Brooks Hall, off Pullen Road on North Carolina State University’s North Campus has a diverse history. It is the site where trailblazing professors who emigrated from around the world worked to inspire students. It housed the first library of the university. Its namesake, Eugene Clyde Brooks, was a complicated figure whose policies both enhanced and limited education.
The physical building originally housed D.H. Hill Jr. Library, according to a 1925 Technician article. But after the library moved to a larger facility in 1955, scholar Robert “Bob” Burns said the School of Design (SOD) housed offices, studios, and classes in Brooks. By the time SOD moved in, Dean Henry Kamphoefner had hired a faculty that he told NC Architects “discarded the deadly eclecticism and senselessness of the American Beaux Arts to search for a new design expression compatible to modern times [and] committed to design as a social art.” Scholar Victoria Ballard Bell noted that at the suggestion of sociologist Lewis Mumford, Kamphoefner looked outside the United States for faculty, hiring “many leaders of the international Modernist movement.”
From 1948-1959, professors and instructors came from Argentina, Austria, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Poland, and South Africa, according to Burns’ notes. In contrast, the 1956 catalog showed that the rest of the university’s faculty trained in just five countries. “Imagine having had teachers whose names were Parker, Allen and Grigg,” noted alumnus Marley Carroll, “now having professors named Buisson, Caminos, Catalano, Matsumoto, [and] Sengupta.”
Scholar Paolo Favole argued Modernism travelled from Europe to the United States and was “revolutionary in character.” Early SOD appointees supported the claim; Maciej “Matthew” Nowicki was a Polish architect who resisted Nazi occupation with clandestine classes during World War II. He and wife Stanislava both taught at NC State, according to Student Publications, and Maciej designed Dorton Arena at the NC State Fairgrounds.
In 1948, Kamphoefner also hired George Matsumoto, namesake for the Matsumoto Wing. A decade later, Kamphoefner hired Asit Narayan Sengupta to teach architectural drawing, a University of Calcutta graduate.
Favole reported the entire “new world” embraced Modernism, including the two Argentinian architects who became NC State’s first Latin faculty members. Eduardo Catalano oversaw the Department of Architecture at NC State from 1951-1955 because, he later reflected, “of the teachers who compensated their innocence with a pursue [sic] for discovery.” In 1952, Horacio Caminos arrived, “fleeing Argentina from [President Juan] Peron” according to student Abie Harris. Caminos published with students and provided “massive help” on Student Publications during his decade-long tenure, according to student Arthur Cogswell. Catalano and Caminos also “upheld a tradition of experimentalism,” according to Kamphoefner, all while winning national awards. From 1956 to 1957, Chilean Enrique Montenegro taught design.
Catalano’s first year was “tough for me and the students,” he recalled in a 1994 interview. “First my language and my lack of experience. And they belonged to another generation…who see that outsider come in from somewhere when they were not used to that.” But he also told Burns that in Raleigh, “no one had the intellectual pretense of people from large cities, only ears to listen and winning hearts and hands to do hard work.” Alumni revered the Latinx professors; John Atkins III reported Catalano “extracted from students their highest creative potential,” and Harris reflected Caminos “had more influence on me” than anyone.
Still, Bell pointed out, racism “endemic to the South, to the nation, and to the architecture profession” pervaded the school. In 1951, Chancellor J.W. Harrelson reminded Kamphoefner that “no Negro will be enrolled for any curriculum offered in any college for Negroes in North Carolina.” Catalano reflected in 1994 that he probably remained Acting Head of Architecture for his NC State tenure because “no foreigner could be head.” Finally, a 1975 federal report noted SOD had just one “American Negro” professor, Charles Joyner. Nevertheless, Catalano, Caminos, Joyner, and non-US Modernists ensured students were “subjected to as many points of view as there are men on the faculty,” the Winston-Salem Journal-Sentinel reported. Arthur J. Clement was the first African American graduate of the School of Design in 1971, and Phil Freelon, a noted architect best known for designing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, was a student there in the 1970s.
The school historically honored scholars because of such commitment to student progress. For instance, the first sentence of the 1956 program announcing Brooks Hall’s dedication explained “Dr. Eugene Clyde Brooks was elected president of North Carolina State College after long and distinguished service to the state in the betterment of its educational program.” A University Archives’ biography proved the point: Brooks, a Greene County native born in 1871, had been Superintendent of Goldsboro Schools and a professor of education before becoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1919.
As State Superintendent, Brooks convinced the General Assembly to pay part of each schoolteacher’s salary in 1919, a News and Observer article noted. In 1921, a colleague recalled, Brooks got lawmakers to loan $5 million so poor, rural school districts could construct bigger facilities. Scholar William B. Gatewood noted Brooks also pushed the General Assembly to fund more training programs for “negro teachers” in 1919, and he won an appropriation of $1 million for segregated “Negro schools” in 1921. Finally, Brooks declared in a 1921 letter that white officials should “talk to negroes and not about them.”
But Brooks revealed segregationist assumptions when speaking with African Americans. In a September 1919 meeting with African American Raleigh leaders, Brooks pushed a Declaration of Principles that condemned “intermingling of the races in terms of social equality.” Historian Sarah Caroline Thuesen argued Brooks implied “Black educational advancement hinged on keeping Black ‘agitation’ at bay.” In addition, Brooks’ own Director of Negro Education complained “officials spent ten times as much on white school buildings during the 1920s as they did on black schools.”
When Brooks became NC State’s Chancellor in 1923, he used permanent building funds to renovate and construct twenty-two buildings, according to historian David Lockmiller. But seven years later, Brooks noted in his annual report, the NC General Assembly slashed the college’s budget because of the Great Depression--right as enrollment increased. Brooks also navigated the school through the NC General Assembly’s initiative to consolidate three public universities under one administration and eliminate duplicate departments. The school survived the Depression and Brooks protected Raleigh’s Engineering program, noted historian Alice Reagan, but “the pressure of Consolidation” exhausted him. In November 1933, he suffered an arterial thrombosis and paralysis that forced him to step down. He died in 1947.
Brooks’ legacy lived on, however, through his 1911 children’s textbook The Story of Cotton. Brooks told young readers that white people were “the superior race,” and that “in the earlier days, freedom for [the enslaved African American] was impossible, for in his semi-savage state the life, liberty, and happiness of the white race would thereby have been endangered.”
The school chose to name Brooks Hall after a man who improved North Carolina’s public education system, although, following the dominant white cultural norms of the time, he legitimized white supremacy and preserved segregation within that system. Design students found meaning in the building, however, because of the diverse scholars who chose to teach within its walls.
Original Source References
Brooks, Eugene, Clyde. “How Shall Agriculture Survive the Depression?” State Record 31, no. 5 (April 1932): 1-12. Agricultural and Mechanical College Record (LD3916 .S7), Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries.
---. The Story of Cotton and the Development of the Cotton States. Chicago: Rand, McNally Co, 1911. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006056014
---. Stories of South America; Historical and Geographical. Richmond, VA: Johnson Publishing Company, 1922. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008649491
Brooks, Eugene Clyde, and Lyman P. Powell. Education for Democracy. Chicago: Rand, McNally & Company, 1919. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc2.ark:/13960/t2f768p9p
Catalano, Eduardo. Interview by Robert Burns, July 9, 1994, audio recording. College of Design, Office of the Dean Records, UA 110.001, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. https://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/ua110_001-325946-325947
Harris, Edwin “Abie.” Interview by Virginia Ferris, December 19, 2016, transcript and video recording. North Carolina State Oral Histories (MC00449), Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries. https://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/mc00449-oh-harris-20161219
“New State College Library Masterpiece of Architecture.” Technician (Raleigh, N.C.) 18 September 1925. (LH1 .N6 T4), Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries.
North Carolina State University. 1990 Agromeck: Leaders of the Pack (Raleigh, North Carolina 1990.) Agromeck (LD3928 .N75), Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries. https://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/agromeck-1990
---, College of Design, Office of the Dean Records, UA 110.001, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center.
Box 15: Folder “Chancellor J. Harrelson (2 of 2);” Box 70: Folder “Nowicki;” Box 88: Folder “Biographies of Professors”
North Carolina State University, College of Design Publications, UA 110.200, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center.
Box 7: Folder “Reflections and Actions”
---. Course catalog (LD3928 .A2253), Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries. https://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/1956
---, Office of the Chancellor Annual Reports, UA 002.002, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center.
Box 9: Folder “Design School, 1956-1957” “Design School, 1958-1959”
Box 24: Folder “President’s Report 1930-1931”
---, Office of the Chancellor, Early Chancellors Records, UA 002.001.001, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center
Box 5: Folders “Consolidation, Correspondence May 1932-August 1932,” “Tennessee Valley Authority, 1932-1933”
---, Office of the Provost, Office for Equal Opportunity and Equity Records, UA 005.009, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center.
Box 6: Folder “Affirmative Action Planning: Correspondence, 1990”
Box 41: Folder “Affirmative Action Plan, School of Design”
Box 10: Folder “African American Coordinators: Correspondence, 1988-1989”
---, University Archives Reference Collection, Biographical Files, UA 050.003, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center
Box 8: Folder “Brooks Hall” and “Caminos, Horacio”
---, University Archives Reference Collection, University Buildings, Sites, Landmarks Files, UA 050.004, NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center.
Box 8: Folder “Brooks Hall;” Box 5: Folder “D.H. Hill Library (now Brooks Hall)”
Secondary References Sources
Bell, Victoria Ballard. Triangle Modern Architecture. Novato, CA: Oro Editions, 2020.
Brook, David Louis Sterrett. Henry Leveke Kamphoefner, the Modernist, Dean of the North Carolina State University School of Design, 1948-1972. Master’s Thesis, North Carolina State University, 2005. <http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/theses/available/etd-07252005-164332/unrestricted/etd.pdf>.
Brown, Hugh Victor. A History of the Education of Negroes In North Carolina. [Raleigh: Irving Swain Press, 1961. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uiug.30112042081536
Caminos, Carlos H. Horacio Caminos: Teacher/Docente. Cambridge, MA: Carlos Caminos, 2014. http://sigus.scripts.mit.edu/x/files/Horacio_Caminos_BOOK_INTRODUCTION.pdf
Clark, Roger H. School of Design: The Kamphoefner Years 1948-1973. Raleigh: NC State University College of Design Publications, 2007.
Favole, Paolo. The Story of Modern Architecture. Munich: Prestel, 2012.
Gatewood, Willard B. "Eugene Clyde Brooks and Negro Education in North Carolina, 1919-1923." The North Carolina Historical Review 38, no. 3 (1961): 362-79. Accessed February 1, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23517427.
“History of Design Camp.” College of Design. North Carolina State University. Accessed March 8, 2021. https://design.ncsu.edu/designcamp/dc40/history/.
Lockmiller, David A. History of the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering of the University of North Carolina, 1889-1939. Raleigh: [Printed by Edwards & Broughton], 1939.
Monteiro, Lyra D. “Power Structures: White Columns, White Marble, White Supremacy.” Intersectionist Medium. October 27, 2020. https://intersectionist.medium.com/american-power-structures-white-columns-white-marble-white-supremacy-d43aa091b5f9
Montenegro, David. Enrique Montenegro: Conversations with the Artist. Albuquerque: David Montenegro, 2012. Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/Enrique-Montenegro-Conversations-Artist-David-ebook/dp/B008OADEC4?
Reagan, Alice E. North Carolina State University, a Narrative History. [Raleigh]: North Carolina State University Foundation and North Carolina State University Alumni Association, 1987.
Thuesen, Sarah Caroline. Greater Than Equal: African American Struggles for Schools and Citizenship in North Carolina, 1919-1965. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2013. <http://site.ebrary.com/id/10739979>.