Flannagan, Eric G. (1892-1970)
- Henderson, North Carolina
Styles & Forms:
Art Deco; Art Moderne; Colonial Revival; Gothic Revival; Mission
Eric Goodyear Flannagan Sr. (1892-1970) was an architect and engineer whose firm in Henderson, North Carolina planned buildings throughout central and eastern North Carolina. He specialized in educational and health related facilities but also designed churches, civic buildings, residences, and other structures, with Henderson’s First United Methodist Church, located just a few steps from his office, one of his best-known landmarks. His sons Eric Jr. and Stephen continued in the business he founded.
Eric G. Flannagan Sr. was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, to Broadus and Lottie Goodyear Flannagan. He married Beryl Morris on June 26, 1915, and they had three children: Eric, Jr., Stephen, and Effie Louise. After his first wife’s death in 1968, Eric G. Flannagan Sr. married Clara Hamlett Robertson, who survived him.
Like many of his generation, Flannagan worked his way up as an architect. He graduated from the Miller Manual Training School of Albemarle, Virginia, where he studied and later taught mechanical drawing and served as head of the Mechanical Drawing Department (1912-1914). He worked as a draftsman (1913) for patent attorney Victor J. Evans in Washington, D.C., and received his certification from the International Correspondence Schools in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1914. From 1914 to 1922 he worked with the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company of Covington, Virginia, where he became superintendent of construction and head of the engineering department.
Flannagan was encouraged by family members to move to North Carolina. He became a registered engineer in the state in 1921, and in 1922, he moved to the flourishing tobacco town of Henderson where he had relatives and opened an engineering firm. He advertised his services as a construction engineer in the autumn and winter of 1922 in the Oxford Public Ledger, and that newspaper carried a story on October 27, 1922, headlined “New Construction Engineer at Henderson, N. C.,” reporting that Flannagan had been practicing in Henderson for about five months. His specialty was “that of furnishing Plans, Specifications, & Supervision, for all kinds of buildings and in case of a factory building he can take charge of the entire installation of machinery, etc.&” Flannagan became a registered architect in 1926, and thereafter practiced both architecture and engineering. In time he took his sons into the firm, which from 1954 onward operated as Eric G. Flannagan and Sons, Architects and Engineers. Active in professional and community organizations, Flannagan was a member of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Henderson Rotary Club, Masonic Lodge No. 229, and the North Carolina Architectural Board of Registration (1951-1956), for which he served as vice-president in 1955-1956.
In a career that spanned over forty-five years in North Carolina, Flannagan planned a wide range of facilities including numerous institutional buildings such as county homes, schools, churches, hospitals, and nursing homes, chiefly in eastern and piedmont North Carolina. The Temple Theatre (1924-1925) in Sanford, one of his first major buildings, represents his characteristic mix of Colonial Revival and Art Deco styles. In his adopted hometown of Henderson, he built apartments, stores, warehouses, and commercial buildings including those in the building list plus the Henderson Daily Dispatch Building, the Southern National Bank Chestnut Street Branch, and the Dr. A.P. Newcomb Office. He also planned Camp Graham, a Girl Scout Camp at nearby Kerr Lake.
Like many architects of his day, Flannagan planned numerous educational facilities. At East Carolina State Teachers College, now East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, he designed nine structures including five student dormitories, one teacher’s dormitory, the Flanagan Building (1939), J.Y. Joyner Library (1954), and Christenbury Memorial Gymnasium (1952). Working in the era of racial segregation, he designed public schools both for white students and for black students, with some of the latter including schools assisted by the Rosenwald Fund. His designs and his practice suited his clients so well that several of them, such as ECU, continued to call on him year after year (see Dictionary of North Carolina Biography). Eric G. Flannagan Sr. retired from fulltime practice in 1965 but continued to consult with his sons in the family architectural practice until his death in 1970.
A portion of Flannagan’s extensive records are held by Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Library, including drawings, project files, and an overall list of his projects. Additional records of the Flannagan firm’s work in eastern North Carolina are held by East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
In a letter published in North Carolina Architect, June 9, 1970, Flannagan’s sons reported a long list of structures in which their father had been involved. Described in general terms only, they include the following: County Homes: Edgecombe, Northampton, and Vance Counties; School Buildings: Halifax, Northampton, Lee, Granville, Edgecombe, Pitt, and Craven Counties; Churches: Martin (Williamston), Martin (Hamilton), Granville (Oxford), Warren (Ridgeway), and Vance (Henderson) Counties; Hospitals: Lee (Sanford), Cabarrus (Concord), Caldwell (Lenoir), Alamance (Graham), Chatham (Siler City), Harnett (Dunn), and Vance (Henderson) Counties; Nursing Homes: Halifax (Roanoke Rapids), Randolph (Asheboro), Cabarrus (Concord), Caldwell (Lenoir), Alamance (Graham), and Vance (Henderson) Counties. The building list here represents but a small fraction of Flannagan’s work. Further study of his extensive career is needed.
- Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina (1996).
- Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).
- Clara H. Flannagan, “Eric Goodyear Flannagan,” in William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 2 (1986).
- Eric G. Flannagan and Sons Records, East Carolina University Manuscript Collection, East Carolina University Library, Greenville, North Carolina.
- Eric G. Flannagan file, Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Eric G Flannagan Papers 1922-1989, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Dates:1948-1949Location:Asheboro, Randolph CountyStreet Address:148 North St., Asheboro, NCStatus:StandingType:RecreationalNote:The distinctive Art Moderne brick building, erected to serve employees of the nearby Acme-McCrory textile mill, features striking curved corners and glass block.
- Dates:1925Location:Bear Grass, Martin CountyStreet Address:Highway 1001 0.2 mi NE of SR 1108, Bear Grass, NCStatus:StandingType:Educational
- Dates:1922-1930Location:Henderson, Vance CountyStreet Address:300 block N. Garnett St., Henderson, NCStatus:StandingType:ReligiousNote:The stone church in Gothic Revival style was one of Flannagan's best known projects.
- Dates:1908; 1928Location:Henderson, Vance CountyStreet Address:205 Garnett St., Henderson, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicNote:Flannagan evidently modernized or enlarged a fire station built earlier in the 20th century by Robert Bunn.
- Dates:1935-1936Location:Henderson, Vance CountyStreet Address:Charles St., Henderson, NCStatus:StandingType:EducationalImages Puslished In:Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003).Note:One of many public schools aided by the Works Progress Administration, the large brick building features Flemish bond brickwork and Tudor style details.
- Dates:1954Location:Greenville, Pitt CountyStreet Address:East Fifth St., East Carolina University Campus, Greenville, NCStatus:AlteredType:EducationalNote:In the 1990s, the 1954 library was completely overbuilt, leaving only a few original elements still recognizable. The most significant survivor from the 1954 library is a pair of large classical columns, no located at the entry to a courtyard.
- Variant Name(s):Northampton County Social Services BuildingDates:1924Location:Jackson, Northampton CountyStreet Address:9467 NC 305, 1.7 miles N of US 158, Jackson vicinity, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicNote:One of Flannagan's earliest projects, the Northampton County Home is one of the very few such buildings still standing in North Carolina. The symmetrical, three-part building with Georgian Revival detailing reflects growing attention in the early 20th century to the quality and utility of county home facilities built to serve the indigent in the state.
- Dates:1931-1932; 1946-1976Location:Asheboro, Randolph CountyStreet Address:373 N. Fayetteville St., Asheboro, NCStatus:StandingType:Health CareNote:Flannagan's first project in Asheboro, the hospital was funded by the recently established Duke Endowment. The buff brick building features a restrained Art Deco style in the original section and subsequent additions.
- Dates:1924-1925Location:Sanford, Lee CountyStreet Address:120 Carthage St., Sanford, NCStatus:StandingType:RecreationalImages Puslished In:J. Daniel Pezzoni, The History & Architecture of Lee County, North Carolina (1995).Note:A landmark of Sanford, the imposing brick building combines elements of the Colonial Revival and Art Deco styles. The 450-seat performing theater and movie house began by showing traveling vaudeville and other road shows but later shifted to movies.
- Variant Name(s):E. J. Hayes SchoolDates:1930-1931Location:Williamston, Martin CountyStreet Address:705 Washington St., Williamston, NCStatus:StandingType:EducationalNote:One of many public schools planned by Flannagan, the one-story, red brick school was built with the assistance of the Julius Rosenwald Fund and the State Literary Fund as the first modern high school for African Americans in Williamston. Architect Flannagan employed an H plan frequently used in Rosenwald schools, extended to serve as a twelve-teacher school. See Joanna McKnight, "Williamston Colored School," National Register of Historic Places, 2014.
- Dates:1925Location:Woodland, Northampton CountyStreet Address:Main St., Woodland, NCStatus:StandingType:Educational