North Carolina’s architectural heritage reflects the state’s diverse and complex geography and its long and often contentious history. Over the three centuries since Euro-African settlement began in the late seventeenth century, North Carolina’s architecture has developed not simply as a linear stream of successive styles and technologies but as a series of overlapping networks. In each era, the architecture shows resilient localism and regionalism concurrent—and sometimes interacting—with adoption or adaptation of national or international trends.
North Carolina is a broad state with a varied geography that dramatically shaped its settlement and development. It extends some 500 miles from the Atlantic coast, with its long string of barrier islands, to the Appalachian Mountains. Its easternmost point lies south of New York City and its western tip south of Detroit, Michigan. The topography is generally categorized into three main zones: the coastal plain (which is sometimes defined as the outer and inner coastal plains), the Piedmont, and the mountains. The soils are varied, with the alluvial coastal plain sandy, loamy, and often swampy, and the Piedmont characterized by clay and other soils atop harder rock. The state is well-watered with streams and rivers and has a temperate climate. These qualities and the early fertility of much of the soil captured the attention of explorers and settlers.
Yet geography also placed limits on early settlement, prosperity, and urban growth. The barrier islands and shallow sounds prohibit easy access to shipping, and the coast is known for its treacherous shoals and currents. The rivers that traverse the state are seldom navigable far inland. Fayetteville marks the upper limit of navigation on the Cape Fear River, the only major river that opens directly into the Atlantic within the state, enabling Wilmington to become an important port. Other major streams that drain the Piedmont and mountains reach the sea at ports in neighboring states. Despite calls for internal improvements to remedy the trade barriers, little was accomplished. Only with the advent and expansion of railroad lines in the mid and late nineteenth century did major commerce and industry develop in the Piedmont and westward.
European-African immigration to North Carolina came relatively late compared to other seaboard colonies, and most of the region’s settlers arrived from other colonies. In the late seventeenth century, some settlement took place at the northeast and southeast corners from Virginia and South Carolina, primarily people of British background and enslaved Africans. Although some arrived directly from the Old World, a majority of this population (both black and white) had spent time in other colonies, especially Virginia, South Carolina, New England, and the Caribbean, before coming to eastern North Carolina. Because of the strength of the native Indians, including the Tuscarora and other groups, settlement was restricted to a narrow eastern fringe until well into the eighteenth century.
From all accounts, most of the buildings erected by the first generations of settlers in eastern North Carolina were small, wooden structures—dwellings, barns, churches, jails, and courthouses, of which scarcely any survive. Much of this crude construction was of log, some of frame, often earth-fast. Brick walls and chimneys were a rarity as was finely executed finish. Houses typically had one- and two-room plans. The early-eighteenth-century Newbold-White House represents the hall-parlor plan used in many early northeastern North Carolina houses and in adjoining Virginia. Especially along the coast, builders adopted the regional preference for porches or “piazzas,” as they were called, from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic. Colonial examples of structurally integral porches include the Burgwin-Wright House in Wilmington. Many more examples date from the early national period, including those that define the architectural character of Beaufort. These forms, plans, and techniques entered the local and regional vocabulary known to clients and artisans alike and persisted well into the nineteenth century.
During the eighteenth century, the most striking phenomenon was the rapid migration into the Piedmont, as thousands of people came down the valley roads from the mid-Atlantic colonies via Virginia, including Scots-Irish, Germans, English, and Africans. A few groups came directly or indirectly from their European homelands, including the German-speaking Moravians who founded a theocratic community centered on present Winston-Salem, and Highland Scots who arrived via Wilmington and created settlements in the Cape Fear region. Most of the first generations of buildings in the Piedmont, as in the coastal plain, were modest wooden structures, some of frame and most evidently of log. These showed construction methods akin to those in the mid-Atlantic colonies associated with Swedish and later Scots-Irish and German families; none of the initial log buildings is known to survive, but subsequent generations display varied notching and plan types that persisted for years.
Standing out among the settlement period buildings of the Piedmont are the Moravian buildings of present Old Salem—extraordinary landmarks built by artisans who brought their Old World Germanic techniques to the frontier. The late colonial Single Brothers’ House in Salem, constructed of Germanic fachwerk and covered with a tile roof, was built by immigrant carpenters and masons as one of several Moravian buildings in the Wachovia tract that represented its role in the network that reached from central Europe to England, Pennsylvania, and beyond.
Other groups settled in clusters where their ethnic heritage corresponded with their religious affiliation—Presbyterian, Lutheran, Reformed, Friends, Episcopal, etc.—until the great revival movements by Methodists and Baptists converted thousands to those faiths. Outside Wachovia, only a few other colonial period buildings in the Piedmont still stand. The late colonial Michael Braun House near Salisbury is a massive stone house, which is built into the slope of the land and has typically Germanic roof framing indicative of its kinship to contemporary buildings in the mid-Atlantic area and the Valley of Virginia. Such buildings, which include some nearby and slightly later stone churches for German congregations, show that even in areas dominated by log construction, a few individuals and congregations supported work by masons and carpenters skilled in traditional methods.
Unlike other seaboard states, North Carolina had no superior port and thus no single metropolis. Indeed, in 1790, the first United States Census found no urban place large enough to count as such. The status of the state’s largest town changed over the years, from the port and colonial capital of New Bern in the early national period to the railroad and port city of Wilmington in the mid to late nineteenth century. The factors that limited urban growth also shaped the economy. For most of its history, North Carolina’s economy depended upon fishing, agriculture, and forest products such as turpentine, tar, and timber. Corn, tobacco, and in some areas wheat and cotton (especially after the invention of the cotton gin) were principal products. Most farm families produced goods for home or local consumption and a small excess to exchange for manufactured goods. At the same time, some individuals engaged more fully in the market economy, and during the late eighteenth century a modest urban life as well as a plantation economy and society developed, especially in the eastern part of the state but also extending into some parts of the Piedmont.
At this time, a few clients constructed buildings that contrasted the prevalent pattern of modest frame and brick public and private buildings. The mid-eighteenth-century Cupola House in Edenton displays an eccentric blend of disparate elements including an archaic second-story overhang and interiors probably adopted from an English builder’s guide. The late colonial Tryon Palace in the colonial capital of New Bern (rebuilt in the 1950s), exemplifies a more sophisticated replication of foreign influences: Governor William Tryon employed English architect John Hawks to design a new governor’s residence and capital in the English Palladian style. Demonstrating its place in the larger international network of classicism and empire, the edifice also reflected the supra-local network of influence among the emerging eastern Carolina elite, including the similarly designed Chowan County Courthouse in Edenton.
During the post–Revolutionary period, North Carolina suffered from outmigration and from a sluggish economy caused in part by the problems of transportation and thus trade. State leaders were leery of a “tax and spend” philosophy that might have opened inlets or built canals. Although planters constantly complained that the “inconvenient geography” prevented them from accruing wealth, the antebellum state did include some large planters and a few wealthy merchants and lawyers in both towns and countryside, who owned increasing numbers of enslaved people.
The post–Revolutionary era brought extensive construction of lasting buildings, including some conservative examples of Georgian and Palladian styles formerly believed to have been a generation older. Surviving architecture from the early national period shows a wide range of regional traditions as well as versions of national stylistic influences. By the early nineteenth century, most communities had at least a few black and white artisans in the building trades, chiefly house carpenters and, in some areas, brick and stone masons. Although many had only minimal skills required for simple buildings, some were highly skilled and, if supported by a prosperous clientele, executed handsome and even elegant buildings that shared features with contemporary work in other towns and cities.
In New Bern, the largest town in the state in the early national period, local artisans crafted some of the state’s finest Federal-style architecture, including the First Presbyterian Church and the Smallwood House, which combine fine workmanship with classically inspired details. A few plantation houses of the era displayed various adaptations of Palladian-influenced forms and Georgian and Federal motifs, including Hayes Plantation House, which was planned by English-born carpenter-architect William Nichols and incorporates early Greek Revival motifs. Nichols introduced newly fashionable classical and Gothic Revival motifs into the state’s generally plain architecture before leaving the state in the late 1820s.
At the same time, traditional log and frame buildings continued to dominate the landscape in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Edwards-Franklin House in the Piedmont represents the resilient prevalence of a direct-entry (three-room) plan and carpentry and masonry craftsmanship familiar for nearly a century. Jamestown’s early-nineteenth-century Quaker-built structures likewise show the continuity of familiar forms along with simple but well-crafted finish. Built of brick laid in Flemish bond, the Mendenhall House follows a traditional hall-parlor plan with an enclosed stair, while across the road the Mendenhall Store has three principal rooms per floor, and the Jamestown Friends Meeting House repeats the traditional gable-sided meetinghouse format.
During the early nineteenth century, some state leaders campaigned for internal improvements—canals, navigation work, and railroads—to advance trade and prosperity. The construction of the State Capitol in Raleigh in the 1830s epitomized the “spirit of improvement” advocated by progressive leaders; the sophisticated blend of Palladian and Greek Revival motifs in the massive stone edifice is a complete departure from local customs and artisanry. Although nineteenth-century North Carolina remained a relatively poor and overwhelmingly rural state, the antebellum period’s “spirit of improvement” brought notable changes. Especially dramatic were the economic changes encouraged by the construction of railroads in the 1830s through 1850s, complemented by plank roads; there was also greater investment in education and social services, as well as “modern” architecture. New building projects intentionally displayed current national trends in styles, whether neoclassical or picturesque, and architectural pattern books gained widespread use among local builders. In some cases, men identifying themselves as architects offered clients the prospect of innovative designs that bespoke modernity and progress.
New routes also encouraged greater engagement in the market economy and expanded the prevalence of and dependence upon slavery: by 1860, approximately one third of the state’s nearly one million residents were people of color; most were enslaved but some were free by birth or manumission. People of color numbered among the state’s noted building artisans, with the free black cabinetmaker Thomas Day of Milton famed for his distinctive furniture and related architectural interiors. Most enslaved North Carolinians belonged to owners with only a few slaves, but some merchants and planters accrued larger holdings in human property. Although generally slaves’ dwellings, like those of many poorer whites, were crudely built of log or frame and are now lost from the landscape, a few wealthy slaveholders built unusually substantial slave dwellings that still stand. At planter Paul Cameron’s Horton Grove plantation, four surviving slave quarters from the late antebellum era combine center-passage plan and brick nogging with vertical board and batten and details suggestive of Cameron’s interest in the architectural books of Andrew Jackson Downing. The two-story, brick Bellamy Slave Quarter in Wilmington, erected for physician and planter John D. Bellamy, represents a frequent pattern in late antebellum urban slave quarters, with its blank rear elevation forming part of the rear wall of the compound and detailed to face and match the large, columned Bellamy Mansion.
All across the state, prosperous and ambitious clients built architecture that paralleled national trends and the popular revival styles of the period. Several counties erected “temples of justice” such as the sober Doric Orange County Courthouse of Flemish bond brickwork and the more grandiose Davidson County Courthouse. Following the example of the State Capitol, a few clients employed nationally known architects to plan important buildings, such as Blandwood, designed by New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis, which displayed the owners’ participation in supra-local networks. Far more numerous, of course, were the many buildings that, following earlier precedents, combined regional forms with current styles, such as Carson House, a log structure with a broad, engaged porch. In towns and on farms and plantations, prosperous North Carolinians generally adapted motifs of the nationally popular Greek Revival style to suit familiar forms and the skills of local builders.
There was a hiatus in construction during the Civil War and the several years afterward, until work began to reconstruct and repair buildings, railroads, and farmsteads in a period of economic as well as political and racial turbulence. In many rural sections, traditional forms and methods persisted through the nineteenth century, with log construction still serving the needs of many. The Mountain Farm Museum in Swain County, now part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, comprises a log structure and several outbuildings moved from a remote farm, as well as a fine log barn original to the site and exemplary of the Appalachian region.
The post–Civil War period also brought changes in technology and transportation that permeated much of the state’s architecture. As the railroad network thickened, sash and blind factories and industrial brickmaking proliferated; this trend, begun before the war, expanded rapidly, reducing the cost of construction materials, generating standardized forms and components, and reducing the reliance on individual artisan handicrafts. The growing towns, no longer the plantations, emerged as the principal sites of “modern” and “artistic” architecture. Regional and ethnic patterns faded as renditions of nationally popular forms and construction methods gained broader usage. Lacking a strong architectural profession in the state, leaders recovering from war and Reconstruction often turned to architects from distant cities for principal buildings, exemplified by the state’s employment of Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan and his associate A. G. Bauer to plan the Executive Mansion in Raleigh in an eccentric, symmetrical version of the nationally popular Queen Anne style. Many other clients also sponsored bold renditions of eclectic modes but in this period, especially, some of the principal architectural landmarks of the age—the state prison, college buildings, grand hotels, and industrialists’ mansions—faced the wrecking ball within decades of their construction. The grandest of the late-nineteenth-century mansions, by far, was and is Biltmore, erected for George Vanderbilt near Asheville by Richard Morris Hunt, with landscape design by Frederick Law Olmsted. Biltmore would add panache to Asheville’s image, not long after the Western North Carolina Railroad had opened the mountain city to increased immigration and tourism.
The social and economic changes of the postwar era produced an increasing diversity of types and forms. Especially important, freedmen could at last build for themselves as well as for others, and they numbered among the leading artisans. Sometimes aided by distant benefactors, black North Carolinians concentrated efforts on erecting buildings for their own institutions. Whereas antebellum churches had typically included both black and white members, most denominations divided racially after the war. Some black congregations occupied the original church structure while whites built new ones, but in many cases black congregations erected their own churches, often brick edifices in Gothic Revival style such as St. Stephen’s in Wilmington and St. Joseph’s in Durham. Black North Carolinians also strove for educational opportunities to compensate for the laws against educating slaves in the past. Northern benefactors and sometimes northern architects were involved in constructing schools and colleges for African American students, such as Estey Hall at Shaw University in Raleigh.
A major presence on the state’s architectural landscape embodied the role of the industrial revolution in the postwar economy: the textile mill and the mill village. Although there had been modest development of cotton spinning and weaving mills, typically water-powered, before the war, the postwar era saw the dramatic expansion of the industry initially along the lively streams of the Piedmont and then, with growing use of steam power, throughout much of the state. The mill village displayed a dramatic combination of the mill owners’ engagement in both national networks and local custom. The mill village at Glencoe on the Haw River typifies many of the small-scale operations of the period. Although a few mills were built of frame, generally mill owners subscribed to the models of slow-burn construction and efficient arrangements promoted by New England mill owners and insurance companies, with tapering brick walls, heavy timbers and flooring, separate stair towers often holding a cistern, and large windows to maximize natural light. North Carolina mill owners, like others in the South, created a nearby village for workers (“operatives”) to accommodate the regional habits of the white working families coming off the farms, with modest frame or log dwellings for individual families and, in some cases, sufficient space for a garden. The number of working hands a household provided, including children, was often tied to the size of the house provided. In time, railroads and steam power enabled industrialists to move away from the limitations of water power sites and to build on a larger scale and create urban settings. The twentieth-century Loray Mill and Village in Gastonia was described as the world’s largest textile mill under one roof in its day, and it was surrounded by an extensive mill village of typical one-story frame dwellings.
Concurrently with the textile industry, North Carolina businessmen established the state as a major tobacco producer. The golden leaf had been grown and cured in the state for years, and small factories with a few workers, sometimes the farmer and his family members, transformed the cured leaves into chewing and smoking tobacco for mainly local markets. In the postwar era, ambitious men took advantage of a growing national demand for tobacco and the expansion of rail networks to maximize trade and expand production. In cities such as Durham and Winston-Salem, entrepreneurs started with small factories but soon created marketing and manufacturing schemes on a grand scale that became central to the state’s economy. At the same time, farmers in the old tobacco zones of the northern Piedmont and then in many more sections of the state increased their investment in growing and curing the leaf. They built thousands of tobacco curing and storage barns to ready their crops for market. The Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Johnston County comprises a collection of typical tobacco farm architecture. Sometimes of frame, often of log, these buildings became a dominant presence on the rural landscape, a striking example of intersecting networks of influence: the longstanding log-and-frame building techniques employed in the service of a national and international corporate industry.
Industrial growth and expanding transportation networks brought unprecedented urban development in the twentieth century. Although the population remained predominantly rural and the state’s largest towns stayed small in comparison to major American cities, the Piedmont manufacturing cities of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte exceeded Wilmington in population and competed for the status of largest city, a status Charlotte would attain by midcentury and maintain. Architectural patterns increasingly displayed participation in national networks of technology, form, style, and authorship. In each small city, civic leaders promoted trade and progress, with the most visible symbols of forward thinking and pride being skyscrapers. Consciously participating in a national network of urban architecture, and often employing architects from New York or other cities, there was avid competition among cities to have the tallest building, a contest that featured Greensboro’s classically composed Jefferson Standard Building and was decisively won by the R. J. Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, which boosted civic pride in a soaring ziggurat design by the architects of the Empire State Building.
Of all the cities in the state, the fast-growing mountain town of Asheville built the most diverse and distinctive architecture during its early-twentieth-century boom era. Besides boosting the stature of the area, Biltmore had drawn talented practitioners to settle there. In the early twentieth century, Spaniard Raphael Guastavino, who had executed his special tile work at Biltmore, and Richard Sharp Smith, assistant architect to Richard Morris Hunt at Biltmore, collaborated on the stunning Spanish Baroque design of the Basilica of St. Lawrence with its massive, self-supporting dome. Vivid and stylish architecture of all modes soon followed. Asheville is best known for its Art Deco architecture, much of it designed by Douglas Ellington, the first native North Carolina architect trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, whose massive, polychromed Asheville City Hall remade the skyline and echoed the mountains beyond.
Civic and institutional architecture throughout the state likewise displayed leaders’ awareness of national norms and the growth of the architectural profession. North Carolinians continued to draw upon distant urban architects for major works but also relied on the newly established cadre of local and regional architects for whom urban growth was a great boon. Charlotte especially developed a strong fraternity of resident architects. The early twentieth century brought a widespread rebuilding of county courthouses, as one county after another employed a local or regional architect to replace earlier structures with Beaux-Arts–inspired compositions. The blue marble Cherokee County Courthouse by Asheville architect James Baldwin in the little town of Murphy presents a vivid contrast to the mountain county’s continued reliance on simple building forms, while the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in the state’s largest city reflects the skills of one of the state’s first native-born, professionally trained architects, Louis Asbury.
The period also brought unprecedented investment in public and private education, with educational leaders likewise pursuing national norms and producing some of the state’s finest examples of Beaux-Arts classicism. At the University of North Carolina, the 1920s master plan featured McKim, Mead and White as consulting architects, who terminated the new quadrangle with the Classical Revival Wilson Library. In the same period, the fortune generated by the Duke family in tobacco and hydroelectric power underwrote the creation the Duke Endowment and Duke University in Durham, a successor to the small Trinity College also aided by the Duke family. Designed by Julian Abele of Horace Trumbauer’s Philadelphia firm, the Duke University campus consists of two Beaux-Arts campuses, one in a classic red brick Colonial Revival style, the other as quadrangles of sophisticated Gothic Revival architecture, with a great axial drive leading to the towering Gothic Revival Duke University Chapel.
Primary and secondary education likewise gained state and national attention in this period. Displaying a nationally important trend in southern school architecture, North Carolinians built scores of Rosenwald schools for black students—more than any other state—supported by architectural designs and financial aid from the Rosenwald Fund established by Sears and Roebuck executive Julius Rosenwald in collaboration with Booker T. Washington. Typically of frame, sometimes of brick, this program enabled African American citizens throughout the South to build better schools than state and local entities provided in this era.
The early twentieth century, which saw the state’s formal organization of the architectural profession, proved to be a golden age for the small architectural office. Trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition or by apprenticeship, architects established practices in every city and many smaller towns, including many who moved from other states. Along with architects headquartered in distant cities, they planned buildings of every type from courthouses and schools to residences. Most displayed well-honed skills in creating conservative, well-proportioned, and well-detailed buildings to be executed by skilled local builders. Especially popular was the multifaceted Colonial Revival style most often executed in a Georgian Revival vocabulary. Less formal, the bungalow, whether architect-designed or adapted from published sources, also proved to be a widely popular house type throughout the state in rural and urban settings and in dwellings for every class and race.
During the same period, developers emulating national patterns created new suburbs for elite and middle-class citizens of every city and many towns. Streetcars and automobiles facilitated greater separation by race, class, and use, a pattern that contrasted with previous eras’ more mixed uses. The suburbs filled with nationally popular house types aimed at different classes of residents. Near Winston-Salem, Reynolda House—a “bungalow” of grand scale designed by Philadelphia country house architect Charles Barton Keen—was built on a suburban estate for Katharine and Richard J. Reynolds of the Reynolds tobacco fortune. Keen found an eager clientele among the Piedmont’s growing industrial elite, and the suburban trend quickly redefined Winston-Salem and other thriving cities. In Charlotte, the business hub of the Carolinas’ textile region, nationally known planner John Nolen laid out the initial elite suburb of Myers Park, and other suburbs sprang up rapidly. Other cities soon followed suit and filled curvilinear plan neighborhoods with residences in current styles as well as prestigious schools and churches. Throughout the towns and cities, builders erected thousands of more modest residences from shotgun plan dwellings to simplified Colonial Revival and Tudor cottages.
As was true throughout the nation, urban growth sparked attention to rustic and natural retreats, of which North Carolina’s varied climate and geography offered an abundance. For years, wealthy Carolinians had headed to the coast for summer respites, and in the early twentieth century the old seaside resort of Nags Head gained a unique group of beach cottages, built by local carpenter Samuel Twine in a special blend of the period’s typical bungalow form with the natural shingles, capacious porches, and hurricane shutters attuned to the setting. Rustic motifs and expressive use of natural materials also informed the architecture at various mountain retreats and educational centers including Penland, where sponsors reused existing log buildings and employed local artisans to build new ones within the local tradition. In these relatively remote locations, North Carolinians and others who generally built in neoclassical and other revival styles called upon local tradition and local artisans to once again create types of buildings specifically suited to local settings, materials, and skills.
Construction largely halted during the Great Depression and World War II, and when it resumed after 1945 the predominant public taste continued to favor comfortingly traditional styles along with new technologies, with red brick Colonial forms never losing their hold. In contrast, however, to the overall conservativism of North Carolinians’ architectural preferences, the postwar period brought one of the state’s extraordinary achievements in architectural creativity and accomplishments. Seeking to boost the image and the fortunes of the state after long years of economic lassitude, progressive state leaders campaigned for innovations in every facet of life, including architecture, which led in 1948 to the creation of a modernist School of Design at present North Carolina State University. Headed by doctrinaire modernist Henry Kamphoefner, the school was the center of a collection of bold modernism notable not only for the state but also nationally and internationally. The prime landmark is the Dorton Arena, the magnificent and structurally innovative livestock judging pavilion at the state fair, designed by Polish-born architect Matthew Nowicki, then head of the department of architecture. Other important representatives of modernism associated with the School of Design exhibit both Wrightian and Miesian flavors, the latter including the small, elegant George Matsumoto House. There were also multiple other variations of modernism found in the state, which ranged from the classicized modernism of Edward Durell Stone’s State Legislative Building and the corporate modernism of Charlotte architect O. G. Odell, whose reputation-making work was the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte.
In the latter years of the twentieth century, North Carolina continued to grow in population, chiefly in urban areas that stretched ever outward. The greater Raleigh area expanded rapidly, ranking second only to Charlotte in population. The state’s economy has changed with national and international currents in technology and, especially, labor, robbing the state of its old bulwarks of tobacco and textile manufacturing and shipping many of its workers’ jobs to distant countries. Some of the old plantation counties have suffered severe losses in people and jobs, leaving once well-tended antebellum buildings neglected. An important event of the late twentieth century was the creation of the Research Triangle Park in Durham County, which spurred high-tech and intelligence-based industries in an the area between three university cities and stimulated growth and wealth in Durham and Raleigh and the area.
In recent decades, despite economic troubles besetting much of the state, and disinvestment in the educational and public works enterprises that boosted its fortunes at key periods in its history, some areas of the state display renewed economic energy and the architecture to express it. The principal cities, especially Charlotte, have built examples of national architectural fashions from skyscrapers to airports to libraries to mansions in nearly every decade; few observers would yet agree on which best capture their eras. Showing the ever growing trend away from local and regional architectural forms, most of the major, locally based architectural firms have affiliated with national and international firms, leaving only a few North Carolina–based firms taking on major public projects. In the late twentieth century and the first years of the twenty-first century, growing public appreciation of the qualities of downtown buildings erected in the early and mid-twentieth century, coupled with civic and business leadership and historic preservation tax credits, have brought new vitality and preservation projects to some fortunate cities and towns. Economic ups and downs have affected the construction business here as elsewhere, though some outstanding projects have been completed. In recent years, political strife has brought unexpected problems to the state and its locales, its institutions, and its economy. How the architecture of the present and future decades will stack up against the heritage that preceded it remains to be seen.
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