peeps, A. I. A., Architect (1928).
  • George W. Hamilton, “William H. Peeps. A.I.A. Architect. Charlotte. N.C.,” The Charlotte Observer, Sept. 11, 1950.
  • C. David Jackson and Charlotte V. Brown, History of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1913-1998 (1998).
  • “North Carolina Death Records,” Ancestry.com, http://www.ancestry.com.
  • William H. Peeps, National Defense Census Form, June 28, 1940, copy in William H. Peeps file, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • William H. Peeps Papers, Manuscript Collection, J. Murrey Atkins Library, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • United States Census.
Sort Building List by:
  • Coddington House

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1917-1918

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    1122 E. Morehead St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • Craig House

    Contributors:
    J. A. Gardner, contractor; William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1929

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    900 Ardsley Rd., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • E. T. Cannon House

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Variant Name(s):

    First Presbyterian Church Fellowship House

    Dates:

    1920s

    Location:
    Concord, Cabarrus County
    Street Address:

    58 N. Union St., Concord, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Peter R. Kaplan, The Historic Architecture of Cabarrus County, North Carolina (2004).


  • G. G. Galloway House

    Contributors:
    W. J. Hyndman, builder; William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1914-1915

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    602 E. Morehead St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Note:

    Located in the Dilworth suburb, the Galloway residence combines natural stone and shingles to create a rustic effect.


  • Hanford House

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1937

    Location:
    Salisbury, Rowan County
    Street Address:

    712 S. Fulton St., Salisbury, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Note:

    The Tudor Revival house was the childhood home of North Carolina’s United States Senator Elizabeth Hanford Dole.


  • Hovis Funeral Home Building

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1920s

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    516 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial


  • J. B. Ivey Department Store

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Variant Name(s):

    Ivey’s

    Dates:

    1924

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    127 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Altered

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    Mary Norton Kratt and Mary Manning Boyer, Remembering Charlotte: Postcards from a New South City, 1905-1950 (2000).

    Note:

    Of the grand department stores that once drew customers from far and wide to downtown Charlotte—Belk’s, Efird’s, and Ivey’s—only the magnificent Gothic Revival style Ivey’s with its terra cotta façades still stands, converted to a new use. According to Dan L. Morrill and Stewart Gray, company founder J. B. Ivey was a devout Methodist, who “insisted that the curtains be drawn in his store windows on Sundays, so that the pedestrians would not be tempted to consider matters of this world on the Lord’s day.”


  • John Bass Brown House

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1925

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    600 Hermitage Rd., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Note:

    One of several Colonial Revival style residences Peeps designed in the Myers Park suburb. Brown was a bank president and mayor of Charlotte.


  • Joseph Cannon House

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Variant Name(s):

    Joe E. Cannon House

    Dates:

    1927

    Location:
    Blowing Rock, Watauga County
    Street Address:

    John’s River Gorge, Blowing Rock, NC

    Status:

    Unknown

    Type:

    Residential

    Note:

    The large, luxurious mountain home was built for textile industrialist Joseph E. Cannon in a rustic style typical of the time and place, using native stone and chestnut wood and bark. Blowing Rock was a favorite mountain resort for wealthy piedmont industrialists and other businessmen and their families. Like many of their residences, the Cannon house stands in a private and remote location.


  • Ketner House

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1933

    Location:
    Concord, Cabarrus County
    Street Address:

    79 Washington Lane SE, Concord, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Peter R. Kaplan, The Historic Architecture of Cabarrus County, North Carolina (2004).


  • Latta Arcade and Brevard Court

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1914

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    320 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Commercial

    Images Puslished In:

    Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture (1990).
    Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).


  • Lethco House

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Variant Name(s):

    President’s House, Queens University

    Dates:

    1928

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    2038 Roswell Ave., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • Masonic Hall

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1927

    Location:
    Waynesville, Haywood County
    Street Address:

    37 Church St., Waynesville, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Fraternal

    Note:

    The 3-story edifice, one of the most imposing early 20th-century structures in Waynesville, features a façade in concrete fashioned to resemble stone, with progression of classical orders from the Doric at the entrance to the Ionic columns and pilasters at the first story and the Corinthian pilasters that rise through the second and third stories. Whether Peeps had a hand in other Waynesville buildings of the era is not yet known.


  • Masonic Temple

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1923

    Location:
    Gastonia, Gaston County
    Street Address:

    214 South St., Gastonia, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Fraternal

    Images Puslished In:

    Kim Withers Brengle, The Architectural Heritage of Gaston County, North Carolina (1982).


  • North Carolina Orthopedic Hospital

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, attributed architect
    Dates:

    Ca. 1920s

    Location:
    Gastonia, Gaston County
    Street Address:

    New South Rd., Gastonia, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Health Care

    Note:

    Some accounts cite Peeps as architect for the North Carolina Orthopedic Hospital in Gastonia, a facility opened in 1921. Further information is needed on which building or buildings he planned there.


  • Office Building and Interurban Depot

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1907

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Unknown

    Type:

    Commercial
    Transportation

    Note:

    The Manufacturers’ Record, July 11, 1907, reported that the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company had plans prepared by William H. Peeps for erection of an office building and interurban depot, 40 x 125 feet. Whether it was built remains unknown. When the Piedmont and Northern Interurban electric route was actually built a few years later, Charlotte architect Charles Christian Hook designed the depots.


  • Ratcliffe Flower Shop

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1930

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    431 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Altered

    Type:

    Commercial

    Note:

    After facing the threat of demolition, the picturesque little Moorish Revival shop was removed from its site in 2000 and then reinserted in a big new building near its original site. The longlived family business had as its motto, “Ratcliffe’s Flowers/Brighten the Hours.”


  • W. W. Flowe House

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1920s

    Location:
    Concord, Cabarrus County
    Street Address:

    113 Grove Ave., Concord, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Images Puslished In:

    Peter R. Kaplan, The Historic Architecture of Cabarrus County, North Carolina (2004).


  • Wilson-Shelton House

    Contributors:
    Blythe and Isenhour, contractors; William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1925

    Location:
    Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
    Street Address:

    1400 Queens Rd., Charlotte, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential


  • Z. V. Pate House

    Contributors:
    William Peeps, architect
    Dates:

    1924

    Location:
    Laurinburg, Scotland County
    Street Address:

    315 W. Church St., Laurinburg, NC

    Status:

    Standing

    Type:

    Residential

    Note:

    The eclectic, tile roofed Colonial Revival residence is among the most imposing early 20th century houses in Laurinburg.


    image/svg+xml Durham Greenville Raleigh ChapelHill Fayetteville Wilmington Winston-Salem Charlotte Asheville Goldsboro Greens-boro Edenton New Bern Salisbury Warren-ton ElizabethCity