The NCSU Libraries has acquired the William Roy Wallace Architectural Papers, an important collection of architectural drawings and project files that document the work of a major North Carolina architect and his associates.
During much of the 20th century, Wallace (1889-1983) was the architect of choice for many Winston-Salem business leaders and their families as well as for business leaders in Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, and elsewhere. Known for his fine residential architecture, he also designed numerous religious, educational, and commercial buildings from the 1920s onward.
Dr. Margaret Supplee Smith, art historian and professor emerita at Wake Forest University, was instrumental in identifying the importance of the collection and facilitating the generous donation by the Wallace family. Smith notes, “With this significant acquisition, which includes architectural records documenting three generations of architects working in North Carolina–Charles Barton Keen, William Roy Wallace Sr., and William Roy Wallace Jr., in addition to Harold Macklin—NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center has ensured that the story of twentieth-century architectural practice in the Piedmont, with its rich textile, tobacco, and historic preservation legacies, will have a permanent place in the state’s architectural history.”
Wallace, a native of Pennsylvania, began his career in association with Philadelphia architect Charles Barton Keen (1868-1931), a designer of country houses for the Philadelphia elite. Keen created a second major body of work among the leading industrial families in the North Carolina Piedmont, including the famed Reynolda House (1912-1918) for the Reynolds family in Winston-Salem. Wallace worked with Keen as an office boy, a draftsman, and eventually as partner. In 1923 Keen and Wallace moved to Winston-Salem to manage the construction of the R. J. Reynolds High School and Auditorium. After Keen returned to Philadelphia, Wallace oversaw the Winston-Salem office and traveled back and forth from Philadelphia to supervise the firm’s many projects. Throughout the 1920s, the two architects worked on many of the great homes in Reynolda Park and Stratford Road, including the C. A. Kent House, the Robert Hanes House, and the P. Huber Hanes, Sr., House.
In 1928 Wallace settled permanently in Winston-Salem, where he established a practice with Harold Macklin and James M. Conrad. Like Keen, Wallace and his son William Roy Wallace, Jr., who joined the practice after World War II, continued in a Beaux Arts revivalist tradition that shaped the distinguished architectural heritage of Winston-Salem and other communities.
Among the buildings attributed to the Wallace firm are the Fries Memorial Moravian Church, Highland Presbyterian Church Sunday School, the Twin City Club, many of the Davidson County schools from the mid-1930s to 1950s, and much of the early restoration work at Old Salem. In addition to designing the country estate (Brookberry Farm) of Bowman Grey, Jr., many Wallace houses are extant in Winston-Salem, including the Siewers-Shaffner House, John Stephens House, James Weeks House, and Meade Willis House.
The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at the NCSU Libraries continues to assemble and archive the work of leading architects to make these unique materials available to a wide audience. The SCRC has collected the papers of key architects, including G. Milton Small Jr., George Matsumoto, and William Waldo Dodge, as well as those of past and present faculty members of NC State’s College of Design such as Henry Kamphoefner, Marvin Malecha, Matthew Nowicki, and Frank Harmon.
The NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center holds research and primary resource materials in areas that reflect and support the teaching and research needs of the students, faculty, and researchers at the university. By emphasizing established and emerging areas of excellence at NC State University and corresponding strengths within the Libraries’ overall collection, the SCRC develops collections strategically with the aim of becoming an indispensable source of information for generations of scholars.