Survey and Research Report
Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building
1. Name and location of the property.
The property known as the Electric Supply and Equipment Company
Building is located at 421 Penman Street in Charlotte, North Carolina.
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the
present owner of the property.
The owner is:
McCoy Holdings LLC
C/o Edwin R. McCoy III
521 Clanton Road, Suite C
Charlotte, N.C. 28217-1360
Telephone Number: (704) 527-7603
3. Representative Photographs of the property.
This report contains interior and exterior photographs of the property.
4. Maps depicting the location
of the property. This report contains a map depicting the location of
5. Current deed book references to the property.
The most recent deed to the Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building
is listed in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 10032 at Page 920. The Tax
Parcel Number of the property is 073-265-04.
6. A brief historical
description of the property. This report contains a historical sketch
of the property prepared by Dr. Dan L. Morrill.
7. A brief architectural description of the property. This
report contains an architectural description of the property prepared by
Dr. Dan L. Morrill.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the
property meets criteria for designation set forth in N.C.G.S. 16OA-400.5.
a. Special significance in terms of history,
architecture, and cultural importance. The Commission judges that
the property known as the Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building
does possess special significance in terms of Charlotte and Mecklenburg
County. The Commission bases its judgment on the following considerations:
1) the Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building, designed by
Lockwood Green & Co. of Greenville, South Carolina, and erected by
Charlotte contractor Blythe & Isenhour, illustrates the essentially
conservative values which underlay Charlotte’s industrial and commercial
architecture in the 1920’s; 2) the Electric Supply and Equipment Company
Building was an important component of the industrial and commercial
infrastructure which allowed Charlotte to become a major industrial
warehouse and distribution center of the two Carolinas in the early
twentieth century; and 3) the Electric Supply and Equipment Company
Building is an important remnant of an industrial district which arose in
the early 1900’s between the Wilmore streetcar line and the tracks of
the Southern, now Norfolk Southern Railroad.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship,
materials, feeling, and association. The Commission contends that
the architectural description by Dr. Dan L. Morrill demonstrates that the
Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building meets this criterion.
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal. The
current Ad Valorem tax appraisal for the improvements is $657,930. The
current Ad Vorem tax appraisal for the 0.388 acres of land is $50,700. The
total Ad Valorem tax appraisal for the parcel is $708,630. The property is
Date of Preparation of this Report.
March 12, 2001
Dr. Dan L. Morrill
Charlotte – Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
2100 Randolph Road
Charlotte, N.C. 28207
Section 6 – Historical Description
Statement of Historical Significance Of The
The Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building
421 Penman Street
The Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building,
erected in 1925-26, is a structure that possesses local historic
importance because it housed enterprises that made significant
contributions to Charlotte's emergence as a major industrial warehouse and
distribution center in the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. The Electric Supply and Equipment Company sold and distributed
electrical supplies and components essential to the operations of
industrial plants, especially textile mills, in the piedmont sections of
the two Carolinas. The Charlotte Manufacturing Company, which occupied the
building in 1957, also participated in Charlotte's development as a
textile center. It produced and shipped card clothing and loom reeds,
which were indispensable supplies for the textile industry. Without the
support of firms like the Electric Supply and Equipment Company and the
Charlotte Manufacturing Company, cotton mills could not have proliferated
in the piedmont sections of the two Carolinas in the early twentieth
Front in 1998
East Facade in 1998
Brief History Of The Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building.
The location of the Electric Supply and Equipment
Company Building is intimately bound up with the laying of an electric
streetcar track along South Mint Street to connect the Wilmore
neighborhood. with Charlotte’s central business district. The rapid
increase of Charlotte's population in the early 1900’s heightened the
demand for housing. "With the booming economic growth came tremendous
physical expansion," says Thomas W. Hanchett.1 In 1914, real estate
developer F. C. Abbott responded to the vigorous local housing market by
laying out lots in a new streetcar suburb named Wilmore, and the trolley
line was built down Mint Street from uptown Charlotte to serve the
neighborhood. The Wilmore streetcar line paralleled and was only about a
block and a half east of the Southern Railroad tracks that connected
Charlotte and Gastonia.2
It was virtually inevitable that the area between Mint
St. and the railroad would become a major industrial district. With
excellent railroad and improving highway connections to communities in the
piedmont sections of the two Carolinas, Charlotte became the logical place
in the early 1900’s from which to ship supplies to the ever increasing
number of textile mills and other industrial plants in the region.
"Many new demands have come upon Charlotte Realtors during the past
year for locations for building of warehouses, because Charlotte has come
to be known in the sales organizations of national manufacturers
throughout America as the best point in the Southeast for the distribution
of products and for the location of branch plants," proclaimed the Charlotte
Observer. "Some realtors here have become specialists in finding
such locations to suit varying requirements, and almost every available
foot of railroad frontage has been analyzed and compared in price."
The newspaper noted that "proximity to street cars, freight stations,
express offices and retail districts commands the higher prices."3
Western Facade in 1998
Rear in 1998
Originally located at 220 West First Street in center
city Charlotte, the Electric Supply and Equipment Company had its own
building erected on Penman Street in 1925-26.4 Designed by the South Carolina architectural and
engineering firm Lockwood, Green & Company and erected by Charlotte
contractor Blythe and Isenhour, the building is situated just south of the
center city and just north and west of Charlotte's Wilmore neighborhood.5
With W. Harbert Martin as president, Rogers W. Davis as secretary, and
Thomas G. Lane as treasurer, the Electric Supply and Equipment Company
received electrical supplies and components by rail and distributed these
items primarily by truck to industrial customers throughout the piedmont
sections of the two Carolinas.6 The Charlotte City Directory of 1928
described the company as "jobbers, electrical supplies and
apparatus."7 A 1935 advertisement stated that the Electric Supply and
Equipment Company sold "motors, transformers, fans, lamps, meters,
wiring devices, copper wire, pole and line material."8 "Among all
of North Carolina's cities, Charlotte enjoyed the most sustained growth
and by 1910 had surpassed Wilmington as the largest in the state,"
writes historian Brent D. Glass. "The significance of Charlotte's
development," says Glass, "lay not only in the thirteen textile
mills built between 1889 and 1908 but also in the creation of a true urban
infrastructure that included engineering firms, financial institutions,
and department stores."9
By 1937, the General Electric Supply Company had moved
into the building and continued in the same line of business as its
predecessor.10 Tommy Bigham, who worked in the Textile Mill Supply Company
Building next door, remembers that only three people worked in the
building, including a man in the basement who handled shipping.11
In 1957, the Charlotte Manufacturing Company, makers of
card clothing and loom reeds, moved into the Electric Supply and Equipment
Company Building and continued its operations there into the 1970s.12
its recent renovation into offices, the building served as a warehouse for
a the Charlotte Hotel Supply Company.
Section 7 – Architectural Description.
Statement of Architectural Significance Of The
The Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building
421 Penman Street
The Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building,
designed by Lockwood Green & Company, possesses local historic
importance because it is a representative example of a type of commercial
and industrial structure constructed in Charlotte in the 1920's. Like the
Charlotte Supply Company Building and the Textile Mill Supply Company
Building (1922), both fashioned by Lockwood Green & Company, the
Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building (1925-26) is essentially
revivalistic. Such elements as the regularly punctuated fenestration, the
stepped-parapet roofline with metal coping, corbeled lintels and
at the windows, and the symmetrical massing of the building's front
façade, hearken back, however obliquely, to Classical concepts of beauty.
These revivalistic structures are reflective of the conservative
philosophy that characterized the political, social and economic thinking
of Charlotte’s business elite in the 1920’s.
A Brief Architectural Description of the Electric
Supply and Equipment Company Building.
Lockwood, Green & Company, headquartered in
Greenville, S. C., was one of the principal contractors that specialized
in the construction of textile mills and other industrial type buildings
in the Charlotte area in the first half of the twentieth century,
including the Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building.13 Among the
Charlotte structures the firm designed was the Charlotte Supply Company
Building (1923) at 500 South Mint Street (torn down in the early 1990’s
to make way for Ericsson Stadium), and the Textile Mill Supply Company
(1922), which is located at 1300 South Mint Street or less than one block
east of the Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building.14
Architecturally, the Electric Supply and Equipment
Company Building, like the Charlotte Supply Company Building and the
Textile Mill Supply Company Building, is essentially revivalistic. Such
elements as the regularly punctuated fenestration, the stepped-parapet
roofline with metal coping, concrete lintels and corbeled sills at the windows,
and the symmetrical massing of the building's front façade, hearken back,
however obliquely, to Classical concepts of beauty. These revivalistic
structures are reflective of the conservative philosophy that
characterized the political, social and economic thinking of Charlotte’s
business elite in the 1920’s. During this decade of unprecedented
growth, when Charlotte's population increased by 78 percent to 82,675,
there was little interest in experimentation or boldness. This hesitancy
to be daring stood in sharp contrast to the attitudes of Charlotte's
business community in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
"The generation of New South leaders, including D. A. Tompkins,
Edward Dilworth Latta, and George Stephens, who had taken enormous risks
to turn the Piedmont into a major industrial region, were passing their
power to a new generation," explains Hanchett. "The new
leaders," Hanchett continues, "seemed much less adventuresome,
willing to follow in the directions set by their predecessors. Their homes
and offices reflected this increased interest in tradition over
innovation, in social correctness than risk-taking."15
The Electric Supply and Equipment Company
Building is a two story, three bay wide by ten bay deep (the two rear
bays were added at some date after the initial construction),
red brick structure with a full basement. Corbeled pilasters separate
the bays. The building is
situated on a sloping, rectangular lot on the southeastern quadrant of the
intersection of South Graham and Penman Streets, just
south of center city Charlotte and just north and west of the Wilmore
neighborhood. The Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building borders the
sidewalk on the northern edge of the property and faces Penman Street.
An abandoned railroad spur parallels the property on the south.
The western façade contains an original painted sign which reads: “POSITIVELY NO ADMITTANCE.
APPLY AT OFFICE.”
expected in a building designed by Lockwood, Green & Company, the Electric
Supply and Equipment Company Building exhibits characteristics typical of
early twentieth century "mill construction."
It has a slightly sloping, essentially flat roof of tar and gravel,
red, rough-textured brick exterior walls laid in Common Bond; large
rectangular windows (mostly original on the western façade of the building)
with metal muntins, hopper inserts, and concrete sills; post-and-beam framing
(both steel and wooden) throughout the interior; and wooden floors (original
wooden floors have been replaced), except for a cement floor in the full
basement. A splatter wall is at
the base of the building, and the stepped parapet walls have metal coping.
Significant changes were made to the
Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building during its recent conversion to
office use. The replacement front
entrance was eliminated, and the entrance to the building was placed on the
eastern façade. Original metal fixtures flank the original front entrance,
which is suggested by the design of the window at that location, as well as by
a slight indentation of the splatter wall and the retention of the granite
doorway sill. Brick in-fill was
removed from the front windows flanking the original entrance. The front
facade does contain original connections for fire hoses.
The rear or southern façade of the building has new windows and a
replacement door. The façade
does contain a small door to a coal chute that served a heating plant that no
longer exists. None of the other
doors in the building is original.
The most significant change to the
Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building resulted from the construction
of a new entrance lobby with steps, a brick colonnade, and vaulted ceiling
on the eastern façade. A portion of the original exterior wall was
removed to allow the entrance lobby to penetrate the building.
The entrance lobby contains a new
stairway, new bathrooms, and an elevator.
The post-and-beam construction of the
interior of the Electric Supply and Equipment Company Building is largely
intact. Round metal posts support
trusses that allow the interior spaces to be mostly open.
The duct work is suspended from the original wooden ceilings, and the
partition walls do not extend to the ceiling.
Part of the original concrete floor in the basement is exposed.
Thomas W. Hanchett, "The Growth Of Charlotte:
A History." (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission,
1985), p. 27.
For a map of Charlotte’s streetcar system, see Ibid.
Charlotte Observer (June 29, 1925), p. 2.
City Directory (1923-24), p. 299.
Charlotte City Directory (1925), p. 445.
Charlotte City Directory (1926), p. 1039.
Charlotte Building Permit No. 6204 (issued on June 30, 1925). Lockwood,
Green & Company was extremely active in the Charlotte building industry in
the 1920's and had a local office.
Charlotte projects included the Charlotte Central High School and the
Charlotte City Directory (1926), p. 284.
Charlotte City Directory (1928), p. 305.
Charlotte City Directory (1935), p. 477.
Brent D. Glass, The Textile Industry In
North Carolina. A History (Division of Archives and History, North
Carolina Department Of Cultural Resources, 1992), p. 44.
Charlotte City Directory (1937), p. 244.
Interview of Thomas Schroder Bigham by Dr. Dan L. Morrill (December 14, 1997).
Charlotte City Directory (1957), p. 118. Charlotte City Directory
(1976), p. 191.
Catherine W. Bisher, Charlotte V. Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury, Ernest H. Wood
III, Architects and Builders in North Carolina: A History of the Practice
of Building (The University of North Carolina Press, 1990), p. 267.
Charlotte Building Permit No. 6204.
Dan L. Morrill, “Survey and Research Report On The Charlotte Supply Company
Building”. Dan L. Morrill,
“Survey and Research Report On The Textile Mill Supply Company Building.”
Thomas W. Hanchett, "Charlotte Architecture.
Design Through Time." (Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Historic Properties Commission, 1985), p.