A Modern Ride through Raleigh
Raleigh native George Smart and his quickly-growing posse of aficionados for the modernist way of thinking are picking up quite the head of steam.
On Saturday, Sept. 25 at 1:00 PM, they’ll be rolling through town in nine buses toting more than 500 mid-century modernistas. George and his Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) have organized another of his inside-the-beltline tours of city’s best modern architecture – with nine homes and offices this time. That’s more than any prior tour, and more people to see them too.
“The purpose is to get people inside these beautiful buildings,” George said. “We’re fortunate that Raleigh has so many great houses – it makes it easy to work within a small geography.”
George estimates the total inventory of mid-century moderns in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Triangle to be about 800 buildings. Raleigh alone, thanks to Henry Kamphoefner’s ground-breaking 1940s, ’50s and ’60s School of Design at N.C. State, is home to about 400 of those.
Two particular gems will sparkle this time around. One is Harwell Hamilton Harris’ home and office on Cox Avenue, a minimalist affair designed and built by the master architect (and founder of the “Texas Rangers” at the University of Texas) in the mid-sixties. The city just named it a Raleigh Historic Landmark.
The other is Milton Small’s 1966 office building on Brooks Avenue near N.C. State. Small studied with Mies and brought that master’s stripped-down aesthetic to Raleigh, where he practiced for decades after arriving in 1948. It, too, is a Raleigh Historic Landmark.
But why, as a Louisville business editor once asked me drily, would my mother care?
“Your mother probably played in one of these,” George said. “Or maybe she admired it from the outside. And maybe she wants to see the inside.”
Indeed. But if she’d waited ’til now, it’d be too late. The tour sold out weeks ago.
For more on Triangle Modernist Houses, go to http://www.trianglemodernisthouses.com