Survey and Research Report on the
Holt-Henderson- Copeland House
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as
the Holt-Henderson-Copeland House is located at 305 North Main Street in Davidson,
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the present owner of the
16710 Lake Shore Drive
Cornelius, NC 28031-8686
3. Representative photographs of the property: This report
contains representative photographs of the property.
4. Maps depicting the location of the property: This report
contains a map depicting the location of the property.
5. Current deed book reference to the property: The most
recent deed to this property is recorded in Mecklenburg County Deed Book
4518 page 553. The tax parcel number of the property is 003-256-06.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report
contains a brief historical sketch of the property.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This
report contains a brief architectural sketch of the property.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets
criteria for designation set forth in N.C.G.S. 106A-400.5. The
Commission judges that the property known as the Holt- Henderson-Copeland House does
possess special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The
Commission bases its judgment on the following considerations:
a. The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House,
first built according to historian Mary Beaty as a humble dwelling in the 1850s but substantially expanded
sometime after 1870,
is among the oldest residences in Davidson and is an essential component
of the North Main St. streetscape..
b. The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House
residence of Davidson’s first town doctor, Dr. William A. Holt.
c. The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House is a
well-preserved example of a gable-front-and-wing, Italianate-style
dwelling in Davidson.
d. The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House served the community
as a student boarding house for over one hundred years and thus
demonstrates the symbiotic relationship that existed between the college
and the community.
9. Ad Valorem tax appraisal: The assessed value of the
Holt-Henderson-Copeland property is $60,800 for the building and $260,800 for the land.
The combined value is $321,600.
Date of preparation of this report: December 16, 2005.
Prepared by: Neil Cottrell and edited and revised by Dr. Dan
L. Morrill and Jennifer Payne.
Summary Statement of Significance
The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House is an Italianate-style dwelling, the original core of
which according to historian Mary Beaty was built in the 1850s. It possesses special historic
significance as one of the oldest extant structures in Davidson and as
an essential component of the historic streetscape of North Main Street.
Moreover, in its role as a boarding house for over 100 years for
Davidson College students, the Holt-Henderson- Copeland House documents the symbiotic
relationship that has existed between the college and the town.
Davidson College, which was established in 1835 to educate young men
according to the values of the school’s Presbyterian founders, has
provided the impetus for the evolution and development of the Town of
Davidson. From 1835 to 1874, the town was a relatively isolated
college community; and its growth was almost exclusively linked to the
increasing number of students and faculty who attended or taught at
Davidson College. Not only was the built environment of Davidson
in this period characterized by faculty and student housing, but also by
dwellings and commercial structures built for the fledgling merchant
class that provided goods and services to the students and faculty.
Profound change came to Davidson in 1874, when the
reactivation of the railroad linking Charlotte and Statesville removed
Davidson from its relative isolation and introduced forces that made the
town a commercial and industrial center for the rural environs of
northern Mecklenburg County and southern Iredell County. The late
1800s and early 1900s witnessed the rise of textile manufacturing in
Davidson through the construction of such notable structures as the
Linden Mill and the Delburg Mill. The mills had a significant
impact on the nature of the built environment of Davidson through the
introduction of industrial buildings and mill housing. The College
continued to be important to the growth of the town in the late
1800s and throughout the early and mid-twentieth century and also
occasioned significant changes in the built environment primarily
through the introduction of faculty housing constructed in a variety of
styles, but also through the creation of campus buildings such as the
literary society halls and Jackson Court.
The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House is an excellent example of a
residence that has served the community and the college since the
mid-nineteenth century. Constructed adjacent to the Carolina Inn
and across the street from the Davidson
College campus, the Holt-Henderson-Copeland House has provided its occupants easy
access to the school and the town’s business district for over a
The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House
The historical significance of the Holt-Henderson-Copeland House rests primarily on
its existence as one of the oldest extant homes in Davidson, its being
the home of Davidson's first physician, and its use as a boarding house.
According to historian Mary Beaty, the
central core of the dwelling was constructed in the 1850s by Jacob Coldiron, a local tailor. Coldiron and other early residents of
Davidson took advantage of the recently-founded College to offer goods and
services along what was then known as the Great Road, known today as
North Main Street. The original portion of the home included what is
presently the southern wing of the front façade.
In addition, the Holt-Henderson-Copeland House is a remnant of the
early period of development in Davidson, from its anomalous beginnings
as a college town through its evolution as a small community with
connections to both education and industry. In 1862, the home was sold
to Dr. William A. Holt and his wife, Julia, who enlarged it and sometime
before 1909 (see photograph below) remodeled
the dwelling that they had purchased from Coldiron,
giving the home the appearance that it retains to this day.
Sanborn map. The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House address is 701.
Dr. and Mrs. Holt quickly became integral parts of
the history of the town. Dr. Holt came to Davidson following his
service in the Confederate Army as the town’s first medical doctor.
He served in this capacity for over twenty years, attending to patients
in an extension on the rear of the Holt- Henderson-Copeland House that served as his
William A. Holt's sign that was posted on his office door.
Davidson College Archives.
Mrs. Holt, like her husband, was involved in the
growth of the central institutions of the town. While Davidson
came into existence as a result of the establishment of Davidson
College, there were no formalized primary institutions of education in
the town. Children in Davidson who received primary education were
taught out of the home of town residents, a tradition which continued
into the 1880s. Mrs. Holt conducted one of the earliest schools
for girls in the town on the Davidson College campus in Tammany Hall.
The prevalence of boarding houses in Davidson in
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been a force that has molded
the distinctive symbiosis between the town and Davidson College.
There was no dining hall on campus until 1946, so these boarding houses
in which Davidson College students took all of their meals were a
The boarding house culture gave town residents a way to earn a good
living while educating their sons; and as town historian Mary D. Beaty
has noted, also occasioned the construction of the some of the grander
houses in Davidson. The Holts took advantage of the central
location of the house and also began taking in Davidson College students
as boarders. Local tradition holds that Mrs. Holt made her
boarding house one of the most popular in Davidson by the 1880’s.
Her efforts in easing the students' homesickness continued even after
she stopped taking in boarders. She would welcome them into her
home with southern hospitality and shared stories of her fifty years in
Photograph taken at wedding of Julia Holt and D. W.
McIver. The wedding party is in front of the
Holt-Henderson-Copeland House- December 1909.
(Photograph courtesy of the Davidson College Archives)
Mrs. Miles Henderson purchased the house following
Julia Holt's death in December 1912, and a boarding house operated
continuously therein until the property was sold by her son to the
Reverend William Creecy Copeland and his wife Henrietta Copeland in
1944. William Copeland, a 1916 graduate of Davidson College and a
Presbyterian minister, returned to Davidson to manage the Henderson
boarding house in 1935.
Copeland preached at several churches in the area and also gardened and
helped his wife run the boarding house. During World War II he
trained Air Force pilots stationed in Bennettsville, S. C., which
provided enough money to enable him to open a general store on Main
Street (only a few blocks from the Holt-Henderson-Copeland House).
In the mid 1970’s the Copelands moved to Montreat, North Carolina.
The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House has since been used as a framing store and for housing students
at Davidson College. The Copeland’s son, Dr. Donald Copeland, a 1956
graduate of Davidson College, is the current owner of the property and
is considering refurbishing the home and converting it into a bed and
According to historian Mary Beaty built in the 1870s around an older structure, the
Holt-Henderson-Copeland House is a important local example of the Italianate
Style. The house’s exterior is well preserved, with a high degree
of integrity. The interior of the house experienced some changes
during the twentieth century; however, the interior of the principal
section of the house has retained most of its nineteenth-century
features. The importance of this house to understanding the
historical residential patterns in Davidson, especially the use of the
house as a boarding house and its association with a locally prominent
physician, is obvious. The house possesses architectural significance as one of the oldest surviving houses
in Davidson, and also as one of the very few surviving examples of the
Italianate Style in Mecklenburg County’s small towns.
The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House faces east and is
located close to the sidewalk on a long relatively narrow lot which
slopes gently to the west. The yard has decorative plantings in
the front but is otherwise mainly treeless. There are no extant
outbuildings, including Dr. Holt's original office.
The Holt-Henderson-Copeland House has a
cross-gabled form. The two-story frame house originally rested on
stone piers, which are now in-filled with brick. The house is
sheltered with a standing seam metal roof, and features drop siding.
Typical for the Italianate Style, the Holt-Henderson-Copeland House features eave
brackets, a one-story bay window, paired front doors, and
segmental-arched two-over-two windows surrounded with decoratively sawn
surrounds that emphasize the crown of the windows.
The front-projecting two-story gable features a
centered one-story bay window which is composed of paired
segmental-arched windows on the front, and single two-over-two windows
on the sides, with recessed panels below the windows.
The bay window is protected by a low-pitched hip roof supported with the
scroll brackets. Above the window bay are paired segmental-arched
windows. The gable features substantial returns supported with
brackets, and a vent surrounded with curved trim.
To the south of the front-gabled section is a
two-bay wide gabled wing that project to the south. The wing
features a hipped-roof porch supported by chamfered posts decorated with
applied mouldings, sawn brackets, and turned pendants. The porch
roof shelters the front door. The doorway is composed of simple
chamfered pilasters supporting a crown with large dentil trim.
Typical of the Italianate Style, narrow, glazed double doors were used.
Glazing in the doors consists of tall round-arched lights, topped with
square lights set high in the tall doors. The doors also feature flat
panels surrounded with moulded trim.
The south elevation of the principal section of the
house is two bays wide. The bays on the first and second stories are
filled with single two-over-two windows with curved, sawn trim that
accentuates the windows’ moulded crowns. The gable features
pronounced returns supported with brackets like those found on the front
of the house. Centered in the gable is a small window with
segmental-arched head trim. The two sash in the small window do not
match each other and are not original.
Door – North Elevation
Window found on the north and south
The north elevation of principal section of the
house is two bays wide. The rearmost bay on the first story
contains a four-panel door topped with a two-light transom. Like
the windows, the doorway is surrounded with curved, sawn trim that
accentuates a moulded crown. The three remaining bays are filled
with double-hung windows like those found on the south elevation.
Most of the rear elevation of the principal section
is obscured by a one-story rear ell and a small two-story addition.
The rear gable contains an attic vent with louvered shutters. The
rear ell is set back slightly from the north elevation of the principal
section. The north elevation of the ell features some of the same
elements found on the principal section, including brackets under the
eaves. The ell was originally pierced by two window openings with
curved, sawn trim and moulded crowns. One of the original window
openings has been covered over with siding. The other opening was
enlarged to hold a second set of sash. A gabled addition extends from
the rear of the ell The rear addition lacks the decorative trim found on
the rest of the house. The south elevations of the rear ell and
rear addition have been altered and are now covered with simple siding.
A small porch on the south elevation of the addition has been enclosed.
Mary D. Beaty, Davidson: A History of the Town from 1835 until
1937 ( Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1979), 28.
Lucy Phillips Russell, A Rare Pattern (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1957),89-90.
Neil Cottrell, Interview with Dr. Donald Copeland.