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Survey and Research Report

on the

Dr. Robert H. Greene House

 

1.  Name and location of the property:  The property known as the Dr. Robert H. Greene House is located at 2001 Oaklawn Avenue, Charlotte, North Carolina.

2.    Name, address, and telephone number of the current owner of the property:

Emanser LLC

609 Walnut Ave.
Charlotte, NC 28208-4538

 

3.    Representative photographs of the property.  This report contains representative photographs of the property

4.  A map depicting the location of the property.

 

Mecklenburg County Tax Map

 

5.  Current Deed Book Reference To The Property.  The most recent deed to this property is found in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 22734, page 209.  The tax parcel number for the property is 07841209.

6.  A Brief Historical Essay On The Property.  This report contains a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by William Jeffers.

7.  A Brief Physical Description Of The Property.  This report contains a brief physical description of the property prepared by Stewart Gray.

8.  Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the 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 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission judges that the Dr. Robert H. Greene House possesses special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  The Commission bases its judgment on the following considerations: 

1) The Dr. Robert H. Greene House, built in 1936, is a well preserved example of the Colonial Revival Style, and is one of the few surviving pre-war examples of this style associated with the black community in Charlotte.  

2) The Dr. Robert H. Greene House is important in understanding the history of the McCrorey Heights neighborhood.

3) The Dr. Robert H. Greene House helps to chronicle the evolution of African-American middle class neighborhoods in Charlotte.

b.  Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling and/or association:  The Commission judges that the physical description included in this report demonstrates that the property known as the Dr. Robert H. Greene House meets this criterion.

9.  Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: The Commission is aware that designation would allow the owner to apply for 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 appraised value of the Dr. Robert H. Greene House is $96,000.  The property is zoned R-5.

10.  This report finds that the interior, exterior, and land associated with the Dr. Robert H. Greene House should be included in any landmark designation of the property.

Date of preparation of this report:           

            March 1, 2009

 Prepared by

            William Jeffers and Stewart Gray
 

Robert H. Greene House:  Contextual Essay

The story of Dr. Robert H. Greene and his home at 2001 Oaklawn Avenue is one that chronicles the evolution of the African American middle class neighborhood in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  Dr. Greene’s residence highlights how this evolution began in the now destroyed downtown neighborhood of Brooklyn and then spread to neighborhoods considered at the time to be on the outskirts of the city. 

Second Ward was the home of many of Charlotte’s African American professional elite.  “The black district of Second Ward, informally known as Brooklyn by the 1920’s, was the heart of the African American business district.”[1]  Within this area was a dense concentration businesses owned and patronized by African Americans.  The district consisted of, “barber and beauty shops, pressing clubs, trucking companies, piano teachers, shoe repair shops, groceries, restaurants, confectioners, tailors and other shopkeepers [who] thrived in the quarter.”[2]  Second Ward High School was considered by many of Charlotte’s black community to be one of the bedrocks of the neighborhood and even today evokes passionate memories from its alumni about the positive benefits of the school on the community. 

For a time after the Civil War blacks and whites lived side-by-side in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  This “salt and pepper”[3] pattern was not a local phenomenon.  In fact this type of residential pattern, “was common in many Carolina towns.”[4]  This housing pattern began to lose favor, however, and as the Nineteenth Century drew to a close so did this settlement trend.  This was due primarily to the enactment of Jim Crow segregation, which advocated a “separate but equal” doctrine among the races in the South.  As a result of this, African Americans in Charlotte-Mecklenburg began to relocate and concentrate themselves in specific areas of the city.

In the center of Charlotte, African Americans initially clustered around three of Charlotte’s four wards.  However, while Charlotte’s wards and especially Brooklyn were the primary location of African American residents in the early Twentieth Century, “neighborhoods at the periphery of Charlotte’s city limits also developed and evolved around African American institutions such as Biddle Institute, or along trolley lines.”[5]   

Charlotte’s streetcar system was able to connect residents and neighborhoods in such a way that formerly outlying and relatively remote neighborhoods now had quick access to the downtown business district and other parts of the city as well.  As a result, these neighborhoods began to grow both in popularity and population.  In some cases the streetcar was also instrumental in creating new neighborhoods too.  Evidence of this phenomenon is clearly extant in the white neighborhoods of Myers Park and Dilworth, both of which were considered suburbs when they were initially planned.  Similarly, already established African American neighborhoods along Charlottes’ edge also benefited and thrived from the streetcar system.

The neighborhood of Biddleville serves as one example.  It was first laid out in 1871 and grew into a residential neighborhood for professors who taught at Biddle Institute (now known as Johnson C. Smith University), which remains as the center of the neighborhood.  In 1903 the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company known locally as the “4 C’s”[6] extended a trolley line to the area and the neighborhood expanded considerably.  The early residents of the community appear to have fully appreciated the significance of the trolley and their suburb by nicknaming it “New Dilworth.’”[7] Although Biddleville was centered on the all-black Biddle Institute, it was initially a neighborhood similar to the racial makeup of post-Civil War Charlotte, which contained a mix of blacks and whites.  

A second example, Washington Heights, “was the first Charlotte Streetcar suburb developed exclusively for blacks.”[8]  Conceived by white developer W.S. Alexander, Washington Heights was designed as a neighborhood for the upwardly mobile African Americans of Charlotte.  To further his vision Alexander employed the services of C.H. Watson, who was both a local civic leader in Charlotte’s black community and a real estate agent, to sell the neighborhood to the local African American middle class.  Watson was, at the time, working on a promotional booklet to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the end of slavery and the Civil War.  Titled Colored Charlotte, the booklet “included paragraphs on the city’s black businesses, publications and periodicals, schools, social organizations, and library.”[9]

Not coincidently, Watson also devoted several pages of his book to promote the new community of Washington Heights.  He also made mention of another planned suburb on the other side of Beatties Ford Road, along what is now known as Oaklawn Avenue, named “Douglasville”.  In Colored Charlotte this section was called:  “Watson Park, Washington Heights – The only Park around Charlotte for Colored People.  Owned by C.H. Watson.”[10]  The park was to be located at the end of the trolley line on Watson’s “Douglasville” land along Beatties Ford Road. adjacent to the city’s Vest Water Works plant and would contain pavilions for weekend picnickers. 

As local historian Tom Hanchett argues, “no less than whites, the emerging black middle class longed for the advertised benefits of suburban living for themselves and their children.”[11]  In Washington Heights and Douglasville this middle class ideal could now become a reality.  The neighborhood of Washington Heights “did not have any of the elegant homes found in the inner city wards or in Biddleville.  Modest Bungalows were the prevailing style.”[12] 

One distinguishing characteristic of these new neighborhoods was the absence of shotgun houses.  The shotgun house was a long narrow one-story structure, and was sometimes viewed as a symbol of the second-class status of blacks in the area during Jim Crow.  The new homes of Washington Heights and “Douglasville,” brought with them a new promise for prosperity and upward mobility in the Jim Crow era because even a modest bungalow and the absence of the shotgun house in the neighborhood was considered a major step forward both economically and socially.

There were a number of professional African Americans in Charlotte who invested in Washington Heights by buying lots and renting them out.  Among them was Henry Lawrence (H.L.) McCrorey of Biddle University.

H.L. McCrorey was born in Fairfield County, South Carolina in 1863.[13] After the Civil War, with new educational opportunities opening for blacks, McCrorey would go on to graduate from Biddle University’s (formerly Institute) College of Arts and Sciences in 1892 and from the school’s theological seminary in 1895.  Upon his matriculation he was employed in the high school department of the university as an instructor.  He was later promoted to the chair of Greek Exegesis and Hebrew in the theological seminary.[14] His career culminated in 1907 when he was made the second black president of Biddle University following the death of Reverend Daniel J. Sanders, the first black president of the institution.

One of McCrorey’s most prominent and notable accomplishments as president of Biddle University was when he was able to secure from Mrs. Jane Berry Smith of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. a donation of over $700,000 to the school for the construction of new buildings as well as the establishment of a permanent endowment for the school.  In recognition of this sizable donation the university changed its name in 1923 to honor the memory of Mrs. Smith’s late husband, Johnson C. Smith. 

McCrorey invested heavily in Washington Heights.  He eventually took over development of Watson’s ‘Douglasville’ area along Oaklawn Avenue.”[15]  Eventually the moniker “Douglasville” gave way to a new name for this neighborhood:  McCrorey Heights.  McCrorey’s plan for the neighborhood mirrored Watson’s in that he wanted members of Charlotte’s black middle class to live there. That sentiment is reflected in the neighborhood’s architecture which includes a mixture of bungalows and other classically inspired houses.  Odell Robinson, a long time member of McCrorey Heights also believed that McCrorey “wanted the land developed for the teachers and students of Johnson C. Smith University” as well.[16] 

1938 Aerial Photography Map.   Note the built-out nature of Washington Heights, and the relatively few houses to the south of Oaklawn Avenue in McCrorey Heights.

While McCrorey encouraged students and teachers from the university to move to the neighborhood, professional African Americans also began to call the area home.  With Charlotte expanding economically, newer residents were arriving from all over the country now to take advantage of the city’s growth.  One of these newcomers was Dr. Robert H. Greene.

Robert H. Greene was born in Washington D.C. August 21, 1901 the son of Robert Benjamin Greene and Daisy Dean Hadley.[17]  As a young boy, he already had a desire to become a physician.  In his own words he states, “ . . . there were three doctors who lived near my home.  As a little kid I would watch them.  I admired them tremendously.  They had cars for one thing.  Hardly anybody else did.  They also had wonderful reputations and were idolized by almost everybody.  I wanted to emulate them.”[18] 

These early life influences stayed with Dr. Greene as he matriculated through the Washington D.C. public school system.  After graduating Armstrong High School[19], he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree at Howard University in 1923.  Four years later in 1927, he would graduate from the medical school of Howard University.  He served for two years as an interning physician at Lincoln Hospital in Durham N.C. and it was during this time that he would meet and marry Gladys Elizabeth Lee (May 20, 1903 – May 13, 1985).[20]  After completing his internship, the Greenes moved to Charlotte so Robert could start a career in private practice. 

While Gladys pursued a career in education as a teacher at Isabella Wyche Elementary School,[21] Dr. Greene established himself in Brooklyn.  He chose the Mecklenburg Investment Company building at 233 S. Brevard Street to set up his practice.  In addition to maintaining an office in Second Ward, Greene was the staff physician at Good Samaritan Hospital (now the site of Bank of America Stadium), the local African American hospital in Charlotte.  He also had privileges at Charlotte Memorial Hospital.  In 1934, the Greenes lived in Second Ward in an apartment at 224 South McDowell Street.

Around 1936, the Greenes decided to settle away from the wards in the newly forming neighborhood of McCrorey Heights along Oaklawn Avenue.  They purchased from Janine L. Graham “Lot 5, Block 390, Section 4 of the City of Charlotte as shown on the tax records of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; also being Lot 5, block 4 of the property of Dr. H.L. McCrorey.”[22]  On this plot the Greenes erected a two-story Colonial Revival style house in keeping with the upper-middle-class status of the neighborhood.  It appears that the Greenes picked the particular house style from a catalogue of home designs by Robert L. Stevenson of Boston, Massachusetts.  Their house was a copy of a residence Stevenson designed in Braintree, just outside of Boston.  In a copy of the catalogue are handwritten notes by Dr. Greene commenting on particular ornamentation for the house as well as a list of things to include in it.  There is also a “to-do” checklist for the residence to ensure completion of the home.[23]

Book of home designs by Robert L. Stevenson

Dr. Greene was a leader and member of many professional organizations.  They included the Charlotte Medical Society and the Old North State Medical Society (in both organizations he served a term as president), Mecklenburg County Medical Society, Medical Society of the State of North Carolina, National Medical Association, American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Practice.  Dr. Greene also was a member of Sigma Pi Phi, an exclusive fraternity for African American professionals.  He became a member of some of the aforementioned organizations though only after the end of Jim Crow because for thirty-five of the fifty years he spent practicing medicine he was not allowed to join any of the local medical societies because he was black.  Since he was not allowed to join the white medical societies, he was therefore not allowed to treat patients in white hospitals.  In retrospect, Greene remarks that, “I guess my greatest triumph during all the years of my practice was being admitted to the County Medical Society.  Blacks were not allowed to enter before 1963.  We couldn’t join the AMA or the State Medical Association before then either.  But the county was very interested in black doctors joining their society . . . and they pushed for us hard.  I joined the county, state, and AMA in 1963.”[24]

Dr. Greene’s pioneering spirit in integrating the formerly all white medical societies had a profound impact on future physicians as well.  Dr. Melvin Pinn, another African American family physician, was inspired by Dr. Greene whilst a freshman at Johnson C. Smith University.  Pinn would go on to be the first black physician to be given full time privileges at Charlotte Memorial Hospital in 1979.  Pinn felt that Dr. Greene helped pave the way for him and the next generation of black doctors because Dr. Greene was one of the first black doctors to gain privileges to the hospital.  As he states, “without physicians like Dr. Greene, this wouldn’t have been possible.”[25]

            Dr. Greene also established for himself a stellar reputation among the medical community during his career.  As Will Griffin, former director for the Mecklenburg County Medical Society, says of Greene:  “After practicing for fifty years and treating anything and everything you have to give him high marks.  Everything I have ever heard about Dr. Greene convinces me that he is an outstanding doctor and outstanding gentleman.” [26] 

            While receiving personal accolades from his colleagues, he was also honored professionally for his work.  The Old North State Medical Society named Dr. Greene “Doctor of the Year” in 1970.[27]  He also received statewide recognition when,  “he was appointed by Governor (Dan Killian) Moore and reappointed by Governor (Robert Walter) Scott to the Medical Advisory Council to the State Board of Mental Health.”[28]  Another position of note includes being a member of the Executive Board of the Mecklenburg County Mental Health Association.   

            To the community he served, Dr. Greene was also held in high esteem.   While primarily a family doctor, one specialty that he has been remembered for was his talents as an obstetrician.  Dr. Greene delivered many babies in Charlotte’s African American community. Margaret Alexander decided to utilize his services as an obstetrician and family doctor because; “He’d always take time with you and answer your questions.  He was a very patient individual.  Any time something would happen with the children, I would call him and he would come.”[29]  As Dr. Greene reflected on his career in obstetrics:  “I think one of the hardest things was delivering babies.  I’ve delivered hundreds of babies, and that was hard.  I’d have to get up I the middle of the night and rush out to deliver one, and then be back at the office the first thing in the morning.  One night I delivered four . . . It has been a demanding life, and a hard life, but I’ve loved it all.[30] 

Upon his retirement in 1979, Dr Greene alluded that while he was retiring from medicine he was not retiring from living.  Among the various things he planned to do:  “I love to read and I have never seemed to have enough time before.  I have a whole lot of catching up to do.  I’ve got a big back yard on Oaklawn Avenue and I plan to do a lot of gardening there, and we have a place where we’ll spend a lot of time at Badin Lake.  I’ve been thinking of taking up fishing too.  It’s never to late.”[31]  On November 23, 1990[32], eleven years after his retirement, Dr. Greene passed away. 

The residence of Dr. Robert H. Greene at 2001 Oaklawn Avenue is important to the story of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and the African-American community.  It was the home of a prominent member of Charlotte’s African-American community.  Dr. Greene was a pioneer, being one of the first black doctors in the city to join the previously all white medical and professional organizations.  His actions by joining these societies served as an inspiration to other practicing African American physicians as well as those who aspired to the profession. 

Due to the decimation of the black sections of Second Ward during Urban Renewal, all of the ward’s historic middle-class and upper-middle-class houses were destroyed.  It is now only in neighborhoods like Biddleville, Washington Heights and McCrorey Heights where one can see the development of the African-American middle class in Charlotte during the early to mid-Twentieth Century reflected in the built environment.  As a good example of an upper-middle-class African American home from the early Twentieth Century, Dr. Robert H. Greene House is an important artifact in understanding the history of African-American residential development in Charlotte.

 


 

[1] Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, Survey of African American Buildings and Sites in Mecklenburg County:  The African American Presence in the Mecklenburg County Built Environment, 1850-1950, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, no date, http://www.cmhpf.org/surveyafricancontext.htm#_ftn66, (accessed October 5, 2008).

[2] Ibid.

[3] M. Ruth Little, “The Other Side of the Tracks: The Middle Class Neighborhoods That Jim Crow Built in Early-Twentieth-Century North Carolina,” Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, Vol. 7 (1997):  p. 269.

[4] Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

[5] Ibid.

[6] Dan L. Morrill, Streetcars of Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, no date, http://www.cmhpf.org/surveybytopicstreetcars.htm, (Accessed October 15, 2008).

[7] Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Thomas W. Hanchett, Washington Heights, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, no date, http://www.cmhpf.org/educationneighhistwash.htm, (accessed October 5, 2008).

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

[13] McCrorey Collection, Inez Moore Parker Archives, James B. Duke Memorial Library, Johnson C. Smith University.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

[16] Interview of Odell Robinson by Bill Jeffers (November 22, 2008).

[17] Robert H. Greene, “The Story Of My Life”, Private Collection, January 21, 1971.

[18] Frank Coley, “77-year old Doctor Turning His Interests To Fishing And Gardening After 50 Years of Practice,” Charlotte Weekly-East, January 4, 1979, p.14.

[19] Robert H. Greene.

[20] Death Certificate #1985001507, Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds.

[21] Interview of Alma Motley by Bill Jeffers (November 22, 2008).

[22] Mecklenburg County Deed Book 873, p. 331, 25 May 1936.

[23] Robert L.Stevenson, Portfolio of Homes designed by Robert L. Stevenson, Architect, (Boston:  Robert L. Stevenson, 1930), p. 188-189.

 

[24] (Coley, 1979).

[25] Kevin O’Brien, “Pioneering Physician Dies At 90,” Charlotte, Observer, November 27, 1990, p. 3-B.

[26] Ibid.

[27] “Charlotte M.D. Honored,” Charlotte News, June 11, 1970.

[28] Robert H. Greene.

[29] (O’Brien, 1990).

[30] (Coley, 1979).

[31] Ibid.

[32] Death Certificate #1990004024, Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds.

Architectural Description

The Dr. Robert H. Greene House is located at 2001 Oaklawn Avenue in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The house faces north on a level one-third-acre lot.  The house is part of the McCrorey Heights neighborhood, and is surrounded by other early twentieth-century homes.  Built in 1936 it is among the oldest and largest houses in the neighborhood.  It is arguably the best preserved and architecturally most significant house in McCrorey Heights.  Its high degree of integrity is due in part to a recent sensitive renovation and to the preservation of its original lot dimensions, despite a widening of Oaklawn Avenue.  

    

The two-story side-gabled frame house is three bays wide and rests on a continuous brick foundation. The facade pf the principal section of the house is symmetrical.  The front entrance is centered on the facade, and is sheltered by a gabled pedimented portico supported by two Tuscan columns, along with two similar pilasters.  The columns rest on a brick stoop accessed by two full-width brick steps.   The portico features beaded trim at the base and moulded trim at the top of the simple freeze.  The gable is recessed with moulded trim on the raking cornice.  The portico shelters the original six-panel door, which is topped by a elliptical fixed transom containing leaded glass set in a fan pattern.  Sidelights contain leaded glass in a geometric pattern and wooden panels.  Like much of the house, the portico is intact and largely unaltered.  The beaded-board ceiling, brass door hardware, letter slot and original "tin" light fixture have survived. 

The most significant change to the exterior of the Greene House was the addition of metal siding at some point during the second half of the twentieth century.  The metal siding obscures the original wood siding, but does not appear to obscure any of the other exterior architectural features.  Original eight-over-eight double-hung windows  border the the portico.  All of the windows feature simple wooden sills.  All of the windows that pierce the facade, and most of the remaining windows on the house, feature original louvered shutters with original pintle hinges and scroll shutter dogs.  Directly over the first-story windows, the second story is pierced by similar but shorter eight-over-eight double-hung windows.  A single, short eight-over-eight window is located above the portico.  The deep soffit features moulded trim at the wall junction.

The facade of the principal section of the house is symmetrical.  A flat-roofed porch and a flat-roof sunroom  project from each side elevation.  While these side projections are of different designs, they give the house a balanced if not strictly symmetrical appearance.  

The east elevation is dominated by a one-story flat-roofed sunroom wing.  The wing is two bays wide and one bay deep, each of the bays being defined by Tuscan posts and pilasters like those used on the portico.  The wing's east elevation features two sets of double fifteen-light doors.  Both sets of doors feature ten-light sidelights.  The doors are topped with six-light transoms.  The sidelights are topped with small two-light transom.  Each of the wing's side elevations feature a single set of fifteen-light doors with transoms and sidelights.  The wing's walls are composed principally of glass, door and window sash and frames, and columns and pilasters.   The effect is virtually transparent walls.  The doors feature original screen doors that swing out.  The columns and window frames are topped with a freeze board that features moulded trim at the soffit.  A low handrail around the perimeter of the flat roof was removed during the recent renovation. Starter posts for the handrails survive and are attached to the wall. 

The east elevation features a simple brick chimney partially sheltered by the sunroom and centered on the gable.  A two-story gabled wing, flush with the east elevation, projects to the rear of the house.     To the rear of the sunroom wing the east elevation is pierced by a single six-over-one window.  Directly above this window, a second six-over-one window pierces the elevation on the second story. An eight-over-eight window pierces the second story between the chimney and the facade. The rake returns run across the elevation and terminate at the chimney, framing the pediment.  

The west elevation features a nearly full-width flat-roofed porch that shelters the fenestration of the first story of the principal section of the house.  The porch roof is supported by seven replacement Tuscan columns that closely resemble the originals.  Original pilasters remain.  The columns are grouped in threes at the corners, with a single column breaking the span in the center of the porch.  The columns rests on a brick foundation that supports a concrete  floor.  Brick steps lead to the porch from the front and the rear.  A low handrail around the perimeter of the flat roof was removed during the recent renovation. Starter posts for the handrails survive and are attached to the wall. The porch shelters a six-over-six window, the lower portion of the chimney, and an original four-panel two-light door adjacent to the rear elevation.  The west elevation is pierced on the second story by two six-over-one windows that border the chimney, which is centered on the gable.  Rake returns frame the pediment and terminate at the chimney.  Quarter-round louvered vents are located in the gable. 

The rear gabled wing and a one-story addition are set back from the west elevation. The hipped-roof rear addition is one bay wide and one bay deep.  The addition was probably added sometime after World War II, and obscures the home's original rear entrance.  The addition's windows, shutters, and hardware match those found on the original sections of the house.  The east side of the addition features a four-light panel door that opens onto a brick stoop and steps.  The west elevation features a six-over-six window. 

The two-story rear wing is one bay deep.  On the first story the wing is pierced by short, paired six-over-six double-hung windows.  On the second story the rear wing features triple-ganged six-over-six windows.  The wing is topped with a pediment featuring a half-round louvered vent.   Continuing along the rear elevation to the west, the second story features a shallow bump-out containing a single short eight-over-eight window.  The short window may have accommodated a roof that sheltered the original rear entrance.  The rear elevation of the principal section of the house adjacent to the west elevation is pierced by eight-over-eight windows on the first and second stories.  A stairwell that leads to the basement is located between the addition and the rear elevation of the principal section.

INTERIOR

Like the exterior, the interior of the Dr. Robert H. Greene House has retained a high degree of integrity, and is in good condition.  Throughout the first floor the floors are covered with thin strip oak flooring.  The front two rooms and the center hall all feature moulded crown trim and baseboards.  All these rooms feature a moulded chair rail.  In the living room and  the center hall, mitered trim has been applied between the baseboards and chair rail.  The rooms are connected at the front entrance by segmental-arched openings. 

The living room features the original glazed-tile hearth and fireplace surround. The mantle is not original, but is appropriate.  Walls and ceilings throughout the house are plaster.

The center hallway features a staircase with a curved handrail supported by delicate turned balusters. The treads are oak, and the lowest step projects to the side to support a turned newel, surrounded by turned balusters.  The hallway also features original two-panels closets door, and a fifteen-light glazed door leading to the rear of the house.  All interior doors feature original door hardware including knob and lock faceplates. Most of the door knobs are missing.

The sunroom, the one-room wing that projects to the east, has a high degree of integrity.  The room features the original oak flooring and a beaded-board ceiling.  Portions of the columns and pilasters that support the roof are visible in the interior. 

The second story features the original thin-stripped pine floor and original two-panel doors.  The stairway's handrail terminates at the top of the stairs in a relatively thin turned newel post.  A second handrail with a ninety-degree turn, connects to the newel and is supported with the same balusters found on the stairs. In the second-story hallway a doorway that lead to the original bathroom has been removed.  The second story contains three bedrooms.  Some changes have been made to the interior walls to accommodate a new bathroom between the bedrooms on the east side of the house; a wall was moved and an original closet door is now used as the bathroom door. 

The largest bedroom (west side of the house) contains two original  closets as well as a new closet carved out of the original floor space. While these changes affect each of the upstairs rooms, the second story still retains a high degree of integrity.  The historic layout of the rooms and most of the woodwork and millwork have survived.

 

The basement contains the mechanical systems for the house.  One room in the basement was used as a recreation room, and features knotty-pine paneling with sawn crown trim.  The basement room also features a stone veneered fireplace with a fan ventilation system built around the steel firebox. 

ARCHITECTURAL CONTEXT

With the loss of many houses in the Uptown area, Charlotte is left with few examples of substantial homes that represent the professional class of the African American community before World War II.  There are no surviving examples in Second Ward where there was once a good collection of such houses. 

GRACE AME ZION CHURCH

This photo shows substantial houses that once existed in Second Ward, including the home of Dr. J.T. Williams.

Located in the historically black Grier Heights neighborhood, the Arthur S. Grier House is comparable to the Dr. Greene House in terms of both associative and architectural significance.  However, the Grier House is now in poor condition. 

Arthur S. Grier House

Dr. George Davis House

In Biddleville, no comparable houses in terms of size or architectural refinement are extant.  The Dr. George Davis House dates from the 1890s and is comparable in size and may have been equally significant in terms of architecture, but is now in poor condition.

There is a small collection of substantial earl-twentieth-century two-story houses along Beatties Ford Road near the historically black West Charlotte High School (former).  These houses have not been thoroughly surveyed and are mixed with numerous post-World War II houses.  Some of the houses are in poor condition, and others have suffered some loss of integrity due to road widening.  One example that my posses enough special significance to merit historic landmark status it the house located at 1327 Beatties Ford Road.

1327 Beatties Ford Road

Regardless of the exact number and condition of the surviving early-twentieth-century African-American houses that represent the black professional class in Charlotte, it is obvious that few have survived with a high degree of integrity.