Early Days (1906-1927)
In 1906 Willard C. Northup (1882-1942) founded an architectural firm in Winston-Salem. Early work of his firm included residential, commercial, and institutional buildings in the Winston-Salem area. Northup was President of the North Carolina State Board of Architectural Examiners and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects of North Carolina. (Architectural Guide Winston-Salem Forsyth County, Winston-Salem Section NCAIA, 1978).
In 1913 Leet Alexander O’Brien (1891-1963) joined Northup and in 1925 the firm became Northup and O’Brien. O’Brien served for two terms as President of the NCAIA. Notable projects by Northup and O’Brien included the Woman’s College (now UNC-Greensboro) Library, the N.C. State Office Building and Durham Life Insurance Building in Raleigh, and the Medical School and Hospital at UNC-Chapel Hill (Architectural Guide Winston-Salem Forsyth County, Winston-Salem Section NCAIA, 1978).
The Lashmit Era (1927-1972)
In 1927, Luther Snow Lashmit, a Winston-Salem native who had studied architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and at the Fontainebleau Ecole des Beaux Arts in France, joined Northup and O’Brien. He became a partner in the firm and remained a partner in the successor firms, Lashmit, James, Brown and Pollock, and Lashmit, Brown and Pollock. According to the Architectural Guide Winston-Salem Forsyth County (Winston-Salem Section NCAIA, 1978), Lashmit was “instrumental in reorganizing the state chapter (NCAIA) after World War II and was its president from 1947-48.” In 1976, he received the first Gold Medal awarded by the North Carolina Chapter of the AIA. Under Lashmit’s direction the firm designed many buildings at Salem College, Davidson College, and NC Wesleyan College.
As a member of the firm of Northup and O’Brien, Lashmit was the principal designer of Graylyn, the residence of tobacco magnate Bowman Gray and now a conference center for Wake Forest University. Graylyn was built between 1927 and 1932 in a Norman Revival style. The house incorporates a “Medieval entrance hall, a Persian paneled card room, a Louis XIV library from Paris, a Georgian sitting room from London, an Art Deco indoor swimming pool, and an imposing circular stair hall with wrought iron by J. Barton Benson.” (Architectural Guide Winston-Salem Forsyth County, Winston-Salem Section NCAIA, 1978).
Lashmit was educated in the Beaux Arts tradition. Several renderings of his competition entries now adorn the CJMW office (Thanks to Tom Calloway, who saved them from the trash pile.). Current principals Tom Calloway, Don Johnson, and Alan Moore, knew Lashmit, who continued to visit the firm for several years after his retirement.
Lashmit considered Modernism to be a style, just like Classicism or Gothic. This perspective was enlightening for architects like Calloway, Johnson, and Moore, trained in the 1960’s and 1970’s, who had been taught to believe that Modernism was Truth and all other architecture “merely styles.” Lashmit was as comfortable designing in the modern style as in any other. His 1940 house for Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Reynolds, Jr., “Merry Acres” (known locally as “The Ship”) was a fine example of the International Modern style.
The Newman Era (1972-1984)
Lashmit, Brown and Pollock all retired in 1972 and the firm went through a series of changes in name and ownership (Jennings, Newman, VanEtten &Winfree; then Newman, VanEtten & Winfree, then Newman Calloway Johnson Winfree). Michael Newman was managing principal. Tom Calloway joined the firm in 1971 and future principals Donald W. Johnson and Alan Moore joined the firm later in the 1970’s. During this period the firm won NCAIA awards for the design of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), the NCSA Workplace Building, and the Roger L. Stevens Center for the Performing Arts.