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This is a contributing entry for West Side Charleston Public Art Tour and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
Staci Leech-Cornell’s John C. Norman Blueprints was completed in 2016. The paint on metal planter is one of four painted planters commissioned by Charleston Main Streets West Side Urban Design Committee, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, and private donors. Leech-Cornell chose to use her planter to honor John C. Norman (1892-1967), an influential West Virginia architect. Norman was born in New Jersey and studied architecture and structural engineering at Carnegie Technical Institute. He then moved to Charleston in 1919 and became the state’s second African American architect. He was also the state’s first African American structural engineer. Over the course of his career, Norman designed a great number of residential, commercial, and civic buildings. Leech-Cornell’s tribute has the planter painted almost entirely blue to resemble architectural drafting materials. Thin white lines outline various elevations of a building. It is unclear if Leech-Cornell’s imagery is taken from a real drawing Norman created, or if it is imagined. One possibility is that it depicts the historic building behind the planter as it looked when first constructed. Regardless, John C. Norman Blueprints serves well to tie historical heritage to modern beautification.

Architect John C. Norman Sr.

Dress shirt, Tie, Sleeve, Collar

An example of Norman's architectural sketches.

Building, Schematic, House, Font

John C. Norman Blueprints.

Waste container, Waste containment, Light, Blue


Artists paint planter boxes to beautify Charleston’s West Side, Charleston Gazette-Mail. June 23rd 2017. Accessed January 27th 2021.

John C. Norman Sr. Collection, West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. Accessed January 27th 2021.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. Accessed January 27, 2021.

Norman, John C. 1933. John C. Norman Sr. Collection, West Virginia State Archives. Accessed January 27, 2021.

Charleston Gazette-Mail. Accessed January 27, 2021.