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George Rixse Thomas, 1906-1988

Letters, 1930-1955

MC 175

5 boxes (1.66 cu.ft.)

About George Rixse Thomas

George R. Thomas was born December 8, 1906 in Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of George John and Ida Rixse. He attended the University of North Carolina and Carnegie Technical Institute (now Carnegie Mellon University), where he studied architecture for five years before opening architectural offices first in Norfolk, VA (1928-29) and then in Washington, D.C. (1930). That same year he accepted a position as instructor of architecture in the Department of Technology at the University of New Hampshire, where he stayed until his retirement in 1976. He taught architectural drawing, graphics and painting, as well as developed courses in drawing, painting and art history for non-architectural students. Throughout his lengthy career he continued private practice as an architect both in Durham, New Hampshire and in Portsmouth, Virginia.

During the Depression years, George Thomas was the university coordinator for the Federal Art Project, a program under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In 1939, he organized the University Galleries, and directed the program until 1965, designing the first gallery himself (constructed as a WPA project in Hamilton Smith Library). [The second gallery was located in Dimond Library, and the third, also constructed during his tenure as gallery director, was the current one in Paul Creative Arts Center]. In 1941 Thomas was promoted to associate professor in architecture and appointed head of the newly-created Department of the Arts.

In the spring of 1943, Thomas took a leave of absence from the university to accept a position as chief engineering draftsman in the Control Materials section of the Portsmouth Navy Yard. On his return from wartime military service, he taught the first methods courses in art education and developed the art curriculum. He was promoted to full professor in 1948, and from 1948 until 1951 he also served as director of the university’s summer sessions.

After his resignation as chair of the Art Department in 1969, Thomas continued to undertake projects at the university. He designed the remodeled Hewitt Hall (it has since been renovated), which was to be the new home of the Department of the Arts, and he was a consultant for the interior design of a number of university buildings, including Kingsbury Hall, the Spaulding Life Sciences Building, the Paul Creative Arts Center, Hood House, Dimond Library, and some dormitories. He was also consultant to three presidents on interior design and furnishings for the president’s house. He worked with Professors Scudder, Parker, and Babcock in organizing and offering the first course in the humanities program (Humanities 501 and 502).

Outside the University, Thomas conducted a survey of tourist housing, presented a paper on new concepts in motel design, and gave numerous lectures throughout the state on American architecture, painting, and the restoration of historical sites such as Colonial Williamsburg. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Society of Architectural Historians, and a charter member of the New Hampshire Society of Architects.

George Thomas married Naomi “Billye” Williams on September 11, 1931, and in January 1944 a daughter, Ann Lee, was born. He died August 12, 1988 in Durham, N.H.

About the George Rixse Thomas Collection

The George Thomas Letters were donated to Special Collections in November 2000 by Diane Vines of Scituate, MA. The collection contains personal correspondence from various family members spanning the years 1930-1955, with the bulk having been written during World War II.


Folder Listing

  1. From Ida May Thomas (Mother)
  2. From Edna Honeycutt (Sister)
  3. From Billye (wife)
  4. From Ann Lee (daughter), Phyllis (neice), and others
  5. Others to Others

I. From Ida May Thomas (Mother)

f.1 October 1930-September 1942.
f.2 October 1942.
f.3 November 1942.
f.4 December 1942.
f.5 January 1943.
f.6 February-March 1943.
f.7 April-May 1943.
f.8 June 1943.
f.9 July-September 1943.
f.10 October-November 1943.
f.11 December 1943.
f.12 January 1944.
f.13 February 1944.
f.14 March 1944.
f.15 April-May 1944.
f.16 June-October 1944.
f.17 November 1944-February 1945.
f.18 March-May 1945.
f.19 October-November 1945.
f.20 December 1945.
f.21 January 1946.
f.22 February 1946.
f.23 March-June 1946.
f.24 July-August 1946.
f.25 October-November 1946.
f.26 December 1946.

f.1 January-February, 1947.
f.2 March 1947.
f.3 April-May 1947.
f.4 June 1947.
f.5 July 1947.
f.6 August-November 1947.
f.7 December 1947.
f.8 January 1948.
f.9 February-March 1948.
f.10 April-May 1948.
f.11 June-July 1948.
f.12 January 1949.
f.13 February 1949.
f.14 March-April 1949.
f.15 May-June 1949.
f.16 July-November 1949.
f.17 December 1949-January 1950.
f.18 February-March, 1950.
f.19 April-May 1950.
f.20 June-July 1950.
f.21 February-March 1954.
f.22 April-May 1954.
f.23 June-July 1954.
f.24 August 1954.
f.25 September-October 1954.
f.26 November-December 1954.

f.1 January 1955.
f.2 February 1955.
f.3 March-April 1955.
f.4 May 1955.
f.5 Undated.

II. From Edna Honeycutt (Sister)

f.6 September 1942.
f.7 October-November 1942.
f.8 December 1943-January 1943.
f.9 February-May 1943.
f.10 June-October 1943.
f.11 November 1943-January 1944.
f.12 February-April 1944.
f.13 May-November 1944.
f.14 January-July 1945.
f.15 August-September 1945.
f.16 October-December 1945.
f.17 January-February 1946.
f.18 March-July 1946.
f.19 August-December 1946.
f.20 January-May 1947.
f.21 June-November 1947.
f.22 December 1947.

f.1 January-March 1948.
f.2 April-July 1948.
f.3 August 1948-March 1949.
f.4 April-May 1949.
f.5 June-December 1949.
f.6 January-March 1950.
f.7 April-June 1950.
f.8 July 1950.
f.9 December 1953-June 1954.
f.10 July-September 1954.
f.11 October-December 1954.
f.12 January-May 1955.
f.13 Undated.
f.14 Undated.

III. From Billye (Wife)

f.15 April 1931-February 1943.
f.16 September-October 1943.
f.17 1943-1945.
f.18 1946.
f.19 January-June 1947.
f.20 August 1947-May 1948.

f.1 June 1948-May 1949.
f.2 June 1949-May 1950.
f.3 June 1950-January 1955.
f.4 Undated.

IV. From Ann Lee (Daughter), Phyllis (Neice) and Others

f.5 From Ann Lee, 1944-1955.
f.6 From Ann Lee, undated.
f.7 From Phyllis, 1943-1945.
f.8 From Phyllis, 1946-1955.
f.9 From Maud Green (sister) and Lib, 1943-1950.
f.10 From Sarah Rixse, [John] Henry Rixse (uncle), Mabel (cousin), and Betty and Harland, 1943-1955.
f.11 From various, 1942-1945.
f.12 From various, 1946-1950.
f.13 From various, Christmas Cards, 1953.
f.14 From various, 1953-1955.
f.15 From various, Christmas cards, undated.
f.16 From various, birthday card, undated.
f.17 From various, undated.
f.18 Various gift tags.

V. Others to Others

f.19 From others to others, 1943-1947 (Jack to mother; Edna to mother; Ida May to Billye; Uncle Henry to Ann Lee, and Mabel to Ida, Edna, and family).

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