Greensboro has a long tradition of grand residences that began with Blandwood, a two-story Federal-period home built in 1795 by Charles Bland in a wooded setting that in 1808 was selected for the village of Greensborough. Blandwood was modest by today’s standard, but compared to the predominent log structures of the period, it was grand. Featuring four fireplaces, high ceilings, double-hung windows, and tongue-and-grove interior wood sheathing, it was likely among the largest scaled homes of the eighteenth century in Guilford County.
By the 1840s, Greensboro was a growing commerical and manufacturing center in the Carolina piedmont. Governor John Motley Morehead commissioned New York architect A. J. Davis to add an addition to Blandwood in 1844, and the result was a home that redefined residential architecture for a generation. The Tuscan Villa style house became a touchstone for later Italianate architecture, and represented a high water mark for antebellum architecture in the state. Other period homes were constructed that raised standards in the growing town, including the Dr David Weir home designed by W. S. Andrews in 1846, the Letitia and William Walker’s home of 1846, the Reverend Sidney Bumpas home of 1847, the Michael Sherwood home of 1849, and Dunleith of 1856 (destroyed).
Construction in Greensboro and Guilford County diminished during and after the Civil War.
Beginning in the 1870s, a new generation of residential design was enabled by a dramatic increase in community wealth due to rapid industrialization and commerce. Greensboro’s corporate captains, textile barons, inventors, and successful attorney’s began to erect well-designed Queen Anne-inspired houses including the Dixon-Leftwich-Murphy House of 1873, the William Fields House in 1878, the Orlo Epps House of 1890, and Dr Battle’s home The Cedars by Dr Battle in 1898 (destroyed),
In the first two decades of the twentieth century, wealthy patrons turned to nationally prominent architects for commissions on Period Revival houses and mansions in suburban locations. Charles Barton Keen of Philadelphia designed nine homes in Greensboro including the Colonial Revival Alexander W. McAlister House between 1918 and 1924; A. Raymond Ellis of Hartford designed at least three houses including the Poplar Hall and the Hewitt House in 1912-1914; Okie Brognard of Philadelphia designed Hillsdale Farm in 1929, and Mott Schmidt of New York designed the Ralph Price House in 1953.
The subdivision of choice for this period was Irving Park, designed in 1911 by acclaimed landscape architect John Nolen. The plan was enlarged and revised by Philadelphia landscape architect Robert B. Cridland in 1920. Early residential designs follow Neoclassical formats with symmetrical facades often including Greek and Roman orders. Several examples of European-influenced designs in Norman, Tudor, and even Mediterranean styles coexist comfortably next to later Modernist designs. For example, the Herman Cone House was constructed in 1936 in Norman Revival style by Greensboro-based architect William C. Holeyman that stands comfortably with the Mid-Century Modern home of Kay and Sid Stern designed by Greensboro-based architect Edward Loewenstein in 1955.
Continued economic growth enabled other stylish neighborhoods to emerge across the city, including Hamilton Lakes and Sedgefield. Each neighborhood contains remarkable period architecture, including the A. M. Scales House in Hamilton Lakes designed by C. Gadsden Sayre of South Carolina in 1929, and the remarkable Adamsleigh, designed by Winston-Salem based Luther Lashmit in 1929. Adamsleigh, built for High Point textile baron John Hampton Adams, is popularly recognized as Greensboro’s largest private home, encompassing over 15,000 square feet with separate caretaker’s cottage, stables, tennis courts, swimming pools, and an elevator.
Greensboro’s architectural legacy from the prosperous period extending from 1910 through the Great Depression represents an unrivaled period of wealth and commerce in the city’s history. Quality of design, craftsmanship, and civic pride culminated to create a family of residential architecture that is exceeds any other period in terms of scale, design, and quality of construction.