If you’ve ever been to the NC State Fair, you most likely know the building by its unique round shape, rather than its current name, Holshouser. With its mid-century design and vintage provenance, it was the natural choice for hosting the first annual retro event, Vintage Fan Fair. Held over the Veterans Day holiday on November 10-11th, the event Celebrates Nostalgia™ with a vintage camper open house, classic car display, presentations, entertainment and an indoor marketplace.
The uniquely shaped building harkens back to the atomic-age era. When seen from above, it appears that another-worldly spaceship has landed in the middle of the fairgrounds and you can almost hear those infamous words “Klaatu Barada Nikto!” from the 1951 cult-classic, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Actually built in the 1970’s for the State Fair and originally called the Arts & Crafts Building, it is now used to house the “Village of Yesteryear” at the Fair to showcase arts and crafts vendors.
The renowned husband and wife team of Peg & Edgar “Ted” Hunter were the architects of the building and won the design bid having come to Raleigh from the northeast with a broad portfolio; including several buildings on the Dartmouth campus. The circular shape was a recurring design theme for the Hunters. Peg had earlier designed a circular, open-concept kitchen that GE liked so well, they built it in one of their demonstration houses. They also had tried to build several rounds structures in the Northeast, but construction crews could never quite accomplish the “perfect” circle until it was built in Raleigh.
Peg was known locally as a Professor at NC State University and proprietor of a local shop “Heritage Antiques”. She was a trailblazer in her field by being one of the first female architectural students at the Harvard School of Design (class of 1942) and was the third woman registered as an architect in North Carolina. Also having a degree in Botany, Peg delved into gardening and co-authored several books on the subject.
The Hunters also designed several local projects including, Ridgewood Shopping Center and the Meredith Woods subdivision, among many other Raleigh projects. It was their personal home in Raleigh that was one of their best works and served as a design-lab for some of their ideas. Unfortunately, it no longer stands today; which is why such non-profit organizations as North Carolina Modernist Houses works to educate the public on mid-century architectural preservation and appreciation. George Smart, Executive Director of NCMH, will speak on that subject and how North Carolina became the 3rd state with the highest concentration of modernist designed homes. Titled “Mayberry Modernism”, Smart will be speaking at the event on Friday, November 10, 2017, at 3 pm.
For more information on Peg & Ted Hunter and to review their archived collection, visit the NCSU Library/Special Collections Research Center.