The Thad A. Adams House
This report was written on July 6, 1987.
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as
the Thad A. Adams House is located at 604 Clement Avenue in Charlotte,
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The owner of the property is:
Mr. John W. Hazel & Wife, Elizabeth P. Hazel
604 Clement Ave.
Charlotte, N.C., 28204
3. Representative photographs of the property: This report
contains representative photographs of the property.
4. A map depicting the location of the property: This report
contains a map which depicts the location of the property.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most
recent reference to this property is recorded in Mecklenburg Deed Book
4327, Page 17. The Tax Parcel Number of the property is 127-015-01.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report
contains a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr.
William H. Huffman, Ph.D.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This
report contains a brief architectural description of the property
prepared by Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Ph.D.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria for designation set forth-in N.C.G.S. 160A-399.4.:
a. Special significance in terms of its history, architecture,
and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the
property known as the Thad A. Adams House does possess special
significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases
its judgment on the following considerations: 1) the Thad A. Adams
House, erected in 1908, was the home of Thaddeus Awasaw Adams
(1877-1958), a prominent lawyer in Charlotte for nearly fifty years
and a president of the Mecklenburg Bar Association; 2) the Thad A.
Adams House is one the oldest surviving "period houses" in the Clement
Avenue section of the
Elizabeth neighborhood, one of Charlotte's earliest and most
streetcar suburbs; and 3) the Thad A. Adams House is situated at
an especially strategic location in terms of the Clement Avenue
streetscape, which is the most intact historic streetscapes in this
section of the Elizabeth neighborhood (the house is on a corner lot
with huge oak trees).
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials,
feeling, and/or association: The Commission contends that the
architectural description by Dr. Dan L. Morrill which is included in
this report demonstrates that the Thad A. Adams House meets this
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 "historic property." The current appraised value of the
improvement is $58,990. The current appraised value of the 111 by 205
foot lot is $11,000. The total appraised value of the property is
$69,990. The property is zoned R6.
Date of Preparation of this Report: July 6, 1987
Dr. Dan L. Morrill
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
2100 Randolph Road
Charlotte, N.C., 28207
A Historical Sketch of the Thad
A. Adams House
by Dr. William H. Huffman
The Thad A. Adams house was built in 1908 in the Elizabeth
neighborhood, one of the first
streetcar suburbs to the east of central Charlotte. Elizabeth is
actually an amalgam of several development projects which began with the
blocks around Elizabeth Avenue in 1897, and ended with Rosemont in the
1920's. 604 Clement was part of a seven-acre tract bought by prominent
Charlotte attorney and North Carolina Supreme Court justice Heriot
Clarkson, who built his own house at what is now Eighth Street and
Clement Avenue. Clarkson's property was purchased in 1903 from the
Oakhurst Land Co. (organized by financier and textile magnate B. D.
Heath in 1900), which flanked him on the north, and from the Highland
Park Company's Elizabeth Heights on the south (a 1904 development by the
Highland Park Company, headed by Peter Marshall Brown).2 The
development of this suburban area was made possible by two things -- a
fast-growing Charlotte economy and the advent of the electric streetcar.
Because of its location as a central distribution point for New South
industrialization which boomed from the l880's to the 1920s in the
Piedmont Carolinas, Charlotte experienced explosive growth during that
period. The first electric streetcar or trolley line was installed by
Edward Dilworth Latta in 1891 for his
subdivision, the city's first, and was subsequently
expanded in all directions from the center of the city.3
Clarkson, whose property included parts of what is now Clement, Bay,
Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Streets, began to subdivide his holdings, and
a number of his lots were sold to other Charlotte attorneys. One of the
first lots sold was to Thaddeus Awasaw Adams (1877-1958), who was a
member of the bar, in 1908.4 A native of Nash County, N.C.,
Adams received his undergraduate degree from the University of North
Carolina in 1902, and his law degree from the same institution in 1903.
After he graduated, he traveled for the Presbyterian Standard,
during which time he chose Charlotte as a place to live. His first job
here was teaching in the Mecklenburg schools, and in 1906, he began a
nearly fifty -year career in the practice of law in the city. A one-time
president of the Mecklenburg Bar Association, for a time Adams also held
law classes in his home at night.5 In July, 1908, Thad Adams
bought what is now the northeastern corner of Clement and Ninth Street
for a house lot, and in November of that same year he was wed to Emma
Dawson Ford ( 1 876- 1963), a native of Charlotte County, Virginia.6
She had received her higher education at the Southern Female Institute
in Petersburg, Virginia, and taught school in Virginia and eastern North
Carolina for several years before her marriage to Thad Adams.7
Although there is no direct documentary evidence, it seems likely that
the newlyweds moved into their new house shortly after their marriage.
Over the next five and a half decades, the Adamses lived, worked,
played and raised their three children in the suburban house. Although
it was relatively close to the center of town, in the early days the
house was still out in the country. Attorney Adams went to work in the
mornings by catching the trolley that ran down Seventh Street. During
the 1920's, the Adamses kept a cow, chickens and pigs, and Mrs. Adams,
who was "quite a gardener," maintained a large grape arbor, fruit trees
and other plantings in the back of the house. Thad Adams, Jr. recalls
that he had to take the cow to a field at the very end of Seventh Street
every day to graze. He also fondly remembers the sound of the rain
failing on the tin roof over the sleeping rooms in the back of the
house.8 Over the years, the neighborhood filled in around the
Adams residence with many individually-designed and distinctive houses
built by Charlotte's business and professional leaders. Although the
architect of the Adams house is not known, it remains, one the earliest
and best houses in that part of the Elizabeth neighborhood.
1 Information compiled by Thomas Hanchett, Charlotte
Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission.
2 Deed Book 179, p 62, 7 May 1903; Ibid., p. 104, 7 May
3 "Dilworth," brochure, Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic
4 Deed Book 236, P. 464, 14 July, 1906; Ibid., p. 498.
5 Charlotte Observer, April 16, 1958, p. 16B.
6 Ibid. see note 4.
7 Charlotte Observer, February 7, 1963, p. 6A.
8 Interview with Thad A. Adams, Jr., Charlotte, N.C., 28
Architectural Description Of The
Thad A. Adams House 604 Clement Avenue Charlotte, North Carolina
Dr. Dan L. Morrill
Professor of History
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
July 6, 1987
The Thad A. Adams House, a one and one-half story, German or
drop-sided, frame dwelling with brick foundation, erected in 1908 for
Thaddeus Awasaw Adams (1877-1958), a prominent lawyer, and for his wife,
Emma Dawson Ford Adams (1876-1963), belongs to a broad and diverse
category of so-called "period houses" which were erected in the affluent
suburbs of early twentieth-century North Carolina.1 Situated
on a corner parcel at Clement Avenue and East Ninth Street in a grid
section of the Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte, the house, which
sprawls across the width of its tree-shaded lot, is inspired in part by
the decorative vocabulary of Colonial Revivalism, although less
slavishly so than in the Colonial Revival style edifices built later in
this century.2 Colonial Revivalism, which emphasizes
classical ornamentation, geometric massing and, at least in North
Carolina, simplicity of detail in comparison with the more adventuresome
specimens of this motif found in the major cities of the North and
Midwest, was probably the most popular example of historic eclecticism
which emerged in the late 1800's and early 1900's in the United States,
including the South. This widespread acclaim was in no small part due to
the fact that Colonial Revivalism provided compelling images which
enabled wealthy suburbanites to satisfy their "search for order" and
their desire to live in an "idyllic escape from the overcrowding, crime,
and ethnic strife identified with the city."3
The most striking architectural detail of the exterior of the Thad A.
Adams House, and the element which draws its primary inspiration from
Colonial Revivalism, is a large central dormer, which surmounts the
gambrel roof -- a feature which gestures toward the Dutch Colonial
style. Located at the front of the upstairs hallway, the dormer has
returns and a handsome, elongated Palladian window, with
fanlight and a wooden
keystone at the apex of the arch. Small, flanking triangular dormers
with fanlights serve to reinforce the essential symmetry of the front
facade, as do the central entranceway with sidelights of diamond shaped
leaded glass, the central pedimented projection of the shed roof atop
the wraparound front porch (the right or south side of which has been
enclosed), and the cement sidewalk and replacement cement steps which
lead up to the front porch.4 The predominant window type is
1/1 sash; but two quarter circle windows, a design element reminiscent
of the Victorian era, adorn each gambrel end of the house.
In keeping with the conservative tastes of North Carolina
suburbanites of the early 1900's, the Thad A. Adams House is not ornate
or lavish. Indeed, its ornamentation is quite restrained. The porch
columns, which were initially connected by a balustrade, belong to the
Doric Order; and the window frames, cornerboards, frieze, fascia,
and soffit are all very plain.5 One encounters similar
decorative restraint upon entering the house. Except for a mantel with
egg and dart moulding in the front right room, window seats in the front
right room and in the original downstairs bedroom, a staircase with a
modest but pleasant Colonial Revival balustrade, rising in a single run
of nineteen steps, an arched passageway into the downstairs center hall,
and, especially, the dining room, which contains
wainscoting with a plate slot, the remnants of a china closet, and
an exquisite mantel with overmantel, mirror, and a hearth composed of
glazed green tile, the Thad A. Adams House has interior features, such
as crown mouldings and baseboards, which are generally quite meager.
The dirt partial basement has a coal storage area which is no longer
used (the outside coal chute door is on the right gambrel end of the
house); a pit for the original furnace; a water closet, no doubt
intended for servants; and a series of trenches filled with sand. The
current owner surmises that these trenches were once used as components
of a root cellar. No original outbuildings survive. A building which is
used for raising birds was constructed in the back yard in 1980 by the
current owner.6 Substantial ground disturbance has occurred
on the site over the years, thereby virtually eliminating the potential
archeological significance of the property.
The Thad A. Adams House has experienced substantial alterations over
the years. A one-story projection extends from the rear of the left
gambrel end; the wraparound portion of the front porch has been
enclosed; the front porch balustrade and the original steps leading to
the front porch no longer exist; a center metal balustrade has been
added to the front steps; and major changes have occurred at the rear of
the house, when apartments were added, most probably in the 1930's.
Specifically, the rear porch was enclosed, and the rear portion of the
roof was raised to permit the addition of several rooms. On balance,
however, the Thad A. Adams House retains its essential integrity and
makes an important contribution to the historic ambiance of the Clement
1 For a detailed analysis of the architecture of North
Carolina early twentieth century suburbs, see Catherine W. Bishir and
Lawrence S. Early, Early Twentieth-Century Suburbs in North Carolina:
Essays on History, Architecture and Planning (Raleigh: Archeology
and Historic Preservation Section, Division of Archives and History,
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1985), hereinafter
cited as Suburbs. For an explanation of the term "period house", see
John Poppeliers, S. Allen Chambers, and Nancy B. Schwartz, "What Style
Is It? Part Four." Historic Preservation (January-March, 1977),
pp. 14-23. Thaddeus Awasaw Adams was known locally as "Thad A. Adams",
hence the name which this report assigns to the house. All directions in
this manuscript, such as "right side" or "left side", take as their
reference point the front of the house as one faces it from the front
2 The Colonial Revival style arose in the 1880's and is
attributed to the architectural firm McKim, Mead and White (Charles
Follen McKim, W. R. Mead, Stanford White). For additional information,
see Marcus Whiffen, American Architecture Since 1780: A Guide to the
Styles (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1969), pp.159-165. In Charlotte,
the Colonial Revival style, called initially the "true classical style",
was introduced in 1894, by Charles Christian Hook (1869-1938), the first
architect who resided in Charlotte throughout his career. Charlotte
Observer, September 19, 1894. This writer believes that C. C. Hook
might well have been the architect for the Thad A. Adams House, but no
direct evidence has been found to prove this belief. The
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission has substantial
information on the architecture and history of the Elizabeth
neighborhood. They include: Thomas W. Hanchett, "Charlotte And Its
Neighborhoods. The Growth of a New South City, 1850-1930" (An
unpublished manuscript in the files of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Historic Properties Commission), Chapter 6. Thomas W. Hanchett,
"Charlotte And Its Neighborhoods. The Growth of a New South City" (A
draft copy of an unpublished manuscript in the files of the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission), Chapter 6.
"Elizabeth. The New South Neighborhoods" (Charlotte:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, 1985). "Historic
Walking Tour Elizabeth" (Charlotte: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic
Properties Commission and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, 1986).
3 Bishir, "Introduction", Suburbs. David R. Goldfield,
"North Carolina's Early Twentieth-Century Suburbs and the Urbanizing
South", Suburbs, p. 9. Margaret Supplee Smith, "The American Idyll in
North Carolina's First Suburbs: Landscape and Architecture", Suburbs, p.
4 Interview of John W. Hazel by Dr. Dan L. Morrill (July
2, 1987), hereinafter cited as Interview.
7 The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
has recently secured the designation of two houses as "historic
property" which are across Clement Avenue from the Thad A. Adams House.
They are the
Walter L. Alexander House and the
John Baxter Alexander House. For detailed histories of these houses,
see the appropriate Survey and Research Reports which the Commission has
deposited in the Carolinas Room of the Main Branch of the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library.