Lindeberg, Harrie T. (1879-1959)
Harrie T. Lindeberg (April 10, 1879-January 10, 1959), an American country house architect who designed for clients in much of the nation, has been identified as the architect of two grand residences in North Carolina: Morrocroft (1925-1927) near (now in) Charlotte and Ellsleigh in Biltmore Forest (1927) near Asheville. He was one of a small number of nationally active “country house” architects who designed homes for wealthy North Carolinians in the early 20th century, the best known of whom is Charles Barton Keen of Philadelphia, famed as the architect of Reynolda in Winston-Salem.
The United States Census of 1880 listed Harry (sic) Lindeberg as an eleven-month old child living in Hoboken, N. J., in the household of his parents, Theodore (a dealer in neckties, aged 45) and Augusta (aged 43) Lindeberg, along with his brother Frederick, aged 3. The parents had immigrated from Sweden, and both children were born in New Jersey; Harrie’s (sic) passport stated that he had been born in Bayonne, N. J. (Note: Early in his life, he was typically identified as Harry; for a time he was noted as both Harry and Harrie; and in adulthood he was usually identified as Harrie.) Little is known of his early life.
According to the Finding Guide to the Harrie Thomas Lindeberg Architectural Drawings (1920 MS 312) at Rice University, Lindeberg “acquired his architectural training through an apprenticeship, from 1901 to 1906, at McKim, Mead and White, the leading architectural firm of the American Renaissance in New York. . . . In 1906 Lindeberg and his colleague, Lewis Colt Albro left the firm and opened their own New York architectural office. Aided by Albro’s social connections and later, those of Lindeberg’s second wife [Lucie Hull], they became architects to a new wealthy elite who were looking for symbols of leisure and success.” After serving in the air corps during World War I, Lindeberg “resumed his practice in New York but found that more socially advantaged competitors, including Charles Platt and John Russell Pope, had sewn up the premium commissions for social register homes along the eastern seaboard. It was then that Lindeberg discovered clients in the Midwest, South, and Gulf Coast regions,” for whom “his imprimatur as a New York society architect with a strong record in country house work” had a strong appeal. His firm produced a wealth of designs during the years between the World Wars. Lindeberg documented his work in a monograph of 1940, Domestic Architecture of H. T. Lindeberg.
Lindeburg took commissions from New York to Illinois, Texas, and Minnesota. He composed residences in a variety of styles and made use of local materials and forms. His residences in North Carolina, along with a project in Virginia, are apparently among his few works in the American South. In both North Carolina projects, the clients gave their residences formal names that incorporated their own names and heritages.
For Morrocroft, built for former North Carolina governor Cameron A. Morrison and his wife Sarah, Lindeberg created a picturesque brick mansion in a generally Tudor Revival style. It was initially the centerpiece of a 3,000 acre estate. Displaying an irregular form and horizontal massing, it features rich brickwork and a variety of glass in the windows. Correspondence and architectural records for the project survive.
By contrast, for Ellsleigh near Asheville, Lindeberg employed a symmetrically composed and formal Georgian Revival mode. Built in 1927 in the elite suburban community of Biltmore Forest, Ellsleigh follows a Palladian composition with the central main block having a central, pedimented entrance pavilion. It was built for Coca Cola businessman Robert Lee Ellis and his wife, Nan; correspondence between architect and client also survives. As quoted in an advertisement (June 10, 2020) for the estate, Lindeberg wrote to Mrs. Ellis on May 13, 1925, “Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to design a house on one of the sites overlooking the Biltmore Golf Course, as I feel that this is one of the most beautiful spots in America.” The original landscaping was planned by noted Chauncey Beadle, who had been associated with the Biltmore Estate. Realty Times, posted June 1, 2020 at (https://realtytimes.com/announcements/item/1038323-ellsleigh-an-architectural-masterpiece-designed-by-harrie-t-lindeberg-enters-market-for-8-75-million-in-asheville-north-carolina).
Until recent decades Lindeburg’s national oeuvre gained relatively little scholarly or critical attention. A recent study of his career is Harrie T. Lindeberg and the American Country House (2017) by Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker. In an article in New Criterion, December 2017, “Harrie T. Lindeberg & the American country house,” Pennoyer and Walker note that because Lindeberg’s career and his revivalist/Beaux-Arts work covered the first three decades of the 20th century, he along with some of his contemporaries was largely ignored by architectural critics and historian whose views were dominated by modernism. His extensive and artistic work in revival styles gained fresh appreciation with the emergence of postmodernism in the late 20th century.
Davyd Foard Hood, Carolyn Mesrobian, Dan L. Morrill, Jerry Cross, and Michael Hill, Morrocroft National Register of Historic Places nomination (1983).
Harrie T. Lindeberg, Domestic Architecture of H. T. Lindeberg (1940).
Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker, “Harrie T. Lindeberg & the American country house,” New Criterion, December 2017.
Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker, Harrie T. Lindeberg and the American Country House (2017).
1927Location:Biltmore Forest, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:
398 Vanderbilt Rd.Status:
ResidentialImages Published In:
Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker, Harrie T. Lindeberg and the American Country House (2017)Note:
The formal, Georgian Revival residence is located in the prestigious suburban community near Asheville called Biltmore Forest. It was one of the first of many notable architect-designed houses built there.
1925-1927Location:Charlotte, Mecklenburg CountyStreet Address:
2525 Richardson Dr.Status:
ResidentialImages Published In:
Harrie Lindeberg, Domestic Architecture of H. T. Lindeberg (1940); Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker, Harrie T. Lindeberg and the American Country House (2017)Note:
The house was built for Sara V. Ecker Watts Morrison, the wealthy widow of Durham industrialist George W. Watts, an associate of the Duke family, and her second husband, Cameron Morrison, who served as governor (1921-1925) and later in Congress. He and Sarah married in 1924. After his gubernatorial term, Sara and Cameron Morrison established a model farm outside of Charlotte. Cameron Morrison freely acknowledged that Morrocroft was built with his wife’s money, and she took a lead role in working with the architect and contractors.