Greensboro’s architecture will enjoy the spotlight this week as the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians gathers in the Gate City for its annual meeting. Attendees will discuss diverse topics related to architecture and history, and enjoy some of Greensboro’s treasured places along the way.
Appropriate to Greensboro’s unique sensibility of its own architectural history, the theme of the conference is Old South – New South (the Gate City, historically, has sometimes reveled in being a decidedly unsouthern city in the American South). Preservation Greensboro is a conference co-host, alongside partners UNCG Department of History and the UNCG Department of Interior Architecture.
The Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SESAH) is a regional chapter of the national Society of Architectural Historians and includes twelve states – including North Carolina. The nonprofit organization promotes scholarship on architecture and related subjects and to serve as a forum for ideas among architectural historians, architects, preservationists, and others involved in professions related to the built environment. The annual meeting will feature scholarly paper sessions, business meeting, study tours, and a keynote lecture by a national leader in the field.
In the past decade, numerous southeastern cities have hosted the conference, including Mobile, Savannah, Fort Worth, and Nashville.
Attendees will examine a broad range of topics, including the keynote address by Dr. Thomas Hanchett of Charlotte’s Levine Museum of the New South on “Modernizing the Piedmont.” Other topics of local interest range from a review of the iconic Moravian Hood, a distinctive porch roof inspired by homes in Old Salem, to a look at the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on Greensboro’s own Carter House, a midcentury modern home designed by Greensboro architect Edward Loewenstein.
Not all activities are academic. Registrants will see the diversity Greensboro has to offer in its own architectural Hall of Fame.
Attendees will enjoy a reception in the home of Edward Loewenstein, an architect known for his progressive designs who deeply appreciated early American and European architectural history. In addition, a walking tour will review downtown buildings, including:
- United States Post Office and Courthouse of 1931-1933, attributed to staff architects under acting architect James A. Wetmore of Washington DC,
- West Market Street Methodist Church of 1893, by architect S. W. Foulk of New Castle, Pennsylvania (image, upper right),
- Guilford County Governmental Plaza of 1968-1972, by architect Eduardo Catalano of Cambridge, Massachusetts,
- The International Civil Rights Museum (originally F. W. Woolworth’s) of 1929, by architect Charles C. Hartmann of Greensboro,
- Kress Building of 1930, by architect Edward Sibbert of Memphis, TN (image, lower right),
- Carolina Theatre of 1927, by architects J. H. de Sibour of Washington DC, and James B. Workman of Greensboro.
The walking tour will terminate with a reception at Blandwood Mansion, the home of Governor John Motley Morehead designed by Alexander Jackson Davis of New York City in 1844.
Greensboro’s environs will be the highlight of Saturday bus tours, including an examination of Guilford County’s Quaker architecture led by myself, and an inspection of the works of African-American designer Thomas Day of Milton, NC, led by Jo Leimenstoll.
Greensboro was a logical choice for the conference. SESAH President Catherine Bishir, herself a North Carolinian, saw the city’s preservation community as capable organizers for the event. UNCG’s increasingly influential Preservation Program has planned and produced numerous successful venues ranging from the Loewenstein Legacy to the Closer to Home citywide exhibit on modernism. It also helps that the Gate City has been careful to retain its impressive stock of buildings drawn by the hands of prominent local, national, and international architects. For all of our hard work in preserving treasured places, it’s great to have the opportunity to show off our success!