UNC Charlotte Special Collections J. Murrey Atkins Library - Special Collections & University Archives

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Ralfe Mesrobian architectural records

 Collection
Identifier: MS0470

Scope and Contents

The Ralfe Mesrobian records document Mesrobian's architectural practice from the 1950s through the early years of the twenty-first century. The bulk of the collection derives from Mesrobian's own firm, founded in 1956. Mesrobian's practice focused on both residential and commercial buildings and undertook numerous projects for the K-Mart Corporation. Although the geographical focus of much of the work represented in the collection is Charlotte, North Carolina, and the surrounding areas, the records document projects distrubed widely across the East Coast from Florida to New York. The collection comprises a significant component of architectural drawings and building specifications along with more limited project and administrative files. Included are blueprints, estimates for project costs, receipts, correspondence with clients about projects and zoning regulations, contract documents, ledgers, and daily expense booklets.

Dates

  • circa 1950-2004

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Ralfe Mesrobian records are the physical property of J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections. Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical note

Ralfe Mesrobian, AIA, was born September 14, 1920 to Armenian parents, Zabelle Martmanian and Mihran Mesrobian, in Scutari (Uskudar), a suburb of Istanbul on the Anatolian shore of the Bosphorus. The family, including older brother Nourhan, left Turkey in 1921 for Washington, DC, where another brother, Ara, was born, and Mihran became the chief architect for Harry Wardman, the city's premier developer. Ralfe was a member of the first graduating class of Woodrow Wilson High School. He excelled in football and baseball, and was the city Golden Gloves heavyweight boxing champion. He enlisted in 1942, earned his wings at Pensacola Flight School, and served in the Marine Air Corps. A member of the Black Sheep Squadron, he flew Corsairs off carriers in the Pacific. He resigned as a captain in 1946. He met Charlotte native Carol Lambeth Wohlford in 1944 while on transport duty at Pawley's Island. They were married in 1947. After a year at Duke University on a football scholarship, he transferred to the Catholic University's School of Architecture. Graduating magna cum laude in 1950, he received the School Medal of the AIA 'General Excellence in Architecture' award. He first practiced in Walter Hook's architectural office in Charlotte, where he designed the original Charlotte Airport Terminal, before joining Charles Connelly's office. He began his own practice in 1956 and, for over fifty years, designed notable buildings including the Spaugh Building at Little Church on the Lane, Mecklenburg Furniture Store, and the Strawn Apartments in Dilworth. For the Strawn Apartments he received a meritorious design award from the Charlotte Housing Authority. Ralfe's residential designs reflected his appreciation for historical design, creative skill in adapting architectural styles to modern living, and a keen eye for scale and proportion. He enjoyed working with clients, always insisting they include a ground floor bedroom so they could live in their home as long as possible. Four of his designs stand on Moravian Lane, including two for the family. His commercial work included shopping centers and K-Marts on the Eastern Seaboard for LEVCO of Wayne, NJ. Working prior to computer-generated design, he was a consummate draftsman, doing much of the drawings and tracings by hand. In his retirement, he spent countless hours drawing Medieval and Gothic Revival churches, capturing the light of their stained glass windows with an exacting hand. He was a long-time member of Myers Park United Methodist Church, Dowd YMCA, the AIA, Mecklenburg Historical Society and Wing Haven. The Mesrobians had two daughters - Caroline Mesrobian Hickman of Washington, and Catherine Mesrobian Smith of Charlotte. Ralfe Mesrobian died in 2010 at the age of 89. His wife, Carol, died in 2018.

Extent

128.75 Linear Feet (7 records center boxes, 40 map case drawers)

Arrangement

The collection is organized in two series:
  • I. Architectural drawings, 1951-2004;
  • II. Business files, circa 1950-2004

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Ralfe Mesrobian records received as a gift of Carol Mesrobrian and Caroline Mesrobian Hickman, March 2013.

Source

Creator

Title
Ralfe Mesrobian Architectural Records
Status
Completed
Date
2014 August
Description rules
dacs

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Contact:
Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte 28223 United Stated