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



Architecture Chronology


(September) Black Mountain College opens in buildings rented from the Blue Ridge Association. It is located southwest of the village of Black Mountain, North Carolina and eighteen miles east of the city of Asheville. (Blue Ridge Campus)

The 1619-acre property, developed as a summer conference center for the YMCA, is mostly woodland. Robert E. Lee Hall. a hotel-like assembly building with a large lobby, is the center of college life. The dining hall and kitchen are joined to Lee Hall by a covered walkway. Faculty with children live in nearby cottages. Adjoining buildings are used for music practice. The college also uses the gymnasium.

The rent for the 1933-34 academic year is $4,500. Dr. Willis Duke Weatherford, Executive Secretary of the Blue Ridge Association and President of the YMCA Graduate School in Nashville, Tennessee, represents the Blue Ridge Association.

On October 2, 1933, less than a week after the college opens, the Blue Ridge property is auctioned in foreclosure proceedings at 12 o'clock noon on the Buncombe County Courthouse steps in Asheville. This nullifies the college’s lease. The property is purchased by the American Life Insurance Company for $45,000. A neighbor, whom the college believes is hostile, raises the bid. Weatherford has ten days in which to match the highest bid. He is able to regain the property in the name of Blue Ridge College, Inc.

In January Black Mountain College negotiates a new lease for the spring of 1934 and 1934-35 on terms similar to the previous lease. The new lease includes the right to use the farm land, the rent to be covered by repairs and one-half the produce for the Blue Ridge Association.


Attempts to obtain a long term lease or a lease with an option to buy the Blue Ridge property are futile. The situation is so unstable that the college cannot issue its catalogue for the next year until the fall term has begun as it is never sure where it will be located.


The college negotiates a lease with Blue Ridge College, Inc. for 1935-36 for a rental of $4,500 (plus $2,000 heat installation at the college's expense) and the option to renew for 1936-37 by January 1, 1936 for $6,000. If the property has not been sold or leased to someone else, the college can renew after January 1, 1936. The college can add heating equipment to Robert E. Lee Hall, and, should the college move, it can remove any movable features it has added.

In May William Lescaze and his wife visit the college.

In June the college signs a five-year lease, renewable annually before June 2 at the college’s option, for $4,500 per year, on the condition that Weatherford can sell the property or lease to anyone else for a higher figure before January 1 of the year preceding the term of the annual lease. The college can lease some cottages for the summer months.


Black Mountain College exercises the first of the five-year options to lease the Blue Ridge property.

On June 14, 1937, as insurance against a possible ouster from the Blue Ridge buildings, the college purchases from the trustees of the E.W. Grove Estate the "Lake Eden Property," consisting of approximately 674 acres and the “Royal League Property” of 52 acres for $35,000. $17,500 is paid in cash, with the balance due in four equal installments of $4,375 on or before 2, 3, 4 and 5 years at 6% interest. The purchase is made possible by a gift of $12,500 by Stephen Forbes, a former student, and $800 of the $2,000 in underwriting which Edward and Ethel Dreier, parents of Theodore Dreier, pledged at the college’s founding and of which they made a gift..

The property had been developed in 1923-24 by E.W. Grove as a camp for girls. It was also operated as a summer inn. A newspaper article in the Asheville-Citizen notes that there were fourteen buildings on the land including two large guest houses, a “spacious casino dining and dance pavilion overlooking the lake”, several cottages and a bath house, all of rustic design except for one stone cottage. It also includes a fifteen-acre artificially-damned lake and, of special interest to the college, farmland. (Lake Eden property)

Summer 1937

The college operates the Lake Eden property as a summer resort at a rent of $2,000 under a lease taken over at the time of purchase.


Black Mountain College exercises the second of the five-year option to lease the Blue Ridge property.

In December Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus and Chairman of the Department of Architecture at Harvard University, makes his first visit to Black Mountain College.

Summer 1938

The college operates the Lake Eden property as a summer inn.

In July Theodore Dreier meets A. Lawrence Kocher, former editor of the Architectural Record, at Fort Salonga, New York. Kocher suggests that Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Josef Albers, and Xanti Schawinsky should collaborate on plans for Lake Eden.


Black Mountain College exercises the third of the five-year option to lease the Blue Ridge property.

The college constructs a small barn on the Lake Eden property as well as hog pens. A farmer moves into the farm house. (Farm buildings)

In January $115 is ratified for the purchase of a tract of land of 1 ½ acres adjoining the Lake Eden property on the southeast corner of the property.

In the fall Herbert Bayer, designer of the Bauhaus exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, visits the college. He declines an invitation to join the faculty.

In January the college commissions Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer to design buildings for the Lake Eden campus. The plans call for a dormitories, studios, faculty housing, workshops, a theater, and other facilities. (Gropius-Breuer plans)

In April Herbert Bayer has an exhibition at the college.

In April Marcel Breuer  makes his first visit to the college to discuss the college's plans for the Lake Eden campus.

Using local labor, the college constructs a small cottage on the Lake Eden property. They general layout is provided by Josef Albers. The cottage is called at times New Cottage, Finley’s Fancy (a tribute to one of the builders), and Wood’s Cottage (for Mac and Emily Wood, who lived there). (New Cottage)

Willis Weatherford notifies the college that he has a ten-year contract beginning in September 1940. Black Mountain must duplicate the offer or loose its lease. Frustrated by the uncertainty of the Blue Ridge situation, the college decides to prepare for a permanent move to the Lake Eden property. Weatherford withdraws the ultimatum.

Summer 1939

The college operates the Lake Eden property as an inn.

The Gropius-Breuer plans are completed and a model is constructed. Fundraising begins. (Gropius-Breuer Plans) (Photograph: Ezra Stoller © Esto)


Black Mountain College exercises the fourth of the five year options to lease the Blue Ridge property.

On January 9, 1940 the model and plans for the Gropius-Breuer designs for Lake Eden are exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Josef Albers and Walter Gropius speak on the college’s educational ideals and the building design.  A fundraising campaign is initiated.

Both the uncertainty of the college’s current housing situation and the lack of a board of trustees to insure continuity of management and institutional purpose make fundraising difficult. The college tries to negotiate a long-term lease for the Blue Ridge property. It hopes for a second five-year lease as well as commitments by key members of the faculty to remain at the college for five years. This would allow time to raise the requisite $500,000 for the Gropius-Breuer buildings and to reassure donors of a commitment to the college on the part of a number of faculty.

In April Walter Gropius is appointed to the Advisory Council. He remains a member until the resignation of Josef Albers in the spring of 1949.

Willis Weatherford notifies the college that it must vacate the Blue Ridge property by June 1941.

In May Marcel Breuer visits the college with his wife Connie as graduation examiner for the college's first four graduates in art: Hope Stephens (Foote), Richard Lloyd Andrews, Bela Martin, and Alexander (William) Reed.

On June 12 a second fundraising meeting for the Gropius-Breuer plans is held at the Museum of Modern Art. The college’s campaign to raise the initial $75,000 to begin construction has been unsuccessful.

On June 20, faced with the necessity of a move in less than a year, the college realizes that it must abandon, at least temporarily, the Gropius-Breuer plans. It’s options are (1) to hope for a last minute reprieve in the form of a new lease with Blue Ridge if Weatherford’s new tenant withdraws, (2) to locate other property that can be leased while funds are raised for the Gropius-Breuer plans, or (3) to move to Lake Eden in simpler buildings.

In June Marcel Breuer visits the college to monitor construction of a house he designed for Dr. Sprinza Weizenblatt, an Asheville resident. He  discusses the possibility of simpler plans to be designed by Gropius and Breuer. It is decided this is not feasible. (Photo by Claude Stoller)

The college decides to make every effort to prepare Lake Eden for occupancy in September 1941.

Richard Gothe, co-founder and secretary of Work Camps of America, visits in the spring. He lectures on "Experience with Youth at Work and Study" and "Economics in Everyday Life."

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asks Congress for over a billion dollars to develop the defenses of the United States. It is clear that the nation is moving to a wartime economy and that fundraising will be more difficult and building materials restricted.

Lawrence Kocher, innovative American architect and former editor of The Architectural Record, is to invited to Lake Eden to give suggestions to the Board of Fellows.

Serge Chermayeff visits the college in the spring. He had recently arrived in the United States and was to accept a position as head of the design department at the Chicago School of Design (later the Chicago Institute of Design).

Summer 1940

The college operates the Lake Eden property as an inn.

In July Lawrence Kocher visits Black Mountain College. He is commissioned to design simpler buildings that can be constructed using student and faculty labor. The plans are completed by the end of the summer.
(Kocher Plans) (Studies Building)


Black Mountain College exercises the fifth year of its five-year option to lease the Blue Ridge property.

Josef and Anni Albers are granted a sabbatical for the fall semester. They travel to Mexico and the Southwest. Anni Albers returns to Black Mountain for the spring semester; Josef Albers teaches at Harvard University. The art curriculum for the 1940-41 academic year focuses on construction and architectural classes taught by Lawrence Kocher. (Architecture curriculum)

In September Marcel Breuer visits the college when in the area to monitor the construction of the Weizenblatt House in Asheville.

Charles Godfrey, a local builder, is hired to direct construction of the Studies Building and to supervise construction of other buildings.

Lawrence Kocher, former editor of the Architectural Record and Visiting Professor of Architecture at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, is appointed Visiting Professor of Architecture with full membership in the corporation for 1940-41. In May he is appointed Professor of Architecture from 1941-46. His salary for the first two years is paid by a grant from the Carnegie Foundation. A gift of $1,000 from Philip L. Goodwin, architect for the Museum of Modern, provides for the third year at the college.

Richard Gothe is appointed Assistant Professor of Economics and Sociology for 1940-41 and Director of the Lake Eden Work Program.

Willo von Moltke, a German immigrant and graduate of the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, assists Kocher with the architectural program in November and December. He had worked for Alva Aalto in the spring and summer.

In September 1940 construction is started on the Studies Building. The Board of Fellows authorizes a sum of up to $5,000 for the Lake Eden building program. Throughout the year funds are raised to fund the next step in construction. Concerts, dinners and other events are organized by students and faculty during the winter break to raise funds. The faculty accept a sixty percent cut in salaries. The project attracts an enormous amount of publicity throughout the United States. (Studies Building)

The roof is celebrated with a tree ceremony before the winter break. In June the exterior of the Studies Building is near completion, but the interior is an empty hull.

During the five-week winter vacation students raise $6,300 for the building program by giving concerts and lectures and solicitation of private donations.

Under the direction of student Robert Bliss a woodworking and print shop is constructed. (Workshops)

In the spring construction is begun on a Service Building designed by Lawrence Kocher for the kitchen staff. The building has two bathrooms, six bedrooms and a living room with a central hall. Robert Bliss is job captain for the building construction. (Service Building) (Robert Bliss)

In December architect José Luis Sert and his wife visit with Mirian Willard.

In the winter Philip Goodwin, architect for the Museum of Modern Art, visits the college. A gift to the college pays Lawrence Kocher's salary for 1942-43.

In April 1941 John Burchard, Director of Housing Research at MIT and co-author of The Evolving House, visits the college and lectures on housing. BMC Newsletter, May 1941

In April 1941 Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. visits the college on a trip south to Mexico. He gives a talk on "Design in Everyday Things."

In May 1941 Christopher Tunnard, lecturer at the School of Design at Harvard University, visits the college as  examiner for Don Page, who graduates with majors in both art and textile design. Marli Ehrmann is examiner in textile design.

In May 1941, Black Mountain College moves its furnishings including furniture, pianos, looms, the college press, and other materials (such as the radiators it had installed at Blue Ridge) to Lake Eden.

In the spring F.S. Lincoln, architectural photographer, visits the college, exhibits his photographs, and gives a lecture on photographic technique.

Summer 1941

The college decides not to operate the Lake Eden Inn for the summer. Instead it sponsors two work camps, one from June 30 to July 26, the other from July 28 to August 23, to continue construction at the Lake Eden property.

The summer students install oak flooring in the Studies Building. They excavate under the inns and lodges for installation of heating systems, construct chimneys, install insulation, subdivide attics of cottages for faculty apartments, and build double and triple deck beds for students in the lodges (some “counterweighted” to be raised to the ceiling in the daytime to provide study space).

Construction of the Service Building for a “dozen colored people who live and work on the place” is completed in August.

The bathhouse is renovated to provide science classrooms, a darkroom, and studies. The work is directed by a student, Fernando Leon. Fred Coolidge, a camper from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, is responsible for replacing the rotted sills beneath the concrete floor of the bathhouse. (Science Building)

Construction of the Jalowetz House, a small house designed by A. Lawrence Kocher for Heinrich and Johanna Jalowetz is begun. The student supervisor is Claude Stoller. (Jalowetz House)

Construction on a barn designed by Lawrence Kocher is started.  (Farm Buildings)

Marcel Breuer visits the college when in Asheville to address the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).


Work continues on the Studies Building. Plywood walls are added to the student studies.

Mary 'Molly' Gregory, a member of Bennington College's first graduation class who is teaching at the Cambridge School in Kendal Greene, Massachusetts, is appointed Apprentice Teacher to Josef Albers. She is later appointed to the faculty to teach woodworking and remains at the college through the summer of 1947. Her instruction and skills are essential in the architectural work at the college.

Howard Dearstyne, an American who had received his Diploma from the Bauhaus in 1932 and subsequently studied privately with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is appointed Visiting Instructor in Architecture and Assistant to Lawrence Kocher from November 1941 through May 1942. He works on site plans and teaches architectural structure and design.

By October one-half of the insulation of the cottages is completed and three heating units are in. The college is in a race against cold weather.

In December John V. Allcott, Chairman of the Art Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill visits the college to discuss an exhibition of modern architecture at the university.

In February a photograph of the Studies Building is exhibited at Person Hall Art Gallery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

n April 1942 John Burchard is appointed to the Advisory Council. In June he visits and submits designs for bomb shelters by BMC architecture students designs to a competition with MIT students. The design by Don Page, a student, wins honor ranking. At the time Burchard is Chairman of the Committee for Civilian Defense of the National Academy of Science.

The completion of the barn is celebrated in May with a dance.

By June 1942 most men students and many faculty have left to join the war effort. With a drastically reduced student body and smaller income from tuition, the college faces the possibility that it will have to close for the duration of the war. Members of the Dreier family and Elizabeth C. Morrow (through the Elisabeth  Reeve Morrow Morgan Foundation) underwrite a second mortgage totaling $18,000 on the property.

1942 Summer

A milk house, started in the spring, is completed, and work is begun on two silos. (Farm Buildings)

The college sponsors a Work Camp. Kocher teaches a course "Architecture: After the War."

Anatole Kopp, a French refugee who is completing his Master of Architecture degree at MIT, visits the college when traveling on a summer fellowship, He participates in the summer work camp for  a week.

Lou Bernard Voigt, a landscape architect and a graduate of the School of Design of Harvard University, visits the college for a month.


Anatole Kopp is appointed Instructor of Architecture from October 27, 1942 through September 18, 1943. He leaves at the end of the spring quarter.

Lou Bernard Voigt is appointed Instructor in Landscape Architecture and Botany for 1942-43. He makes a site plan for the college and pen and ink drawings of the property.

Horace McGuire "Mac" Wood is appointed Instructor of Contracting and Building Construction in September. He remains at Black Mountain through December 1945. He is a away from the college for the 1943 summer and the winter and spring quarters 1944.

As a memorial to Mark Dreier, the nine-year old son of Theodore and Barbara Dreier who died in an automobile accident at the college on October 8, 1941, Alexander (William) Reed, a Black Mountain College graduate and assistant to Josef Albers, designs and builds a small stone house of meditation. Reed weaves the curtains, and Mary Gregory designs and builds oak benches. The house is intended as "a place to get away, if only for an hour, from the pressure and busy-ness of the College." (Quiet House)

On the farm the second silo is constructed in the fall. In the spring a 20 x 60' shed for farm machinery is constructed using lumber from the college property. It incorporates a 1200 bushel corn crib at one end. Hot houses are also constructed. (Farm buildings)

Anatole Kopp, working with music and architecture students, directs construction of the the first two of four music practice cubicles designed by A. Lawrence Kocher. Because of wartime restrictions on construction materials, the college uses material salvaged from the college property. (Music cubicles)

In April Kocher requests a leave of absence to work on post-war projects and returns to New York. In July the leave is extended. He does not return to the college. With Howard Dearstyne he writes "The Architectural Center: An Organization to Coordinate Building Research, Planning, Design, and Construction" which is published in New Pencil Points in July 1943.

Summer 1943

The college sponsors a Summer Work Camp for "Students in Architecture and Those Interested in Building." Lawrence Kocher teaches for two weeks (July 12-26) and Lou Bernard Voigt until August 4. Because of restrictions on wartime building materials the work is primarily maintenance of existing buildings. Concurrent with the Work Camp, the college sponsors a Seminar on America for Foreign Scholars, Teachers and Artists and a Summer School. Josef Albers teachers Basic Design and Color, and Mary Gregory, Woodworking, at the Summer School.


The Service Building is destroyed by fire. It was insured for $2,250, the cost of materials.

In November construction on a beef cattle shed attached to the main barn is begun (Farm buildings). It is completed in the spring. Work is also underway on an extension to the science building. The extension is to be used as a magnesium laboratory for chemist Fritz Hansgirg and as a photo lab.

Work continues on the music practice cubicles (Music practice cubicles). In November the second cubicle is under construction.

Plans are drawn for a new Service Building with a wooden frame and non-critical fire-resistant panels on the foundation of the first structure. The college is not able to obtain the necessary government permit from the War Production Board for construction of a separate building.

In the spring, H. McGuire Wood designs a five-room addition to South Lodge to house kitchen staff who have been living in Black Dwarf since the Service Building fire. Permission for construction is granted by the War Production Board since it is an addition, not a new structure. In June a gift from Stephen Forbes, a former student, is used to add a basement with a living room, three bedrooms, a bath, and a large storage room. Construction, directed by a former student Charles Forberg, is completed in the summer.

The two-story lobby in South Lodge is split to make a second story to provide extra dormitory space.

Summer 1944

The hallways of the Studies Building were left unfinished in 1941 because the college did not have enough money for paneling. In the summer of 1944 the college obtains enough random-width wormy chestnut to finish the first fifty feet of each end of the upper floor hallway and the tower end of the lower floor hallway.

Jean Charlot, Mexican muralist and a member of the college faculty, paints frescoes “Knowledge” and “Inspiration” on two pylons of the Studies Building. (Charlot murals). The stone terrace is finished and graveled.

Walter Gropius, Chairman of the Architecture Department at Harvard University, is guest faculty for a week in August at the Summer Art Institute. He gives two community lectures on "Site and Shelter after the War."


The college decides to construct a one-story structure for the kitchen staff on the foundation of the Service Building to help alleviate the housing shortage. H. McGuire Wood is in charge of the design and construction. The structure will cover one-half of the subfloor of the original building and will have three bedrooms connected by a hallway. The building is constructed in the spring and summer.

An article on the Studies Building, "College in Black Mountain, N.C., designed by A. Lawrence Kocher. Students and volunteers did a great part of the manual labor on the 75 room building,” appears in the June 1945 issue of Architectural Forum.

In February Mr. and Mrs. Harold Bush-Brown visit their son Richard, who is a student.

In February Paul Beidler, an architect recommended to the college by Walter Gropius, visits the college. He is appointed Instructor in Architecture and Consulting Engineer from May 11-June 18, 1945 and for the 1945 Summer Art Institute. He designs a one-room music practice cubicle, the first of four he hopes to build. Permission is obtained from the War Production Board and the first and only one constructed is built in June. Beidler leaves at the end of the summer due to post-war commitments. (Music Cubicle)

In April William W. Wurster and Catherine Bauer Wurster visit the college for two days. He gives an informal lecture on "Modern Architecture," and she, on "Housing."

In May 1945 John Burchard and Walter Gropius visit the college to attend an Advisory Council meeting.

1945 Summer

Walter Gropius is guest faculty in August at the Summer Art Institute. He gives four lectures on "Modern Architecture." A summary of his lectures is published as "Living Architecture" in the April 1946 issue of Design, which is devoted to the 1945 Summer Art Institute.

Paul Beidler teaches architecture. The college hopes he will remain to direct a construction program at the college and teach courses in basic architecture. He cannot due to the reactivation of pre-war contracts.

Felix Payant, editor of Design magazine visits for a week. He devotes the April1946 issue of Design to the 1945 Summer Art Institute program.


In September Pierre Chareau, who was recommended to the college by Robert Motherwell as a possible teacher of architecture, visits the college and gives a lecture.

Mary Gregory locates wormy chestnut lumber to finish the hallways in the Studies Building.

In the fall Walter Gropius recommends two young architects, Norman and Jean Fletcher to the college which is hopeful that they will join the community as resident architects. They decide instead to join The Architects' Collaborative (TAC), a firm being organized in Cambridge. Walter Gropius is a founding member of the group.

In November 1945 John Burchard visits the college for an Advisory Council meeting. He delivers a lecture on "The Problems of Reconstruction in Europe," and suggests the college might use temporary housing in the form of Quonset huts or prefabricated tents.

In December 1945 Bertrand Goldberg writes that he would like to contribute a plan and materials for a small building to be constructed at the college as a memorial to his wife Claire who died in November and as a resting place for her ashes. In February he visits Josef and Anni Albers at the college.

The college divides its architectural program into two phases: (1) temporary housing to relieve the immediate post-war needs and (2) long range plans and permanent buildings to supplement and replace many of the existing structures.

In January the college files an application for housing from the Federal Housing Authority under the Lanpan Act. In May the college is allotted four 20 x 100 foot buildings to be used as married student housing, dormitories and studies. The college expects the buildings to arrive in time for occupancy in the fall. (FHA Buildings)

In February the college commissions TAC to prepare long range plans and site plans. In March Norman Fletcher, principal architect, visits BMC for three weeks to discuss long range plans, to make site plans of the campus, and to discuss plans for a women's dormitory for sixty students. In May he sends preliminary plans for a dormitory for forty women students. Don Wight, a student working with other members of the community, presents an alternative plan for small units combining sleeping and study space for six students. (TAC and student plans) Community Meetings are held and opinions and petitions are submitted.

In the spring the Kocher-Kopp music cubicles "never finished, tired and shabby, are torn down and very decently removed.”

The April 1946 issue of Design magazine, devoted to the 1945 Summer Art Institute at Black Mountain College, includes articles  "Architecture at Black Mountain College" by Paul Beidler, "'Living' Architecture or 'International Style'?" by Walter Gropius, and articles by Josef and Anni Albers, among others.

On May 26 Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer participate in an Exhibition of Modern Houses benefit for Black Mountain College.

Summer 1946

Mary Gregory and students begin construction to raise the roof on the farm house to provide space for two families. (Farm House)

Discussions of the TAC plans continues throughout the summer. Although many favor small units, there is concern that combining study and sleeping space in small units will contribute to the formation of cliques. Fletcher is asked to design a small dormitory for twelve students with a communal living room. Studies are to be separate.  There is to be a faculty living unit in connection with each group of small dorm units. The college receives an anonymous gift in the amount of $5,000 for one unit.  (TAC Plans Student Plan)

In August Bertrand Goldberg visits the college to determine the site for the Goldberg Art Memorial Building and Workshop. He begins to work on plans and a model.

Walter Gropius visits the college for two weeks and lectures on architectural planning.

Two Canadian architecture students from Harvard, Harry Seidler and Peter Oberlander, attend the summer session. Lectures given by Seidler are condensed as "Aesthetics in Modern Architecture" in the October 1946 issue of the Journal of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada. Oberlander compares the curriculums at Harvard and Black Mountain in an article "Glimpses of the American Scene: Architectural Education" which appears in the April 1948 issued of Architectural Design.


In October Fletcher makes a new site plan and a preliminary design for a small dorm unit.

The week of November 18 is designated Permanent Housing Week to discuss the small dorm design and select a site. Community meetings are held to discuss the small dorm plans.

In the fall architect Benjamin Baldwin visits the college. He is invited to join the faculty but declines.

The first four FHA buildings which were supposed to be ready for occupancy on September 1 do not arrive until October. A contractor is hired to work with student on the construction of the buildings. (FHA Buildings)

The FHA buildings alleviate the immediate need for space, and the TAC plans are eventually abandoned. One problem is the college's inability in the postwar building boom to attract an architect to work with the students on construction and to teach classes.

In March the college obtains three additional FHA buildings. They are used for classes, a library and storage.

In March 1947 John Burchard resigns from the Advisory Council.

Summer 1947

The college obtains sufficient wormy chestnut paneling to finally finish the paneling the hallways in the Studies Building.

The renovation of the farmhouse is completed and the farmers and their families move in. (Farm House)


In the fall of 1947, the infirmary is renovated by a student, John Reiss. Divider screens are made of  translucent white chicken glass and 2 x 4s.

In October, John Allcott, Chairman of the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill visits Black Mountain College with his wife June to see the modern buildings and to arrange of an exhibition of Black Mountain College architecture in January at the university.

Students are eager to build, but the college is unable to attract a resident architect. Frustrated they form an independent architecture study group and design a small house, the Minimum House. The mother of Paul Williams, one of the students, donates $1,000 for construction. In October the project is approved by the Board of Fellows. (Minimum House)

Using funds raised for the building program and a loan in the amount of $10,000 from Stephen Forbes, a former student, the college pays off both the first and second mortgages, totaling $19,750. The Forbes mortgage, the college's only indebtedness, is payable over a ten year period at the rate of $1,000 a year.

Bertrand Goldberg visits the college in the spring. In June he writes that plans for the proposed Goldberg Art Memorial Building and Workshop are only partially drawn and that he is unable to proceed due to financial losses. The project is cancelled.

Summer 1948

The Minimum House is completed.

TAC is unable to send an architect for the summer to begin construction of a small dorm unit.

Bertrand Goldberg is invited to teach architecture for the summer. When he cancels at the last minute, he recommends Buckminster Fuller. Charles Burchard of Harvard also teaches architecture at the summer session.

Buckminster Fuller constructs his first dome the “Supine Dome” and plays the role of the Baron Meduse in Erik Satie’s The Ruse of Medusa.

J. Edgar Kaufman, Jr. lectures on industrial design: "Design and Art,' "Design and Use," Design and Profits," and "New Technologies in European Design."


On September 24, the Science Building (remodeled bathouse) is destroyed by fire. Hazel Larsen (Archer)’s negatives are destroyed in the fire and Fritz Hansgirg’s equipment and experiments designed to extract magnesium from olivine are destroyed.

A milking parlor and a milk house with a cooler are constructed under a single roof with a large covered runway between them.

John Burchard is a member of the committee to develop a plan for the reorganization of the college.

Summer 1949

Buckminster Fuller directs the 1949 Summer Institute. He brings a group of students from the Institute of Design where he had been teaching the previous winter to continue work on their Autonomous Dwelling Facility with a Geodesic Structure. 1949 Dome

Craig G. Andrews and Milton Small, architects in Raleigh, North Carolina, visit Buckminster Fuller at the college. They are joined by architects Tallie B. Maule and Carl Russell, who at the time are working in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.


In November Paul Williams presents preliminary plans for a new Science Building. The plans are approved by the Board of Fellows. The building is to be constructed by Williams, Dan Rice and Stan Vanderbeek as well as other students and faculty. Stephen Forbes contributes $6,000 for construction of the building. Work continues sporadically until 1953.

A Pot Shop, designed by Robert Turner with assistance from Paul Williams, is constructed.

In the fall the college sells seventy acres of gravel land across from the college for $30,000 (minus a ten percent commission) to pay off the indebtedness from 1948-49 and to help with current expenses. This is the first sale of land to support the college programs.

Summer 1950

Work continues on the Science Building. "The lights are on in the new science laboratory on the knoll, and student architects and builders Paul Williams and Dan Rice are hurrying to finish the building for fall use." Black Mountain College Bulletin, August 1950. 


In April a small parcel of land is sold to a neighbor for $2,500.


In 1952 a dual use tobacco barn/beef shelter is constructed.

Paul Williams makes two $5,000 loans to the college: the first in January 1952, with the beef herd as collateral; the second in August 1952.


In February Roadside Cottage, the residence of Joseph and Mary Fiore and Wesley and Bea Huss and their sons burns. Many of Joseph Fiore’s paintings are destroyed in the fire. Roadside was the former residence of Josef and Anni Albers and Theodore and Barbara Dreier and their children.

In December Paul Williams makes a third $5,000 loan to the college. In 1953 he takes a $25,000 interest-free mortgage on the farm.

Summer 1953

David Weinrib and Karen Karnes design an addition to the Pot Shop. It is constructed by Jack Rice.


In the fall the college moves out of the lower campus and into the cottages on the hill.


In September 1955 the college signs a lease-purchase agreement with Eden Rock Park, Inc. for the lower property, including the lake. The contract for $65,500 provides for payments of $2,000 on signing; for $13,000 on or before September 20, 1955; $10,600 on or before August 31, 1956; and $15,000 on or before August 31, 1957, with a purchase option for $24,900 in addition to all rental payments if exercised before August 31, 1958.

Summer 1956

The July the college sells the farm to Wilma G. Miller for $35,000, with $1,000 due on the signing of the contract; $9,000 on August 17, 1956; and five promissory notes of $5,000 each due October 9, 1956 and thereafter on or before September 1 through 1960.


In the fall the college decides to close the Lake Eden campus. It sponsors programs in San Francisco and other locations through March 1957 when a judge rules that it must cease educational program until all debts are paid.


On September 10, 1957, George Pickering, president of Camp Rockmont and secretary-treasurer of Eden Rock Park, Inc., exercises his option to purchase the 202 acres of the lower property. He also purchases the upper tract. Revenue from property sales enables the college to pay all debts, including contingent salaries listed by faculty as a debt against the college during the 1950s.



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.