Black Mountain College Project   

Architecture Section



Black Mountain and Asheville

Blue Ridge Campus
Lake Eden Campus

Guide to the Campuses
and Maps


of Architects

Architecture related publications

Section Outline


(31)  Minimum House

Designers: Ralph Chernoff, Bernard Karp, Albert Lanier, Alex Morse, Warren Outten, Sewell Sillman, Ragland Watkins and Paul Williams
Fall 1947
Fall 1947-Summer 1948
Student designers

In the fall of 1947, frustrated by the college's failure to obtain a full-time architect, a group of students formed a study group which met once a week to discuss modern architecture. Two of the students – Albert Lanier and Ragland ‘Rags’ Watkins – had previously studied architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Other members of the group included Paul Williams, Warren Outten, Si Sillman, Bernard Karp, Alex Morse, and Ralph Chernoff.

Eager to actually build something, the group designed a small low-cost house with an area of 400 square feet, providing cooking, sleeping and study facilities for a faculty or student couple. Plans and cost estimates were approved by the Board of Fellows. A gift of $1,000 by Paul Williams's mother enabled the college to move ahead with the project to be constructed by students.

The south facade of glass panels looked out onto a woodland scene with a stream and a grove of rhododendron and dogwood trees. The south exposure took advantage of solar heat in the winter time. The north side, facing the road, was of insulating stone gathered from the college property. A row of windows was placed at the ceiling for privacy. The east and west sides were of corrugated aluminum.

Occupants of the house included Joe and Mary Fiore and Paul and Vera Baker Williams.

See “Minimum House: A Student Project,” Arts and Architecture, April 1949.

2007: The building was demolished by Camp Rockmont. Only the concrete foundation and stone wall remain.

Photograph courtesy North Carolina State Archives, Black Mountain College Research Project Papers, Jerry Levy Papers (facade); Joseph and Mary Fiore Papers (interior).


The Black Mountain College Project gratefully acknowledges a grant from the Graham Foundation
for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts for a study of architecture at Black Mountain College.