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Earle Sumner Draper, Sr. received a B.S. in landscape architecture from Massachusetts State College in 1915. He then joined the staff of John Nolen, city planner, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was appointed Nolen's southern representative. For two years he was engaged in town planning, including the layout of Kingsport, Tennessee. In 1917 he established his own firm in Charlotte, North Carolina, becoming the first professionally trained city planner in the Southeast. Draper was involved in the planning of industrial towns, as well as parks, universities, schools, cemeteries, private estates, golf courses, land subdivisions, and landscape projects. In 1933, he left private practice to take the post of Planning Director for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He later advanced to Director of Regional Planning Studies at the TVA; and initiated the planning and construction of the town of Norris, rural freeways, powerhouses, and dams. In 1940 he left the TVA to become assistant administrator of the Federal Housing Administration; he was later appointed deputy commissioner. After World War II, he returned to private practice.