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SURVEY AND RESEARCH REPORT

On

Blankenship Feed and Oil Store

1. Names and locations of the properties: The property known as the  Former Blankenship Feed and Oil Store is located at 330 Main Street, Pineville, North Carolina.

2. Name and address of the present owner of the property: The present owner of the property is:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

2100 Randolph Road, Charlotte, N.C. 28207

Phone Number: (704) 376-9115

 

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 tax parcel number associated with the property is: 20501301.

 

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 description of the property.

 

8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets criteria for designation set forth in N. C. G. S. 160A-400.5:

a.      Special significance in terms of its history, architecture, and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property known as the Pineville Commercial Block does possess special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on the following considerations:

1. The Pineville Commercial Block  embodies important elements of the culture, history, and architecture of Pineville.

2. The  Pineville Commercial Block helps us understand the story of Pineville’s most prominent families, who were not only the town’s commercial leadership but were also central in the civic cultural, and social development of the town. 

3. The Pineville Commercial Block well represents the distinctive type of small-town architecture that was once prevalent in Mecklenburg County, and thus serves as a physical reminder of  county's historic development patterns.  

b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling and/or association: The Commission contends that the physical and architectural description which is included in this report demonstrates that the Pineville Commercial Block meets this criterion.

 

9. Ad Valorem tax appraisal: The Commission is aware that designation would allow the owner to apply for an automatic deferral of 50% of the Ad Valorem taxes on all or any portion of the property which becomes a designated "historic landmark."  The current total appraised tax value of the land and improvements is $1,093,500.

 

10. Portion of property recommended for designation: The interior of the building and the land included in the tax parcels are recommended for historic designation.

 

Date of preparation of this report: August 15, 2006

 

Prepared by: Stewart Gray and Hope Murphy

 

 

Historical Overview

 Main Street in Pineville has been lined, for nearly a century, with the businesses and homes of the town’s commercial, political, and civic elite.  Families such as the Yandells, Yountses, and Millers began commercial development of the town shortly after the turn of the 20th Century. While doing do so they also built the churches, schools, and recreation places, that turned the town from an intersection of two trading paths to a thriving Early 20th Century commercial center.  The economy of Pineville was based largely on the cultivation, ginning, and milling of cotton; but many other business interests developed in the town.  Main Street, by the 1930’s, had among its businesses: 5 grocery stores, 2 barbershops, a dime store, drugstore, doctor’s office, blacksmith, and theater.

Retaining a high degree of physical integrity, the buildings along Main Street are now rare and significant artifacts that can tell us much about the town of Pineville. As an entity the 312-330 Block of Main Street embodies important elements of the culture, history, and architecture of Pineville. The buildings additionally relate the story of Pineville’s most prominent families, who were not only the town’s commercial leadership but were also central in the civic,[1] cultural, and social development of the town. 

Many other Mecklenburg County town centers, once similar to Pineville, no longer exist.  The historic streetscapes of Cornelius and Huntersville are radically altered. The structures on Main Street Pineville, with their high degree of integrity, encompass the distinctive characteristics of type, period, and method of construction once prevalent in the small towns of Mecklenburg County, and serve as a physical reminder of the town and region’s commercial past. 

Pineville, North Carolina is located approximately eleven miles south of the city of Charlotte.  The small town, originally a cluster of log cabins at the intersection of two trading paths, had its commercial beginnings as a train stop when the South Carolina Railroad opened a depot in 1852.  The town, incorporated in 1873, became a busy center for agricultural support and textiles in the next few decades.[2]  In 1890 businessmen from Charlotte opened the Dover Yarn Mill in Pineville.  By the time the Mill had added a weaving department in 1902 over two hundred people were employed at the Mill. 

In 1903 the population of Pineville reached 700; most residents were involved in some way with the cotton industry.  Those not employed by the mill labored as cotton farmers.  Autumn would bring farmers to Main Street where they would form long lines in order to have their cotton ginned.  Saturdays would also bring farmers to town shop, pay debts, or trade mules.[3] 

For most of its history the south side of Main Street has been owned by the Yandell family.  W.A. “Willie” Yandell began acquiring land on the south side of Main Street beginning in 1919.  In that year he purchased one-half acre from C.H. Griffin and his wife Rana.[4]     In a 1987 interview in the Charlotte Observer Willeen Yandell, W.A.’s daughter, recounted that when her father arrived in Pineville in 1912 Main Street was only a wagon path.  The elder Yandell, recognized that the growing town needed services like grocery stores and began to develop them. [5]

In June 1929 the business owners along the street petitioned the Mayor of the town and Board of Alderman to “grade and pave” the road.  Property owners along Main Street agreed to pay one-quarter of the cost of the project.[6]  Into the 1930’s Main Street in Pineville remained only one of two paved streets in Pineville, the other being Polk Street.  By the 1930’s Pineville housed along its two block business district:  five general stores, a dime store, a drug store, a doctor’s office, hardware store, pool room, livery stable, blacksmith, post office, icehouse, movie theatre, and funeral home.[7]

            Joe Griffin recounts that as a young boy in Pineville, during the 1930’s, most people who lived in or near Pineville shopped on Main Street.[8]  Trips to uptown Charlotte, rare in the 1930’s, became more so during World War II when gas became rationed.[9]  Griffin recounts that the sidewalk on either side of Main Street was about four feet wide.  Trees and grass were planted between the sidewalk and the road.  This grassy strip served as a place for the stores to display items on nice days.[10]

 Main Street, Pineville ca. 1915

Tom Eubanks, who grew up in the residential section of Main Street, recounts that cotton-laden, mule-drawn carts still often lined Main Street after he returned from the Korean War in 1954.[11]    He recalls that the character of the business district remained intact until the 1960’s, and changed most radically in the 1980’s.  As Charlotte grew, some of Pineville’s small-town character began to wane. In 1972 Pineville was home to 2000 people within its one square mile corporate limits. The erection of apartment complexes, malls, and the Carowinds Amusement Park three miles west of the city brought traffic congestion to the sleepy business center.[12]

A 1987 Charlotte Observer article posited that the shift in the type of retail stores located along Main Street began in 1983.  In that year the W.A. Yandell Rental and Investment Co. rented 329 Main Street to Betty Hiltz.  She opened the China Connection, an antique shop.  Within five years every address on the south side of Main Street, except two, was occupied by antique stores.  Presently over half of the store fronts on the north side of Main Street are occupied by antique stores.

In an act that signaled the end of Pineville’s rural character, Tom Eubanks helped a local farmer remove his cows from the land on which the Carolina Mall would be erected. The massive commercial development that followed along Highway 51 between Pineville and Matthews, the expansion of the City of Charlotte up to and around the boundaries of Pineville, and the completion of the nearby I-485 beltway connecting to Interstate 77, have transformed much of the area around Pineville into a largely suburban landscape.[13] 

The 312-330 Main Street block, with buildings dating from the 1910’s and 1920’s, is therefore, an important historic site. Taken as a single entity, these storefronts are critical to understanding the historic development of Pineville. The one and two-story brick corbelled buildings form, in total, a place of important historic and architectural significance from Early 20th Century Pineville.

 

This building, which has been owned by the Miller family since 1948, when L.S. Miller and his wife Mary bought the property from the Niven family, was home for over 70 years to the Blankenship Feed and Oil Store.  The initial patriarch of the family was Captain Stephen Pettus Blankenship, a Civil War veteran.  Blankenship walked home to Pineville, from Maryland, after being captured by Northern troops.[36]

Captain Blankenship’s son, William F. Blankenship, Sr., opened the feed store, prior to the 1930’s.  In addition to the feed store Blankenship owned an icehouse on the south side of Main Street.  Before the Second World War, when few in Pineville owned electric refrigerators, Blankenship made daily, door-to-door deliveries of ice from his large orange-covered wagon.[37]          .

William F. Blankenship, Jr., who later ran the business with his father, became involved, like many of the other merchants on Main Street, in Pineville politics.  After losing his seat on the town board of commissioners in 1965, Blankenship was reappointed to the board in 1966,[38] and reelected to the seat in 1969.[39]   Blankenship Feed, like the Pineville Gun Shop and Bailes Recreation, stayed in business through many economic changes.  It was not until after the beginning of the 21st Century that Blankenship Feed, perhaps the Main Street business most connected with Pineville’s agricultural past, ceased doing business.[40]  The location presently houses an antique store.

 

 

Architectural Description

One-story storefront brick building laid in common bond with five rows of stretchers between rows of headers.  The building features one large opening.  The opening is formed with a single lintel that rests in the solid brick side walls.  The lintel supports a large brick panel above the storefront opening.  The panel is recessed back from the side walls, and features two bolt plates that may indicate that front wall is anchored to some of the interior framing.  The panel is topped with four rows of corbelling that bring the front wall flush with the side walls.  The wall is topped by another corbelled row.  The front parapet is topped with metal to prevent water from soaking into the wall.

The storefront does not appear original.  Plate glass windows are supported by low brick walls and brick has been in-filled between the windows and the original brick opening.  Between the windows, plywood panels surround recent aluminum paired single-light doors.  Unlike most of the buildings that make up the commercial block, 330 Main Street features an exposed side wall.  The west elevation is a plain parapet wall, topped with two courses of corbelled bricks.  The wall features three steps.  A simple corbelled brick flue is flush with the exterior wall.  Several bricks are missing from the top of the stack.  A single segmental-arched door opening, now in-filled with brick, is located in the side wall.  The arch is composed of two courses of soldiered headers.

Click here to view photographs of the interior of 330 Main Street