Who was Erle Stillwell?

Erle Gulick Stillwell, a Hannibal, Mo., native, lived from 1885 to 1978 and was a prolific architect, designing many buildings in Hendersonville, Western North Carolina and throughout the South.

According to “Buildings as History: the Architecture of Erle Stillwell” by William Mitchell and the Times-News archives:

Stillwell moved to Hendersonville when he was 18. He married Eva Smith, daughter of Laurel Park developer William Smith, in 1907 before attending Cornell University from 1910-1912 and moving back to Hendersonville in 1913, when he first began his career in architecture.

He built at least 10 public schools for Henderson County: Balfour (1927), Dana (1928; burned 1971), East Flat Rock (1923; developed as apartments in 2004), Edneyville High (1950; now the WNC Justice Academy), Etowah (1927; demolished 2002), Flat Rock (1927; burned 1971), Fletcher (1928; now Veritas Christian Academy), Hendersonville High (1926), Mills River (1921; demolished 1974), and Tuxedo Graded School (1916).

He also built several buildings for private schools, including the Blue Ridge classroom building in 1914, Fassifern School gymnasium in 1928, and several buildings at the Christ School in Buncombe County in the 1930s and 1940s.

He did work for Western Carolina Teachers College, now Western Carolina University, including a faculty dormitory, drawing plans for the Breese Gymnasium, Hoey Auditorium and McKee Laboratory School, all in 1938, as well as Moore Dormitory, which was drawn in 1929 and built in 1938, and Robertson Hall in 1929.

Stillwell designed Hendersonville City Hall in 1927, as well as the Citizen’s National Bank building on Fourth Avenue and Main Street in 1918.

He also had a hand in designing many other buildings in and around Hendersonville, including doing some work at First Presbyterian Church, First Methodist Church on Church Street, St. James Episcopal Church, the building where the Novels and Novelties bookstore is now on Main Street, and the Jackson Building, across from the Dogwood parking lot on Church Street and a number of private residences in Hendersonville.

His work spread across North Carolina and to other southern states, including Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and South Carolina.

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