George Watts Carr, Sr.

George Watts Carr, Sr.

Place of birth: 
Durham, Durham County, NC
Date of birth: 
4.13.1893
Place of death: 
Durham, Durham County, NC
Date of death: 
6.17.1975

George Watts Carr, Sr., often known as Watts Carr, was among Durham’s most prolific and prestigious architects in the early and mid-20th century. Like many architects of his generation, Carr was at home with all of the popular period styles and most building types; he was especially known for his handsome residences in revivalist styles. 
 
Carr entered the architectural profession through a somewhat circuitous route. He was a son of Louis Albert Carr (1852-1909) and Clara Louise Watts Carr (1857-1898), natives of Maryland who moved to Durham in about 1888. Their move followed that of Clara’s brother, George Washington Watts (for whom George Watts Carr was named). George Washington Watts moved to Durham after his father provided funds that enabled him to become a 20 percent shareholder in the Duke family’s tobacco business at a critical time in the firm’s development. George Washington Watts, like the Dukes and other Durham business leaders, amassed a fortune and became a major philanthropist. The Carr and Watts families built houses next door to each other in the prestigious Morehead Hill neighborhood. They and their extensive web of relatives thrived in the booming town’s economic, civic, and social life, and news of their activities appeared frequently in local newspapers. Along with his architectural skills, George Watts Carr’s personal and family connections strengthened his success as an architect in a world in which he was very much at home socially as well as professionally.
 
Carr attended Davidson College. In 1916 he married Amy Winston (1894-1959), a daughter of noted attorney and judge, R. W. Winston; their wedding at Christ Church in Raleigh was cited in a Winston-Salem newspaper as being “of state-wide interest to society.” Their children included George Watts Carr, Jr., and Robert W. Carr.
Between 1926 and 1927 Carr headed the new Durham office of architects, Northup and O'Brien, a firm long established in Winston-Salem. Carr was primarily responsible for the projects that the firm produced in the Durham area. From 1927 to 1961, he had his own practice in Durham.
 
Carr was at home with all of the popular period styles. His most elaborate Forest Hills commission was Pinecrest, the English Manor Revival estate built in the mid-I920s by Forest Hills developer James Cobb as his own home (Pinecrest's English Garden is on tour). The majority of Carr's Forest Hills designs were in the Colonial Revival style and range from sparsely ornamented buildings, such as the Forest Hills Clubhouse, to more elaborate houses embellished with richly appointed elements. His seven Colonial Revival designs on Oak Drive are characterized by entrance surrounds and decorative cornices that emulate authentic Colonial decora- tive elements (the Webb-Hobgood House is on tour). r The largest single project on which Carr's firm worked was the 2,000 bed Marine Hospital at Camp Lejeune, NC. His firm was engaged in projects on the base for four years. Along with associates J. E. Greiner of Baltimore, he also designed the Cherry Point Marine Air Base, the North Carolina Ports Authority Terminal at Morehead City, and several buildings at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. He was named to the Advisory Panel for planning the United States Capitol and grounds. Carr designed buildings at North Carolina Central University, NC State, and UNC Chapel Hill, as well as county hospitals in eastern and central North Carolina. A major hospital project was the Veterans Hospital here in Durham. 
 
Carr received honor awards from the North Carolina Chapter of the AlA where he served as Vice President in 1936 and 1937. His son Robert ("Judge") W. Carr became associated with his father's firm and later continued the architec- tural practice in his own name. George Watt's Carr's grandson, Edgar Toms Carr, is now associated with the firm as well. Carr became less active in the firm in 1974, but continued as Consulting Architect with Carr, Harrison, Pruden and DePasquale until his death in 1975.
 

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