The construction industry grew to unprecedented levels during the early 20th Century, with people leaving their farms to work in manufacturing facilities. Towns would double in size, and main streets were dotted with newly built brick buildings. The rise of industrialization meant new technologies changed how structures were designed and built. The commercially sold timber and steel translated to cheaper and faster building times.
The fast-paced growth is often referred to as the golden age for architectural firms and builders, who would design every building, from banks to city halls to high-class housing. Since North Carolinians didn’t’ have the time to design their own homes, it was up to professional architects to do it for them. This led to the establishment of the North Carolina American Institute of Architects in 1913.
Later in 1915, the state licensing program was introduced by the North Carolina Board of Architectural Registration and Examination at the state college we now call North Carolina State University. The curriculum was introduced in 1920.
It was during the 1900s that the first skyscrapers would be erected in North Carolina, which started with the Independence Building in Charlotte, built in 1909 and then the Masonic Temple buildings in Raleigh.
As labor began moving to downtown, the suburbs became more of a luxurious residential area, with affluent families moving there to escape the grime, noise and drawbacks of city living. These were often built along streetcar lines that would slightly extend beyond city limits, and it was here that most of the rising architects of the time were designing homes. Charlotte was the first city in North Carolina to have what was called a ‘streetcar suburb’. The neighborhood of Myers Park was the most well-known.
The several social-political movements led to the Progressive Era, which pushed for education for all children. This meant a boom in the number of schools being built. It was during this time that higher education saw a record number of students enrol, with large state universities having to expand facilities to accommodate newly inducted students.
It was during the 1900s that we saw some of the most well-known campuses being built, both pre-Word War Two and after it. The Duke Chapel was of them designed by Julian Abele, and built-in 1932, an excellent example of gothic architecture. Then there was the Louis Round Wilson Library, which was designed by architect Arthur Cleveland Nash, along with the UN.C Chapel Hill’s campus in the 20s.
The reform-driven era meant a belief in the use of science and technology, which encouraged the building of structures that promoted health. This meant a boom in the building of hospitals, children’s homes and sanatoriums.
Thanks to assembly line technology, homes could be built sooner and for less, in other words, the introduction of prefabricated houses. These houses would be sold via mail-order catalogs. Consumers would choose a style of home they wanted, order it and it would be delivered and installed. For instance, the bungalow style, identified by its sloping roofs, horizontal massing, and eaves, and a cozy interior, was very popular in North Carolina. The two best companies were Aladdin and Sears and Roebuck, both of which sold hundreds of prefabricated homes in North Carolina.