HAROLD LEONARD COOLER (1921-2015)
Cooler, born in Coosawhatchie SC, graduated from Ridgeland High School then graduated in architecture from Clemson College in 1943. After serving in the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII, he settled in Charlotte because "that's where the work was." He began his career with Wooten and Wooten Architecture and Engineering, whose office was in the Latta Arcade near A.G. Odell's. He subsequently took a position with Charles Connelly, where he worked on the design of the Myers Park Country Club. He had a partnership with a Mr. Crosby in the late 1950s. By the 1970s, he was principal of McDowell & Cooler Architects with Marshall McDowell.
He wrote two memoirs covering different periods of his life. The first, Chicora Chronicle, describes his early years growing up during the Great Depression in the low country of South Carolina. The second, Booster Kuester and Beyond, deals with his arrival in Charlotte and his 50-year practice as an architect. Cooler did about 15 houses for Davidson College faculty in the late 1950s. Said Cooler in early 2012, "They were good homes, achieved with minimal architectural services because of a high level of competence by two local builders."
Do you know addresses or have photos for these houses?
1955 - The Bruce and Meg Laing House, 501 Ellsworth Road, Charlotte NC. Sold in 1988 to Charlotte and Mitchell Kearney, still owners as of 2021.
1956 - The James S. III and Elizabeth Purcell House, 206 Lorimer Road, Davidson NC. Designed with Marshall McDowell. Purcell, an English professor who came to Davidson in 1948 and subsequently became Dean of the English department, first sawflat-roofed Modernist houses in Florida and wanted one for himself. Sold in 2001 to James N. Bartl and Dawn A. Blobaum. Sold in 2016 to Raymond and Caroline Mones.
1957 - The Richard R. (Dick) and Martha B. Bernard House, approximately 405 Lorimer Road, Davidson NC. Traditional design.
1957 - The Donald B. and Mary Whitaker (Idie) Plott House, 103 Hillside Drive, Davidson NC. Deeded in 1981 to son Thomas Plott. Sold in 1983 to Jeremiah Lee and Mary A. Putnam. Sold in 1992 to Mary A. Putnam Bailey. Sold in 2023 to Kristen and Mark Forbes.
Around 1957 - 104 Hillside Drive, Davidson NC. Needs verification as a Cooler design.
Around 1957 - 414 Lorimer Road, Davidson NC. Needs verification as a Cooler design.
1957 - The Thomas Joseph (Tom) and Mary Lu Daggy House, 102 Hillside Drive, Davidson NC. Built by Floyd Ballard. 2668 sf. First split-level ranch in Davidson. Full kitchen on both floors. According to their daughter Joan, Mary Lu selected the architect and made the construction decisions. The kitchen had the area's first in-wall oven, cook top, and maybe ice maker (the refrigerator had a large freezer on the bottom with ice maker - a novelty in 1957). There was an intercom (still there) and a heat pump, making it one of the first air conditioned homes in the area. Upon Tom's death, rented by the Daggy heirs for a few years. Sold in 2012 to Bud Younts.
1958 - The Virginia and Milton E. Tager House, 832 Paramount Circle, Gastonia NC. 1.77 acres, 3066 sf. Said Cooler in 2012, "One of my early contemporary designs with a unadorned rectilinear envelope." Deeded to heirs, who still owned it as of 2022.
1960 - The William E. and Penny E. Little Residence, 2301 Red Fox Trail, Charlotte NC. Built by the owner, the CEO of Little Construction, later Little and Company. Sold in 1964 to Cy N. and Beverly Bahakel who added a pool. Little re-purchased the house in 1968 and sold it in 1982 to Donald Browder. At some point, wood paneling was added to the exterior (bottom photo). Sold in 2003 to Cecil P. and Laura V. Poole. Said Cooler in early 2012, "[When built, this house received] a lot of negative reaction from within a very conservative neighborhood."
1960 - 2165 Sharon Lane, Charlotte NC. Commissioned in 1959. Sold to Harold J. and Mildred Caldwell. Sold in 2006 to Caldwell Family Enterprises. Sold in 2011 to Robin B. and Bryan K. Mermans. Substantially altered in 2013 from Cooler's original design, bottom photo.
1961 - The Malcolm and Pauline (Polly) Lester House, 228 Roundway Down, Davidson NC. Traditional design. Sold in 1999 to Spence Millen and Eileen Keeley.
1961 - The W. Douglas (Doug) and Betty Holbrook House, 4141 Arborway, Charlotte NC. Sold to Richard and Annette Gross. Sold in 2014 to Megan and Walter R. Louis. Top photo by David Nance for the Charlotte Observer, 12/3/1963.
1962 - The William and Dorothy Scantland House, 4000 Beresford Road, Charlotte NC. Traditional design. Contrary to what you see above, this house was NOT designed by Cooler. According to Cooler in 2012, Stedman Shropshire used Cooler's seal without his permission. Said Cooler, "this house was not designed, reviewed, or produced by my business and those are definitely not my initials." Built by Vinroot. Sold in 1994 to Justine and David Tobin. Photo of seal by Justine and David Tobin. Sold in 2013 to Heather and Alexander H. Byrd.
1964 - The Mrs. Barnwell House, 552 Tarleton Avenue, Burlington NC. Barnwell was Cooler's mother-in-law. Sold in 2000 to James C. Brown. Sold in 2005 to Adam and Jane F. Ronan. Sold in 2013 to Cynthia R. and William F. Franck III. Sold in 2014 to Kieth M. Wood and Glen A. Hoffbauer. Sold in 2020 to Maureen O. Vandermaas-Peeler and James R. Peeler.
1964 - The Bruce and Jean Jackson House, 207 Crescent Drive, Davidson NC. Traditional design. Sold in 2008 to H. Brian and Nicole Callan.
1967 - The Rupert T. Jr. and Carol Barber House, 126 Crescent Drive, Davidson NC. Sold in 2009 to Jeffrey Weir Ruppenthal.
1968 - The Gill and Siri Holland House, 1830 Davis Road, Davidson NC. Commissioned in 1967. Deeded 1998 to Siri Holland. Sold in 2013 to Davidson College. Sold in 2019 to Adria and Forrest Appleby who added a garage.
1972 - The Harold and Betty Lynn Cooler Residence, 4140 Arborway, Charlotte NC. Sold in 1997 to Michael and Bygie Mattick. Sold in 2014 to Megan and Walter R. Louis.
Sources include: Harold Cooler; Mary A. Putnam Bailey; son Colin Cooler; Joan Singer.