The John Baxter
This report was written on January 1, 1986
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as
the John Baxter Alexander House is located at 509 Clement Avenue, Charlotte,
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The owner is :
1533 Lilac Road
Charlotte, N.C., 28209
Daniel G. Coldfelter & Wife,
Elizabeth K. Bevan
Moore, Van Allen, Allen & Thigpen
3000 NCNB Plaza
Charlotte, NC 28280
Steven E. Blackburn
509 Clement Ave,Unit # 1
Charlotte, N.C., 28204
Thomas Garrett Ferguson
509 Clement Ave,Unit # 2
Charlotte, N.C., 28204
Jeanette H. Day
509 Clement Ave,Unit # 3
Charlotte, N.C., 28204
Lou Ann Smith
509 Clement Ave, Unit # 4
Charlotte, N.C., 28204
Francis C. Davis & Joel Scott Davis
509 Clement Ave,Unit # 5
Charlotte, N.C., 28204
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 the property.
5. Current deed book references to the property: The most recent
deed to the John B. Alexander House is listed Mecklenburg County Deed Books
|Tax Parrcel Number 127-013-22: Deed Book, 4229, Page 46.
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-23: Deed Book 4777, Page 544.
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-24: Deed Book 4909, Page 672
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-25: Deed Book 4987, Page 404.
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-26: Deed Book 4887, Page 374.
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-27: Deed Book 4947, Page 460.
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-28: Deed Book 4954, Page 863.
6. A brief historical description of the property: This report
contains a historical sketch of the property prepared by Dorothy Frye.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains an architectural description of the property prepared by Dr. Dan L.
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 history, architecture, and
cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property known as
the John Baxter Alexander House doees possess special significance in
terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgement on the
following considerations: 1) the house, erected in 1913, is among the most
imposing older homes in the Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte, North
Carolina; 2) the house is one of the finer local examples of a
Bungalow style manison; 3) the house occupies a place of great
significance in terms of the Clement Avenue streetscape; 4) the house ia
part of what was once essentially a residential compound for members of
the Alexander family; and 5) John Baxter Alexander, the original owner,
was a prominent businessman in Charlotte.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling,
and/or association: The Commission contends that they attached
architectural description by Dr. Dan L. Morrill demonstrates that the John
Baxter Alexander house and grounds meet this criterion.
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: the Commission is aware that
designation would allow the owner to apply for an automtic deferral of 50%
of the Ad Valorem taxes on all or any portion of the property which becomes
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-21:
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-22:
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-23:
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-24:
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-25:
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-26:
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-27:
|Tax Parcel Number 127-013-28:
All the land is zoned R6.
Date of Preparation of this Report: January 1, 1986
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill
Cahrlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
125 Caldwell St. Box D
Charlotte, NC 28203
by Dorothy Frye
The John Baxter Alexander House, built in 1913, represents an elaborate
variation of the bungalow style of architecture popular after the turn of
the century and seen in modified forms throughout the Elizabeth
neighborhood--Charlotte's second-oldest suburb. Situated at the corner of
Clement Avenue and East Eighth Street, it commands, from its rounded
verandah, a fine view of the wide tree-shaded intersection and the large,
comfortable homes along the avenue. Despite numerous alterations since the
1940s (when it was converted into a rooming house), the John B. Alexander
House has retained most of its basic structure. In recent years, the
interior has been restored to much of its original state while retaining its
use as a multi-unit dwelling. Purchased in January 1984 by Koch-Segal Corp.,
it has now been converted from apartments into condominiums. In September
1906, John Baxter Alexander purchased a large block 1 in the
Highland Park Development which was later to become known as Elizabeth
Heights. His brother, W. S. Alexander, already a successful banker and real
estate developer, was one of the original group to form the Highland Park
Company 2 ; in 1913, the year his house was built, John B.
Alexander was vice-president of that company as well as a salesman for his
brother's other business, Southern Real Estate Loan and Trust Company 3
The lot--bordered by Lamar Avenue, East Eighth Street, Clement Avenue,
and land belonging to Oakhurst Land Company--would become the site of three
separate homes built for members of the Alexander family. The John B.
Alexander house, completed in 1913, was followed by one next door at
523 Clement Avenue, built for his nephew, Walter L. Alexander (1915),
and by a
duplex built at the corner of Lamar Avenue and East Eighth Street for
John's sister, Jennie Alexander 4 . The Sanborn Insurance Com
pany maps for 1929 show additional buildings behind each of the three homes;
in addition to a barn and stables on the J. B. and W. L. Alexander
properties, each had a small house built as servants' quarters. Only the
servants' house behind the W. L. Alexander house is still standing; it was
built to match the design of the main house.There is a carriage house behind
the Jennie Alexander house which is currently in use as an apartment. John
Baxter Alexander was born March 27, 1867, the son of Dr. Elias Cook
Alexander and Sarah Ann Coburn Stewart of Union County, North Carolina
5 . Dr. Alexander moved his family to Charlotte in the 1860s, and
John, his brothers Walter S. and W. C., and his sister, Jennie, grew up in a
house located at the corner of West Fifth and Pine Streets 6 .
John attended Charlotte Military Academy and was a graduate of Davidson
College. Around 1895, he married Mary Virginia Mott, the daughter of Henry
Yeomans Mott and Mary Roxana Smith of Lincoln County, North Carolina. They
had two children, John Mott Alexander and Mary Stuart Alexander 7
When John B. Alexander's daughter, Mary Stuart, married Dr. Edward Jones
Wannamaker, Jr. , a physician, in 1925, they lived with her parents so Mary
could take care of her ailing mother. Dr. Wannamaker, who specialized in
internal medicine, had an office in the Medical Building at Seventh and
Tryon Streets 8 . Mrs. Alexander died in 1928 of spinal
meningitis and the Wannamakers continued to live in the home until 1938 when
John Alexander remarried, at the age of 71. His second wife, Flax LeGrand
Caldwell, who was 54 years old at the time of the marriage, was the widow of
Pearson Caldwell, who had died when their four children were quite young
After the Wannamakers moved to their own home, John and Flax Alexander
began to use part of the house for rental apartments; their first tenants
were Herbert R. Holman, a sales representative for the Machine Manufacturing
Company, and his wife, May Hicks Holman. Herbert Holman was a native of
Paragould, Arkansas, and had come to Charlotte from Atlanta in 1920. The
Holmans remained in the house until 1944 10 . In 1942, two young
nurses, Sarah Berryhill and Beulah Pruett, rented rooms in the house, and
after Beulah Pruett left, her apartment was taken by John F. Wentz, an
electrician, and his wife, Lucy M. Wentz 11 . When John B.
Alexander died intestate in 1943, the property was inherited by his widow,
Flax Alexander, and by his two children, Mary Stuart Wannamaker and James
Mott Alexander 12 .Mrs. Flax Alexander left Charlotte to live
with one of her daughters, Mrs. Morgan Gilrey, in South Carolina. She
remained there until her death around 1949 in a hospital in or near Conway,
South Carolina 13 . In 1945 the house was sold to Pearl B.
Vaughn, who operated it first as a convalescent home and then as a rooming
house until about 1972 . 14
Pearl Belle Vaughn was born in South Carolina in 1891 and apparently
never married. When she died on January 10, 1974 in a Huntersville hospital,
her only survivors were nephews Samuel Clyde Vaughn of California, and a
niece, Beverly V. Shoygert of Maryland. In 1971, she had named City National
Bank as Trustee of her estate, and stipulated in her will that half of her
estate was to go to her nephew and the other half to the United Methodist
Church in Charlotte 15 . During the residency and ownership of
Pearl Vaughn, the condition of the house deteriorated considerably as more
and more rooms were rented as furnished rooms. In 1975, Fred L. Thompson,
manager of Carolina Golf Club, purchased the house from City National Bank
16. The same year he sold the property to Lynn L. Wagner, but
continued to live there 17 . In 1976, the Charlotte City
Directory lists nine apartments in the house, but in 1978-79 there were only
two, occupied by Fred Thompson and Lynn Wagner. In 1978, Fred Thompson
re-purchased the house 18 and from that time until 1983, there
were between five and seven apartments rented 19 . During this
time, however, Fred Thompson took steps to restore much of the interior and
exterior of the house to its original state. In January 1984, Fred Thompson
sold the property to Koch-Segal Corp., which has now converted it into five
condominium units 20 .
Unit One, on the first floor, has 1,156 square feet of space and includes
a living room, solarium, bedroom, bath, two fireplaces, and a kitchen-dining
room. Unit Two, also on the first floor, consists of a living room, dining
room, kitchen, bedroom, bath, and fireplace, with a total of about 1,219
square feet. This unit also has a basement area of 494 square feet. Unit
Three, on the second floor, includes a living room, bedroom, two fireplaces,
a combination kitchen-dining room, and a bath; total living space is about
1,080 square feet. The smaller Unit Four, also on the second floor, has
about 937 square feet and contains two bedrooms, living room, kitchen-dining
room, and bath. Unit Five, covering the entire third floor of the house,
includes in 1,129 square feet of finished living space a common
living-dining-kitchen area, an alcove, bath, and several spacious closets,
plus 405 square feet of unfinished space. When Koch-Segal Corp. purchased
the house, the plan was to build an extension on each side of the building
which would also be made into condominium units. However, after efforts were
made by neighboring property owners to prevent this further development of
the land space on Clement Avenue 21 . Koch-Segal finally agreed
to sell all of the land on either side beyond six feet from the house. The
purchaser of the land on East Eighth Street agreed not to build closer to
Clement Street than the back of the J. B. Alexander house; the strip of land
on the other side was purchased by Daniel Clodfelter 22 , who has
bought the W. L. Alexander house next door. Through these efforts, the J. B.
Alexander house is assured of its prominent position as a corner property,
and its wide galleried porch will continue to command an uninhibited view of
the other three corners of the intersection.
1 Block 17 on the Highland Park Company map. See Mecklenburg
County Register of Deeds, Deed Book 190, page 188; Deed Book 216, page 16.
2 Mecklenburg County Record of Corporations, Book A, page 235
(9 June 1891).
3 Charlotte City Directory, 1913.
4 Hanchett, Thomas W., "Charlotte Neighborhood Survey: An
Architectural Inventory. The Elizabeth Neighborhood". Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Historic Properties Commission, May 1984. (This document also includes a
brief architectural description of the house.)
5 Mecklenburg County Certificates of Death, Book 63, page 121.
6 Genealogical records of John Baxter Alexander, from the
papers of Mrs. E. J. (Mary Stuart Alexander) Wannamaker, Jr., given to the
author by Mrs. Wannamaker in August 1984.
7 Ibid.; Charlotte Observer, 28 July 1943, page 12; 10
January 1928, Section 2, page 1.
8 Mrs. E. J. (Mary Stuart Alexander) Wannamaker, Jr., personal
interview by Dorothy Frye, 21 August 1984.
9 Ibid.; Charlotte Observer, 16 October 1938, Section
2, page 6.
10 Charlotte City Directory, 1939; Death Certificates (1950),
page 584; Charlotte Observer, 4 May 1950, page 17-A.
11 Charlotte City Directories, 1942-1944.
12 Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court, Records of
Administrators, Book 19, page 83 (30 July 1943).
13 Mrs. E. J. Wannamaker, Jr. (see note 8).
14 Deed Book 1148, page 406 (19 April 1945).
15 Death Certificates, 1974, page 48; Charlotte Observer,
10 January 1974; Will Book 74-E-98; Deed Book 5328, page 595 (22 November
16 Deed Book 3772, page 46 (7 July 1975); Charlotte City
17 Deed Book 3793, page 967 (2 October 1975).
18 Deed Book 4142, page 11 (13 December 1978).
19 Charlotte City Directories, 1977-1983.
20 Deed Book 4777, page 548 (17 January 1984); "Declaration,
Restrictions, and Covenants of the Alexander House Condominiums", Deed Book
4808, page 784; Amendments, Deed Book 4877, page 170.
21 Daniel C. Clodfelter, personal interview by Dorothy Frye,
21 August 1984.
22 Deed Book 4777, page 544 (18 January 1984).
Dr. Dan L. Morrill
The John Baxter Alexander House is a three bay wide by five bay deep,
gable roofed, two and one-half story structure which stands on the
northwestern quadrant of the intersection of Clement Avenue and East Eight
Street in the Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Originally part of a family complex of three main buildings -- also
including the Walter L. Alexander house and the Jennie Alexander House -- it
has experienced a gradual diminution of its once-grand setting. A barn,
stables, and a servants' house have been demolished; and much of the rear
yard has been sold and developed. Presently, the sideyards have been divided
into separate parcels (lot 22 and a portion of lot 23 depicted on the map
included in this report); and they are available for development.
The John Baxter Alexander House itself has undergone several alterations
since it was constructed in 1913, most notably in the late 1930s and in the
1940s, when it was converted into apartments and, later, into a convalescent
home, and in 1984, when it was renovated more sympathetically into
condominiums. The house now contains five residential units -- two on the
first floor, two on the second floor, and one in the attic, each with its
own bathroom and kitchen.
The John Baxter Alexander House (1913) and the adjacent Walter L.
Alexander House (1915) are similar in form, detail, materials, massing, and
setting. The brother and the son respectively of the principal developer of
the Elizabeth neighborhood, the two Alexanders selected the Bungalow style
as the dominant motif for their homes. Indeed, except for a different
placement of chimneys, a less elaborate window treatment, and a
stone-columned porch, all in the Walter L. Alexander House, the residences
were essentially identical when built; and, happily, the exteriors of the
houses are still very similar in appearance.
Exteriorly, the John Baxter Alexander House exhibits many of the
essential qualities of the Bungalow style -- irregularly punctuated
fenestration, especially the grouping of windows; shed dormers; broad eaves
with brackets; large porches; in this instance an open verandah; case
granite, in the foundation wall, in the two chimneys which penetrate the
main gable roof, and in the base supports for the columns in the wraparound
On balance, however, the John Baxter Alexander House is a mixture of
styles. The wraparound verandah is suggestive of the
Queen Anne style; the
Doric columns, incorporated in the verandah, and the front entrance,
especially the flanking sidelights and the transom, are derived from
Colonial Revivalism. The house even contains hints of Medieval motifs, with
diamond shaped upper lights in many of the
windows, decorated fascia, and a large bay on each side of the house.
The interior of the house has experienced many alterations over the
years. For example, a wall has been constructed over the right front, and
the pocket doors have been moved forward to create a separate residential
unit on the right. The original kitchen on the right rear, and many of the
original porches have been altered to accommodate additional bathrooms or
rooms for other uses. The mantels in the condominium to the left of the
front entrance are most probably not original. A doorway leading from the
hallway to the second floor and toward the front of the house and toward the
second floor platform porch, which is also bordered by a Colonial Revival
balustrade, has been removed. The upper portion of the stairway leading to
the attic has been enclosed, and the attic bears little resemblance to the
However, the interior of the John Baxter Alexander House retains its
essential integrity. The elegant mahogany beamed ceiling in the central
hallway and in a portion of the residential unit to the right of the front
entrance remain, as do the impressive mahogany
wainscoting and stairway balustrades. The former dining room, now the
center room of the condominium to the right side of the first floor,
contains an impressive built-in desk and cupboard. And, even more
fundamentally, one still experiences the over-all spaciousness of the house.
In a sense, the most compelling argument for the architectural
significance of the John Baxter Alexander House is basic not upon the design
features of the house itself but upon the importance of the house to the
overall streetscape of Clement Avenue. Thomas W. Hanchett, in the draft copy
of his manuscript on the architectural history of pre-World War II
Charlotte, writes, "The Walter L. Alexander house and its next-door neighbor
the J. B. Alexander House are the grandest residences dating from the
prestigious early years of Clement Avenue."