Earl Sumner Draper

Born: Falmouth, Massachusetts, October 19, 1893

Died: Vero Beach, Florida, July 1, 1994

Following graduation from Massachusetts State College at Amherst with a B.S. degree in landscape architecture in 1915, Draper served as the southern representative of John Nolen, Sr., town planner, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, he built Myers Park, a Charlotte streetcar suburb, and then supervised construction of the new town of Kingsport, Tennessee.

In 1917, Draper opened his own firm with offices in Charlotte and later in Atlanta, Georgia (1922 - 1927), becoming the first professional planner to establish both his residence and practice in the American South. During his professional career, he executed over 340 plans for land subdivisions, estates, resorts, and college campuses, and over 100 plans for communities, including many new towns. He was the first to incorporate a golf course into a residential subdivision (Farmington Community and Country Club, near Charlottesville, Virginia,) and made substantial contributions to the improvement of living conditions of workers in southern textile industries through his designs for community amenities and additions, and for new mill towns. His best known new town, Chicopee, Georgia, is often cited as the best American example of the British Garden City idea.

In 1933, Draper was appointed director of land planning and housing for the Tennessee Valley Authority (1933 - 1937). An articulate advocate of regional planning, he directed the TVA staff in undertaking the first major American effort in federal regional land planning, becoming director of regional planning studies in 1937. He supervised design and construction of the new town of Norris, Tennessee (the first American community to be provided with a greenbelt) to house workers on Norris Dam, and constructed America's first rural freeway, connecting Norris with Knoxville.

He left TVA in 1940 to become assistant administrator of the Federal Housing Administration, where he organized a program for private development of 400,000 dwelling units during World War II. Draper returned to private practice as a land-use consultant in Washington, D.C. after the war and retired from practice in 1964, relocating to Vero Beach, Florida.


  • E.S. DRAPER, A Handbook on Urban Redevelopment for Cities in the U.S.A. ,Washington, 1941;
  • E.S. DRAPER (with G. GALLOWAY), Planning for America, New York, 1941;
  • M.J. McDONALD, TVA and the Dispossessed, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1982;
  • M.M. KRANT and T.W. HANCHETT, Legacy: The Myers Park Story, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1986.

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    Electronic Version by Stephen Best