NC Architect Henry Bonitz


The postcard above shows the Knights of Pythias Orphanage in Clayton, NC.  It was built by North Carolina architect Henry Bonitz in 1909.

In 1893, Bonitz was part of the first graduating class from the recently opened College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (which would later become North Carolina State University).  As such, Bonitz was one of the first trained-in-state professional architects. Bonitz was originally from Goldsboro, NC, but his family later moved to Wilmington.  His office was located in Wilmington, and many of his projects were done in and around New Hanover County, but not exclusively.

You can read more about Bonitz’s life and work in his entry in NC Architects and Builders, an online biographical dictionary presented by NC State’s Libraries.  Make sure to catch the anecdote about what became of his architectural drawings that were done on linen!

6 thoughts on “NC Architect Henry Bonitz”

  1. Many thanks for the image of the Orphanage by Bonitz, and for the citation of our web site, ncarchitects.lib.ncsu. Many of the illustrations on our site come from the NC postcard collection, thanks to your all’s gracious generosity. If you come across more postcards or other images that depict buildings we have listed, we’d love to know! I love checking on your postcard site to see what’s new.

    Catherine Bishir

  2. Bridget, thanks for the tip on the sad fate of Bonitz’s drawings — gonna wash that man right out of my tablecloth!… Makes “Mom threw out my baseball cards” look pretty mundane.

  3. Thanks for the link to the NC architects and builders website. My son is an aspiring architect so I can’t wait to show him!

  4. Recent research in indicates that the 1910 section of the orphanage was actually designed by Hook and Rogers of Charlotte and built by York and Cobb of Greenville–York being C. V. York later of Raleigh and father of Willie York, founder of Cameron Village. There is a postcard of that section. Maybe the grander complex was designed by Bonitz? Not sure. Need to find out more and perhaps correct our website.

    Catherine Bishir

  5. Continued re Knights of Pythias orphanage architect:
    The Raleigh Times of February 5, 1910, reported on the groundbreaking for the orphanage sponsored by the Knights of Pythias and located near Clayton. Nineteen firms bid on the construction of the initial phase of the main building (News and Observer, November 20, 1909). The Wilmington Morning Star of December 12, 1909, carried a long story on the proposed building including a drawing of the multipart complex with central domed building. The first building to be erected, the article stated, was a corner building. It may have been the only portion actually constructed and is depicted in a postcard. (Some sources credit the design to Henry E. Bonitz of Wilmington, but newspapers of the day, including one from Wilmington, document Hook and Rogers as the architects.)

  6. My mother, aunt, and uncle were sent to that orphanage in 1960 after losing their mother froze to death in a blizzard. Would love to know or find out if the school/dinner bell that used to be on the grounds is still in existence?

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