Homeowners' Hopes and Dreams in the Frank Harmon Papers

Client's response to a questionnaire

Client's response to a questionnaire

One of the best parts of processing archival collections is finding unexpected treasures and learning new things. We're always stumbling on surprises when we're sorting through collections, and we’re enthusiastic about sharing what we find with our researchers!

SCRC staff are currently processing the Frank Harmon Papers, a massive architectural collection comprised of drawings, project files, photographs, and models. Frank Harmon is an award-winning modernist architect whose firm is responsible for many incredible buildings. The variety of Harmon's work is striking--his designs include the North Carolina Pottery Center; the amphitheater at the North Carolina Museum of Art; the Visitor Center at the Merchants Millpond State Park; specialized studio space at the Penland School of Crafts; and many more. The careful thought that goes into all of Harmon's projects is abundantly evident in his files, perhaps nowhere more than those documenting the process of planning for homes. Harmon's projects strive to meet homeowners' dreams come true, and the first step in that process is giving full attention to what those dreams are. 

Floor plan drawn by a client for their bedroom

To meet that end, Frank Harmon’s firm often asked homeowners to fill out questionnaires before beginning the design process.

In these questionnaires Harmon asked questions like, “What were your favorite rooms or places as a child?” and “Do you have strong ideas about design styles?" We’ve found quite the variety in clients' responses so far, and we're always excited to find a new one.

Some people seem to have been very rushed, just barely putting a word or two down:

Others provided as much detail as possible:

Some people accompanied their questionnaires with even more details, by sending along original drawings or additional details:

We even found a binder full of ideas from one client that included photographs and magazine clippings:

Our favorite one so far was filled out by a nine-year-old, presumably the child of one of Harmon's clients:

These questionnaires are just one great part of this very large collection, and we're eager to improve access to its treasures. In the meantime, learn more about our architecture collections here and watch for a new guide to the Frank Harmon papers on the Special Collections website so you can explore its contents as well.