Architectural Historian George Smart To Present “Mayberry Modernism” in Salisbury

The 1950 Ramsay House

May 12, 2010 (SALISBURY, NC) — What’s North Carolina’s best-kept secret?  The Triangle region has the third largest concentration of Modernist houses in the nation, behind Los Angeles and Chicago — literally hundreds of mid-century gems thanks to the Modernist influence of the North Carolina State University College of Design’s faculty and students over the past 61 years.

On Thursday, May 27, the Historic Salisbury Foundation, in partnership with Stout Studio Architecture, will host George Smart, founder and director of Triangle Modernist (TMH) as he presents “Mayberry Modernism: Why The Triangle Is America’s Hotspot for Way Cool Houses” in the Historic Salisbury Station, 215 Depot Street, beginning at 5 p.m.

A cocktail reception for the Historic Salisbury Foundation and other invited guests will be held immediately afterwards at the modernist home of Marc and Anne Hoffman of Salisbury.

Smart’s presentation will spotlight modernist houses in the Salisbury area, especially those by the late John Erwin Ramsay, FAIA (1915-1991), who designed many of the homes in the town’s West Square Historic District.  Nearly all Ramsay’s houses are documented on TMH, thanks to extensive research by Gabe Nicholson, who owns a Ramsay house in Mount Gilead.

Inside the 1954 Levin House by John Ramsay, AIA © Gabe Nicholson

“John Ramsay was a gifted visionary architect who almost single-handedly left Salisbury a legacy of exceptional Modernist houses,” Smart said. “And now that many of these houses are over 50 years old, they qualify for historic preservation status.”

Smart will discuss what Salisbury citizens and others can do to save these “works of art” from potential destruction.

What is a Modernist house?  “They are characterized by open floor plans, extensive use of glass, low-pitched roofs and aesthetic geometry, are endangered,” Smart said. “Their locations, often on prime real estate inside cities, are worth much more than the houses, making demolition and development an attractive option. By networking current owners and providing the public detailed information, histories and maps, we help endangered houses be purchased or otherwise preserved,” says Smart.

TMH is the largest archive of modernist residential design in the nation. Through TMH, Smart and his army of volunteers promote, preserve and advocate for modernist architecture from mid-century to contemporary through frequent homes tours and other advocacy efforts, such as the “Mayberry Modernism” presentation.

“Mayberry Modernism” is free and open to the public. For more information, on Triangle Modernist Houses, visit

For more information on the Historic Salisbury Foundation, visit

About Triangle Modernist Houses

Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH) is a 501C3 nonprofit established in 2007 to restoring and growing modernist architecture in the Triangle. The award-winning website, now the largest educational and historical archive for modernist residential design in America, continues to catalog, preserve, and advocate for North Carolina modernism.  TMH also hosts popular modernist house tours several times a year, giving the public access to the Triangle’s most exciting residential architecture, past and present. These tours raise awareness and help preserve these “works of art” for future generations. Visit the website at TMH also has an active community on Facebook.

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