Rogers, W. Stewart (1906-1989)
William Stewart Rogers; Stewart Rogers
Wilmington, North Carolina, USA
- Asheville, North Carolina
Styles & Forms:
Art Deco; International style
William Stewart Rogers (Dec. 23, 1906-Feb. 18, 1989), generally called Stewart Rogers, began a long and productive architectural career in Asheville and western North Carolina during the Great Depression and continued for nearly half a century. After completing his architectural education in 1932, he worked in association with Asheville architect Ronald Greene in the firm that became known as Greene and Rogers; in 1942 he joined with other architects of the region to form Six Associates and continued as a key member of that firm until his retirement in 1977.
Rogers was born in Wilmington, N. C., to merchant Leroy B. Rogers and his wife Blanche Stewart Rogers. By 1920, the family had moved to Asheville, where Leroy ran a grocery. Listed as a student in the 1924 and 1927 Asheville city directories, Stewart graduated from Duke University where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1932 he received a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University. The United States Census of 1930 listed Rogers as a student living with his parents and siblings.
More fortunate than many of his generation of architectural graduates, Rogers was able to practice his profession despite the challenges of the Great Depression. It was likely in 1933 that he joined with the older, established Asheville architect Ronald Greene in the firm of Ronald Greene, Ltd., which subsequently took the name of Greene and Rogers. The mountain city had suffered acutely from the Crash of 1929 and the subsequent depression, but Greene and Rogers took advantage of such opportunities as were available. (Some Asheville buildings of the 1920s have been credited to Greene and Rogers, but evidently in error.) The Asheville City Directory of 1935 is the first to list Stewart Rogers as an architect, noting that he was employed by “Ronald Green, Ltd.” It is not known what their respective roles were in the firm; therefore the building lists here credit buildings accomplished during the years of their association to both men and to the firm. Like most of their contemporaries, Greene and Rogers worked readily in a wide range of architectural styles including not only period revival modes but also more modernist designs, which might reflect Rogers’ experience at Harvard.
An especially welcome commission for Greene and Rogers came in the mid-1930s—the Howard Gamble House (1935) in Durham, an early venture in modernist design in the thriving tobacco manufacturing city, planned for a family with strong interest in the arts and modernism. The firm is also credited with designing the modernist Shuey Shell Filling Station (121 Patton Ave.), a landmark of Asheville which probably dates from the mid-1930s.
Asheville newspapers eagerly promoted every sign of economic recovery and featured work by Greene and Rogers. An article headlined “Residences Costing More Than $150,000 Being Constructed Here” in the Asheville Citizen of August 2, 1936 highlighted several of the firm’s recent and current projects in Asheville and its suburbs (see building list). On October 10, 1937, the Citizen reported further progress under the headline “Designs Made for New Homes: One Firm of Architects Has Made Plans For Dozen House.” The report asserted, “Activity in the building of new homes in the Asheville section has taken something of a spurt this year,” and predicted that the “building campaign” would continue through the winter and mount as spring approached: “Ronald Greene and Stuart [sic] Rogers, who completed the plans for the handsome new home of the Bittings from St. Louis, last week, and on which work was started in earnest Monday, report a number of substantial homes completed or under construction this year.” All were in prestigious suburban locations or nearby communities. The William C. Bitting, Jr. House (400 Vanderbilt Rd.) located in Biltmore Forest, was to cost $25,000. The article also mentioned the firm’s Charles M. Britt House on Kimberly Avenue (previously cited in 1936); the Ed Hartshorn House in Biltmore Forest; the Ethan Koon House on Kimberly Avenue; the Thomas. A. Uzzell, Jr. House in the Beaver Lake suburb; and a Johns-Manville Model Home for General Products Company. Others cited were the Mrs. C. D. Van Wagner House on Griffing Boulevard; the William L. McElroy House in the Beaver Lake suburb; remodeling of the Harold Bell House in Beaver Lake; the R. M. Buran House in Beaver Lake; the Stockton Bryant House in Weaverville; the Mrs. Fred Bunting House in Fletcher; and remodeling of the Chester Brown House in Biltmore Forest, for which further information may permit their inclusion in the building list.
At the outbreak of World War II, Greene and Rogers dissolved their partnership. According to his obituary, Rogers was a Navy lieutenant during the war. In 1942 he became a founding principal in the newly organized firm of Six Associates, an Asheville architectural firm established by a group of western North Carolina architects—Rogers, William Waldo Dodge, Jr., Henry Irvin Gaines, Anthony Lord, Erle Stillwell, and Charles Waddell—who joined forces in order to qualify for large, government funded wartime projects.
Rogers remained a key member of the firm throughout his career, as Six Associates developed into the largest architectural practice in western North Carolina. According to his obituary in the Asheville Citizen-Times of February 19, 1989, he had been “principal in charge of design and construction of numerous buildings” at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and at Fort Bragg and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Close to home, he was involved in design and construction of numerous industrial projects, including the Asheville Airport, the Fullerton Wing at Memorial Mission Hospital, and the Buncombe County Social Services Building. Several of his projects are represented in the Six Associates architectural records collection at the Pack Library in Asheville. Building entries for these will be posted when additional information is assembled.
Active in his profession, Rogers served as vice president and secretary of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He also served in community leadership positions and was a member of Central Methodist Church. He died at his home at 99 Gracelyn Road in Asheville and was survived by his wife, Myra Lynch Rogers; their daughter, Mrs. Donald M. Lynch of Atlanta; three sisters; and three grandchildren. He was buried in Asheville’s Riverside Cemetery.
- Asheville Citizen, Aug. 2, 1936.
- Asheville Citizen, Oct. 10, 1937.
- Asheville Citizen-Times, Feb. 19, 1989.
- Asheville City Directory, various issues.
- David R. Black, Historic Architectural Resources of Downtown Asheville, North Carolina (1979).
- C. David Jackson and Charlotte V. Brown, History of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1913-1998 (1998).
- Claudia P. Roberts (Brown) and Diane E. Lea, The Durham Architectural and Historic Inventory (1982).
- Six Associates Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, North Carolina.
- Dates:1936Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:1 N. Colonial Pl., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:"Colonial style bungalow costing about $10,000, in Residences Costing More Than $150,000 Being Constructed Here (Asheville Citizen, Aug. 2, 1936).
- Dates:1936Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:304 Kimberly Ave., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:"Residences Valued At $200,000 Are Being Built" (Asheville Citizen, Nov. 18, 1936). The photo in the newspaper showed an 8-room house of frame and stone.
- Dates:1930sLocation:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:152 Pearson Dr., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Michael T. Southern, Asheville's Historic Montford, Asheville, North Carolina (1985).Note:The formal Colonial Revival house was featured in Carolina Architecture and Allied Arts: A Pictorial Review of Carolina's Representative Architecture (1940).
- Dates:1935Location:Durham, Durham CountyStreet Address:1307 N. Mangum House, Durham, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).Note:Built for a family interested in modern art and architecture, the Gamble House is one of the earliest North Carolina residences in modernist style. It was featured in national magazines and noted among Durham's "points of interest." It is somewhat similar to Ronald Greene's Annie Reed House (1948) in Asheville.
- Dates:1937Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:Asheville, NCStatus:UnknownType:ResidentialNote:"Designs Made For New Homes: One Firm of Architects Has Made Plans For Dozen Houses," Asheville Citizen, Oct. 10, 1937.
- Dates:1939Location:Cullowhee, Jackson CountyStreet Address:Western Carolina University Campus, Cullowhee, NCStatus:StandingType:EducationalNote:The 3 1/2-story brick dormitory with simple Colonial Revival detailing is similar in style to other Public Works buildings on campus.
- Dates:ca. 1937Location:Fletcher, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:Fletcher, Fletcher, NCStatus:UnknownType:ResidentialNote:"Designs Made For New Homes: One Firm of Architects Has Made Plans For Dozen Houses," Asheville Citizen, Oct. 10, 1937.
- Dates:1936Location:Lake View Park, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:125 Westwood Rd., Lake View Park, NCStatus:UnknownType:ResidentialNote:"Residences Valued At $200,000 Are Being Built," Asheville Citizen, Nov. 18, 1936. "Cost about $6,000."
- Dates:ca. 1928 or ca. 1935Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:121 Patton Ave., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:David R. Black, Historic Architectural Resources of Downtown Asheville, North Carolina (1979).Note:The date and designer(s) of this small but striking moderne-Art Deco filling station remain unclear. It has been dated ca. 1928 and credited to Greene and Rogers. The Asheville city directory of 1929 is the first to show a filling station at that address, which is thought to be this one. But since Greene and Rogers's association did not begin until the mid-1930s, either the date 1928 or the identification of the firm is in error. It could have been designed by Greene in the late 1920s (possibly with young Rogers somehow involved?). Or it might be a successor building on the site, designed by Greene and Rogers after Rogers went to work for Greene in the 1930s. Some sources identify Rogers as the architect and state that this was one of several filling stations he planned for W. C. Shuey's distributorship; the other examples have been lost. Further documentation is sought to clarify the situation.
- Dates:ca. 1937Location:Weaverville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:Weaverville, Weaverville, NCStatus:UnknownType:ResidentialNote:"Designs Made For New Homes: One Firm of Architects Has Made Plans For Dozen Houses," Asheville Citizen, Oct. 10, 1937.
- Dates:1936Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:3 Pine Tree Ln., Asheville, NCStatus:UnknownType:ResidentialNote:"Residences Valued At $200,000 Are Being Built," Asheville Citizen, Nov. 18, 1936. The 8-room brick house cost about $8,000.
- Dates:1937Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:400 Vanderbilt Rd., Asheville, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:"New Homes Under Construction," Asheville Citizen, Oct. 10, 1937.
- Dates:1937Location:Asheville, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:146 Woodland Rd., Beaver Lake, Asheville, NCStatus:UnknownType:ResidentialNote: