Park Shops is located on Stinson Drive on North Carolina State University’s North Campus, behind 111 Lampe Drive and across from SAS Hall. The name “Shops” refers to the building’s original purpose: to be “the mechanical counterpart of the model farm facility in the agricultural curriculum” for engineering students, according to a Historic Site Survey. As machines increasingly replaced manual labor in the 1900s, an article in Technician argued, training in engineering held “great opportunity.” Therefore, for $143,000, the school constructed mechanical shops, a forge, and a foundry appropriate for teaching in 1914.
Architect H.P.S. Keller designed a “Shop and Laboratory Building” to house equipment across one floor and a basement and run on steam engines. In the 1920s, Craftsmen-in-training turned steel into I-beams, cast-iron into fire grates, and rough wood into phonograph cabinets, among other creations. Students serviced the college president’s car in the automotive shop and saved the school $5,000 annually by building desks and chairs for campus laboratories and dorm rooms, according to The News and Observer (N&O) and Technician. Many land-grant university engineering programs had emphasized hands-on learning and used student-made products since the 1860s, according to historian Paul Nienkamp. Students worked in shops to “implement and practice new concepts and skills,” but also because “legislators demanded that students provide labor at the new institutions if they wanted buildings, physical infrastructure, and continued funding that required specialized equipment.”
On New Year’s Eve in 1919, a fire ignited from wood shavings. The N&O reported the flames incinerated the wood shop and auto shop, and the school lost $75,000 worth of equipment. Within months, Mechanical Engineering professors and students resumed normal operations and continued producing for the school. In 1934, students used the foundry to cast the numerals for the clocks on Memorial Belltower, according to the Technician. The paper also reported that the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers roasted hamburgers in the forge in 1941.
Even if it made a good grill, college President John Harrelson complained the building needed “modernizing” in 1950. Instead of a renovation, the school gave the shops to the Physical Plant in 1962. Others continued to use the facility, such as mechanical engineers who hosted welding demonstrations during every Engineering Fair in the 1960s. The Industrial Engineering Department housed robots with 3-D vision there in the 1980s, according to The Technician.
The building finally received a comprehensive renovation in 2009. The school converted the mechanical shops into forensic analysis, osteology, and archeology labs. The Head of the Forensic Analysis Lab Chelsey Juarez told The Technician in 2015 that because the labs were “state-of-the-art,” the school helped the State Medical Examiner’s office process crime scene evidence--including human remains. The 2009 renovations also brought a Port City Java coffee shop. Five years later, The Technician reported, the Park Shops spot was the highest-grossing location for the Wilmington-based company in the country.
The building earned the name “Park” in 1942, when the Buildings and Grounds Committee renamed twelve generically-named sites on campus. “The foundry and wood shop building,” noted The Technician, “becomes Park Building, after the shop teacher who taught from 1891 until relieved in 1935.”
Charles Benjamin Park (1867-1944) was a native of Raleigh and an aspiring machinist from a young age. He was “elected without his knowledge for the position” of Instructor in the shops in 1891, according to a profile in the N&O. Park built the school a “steel-throated monster” of a whistle that “never failed to announce the hour so that all might hear,” according to a reporter for Alumni News. Park also constructed a flagpole from two cypress trees in 1912. The 105-foot pole stood outside Holladay Hall for sixteen years and earned a compliment from President Theodore Roosevelt when he passed through Raleigh. On top of these duties, Park instructed students, freshmen through seniors, for nearly 50 years. His gradebooks demonstrate that he taught classes in mechanical and electrical engineering, industrial mechanical arts, and textiles Monday through Saturday. By the time Park retired, The Technician reported that students affectionately called him “Dad.”
Park played an active--if sometimes negative--role in rapidly-expanding community of Raleigh. Park advised the mayor on purchasing city water tanks in 1906, and he helped oversee construction of the “Baptist University,” according to N&O. But on June 23, 1900, the N&O reported that “the best and most influential men of Raleigh” elected Park vice president of the newly-formed “White Supremacy Club, of Raleigh township,” although the newspaper misspelled his name “Parks.” The Morning Post confirmed on the same day that “Charles B. Park” was elected vice-president out of “over seventy-five enthusiastic young Democrats.” In September, the N&O said the White Supremacy Club’s “work was of the greatest value in the August election.” During that “August election” of 1900, citizens approved a state constitutional amendment requiring voters to pay a poll tax and pass a literacy test. Fellow white supremacist and future governor Charles Aycock said the amendment “was drawn with the deliberate purpose of depriving the negro of the right to vote.”
Park’s work on the first City Planning Commission, from 1922-1927, had mixed implications. As a commissioner, Park continued Raleigh’s push to pave major thoroughfares, widen streets like Hillsboro (changed to Hillsborough in 1965), and lay water pipes for residents, including “in black areas,” according to scholar Richard Mattson. However, Park also helped write a zoning law that limited “apartment and tenement houses which cut off light and air and reduce residential values” around single-family homes, according to a 1922 News and Observer article. The law segregated people who could only afford to live in an apartment or tenement from those who could afford a whole house. Park therefore left a dual legacy for Raleigh: trained mechanical engineers and whistles, but also voter disenfranchisement and segregated neighborhoods.
Original Source References
Barrie, Thomas. “To fight racism, throw out neighborhood zoning laws that lead to segregated housing.” The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 13 June 2020. Accessed September 18, 2020. https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article243494126.html
Charles Benjamin Park roll books, MSS 104, Box MSS 4, Folder 104 -1, Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC.
“Clubs Tonight.” The News & Observer. (Raleigh, N.C.), 15 Sept. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042104/1900-09-15/ed-1/seq-5/
“Charles B. Park.” The News & Observer. (Raleigh, N.C.), 24 Aug. 1899. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Accessed September 18, 2020. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042104/1899-08-24/ed-2/seq-181/>
“City Zoning Work Will Require Several Months.” The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 9 August 1922. Newspapers.com. Accessed September 18, 2020. https://www.newspapers.com/image/650821384/
Connor, R.D.W. and Clarence Poe. The Life and Speeches of Charles Brantley Aycock. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1912. Documenting the American South. https://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/connor/connor.html
“No Report Yet as to Water.” The Raleigh Times (Raleigh, N.C.), 3 August 1906. Newspapers.com. Accessed September 18, 2020. https://newscomnc.newspapers.com/image/58163147
North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College Catalogue, College Record Vol. 13 No. 4, March 1915. Raleigh: North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, 1915. Undergraduate catalog (LD3928.A22), Special Collections Research Center, NC State University Libraries. https://d.lib.ncsu.edu/collections/catalog/LD3928-A22-1915
Office of Alumni Relations Publications (UA010.200), Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries. Accessed September 18, 2020. "NC State University Libraries’ Digital Collections: Rare and Unique Materials."
Technician (Raleigh, N.C.) (LH1.N6 T4), Special Collections Research Center at NC State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC. Accessed September 18, 2020. "NC State University Libraries’ Digital Collections: Rare and Unique Materials.
University Archives Reference Collection, University Buildings, Sites, Landmarks Files, UA 050.004 Box 7, Folder “Park Shops,” NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center. North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/findingaids/ua050_004/
“White Supremacy Club Organized.” The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 23 June 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Accessed September 18, 2020. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042104/1900-06-23/ed-1/seq-6/>
“Zoning Law.” The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 4 August 1923. Newspapers.com. Accessed September 18, 2020. https://www.newspapers.com/image/650330501
Secondary Source References
Berry, Hardy D., comp. Place Names on the Campus of North Carolina State University. Raleigh: North Carolina State University, 1995.
Grayson, Lawrence. The making of an engineer : an illustrated history of engineering education in the United States and Canada. New York : Wiley, 1993.
Hunt, James. “Disenfranchisement.” NCpedia.org. 2006. https://ncpedia.org/disfranchisement
Marcus, Alan. Service as mandate: how American land-grant universities shaped the modern world, 1920-2015. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2015.
Mattson, Richard L. The Evolution of Raleigh's African-American Neighborhoods in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Raleigh: Raleigh Historic Properties and Districts Commission, 1988. NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Accessed September 18, 2020. https://files.nc.gov/ncdcr/historic-preservation-office/survey-and-national-register/surveyreports/RaleighAfricanAmericanNeighborhoods-1988.pdf
Mobley, Joe A. Raleigh, North Carolina: A Brief History. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2009.
Nienkamp, Paul. “Engineering in a Land-Grant Context: The Past, Present and Future of an Idea.” In Science As Service : Establishing and Reformulating American Land-Grant Universities, 1865-1930. Edited by Alan I. Marcus. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2015.
Perman, Michael. Struggle for Mastery Disfranchisement in the South, 1888-1908. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
University Architect, Office of the. “033—Park Shops History.” Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina State University, 2020. Emailed to author, 31 August, 2020.