Lynch, James B. (1883-1965)
Wilmington, North Carolina, USA
- Wilmington, North Carolina
Styles & Forms:
Georgian Revival; Mission; Neoclassical
James Borden Lynch (January 29, 1883-November 17, 1965), a native of Wilmington, N. C., practiced architecture in his home city for many years, planning civic, residential, and religious buildings on his own and in partnership with other architects including James F. Gause, Jr. and Osborne G. Foard.
The History of North Carolina: North Carolina Biography (1919) and the Wilmington Dispatch of December 31, 1915 described Lynch’s early years. He was born to Adolphus B. and Mary Bordon Lynch, “well known” citizens of Wilmington, and was educated in local schools. After working as a draftsman in Wilmington for a short period, he “entered the Agricultural and Mechanical College [present North Carolina State University], at Raleigh, and completed the full architectural course with distinction and credit.” After graduating, he worked in various architectural offices “from New York City to Tampa, Florida,” and in 1915 returned to Wilmington to begin a private architectural practice. In 1910 he was identified as an architect, living with his parents and siblings in Wilmington in 1910. In 1916 he married Carlotta Mugge of Wilmington.
Lynch announced his practice in Wilmington in 1915 in advertisements in Wilmington Morning Star of February 20, 1915 and subsequent editions. On February 21, that newspaper noted that the “many friends of Mr. James B. Lynch will be interested to know that he has entered the architectural field,” occupying a suite in the Trust Building with civil engineer C. R. Humphreys. The newspaper noted that Lynch had ten years of experience with “prominent architects” in Wilmington and New York.
Lynch began his practice in Wilmington at a time of growth, especially in the city’s expanding suburbs. His first commission noted in the local newspaper was for a Gothic Revival-style Methodist church at Winter Park, not far from Wilmington (Wilmington Morning Star, December 15, 1915). Other notable works completed by the end of 1915 were the Mugge House in the Winoca Terrace development and the C. R. Humphreys House in the Carolina Heights suburb. He also had in prospect houses at Carolina Heights for C. C. Brown and Henry Taylor, a new station for the Tidewater Power Company at Delgado, and work at the Cape Fear Country Club (Wilmington Dispatch, December 31, 1915).
The December 31, 1915, Wilmington Dispatch also reported that “two of Wilmington’s most prominent architects”—James B. Lynch and James Gause—had formed a partnership and planned to occupy Gause’s offices (#29 and #30) in the Odd Fellows Building. Gause and Lynch soon gained a commission as superintending architects for the Church of the Covenant (now St. Andrews Presbyterian Church of the Covenant), built from designs by New York architect Kenneth M. Murchison, Jr. With funding from the Sprunt family, the newly formed Presbyterian congregation erected a large and beautifully finished stone church in Gothic Revival style on a prominent site on Market Street; its progress was reported in detail by the Wilmington newspapers. The Wilmington Dispatch of July 19, 1916 noted that ground would be broken on August 1, as “announced in the offices of Messrs. Gause & Lynch, architects, who are associated with Mr. Kenneth M. Murchison, architect of New York City, in the construction.” The contract for construction went to the local firm of Rhodes and Underwood.
Gause and Lynch also took commissions for such prestigious residences as the Georgian Revival style Bluethenthal House (1917) in the elegant 1700 block of Market Street and the Thomas H. Wright House (1917) in the Winoca Terrace suburb developed by Wright’s family in the 1910s. Sometimes local newspapers cited a project to only one member of the partnership; whether they operated independently at times is not clear.
Gause and Lynch’s partnership was short lived: the Wilmington Star of April 20, 1917, noted that the two had dissolved their firm when Lynch resigned in anticipation of entering the war effort. He served as captain of the 2nd Company, C. A. C., North Carolina National Guard, and in various capacities during the war (Wilmington Morning Star, February 5, 1922).
After the war, Lynch came home to continue his architectural practice, publishing frequent advertisements for his office in Wilmington newspapers beginning in mid-1919. Among his projects was a hospital at the southeast corner of 3rd and Grace Streets for Drs. Ernest S. Bulluck and R. H. Davis, to cost about $100,000 (Wilmington Morning Star, July 28, 1920). In 1922, the Wilmington Morning Star of April 15 cited Lynch as architect for the new Behrends Building for Samuel Behrends on Front Street downtown, a 3-story building—”practically fireproof”—to replace a structure that had burned. One of Lynch’s best-known buildings in downtown Wilmington is the Salvation Army Buildin (1923-1924) on Front Street, a boldly detailed and eclectic 2-story brick edifice.
Beyond Wilmington, Lynch also designed the large Colonial Revival style Francis Beers Gault House, built in 1925 in the railroad village of Lake Waccamaw for a leading lumberman.
In the mid-1920s Lynch formed a lasting architectural partnership with Osborne G. Foard of Wilmington. The firm planned several projects for the city of Wilmington including housing projects and fire stations. In 1923, the Wilmington Star of May 22 and the Wilmington News of February 12 reported on the opening of the “white front garage” of Macmillan and Cameron at 115 N. 3rd St., designed by Lynch: some 2,000 people attended the formal opening with “Green’s Sensation Five orchestra enlivening the evening with peppy jazz tunes.” Built early in the Great Depression, Fire Station No.5 (1930-1931) on Wrightsville Ave. was funded as a construction project to help the local employment situation. Among the firm’s later works was the design for a new church—or an extensive renovation—for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wilmington, which was built along traditional Gothic Revival lines for a century-old congregation.
From his youth onward, Lynch was active in social and professional affairs. In 1901 he joined Company C of the North Carolina National Guard, known as the Wilmington Light Artillery, and advanced through its ranks. His social life in Wilmington included membership in the Cape Fear Country Club and the Carolina Yacht Club. A participant and leader in the state’s architectural profession, Lynch was appointed in 1922 to the North Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners and Registration (Wilmington Morning Star, September 21, 1922). He was a member for many years of the North Carolina Architectural Association and from 1925 of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He served as the president of the NCAIA in 1930-1931, a difficult time for the architectural profession in the early years of the Great Depression. The North Carolina Architect of December 1965 carried a notice of Lynch’s death at age 82, noting especially his profession memberships and service.
- History of North Carolina: North Carolina Biography (1919).
- Beverly Tetterton, Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten (2005).
- Tony P. Wrenn, Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural and Historical Portrait (1984).
- Dates:Ca. 1923Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:1519 Princess St., Wilmington, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:The large tan brick house features a tile roof and broad porch, combining eclectic details with the horizontality and simplicity evocative of the Prairie style. At one time the original plans survived at the house. Walter John Bergen was associated with Alexander Sprunt and Sons, the Wilmington cotton brokers.
- Dates:1917Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:1704 Market St., Wilmington, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialImages Puslished In:Tony P. Wrenn, Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural and Historical Portrait (1984).Note:The imposing red brick house displays the firm's strength in the robust Georgian Revival style.
- Dates:1939Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:511 S. 11th St., Wilmington, NCStatus:No longer standingType:Health CareImages Puslished In:Beverly Tetterton, Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten (2005).Note:The hospital for black patients began in 1920 in a former drugstore building on 7th St., but the needs were more than it could accommodate. With local support and funds from the WPA, the larger brick hospital was built in 1939. It closed in 1967.
- Dates:1930-1931Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:1702 Wrightsville Ave., Wilmington, NCStatus:StandingType:PublicImages Puslished In:Tony P. Wrenn, Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural and Historical Portrait (1984).Note:Designed in a restrained Mission style, the 2-story building of stuccoed masonry has served various purposes.
- Dates:1925Location:Lake Waccamaw, Columbus CountyStreet Address:W side NC 214, S of US 74-76, Lake Waccamaw, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:The large frame house later became the administration building of Lake Waccamaw Boys Home.
- Dates:1921Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:218 Princess St., Wilmington, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialNote:The Wilmington Morning Star of August 7, 1901, carried a story about the new one-story building which held the offices of three companies.
- Variant Name(s):Front Street InnDates:1923-1924Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:215 S. Front St., Wilmington, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialNote:The eclectic blend of Dutch colonial gables and Italianate brackets distinguishes the 2-story red brick building. The Wilmington Morning Star of December 4, 1922, noted that it would have nine rooms with "accessory quarters and baths"; there were separate quarters for the resident manager. The Wilmington Dispatch reported on December 4, 1922, that Lynch's plans had been forwarded to the Salvation Army headquarters in New York for approval. According to the Carolina Mountaineer and Waynesville Courier of December 6, 1923, the plans were completed in April 1923, but because of delays in fundraising, not until early December was the contract about to be let.
- Variant Name(s):Church of the CovenantDates:1916-1917; 1921Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:1416 Market St., Wilmington, NCStatus:StandingType:ReligiousNote:The complex of matching stone buildings in restrained Gothic Revival style was built in a prominent location on Market Street for the Church of the Covenant, established by First Presbyterian Church to serve residents in the northward expanding city. The sanctuary was built in 1916-1917 with donations from the Sprunt family and dedicated in 1918. The "Plymouth granite" was shipped from quarries in Massachusetts. The Kenan Memorial Building, designed by Murchison and with Gause as superintending architect, was built in 1921 to harmonize with the sanctuary, and other additions came later. In 1944 the Church of the Covenant merged with the much older St. Andrews Presbyterian Church congregation (see A. G. Bauer). The newly joined congregation adopted their combined names and worshiped in the facilities erected for the Church of the Covenant.
- Dates:1917Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:110 N. 15th St., Wilmington, NCStatus:StandingType:ResidentialNote:The Wright house is one of several predominantly Colonial Revival style residences designed by architects in the Winoca Terrace suburb, developed by the Wright family in the 1910s and served by a trolley line. The name of the development was suggested by a schoolgirl—Wi-No-Ca—for its location.
- Dates:Ca. 1931Location:Wilmington, New Hanover CountyStreet Address:319 S. 10th St., Wilmington, NCStatus:No longer standingType:EducationalImages Puslished In:Susan Taylor Block, Cape Fear Lost (1999).Note:According to Susan Taylor Block in "Wilmington Outskirts," at http://louistmoore.com/outskirts/, Lynch and Foard designed the brick high school, the third by that name, which was built for black students in 1930 or 1931; it burned in 1936.