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Guide to the Romeo Guest Papers, 1925-1987 and undated

Abstract

Greensboro, North Carolina developer and construction company executive; originator of the concept and name for Research Triangle Park.

The Romeo Guest Papers span the dates 1925-1987 with the bulk of the collection dated 1950-1986 and consists of correspondence, business records, clippings and printed material, and plans documenting the development of Research Triangle Park from conceptualization and groundbreaking through periods of growth and success in the 1970s and 1980s. The collection is organized into series for Appointment Books, a Condensed File of key events, Chronological Files, Corporate Files, Manuscript Material, People, Pinelands Company Files, Printed Material, and Audiocassettes. The Appointment Books Series houses Guest's annual schedules for the bulk of his professional life, consisting chiefly of notes on appointments but also containing ideas and thoughts as they occured to him. The Condensed File Series contains files on important events in the development of the "Research Triangle" and individuals instrumental in the bringing that vision to fruition. These people include Guest, business investor Karl Robbins, William Newell, Gordon Gray, and NC governor Luther Hodges. More detailed files on events and people described in the Condensed File can be found in the Chronological Files Series. These document the coordination efforts between the three major research universities in the area, private corporate interests, and the North Carolina state government. The Corporate Files Series contains files related to Guest's construction company, C.M. Guest and Sons, including some files on Research Triangle projects as well as other construction works in North and South Carolina. A series for Manuscript Material houses drafts and notes of Guest's unpublished history of the inception of Research Triangle Park. The People Series houses additional files on people of interest to Guest, including some involved in the success of the Research Triangle as well as research work on Guest and the Research Triangle. The Pinelands Company Files Series contains files documenting the work of the company created to acquire and develop land for Research Triangle Park. A series of additional Printed Material includes newspaper clippings documenting the construction of Research Triangle and the success of companies there as well as publicity for the then-new Research Triangle. The Audiocassettes Series, containing recorded oral histories and interviews with important figures associated with the development of the Research Triangle, completes the collection.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Guest, Romeo Holland
Title
Romeo Guest papers, 1925-1987 and undated
Language of Material
English
Extent
21.4 Linear Feet, 10,880 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The Romeo Guest Papers span the dates 1925-1987 with the bulk of the collection dated 1950-1986 and consists of correspondence, business records, clippings and printed material, and plans documenting the development of Research Triangle Park from conceptualization and groundbreaking through periods of growth and success in the 1970s and 1980s. The collection is organized into series for Appointment Books, a Condensed File of key events, Chronological Files, Corporate Files, Manuscript Material, People, Pinelands Company Files, Printed Material, and Audiocassettes. The Appointment Books Series houses Guest's annual schedules for the bulk of his professional life, consisting chiefly of notes on appointments but also containing ideas and thoughts as they occured to him. The Condensed File Series contains files on important events in the development of the "Research Triangle" and individuals instrumental in the bringing that vision to fruition. These people include Guest, business investor Karl Robbins, William Newell, Gordon Gray, and NC governor Luther Hodges. More detailed files on events and people described in the Condensed File can be found in the Chronological Files Series. These document the coordination efforts between the three major research universities in the area, private corporate interests, and the North Carolina state government. The Corporate Files Series contains files related to Guest's construction company, C.M. Guest and Sons, including some files on Research Triangle projects as well as other construction works in North and South Carolina. A series for Manuscript Material houses drafts and notes of Guest's unpublished history of the inception of Research Triangle Park. The People Series houses additional files on people of interest to Guest, including some involved in the success of the Research Triangle as well as research work on Guest and the Research Triangle. The Pinelands Company Files Series contains files documenting the work of the company created to acquire and develop land for Research Triangle Park. A series of additional Printed Material includes newspaper clippings documenting the construction of Research Triangle and the success of companies there as well as publicity for the then-new Research Triangle. The Audiocassettes Series, containing recorded oral histories and interviews with important figures associated with the development of the Research Triangle, completes the collection.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Audiovisual originals are closed to use. Technical Services staff may need to produce use copies before contents can be accessed.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Contains appointment books kept by Guest annually from 1951 until 1985 and added to the collection after his death in 1987. Details range from precise hourly schedules of his daily activities and appointments to general notes and thoughts. Guest refered to his appointment books as "diaries." Organized by year.

1951-1957
Box 1
1957-1961
Box 2
1961-1965
Box 3
1965-1967
Box 4
1968-1977
Box 5
1978-1985
Box 6

Originally assembled by Guest to facilitate research access to his papers, the Condensed File Series provides an overview of the history of the Research Triangle Park from the 1950s to 1980. It contains biographies of Guest and other relevant people, general written histories, chronologies of key dates, and transcripts of oral histories by some of the key figures behind the Research Triangle's inception. It also houses an overview of the filing system employed by Guest in assembling his own personal papers. More detailed files can be found in the subseries organized by era that follow.

Condensed Files
Box 7-8

By far the largest in the collection, this series is organized into eras following Guest's original designations: the Somnolence Era, Think Up/Start Up Era, Consolidation of Gains, Great Leap Forward, and Bright Future. Files generally contain a mix of correspondence, clippings, reports, and printed material. The Somnolence Era covers the period from 1925-1950, beginning with a treasurer's report from Guest's alma mater, MIT, and ending with files discussing the early impetus for the plan that became the Research Triangle. The Think Up/Start Up Era comprises the bulk of the series and spans the period from 1951-1960. In addition to the files found in all era subseries, it also includes files on advertising, schools and institutions in the area, and other research parks in the United States. The Consolidation of Gains files cover the period from 1961 to 1970, while the Great Leap Forward group covers the period 1971-1980; the latter consists chiefly of correspondence and clippings, but also includes a draft history of the Research Triangle written by Guest. The Bright Future era subseries covers dates 1981-1986 and consists chiefly of newspaper clippings by Guest documenting the success of the Research Triangle and entitites within it as the center grew. Some files also refer to the importance given by Guest to the Research Triangle project.

Material is organized alphabetically within each era; material has been sorted into eras according to the start date of each file. Thus files spanning multiple eras can be found in the eariest era in the range. Researchers are advised to check earlier era subseries in order to ensure access to all relevant material on later eras.

Somnolence Era, 1925-1950
Box 8
Think Up/Start Up Era, 1951-1960

[Some items removed to Oversize Material.]

Box 9-14
Consolidation of Gains, 1961-1970
Box 14
Great Leap Forward, 1971-1980
Box 14-16
Bright Future, 1981-1987
Box 16

Consists of photographs generally related to the C.M. Guest and Sons construction company that were part of the addition to the collection that followed Romeo Guest's death in 1987. Photographs are of company officials, clients, and buildings, the latter presumably the work of C.M. Guest and Sons.

Corporate files
Box 16-17

Comprises notes, correspondence, and photographs related to a book Guest planned to write on the history of the Research Triangle from the 1987 addition to the collection. While much of the material in the series is fragmentary in nature, there is a complete draft of the work. Additional Research Triangle Park histories can be found in the Condensed File Series that precedes the Chronological Files Series. Drafts of Guest's manuscript and related material in the Condensed File as well as in the Chronological Files Series in the Great Leap Forward Era Subseries. Additional drafts of Mary Virginia Jones' thesis on the history of Research Triangle Park can be found in the People Series. Organized alphabetically.

Manuscript materials
Box 17

Contains Guest's files on various people added to the collection in 1987. The bulk of the material in this series is correspondence, though some photographs and printed material may also be found. The largest grouping of files relates to the research work of Mary Virginia Jones on her master's thesis on the creation of the Research Triangle Park. In addition, files on North Carolina governors Luther Hodges and James Hunt are included. Other people of note include University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill president Gordon Gray, UNC professor Howard Odum, and William Newell. Series is organized alphabetically.

Files on people
Box 17

Contains files of the Pinelands Company, a corporation created for the purpose of purchasing and developing the land that would become Research Triangle Park. The bulk of the material spans the years of the Pinelands Company's operation: 1957-1965. These include board of directors communication, reports, legal and financial documents, files on companies that might be interested in purchasing land. In addition, numerous maps, plats, land surveys, publicity poster, and related material are included, many of which have been separated and placed in Oversize Material. Some advertising and printed material complete the series. Organized alphabetically.

Pinelands Company files
Box 18-23

Houses newspaper clippings and other printed material collected by Guest and added to the collection following his death in 1987. Newspaper clippings generally come from prominent newspapers in the Raleigh-Durham area, chiefly the Durham Herald (later the Durham Herald-Sun) and the Raleigh News and Observer. Some clippings from the Greensboro Record are also included. Additional printed material includes brochures advertising Research Triangle Park and similar projects in other states, promotional books published for the C.M. Guest and Sons construction company, and issues of the Research Triangle Institute's journal, Hypotenuse dated 1979-1987. Organized alphabetically and chronologically.

[Some items removed to Oversize Material.]

Printed materials
Box 24-25

Consists of recorded oral histories and interviews with key figures in the movement to create Research Triangle Park. Two tapes of the program "North Carolina People" feature interviews recorded for broadcast; additional tapes recorded by Mary Virginia Jones as part of her thesis research chronicle the recollections of Guest, William Saunders, William Newell, William L. Brown, and others. Five microcassettes have not been surveyed, but may contain additional information on the Research Triangle.

1976, Nov. 30 meeting
(3 cassettes)
Box 26
1978 May 15 meeting
Box 26
1979 Nov. 5 meeting
(2 cassettes)
Box 26
1980 Jan. 27 meeting
(2 cassettes)
Box 26
NC People guest: George Watts Hill, 1982
Box 26
NC People guest: Dr. Pilkney
Box 26
Research Triangle, 1976
(2 cassettes)
Box 26
Research Triangle, undated
(5 microcassettes)
Box 26

Oversize Material, 1937-1987, undated

(3 boxes, 4 tubes, 6 folders)

Contains oversize material separated from other series. The bulk consists of newspaper clippings from the Chronological Files and the Printed Material Series. In addition, a number of maps and plans of Raleigh, Durham, and the proposed Research Triangle Park dating from the 1950s through 1980 can be found here. Documents from the Pinelands Company Series include clippings related the Chemstrand Corporation, a sales prospect, and some property tax sheets. While most material relates to the Research Triangle in some way, a clipping book housing clippings dated 1955-1957 includes clippings about sailing competitions.

Advertising and related material, 1954-1980
Oversize Folder 1
Clippings, history, 1951-1960, undated
Oversize Folder 1
Research centers and industrial parks, Robbins Mill estimates, 1951, 1959
Oversize Folder 1
Research Centers and Parks, Norfolk industrial park map, 1957
Oversize Folder 1
Clippings, 1961-1970
Box 27
Guest's manuscript, 1977
Box 27
Clippings, 1971-1980
Box 27
Clippings, 1981-1982, 1986
Box 27
Property taxes, sales prospects, 1958, 1961
Box 27
Unidentified map [numbered grid for Durham sewer system?], 1957
Oversize Folder 2
Durham city south maps, 1951
Oversize Folder 2
Research Triangle Park (RTP) area plats and maps, 1937, 1957-1958 and undated
Box 30
RTP building designs, 1962
Box 30
Chapel Hill topographical map, 1947
Box 30
Durham topographical map, 1951
Box 30
RTP maps and plans, 1950s-1980
Oversize Folder 5
Research Triangle area maps, Cape Fear regional map, 1951-1958, 1966, 1976, and undated
Oversize Folder 6
Research Triangle area and Durham City maps, and advertising logo print, 1951, 1957, and undated
Box 30
Durham City south maps (topographical), 1951 Mar.
Oversize Tube 1
Durham City south (landowners) map, 1957
Box 30
Raleigh city map (sewer), 1957
Oversize Tube 2
Research Triangle Park maps, 1950s
Oversize Tube 3
Research Triangle Park area maps, blueprints, publicity posters, 1950s and undated
Oversize Tube 4
Clipping book photocopies and originals, 1955-1957, undated
(3 folders)
Box 28
Clippings, 1957-1987
(3 folders)
Box 28
Clippings, 1950-1987
(10 folders)
Box 29

Historical Note

Chronology List

DateEvent(s)
1906Romeo Holland Guest born in Anderson, SC
1925Graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy
1928Became partner in C.M. Guest and Sons construction company
1929Graduated from M.I.T.
1937Moved to Greensboro to oversee company operations there
1954Used the term "Research Triangle" for the first time
1957Becomes director of C.M. Guest and Sons
1963Changed name of company to Romeo Guest Associates
1973Sold Romeo Guest Associates to Durham-based Nello Teer construction company
1976Retired from Romeo Guest Associates
1987Died in West End, NC

The term "Research Triangle" was first used by builder Romeo H. Guest in 1954 while making notes for a meeting to win support for a research park in central North Carolina. Hoping to take advantage of the southern migration of the industrial and manufacturing sectors from the Northeast, Guest and colleagues approached then Lt. Governor Luther Hodges about government support for the idea. In 1955, Gov. Hodges worked build partnerships for a Research Triangle park, enlisting the support of the three major universities in the area, Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as support of government and business leaders. To fund the project, Hodges secured the backing of real estate investor Karl Robbins. 1957, the Pinelands Company was created to buy land to create a contiguous parcel of 5,000 acres in Durham, and Wake Counties. Despite waning support from Robbins, in 1959 ground was broken for the Research Triangle Institute, the first major research insitution in Research Triangle Park. Chemstrand Corp. became the first corporation to develop space in Research Triangle Park soon after. As of 2007, Research Triangle Park has expanded to almost 7,000 acres of total area encompassing 157 research and development facilities.

Subject Headings

Related Material

  • Howard W. Odum Papers (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)
  • Research Triangle Foundation Records (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Romeo Guest Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Romeo Guest Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1965, 1983, and 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by Christian Ferney and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, April 2008

Encoded by Christian Ferney and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, April 2008

Accessions 65-12, 3-30-83, and 87-109 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.