Monday, January 21, 2013

Campus Drawings of Warren Henry Manning

In 1987, Carolyn Owen, a grounds maintenance staff member at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, transferred five blue prints, eighteen drawings, and one sepia print of campus buildings and grounds that she had found in storage to the University Archives.  The paper and linen documents ranged in size from approximately 5 x 13 inches to 43 x 91 inches and were subsequently cleaned and encapsulated for preservation.  This material, which dates from 1902 to 1920, included aerial views, general plans, grading plans, proposed buildings, and roads from the time when the university was an all-female college.

The drawings and prints were created by landscape architect Warren Henry Manning (1860-1938) who designed plans for the campus from 1901 to 1921 and shaped the campus as we know it.

1926 Aerial View of the Campus looking north toward Peabody Park showing Manning's design influence.
Manning was a landscape designer, landscape architect, and regional planner from Reading Massachusetts.  He did not have formal training in the landscape design field but gained experience while he was manager of his father’s plant nursery.  From 1887 to 1896, Manning was associated with the Frederick Law Olmsted landscape architecture firm and designed over 125 planting projects.  Over the course of his life, Manning designed nearly 1,700 landscape projects for colleges, universities, public parks, and private estates including the Biltmore Estate near Asheville, North Carolina, and the Village at Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Manning’s association with the campus resulted when he met alumna Kittie Dorcas Dees in Pinehurst where she was a secretary at a Pinehurst hotel.  Manning offered her a job with his landscape architecture firm in Boston, Massachusetts.  While in Manning’s employment, she requested that he design the grounds for her Alma Mater.  She had attended the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) from 1895 to 1897.  This was to be her gift to the school.  The only expense that would be incurred was the cost of clerical help, drafts, and traveling.

From 1901 to 1921, Manning corresponded and consulted with Presidents Charles D. McIver and Julius I. Foust about the landscape plans for the campus.  He was named the official landscape architect of the college in 1909.

Bird's Eye View of Proposed College Avenue, 1909
One of Manning’s most important contributions was the creation of College Avenue.  He envisioned a grand boulevard running from the railroad tracks, across Spring Garden Street, north to the entrance of Peabody Park.  Manning proposed that faculty housing be built along College Avenue south of Spring Garden Street and academic buildings be built on either side of College Avenue, north of Spring Garden Street.

The faculty housing area was never developed since the college was not able to buy the land south of Spring Garden Street until the 1920s when difference plans were developed for the area.  The land north of Spring Garden Street was developed into the academic area that Manning envisioned.

Watercolor Sketch of Proposed Woodworking Building, 1911
 In 1911, Manning drew several sketch plans and elevations of a proposed but never built arts and crafts village where the students would have learned pottery, weaving, and woodworking.

Additional biographical information about Manning can be found in The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography.  Other repositories holding Manning’s drawings and documents are the Parks Library at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa and the Center for Lowell History at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, Massachusetts.

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