LP Sutton First Project Story

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LP SUTTON, SUPERINTENDENT CAROLINAS
FIRST PROJECT  |  DOROTHEA DIX HOSPITAL |  1960

I started working for RN Rouse 56 years ago when I was 19 years old. My first project was working on the renovation to the Female Wing of the Dorothea Dix Hospital. This was my first job in construction. I had only been on the jobsite a few days when they handed me a trowel and a float and I thought, ‘what is this’? I jumped in and started finishing concrete. I did anything and everything I could because it was such a good learning experience.

In 1960, the south was still segregated. Working in North Carolina at the time, most African Americans were only brought on jobsites for ditch digging and sweeping. My foreman at my first project was George Goodwin. I would ask him what I should do and he would answer, ‘there are the plans’. He was open to me working on whatever needed to be done on a project. Over time, as I learned, he started giving me ownership of small jobs. I really feel like I was given an opportunity that, unfortunately, was not available to most African Americans in the South at that time.  

BIGGEST CHANGE. There seems to be a major shift in the industry every 10 years. There were no project managers when I started, only superintendents and general superintendents. The first project manager started in the 1980s. Another shift was when Project Engineers were added to the mix. As jobs continued to get larger, we had to change the way we were doing things.

FAVORITE PROJECTS. There are a couple projects that are memorable. One favorite was my first project as a Superintendent at the Training Center for BB&T in Wilson, NC. It turned out beautiful.   I also remember working on a dentist’s office with a waterfall in the waiting room. I’ve enjoyed every project I’ve been able to work on. I can always look back and say, I had a hand in that.

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LP Sutton  //  1976 Greene Correctional Institution

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