A Collection in
The Special Collections Department
Accession Number 7615,-a,-b
Special Collections Department, University of Virginia LibraryAlbert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904-4110
Phone: (434) 243-1776
Fax: (434) 924-4968
© 2002 By the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. All rights reserved.
Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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Papers of R. E. Lee and Son, Inc., Accession # 7615,-a,-b, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.
These papers were given to the library by R.E. Lee, Jr. on July 7, 1964, August 5, 1964, and January 26, 1965.
Over the years, the company has been characterized by steady growth from the construction of private residences in Charlottesville and surrounding areas to commercial, industrial and institutional building throughout the state of Virginia. Prior to 1950, the company's main emphasis was on building custom homes for individuals. In the late 1950's, the company expanded from building private residences to include some commercial construction. The firm began to concentrate almost exclusively on commercial contracts in the 1960's. In the 1970's, the company began to compete for institutional and industrial contracts as well. Today, R.E. Lee and Sons has branch offices in Hampton and Fairfax, Virginia, and employs over 300 people. The company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1989.
The third generation representative of this family owned business, Robert Erwin Lee, Jr. (Robin) is now treasurer of the company. Robin Lee (1940- ) graduated from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business in 1964 with a Master's degree in Business Administration.
R.E. Lee and Sons has been involved with many important projects in the area in addition to those included in this collection. In 1976, the company renovated the interior of the Rotunda and won the "Build America Award" for most outstanding construction project in the U.S. by the Association of General Contractors and Motorola Corporation. Projects at the University of Virginia include Clemons Library, the Law School, the Graduate School of Business, the Drama Building, the Schools of Education, Engineering and Nursing, Wilson Hall, Newcomb Hall, Thornton Hall and Monroe Hall as well as Lambeth, Copeley and Married Student Housing projects and the Scott Stadium expansion.
In addition, R.E. Lee and Sons is responsible for many of the hotels, shopping centers, schools, health care facilities and other commercial buildings in the Charlottesville area as well as in Richmond, Alexandria, Fairfax, Newport News, Fredricksburg, Williamsburg and Roanoke, and elsewhere in the state.
This collection consists of ca. 10,000 items (24 Hollinger boxes, ca. 10 linear shelf feet), 1935-1962, the business papers of R.E. Lee and Son, Inc., one of the oldest construction firms in Virginia which originated in Charlottesville. The business was co-founded in 1939 by Robert Edward Lee, a mechanical engineer, and his son, Robert Erwin Lee. The Lees moved to Charlottesville in 1911. The younger Lee (1908-1978) attended Charlottesville High School and graduated from the University of Virginia School of Engineering in 1929 with a B.S. in civil engineering. He served as a major in the army corps of engineers in World War II, 1943-1945.
The papers in 7615 (1 box) consist primarily of correspondence between Lee and Fiske Kimball of Pennsylvania concerning the construction of his house, Bellevue, on Shack Mountain.
#7615-a (7 boxes) concerns the construction of several private residences between 1938 and 1962 in the Charlottesville area. Papers concerning these projects consists of bid solicitations, cost estimates, monthly accounts, some floor plans and building sketches and correspondence with sub-contractors such as the Virginia Steele Co. and Charlottesville Lumber Co. These papers are an excellent guide to the planning and construction of high quality homes.
Also in the collection are papers pertaining to the restoration and maintenance of some of the best known historical homes in Virginia including Monticello, Morven, Mt. Vernon and Shadwell.
R. E. Lee was contracted by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation to handle the general maintainance and repairs of Monticello, designed and built by Thomas Jefferson. The house is one of the finest examples of neo-classical architecture in the country. R.E. Lee, mainly between 1938 and 1960, was responsible for the restoration of the Northwest wing of Monticello and surrounding buildings as well as the construction of an entrance building in 1952 and the gate house, completed in 1953. The firm was also responsible for periodic painting of the residence. The papers in this collection consist of correspondence with Milton L. Grigg, a Charlottesville architect, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, among others, and monthly accounts and invoices for purchases.
Morven was originally constructed in Albemarle County between 1808 and 1818 by its first two owners, ex-Revolutionary War colonel William Short and David Higgenbotham. Since its construction the property has changed hands many times. It was bought by Charles A. Stone of New York City ca. 1926, who undertook complete restoration of the property. Lee was contracted by Stone Farm Associates (ca.1939) to construct a swimming pool and make major alterations on the existing kitchen as well as other minor repairs and alterations during the twenty years he was in their employment.
The home and final resting place of George Washington, Mt. Vernon, located in Fairfax County on the banks of the Potomac, is considered by some to be the most notable mansion in the state. Lee was contracted by the Mt. Vernon Ladies' Association for approximately three years (1936-1939), during which time he completed the restoration of the stable, the George Washington Barn and the tomb of George Washington, as well as the ice and smoke houses. The company also reconstructed the power house and shops and built the superintendent's house. Some of the correspondence in these papers is with Ross Structural Iron Works of Richmond and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Lee undertook the total reconstruction of Shadwell, also known as the Peter Jefferson House, in 1958. The modest farmhouse, located three miles east of Charlottesville, was the birthplace of Thomas Jefferson and his home for much of his young life. The house burned down in 1770, but Peter Jefferson's sketches and notes survived and were used in the reconstruction. An intensive study of the site was conducted in 1955 by archeologist Roland W. Robbins. The project was sponsored by the Jefferson Birthplace Memorial Park Commission. Lee's papers concerning the project consist of cost estimates, materials lists, bids from subcontractors, running accounts and correspondence with Colonial Williamsburg regarding specially-made hardware orders.
The 7615-b series (16 boxes) contains papers concerning the construction of many private residences, churches, schools, businesses and banks in the Charlottesville and surrounding areas. Projects at the University of Virginia include work on Madison Hall, restoration of the steps to the Rotunda and its terrace, construction of the east stairs to Alderman Library and the construction of a building at the Law School.
This collection is divided into three series according to the accession number. Each series is arranged alphabetically by the name of the building or the last name of the residence's owner. In most cases, the original folder headings have been preserved. Material within each folder is arranged chronologically.
- Box 1D. Farley Cox, Jr. Residence 1948-1950(3 folders)
- Box 1Monticello: Correspondence 1938-1942(2 folders)
- Box 2Monticello: Correspondence 1945-1953(7 folders)
- Box 3Monticello: Correspondence 1954-1960(2 folders)
- Box 3Monticello: Entrance Building 1949-1952(2 folders)
- Box 3Monticello: Gate House 1952-1953
- Box 3Monticello: Invoices 1953 May-Aug.
- Box 4Monticello: Invoices 1953-1954(3 folders)
- Box 4Morven 1939-1957(3 folders)
- Box 4Mt. Vernon 1936-1939(2 folders)
- Box 5Shadwell: Correspondence 1958-1962(2 folders)
- Box 5Shadwell: Invoices 1959-1960(2 folders)
- Box 5Henry J. Taylor Residence, "Ivywood" 1954-1962
- Edwin M. Watson Residence 1938-1939 July(2 folders)
- Box 6Edwin M. Watson Residence 1939 Aug.-1955(6 folders)
- Box 7Stanley Woodward Residence 1940-1955(6 folders)
- Box 1Allied Foods, Inc. 1961-1962(2 folders)
- Box 1Russell Alger Residence 1952-1954(2 folders)
- Box 1Baptist Student Union 1959-1961(2 folders)
- Box 1Belfield School Addition #2 1957
- Box 2Belfield School Addition #2 1957-1958
- Box 2Belfield School Addition #3 1959-1960
- Box 2Belfield School Addition #4 1960-1961, n.d.
- Box 2Belmont Baptist Church 1958-1959(2 folders)
- Box 3Brewster Residence 1941-1946(2 folders)
- Box 3R.S. Burgess Residence , 1953-1955
- Burnley-Moran/Johnson Elementary Schools 1957-1959(3 folders)
- Box 4Christ Church 1958-1960(2 folders)
- Box 4Clay Camp Residence 1959-1960, n.d.
- Box 4Crozet Baptist Church , 1954-1955
- Box 4Culpeper Methodist Church 1956-1957 May(2 folders)
- Box 5Culpeper Methodist Church 1957 Jun.-1958, n.d.
- Box 5Daily Progress Building 1955-1957(3 folders)
- Box 5Employment Applications 1955-1961, n.d.
- Box 6Charles D. Evans Residence, "Glendower" 1961-1963, n.d.
- Box 6First Methodist Church Fire 1950-1951
- Box 6David J. Gibson Residence 1952
- Box 6Langhorne Gibson Residence 1947-1948
- Box 6Grace Lutheran Church 1956-1959(3 folders)
- Box 6Milton L. Grigg Residence 1948-1949
- Box 7W.D. Haden Residence 1952-1955
- Box 7Frank L. Hereford Residence 1959-1961
- Box 7Hinton Avenue Methodist Church 1958-1959(2 folders)
- Box 7Jackson Park Office Building 1954-1955 Aug.(2 folders)
- Box 8Jackson Park Office Building 1955 Sep.-1956(2 folders)
- Box 8Janssen Residence 1950-1953
- Box 8Keswick 1958-1961
- Box 8Louisa Bank 1949-1950
- Box 8Madison Hall 1960-1961 Mar.
- Box 9Madison Hall 1961-1962(2 folders)
- Box 9R.G. Magruder Residence 1951-1953(2 folders)
- Box 9Maples Residence 1957-1958
- Box 9Joseph F. Moore Residence 1952
- Box 9Mulholland Residence 1952-1954
- Box 10National Bank and Trust Co. 1954
- Box 10National Cash Register Co. 1958-1961
- Box 10Helen Palmer Residence 1948-1949
- Box 10Martin Palmer Residence 1953-1955
- Box 10J.B. Pangman Residence 1954-1959
- Box 10Parks Residence 1949-1950
- Box 10People's National Bank: Labor Cost Reports 1955-1956
- Box 11People's National Bank 1955-1958(4 folders)
- Box 12Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity 1958-1962(2 folders)
- Physicians and Surgeons Building 1953-1955(2 folders)
- Box 12Priest Residence 1952-1953
- Box 12Pugh Apartments 1949-1951
- Pugh Residence 1947-1949
- Box 12St. John's Episcopal Church 1955-1957 Mar.
- Box 13St. John's Episcopal Church 1957 Apr.-1960(2 folders)
- Box 13St. Paul's Memorial Church 1954-1955
- Box 13Scrimshaw Houses 1946-1947
- Box 13Vincent Shea Residence 1951-1955
- Box 13Sierk Residence 1955-1956
- Box 13Dr. Arthur Smith Clinic and Offices 1956-1958
- Box 14W.A. Smith Residence 1950-1951
- Box 14Tilman's Department Store: Labor Cost reports 1956-1957
- Box 14Tilman's Department Store 1955-1958(2 folders)
- Box 14University of Virginia: East Stairs to Alderman Library 1959
- Box 14University of Virginia: Law School 1961-1962(3 folders)
- Box 14University of Virginia: Rotunda Steps, Terrace and Bathroom 1958-1959
- Box 15Walnut Grove 1947-1948
- Box 15Wesley Memorial Methodist Church: Labor Cost Reports 1956-1957
- Box 15Wesley Memorial Methodist Church 1956-1957(3 folders)
- Box 15Westminster Presbyterian Church 1957-1959(2 folders)
- Box 16White Residence 1954-1955
- Box 16Wilson Residence 1954-1955
- Box 16Youel Residence 1956-1958