“It was a wonderful experience” stated Bert King in his 2011 interview with Kate Walker. He was describing a 40+ year career as an architect. Bert King is certainly Asheville’s most acclaimed and prolific architect of midcentury homes as well as many outstanding commercial buildings.
James Bertram King was born in Greenville, South Carolina but grew up in Asheville. King first became interested in being an architect when he took a drafting course at Lee Edwards High School (now Asheville High). After graduating, King served in World War II as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. He flew a C-47 paratrooper plane over the Battle of the Bulge and received a medal for his service.
On returning home, King enrolled in the School of Design at NC State University and graduated with honors in 1949 with a Degree in Architectural Engineering. After graduating, King wasted no time. he worked with the likes of famed architect, Henry Gaines, then moved on to join Six Associates and Lindsey Gudger. In 1952 opened J. Bertram King Associates. From 1952 until his retirement in 1994, his Architectural signature expanded prolifically throughout Asheville and the surrounding counties and states.
Bert’s architectural style was clean and simple, timeless, yet innovative, serene and elegant with beautiful modern detail. He favored the use of wood and stone to blend with the natural environment. “No two are alike” is how King described the mountain vistas and scenery of western North Carolina and he designed each of his creations with the intent to frame these vistas in order to “bring the outside in”.
Bert himself was said to be tall and elegant, light spirited and easy going on the one hand but with strict attention to organization and detail in his work. Although best known for his residential designs, King considered his residential work a luxury and earned his principal income from the design of schools, churches, automobile dealerships, businesses, banks, medical offices, art centers, etc.
Among his awards, King received the Fellow Award from American Institute of Architecture; and in 1968, the Institute gave J. Bertram King Associates an award for the 1964 design of Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church and College Chapel.
Just to give you a sampling and the range of King’s designs, here are a few. Look for future postings with more.
4 Kent Place in Beaverdam
Currently for sale.
Built in 1962 and most recently sold in 2013
Sold in 2013
26 East Fox Chase Rd in Woodland Hills (Lake Section).
Built in 1963 and most recently sold in 2019.
For more here’s an article from the NC Modernists (Triangle Modernist Archive) on Bert King and the Asheville homes he designed through the years NC Modernists Bert King
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