MAX ISLEY, AIA (1929-2021)
Max Isley was born in Caswell County NC and graduated from Burlington High School in 1947. He enrolled at the University of Oklahoma where his freshman advisor was Henry Kamphoefner. When Kamphoefner moved to be the Dean of the NCSU School of Design, Isley moved with him. A stint in the Army preceded graduation from NCSU in 1957 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree.
From 1955 to 1956 he worked for Haskins and Rice. From 1956 to 1957 he worked for Durham's John Latimer. During 1957 to 1958 he was an architecture instructor at Montana State University in Bozeman MT. In 1958, he moved to Boston and worked for Eduardo Catalano. In 1959 he received a Masters of Architecture from Harvard, then it's back to Montana to work for Oswald W. Berg, Jr., for a year. Isley moved again to North Carolina again for Durham's John Latimer. In 1969 he was a partner in what became Smart, Woodall, Isley, and Herring with George Smart, Charlie Woodall, and Troy Herring. The firm went through several name changes until Isley left in 1975 to start his own firm, Isley Architects, with many projects for Duke University. When he retired in 2004, the firm changed to Isley Hawkins, Inc. to reflect ownership of son Nathan Isley and J. Malcolm Hawkins. He married Jane Skinner and they had four sons: Nathan, Duncan, Malcolm, and Alexander who all graduated from NCSU. Since 1974, he was a devoted volunteer for St. Mary’s Chapel, an historic landmark in Orange County, providing architectural services there for decades.
2011 - Charlie Kahn's 2011 interview with Isley
1968 - The Max and Jane Isley House, 4607 Chicopee Trail, Durham NC. The Isleys lived in the house just a few months when it was sold to a second owner for a few years. Sold in the 1970s to Allen C. and Patty A. Kelley. Photos supplied by Nathan Isley and Allen Kelley. Sold in 2011 to the Russell Michael Leiman Trust. Featured on the TMH January 2010 Tour.
1970 - The Frank and Ellen Starmer House, 1411 Gray Bluff Trail, Chapel Hill NC. Sold in 1998 to Mike Green and Theda Purdue. They added the garage; the original Isley design had only a carport. Sold in 2015 to Adair F. McNear and Timothy Gerla. Renovations in 2017 by Sophie Piesse.
1972 - The William (Bill) and Isabel V. Green House, 2921 Rutgers Road (formerly Forest Road), Chapel Hill (located in Durham County) NC. Jean Middleton drew up the plans. Built by C. S. Whitt. Sold in the 1990s to a predecessor of Smart Development LLC. Sold in 2016 to LLC IV. Destroyed in 2017.
1977 - The Irving T. and Joanne S. Diamond House, 4508 West Cornwallis Road, Durham NC. Located in Orange County. Jean Middleton drew up the plans. Built by Security Building Company. Sold in 2000 to Richard K. and Tracey Lischer. Deeded in 2016 to Kenyan-Lischer, LLC.
1978 - The Donald D. and Barbara France House, 10621 Rougemont Road (aka South Lowell Road, SR 1465), Bahama NC. Built by Security Building Company. Sold in 2002 to Paul Szabolcs and Maria Luisa Escolar. Renovated by architect Guillermo Arias. Sold in 2017 to Elizabeth Richardson-Royer. Sold in 2020 to Joseph Keith Gatewood.
1981 - The Thomas A. and Lynn Butters House, 46 Appleton Place, Durham NC. More traditional design, not a Modernist house. Sold to Lutz and Mariel Birnbaumer. Built by Clay Thomas and Jack McGee. Sold in 2013 to Marie C. and James L. Abbruzzese.
Sources include: Nathan Isley; Theda Purdue; Alexander Isley; Leon Meyers.