Walter Brem House
This report was written on July 12, 1983
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Walter Brem House is located at 211 East Boulevard, in Charlotte, North
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The present owner of the property is:
Mr. Henry Blume
3601 Kelway Avenue
Charlotte, N.C. 28210
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 records of the
Mecklenburg Tax Office do not contain a current deed book reference to the
property. The Tax Parcel Number of the property is: 123-0742.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains
a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr. William H.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains an architectural description of the property prepared by Lisa A.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria 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 Walter Brem House does possess special significance in terms
of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on the
following considerations: 1) the Walter Brem House, erected in 1902-03,
was designed by C. C. Hook, Charlotte's first permanent resident architect
and an architect of local and regional significance; 2) the original
owner, Walter Brem, was married to the daughter of Governor Todd Robinson
Caldwell, was an early business associate of George Stephens, develop of
Piedmont Park and
Myers Park, and was an important civic leader in Charlotte until his
death in 1925; 3) Mr. R. D. Craver, a subsequent owner, was a pioneer in
the motion picture business in the two Carolinas; 4) the Walter Brem House
is one of the earliest and grandest examples of the Colonial Revival style
in Charlotte; 5) the Walter Brem House is one of the oldest houses on East
Boulevard and occupies a strategic townscape position in
Dilworth, Charlotte's first
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling
and/or association: The Commission contends that the attached
architectural description by Miss Lisa A. Stamper demonstrates that the
Walter Brem House 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
"'historic property." The current appraised value of the .321 acres of land
is $42,000. The current appraised value of the improvements is $55,420. The
total current appraised value is $97,420. The property is zoned B1.
Date of Preparation of this Report: July 12, 1983
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
218 N. Tryon Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Dr. William H. Huffman
In July, 1902, the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company, otherwise
known as the Four C's, began building one of the early houses on Boulevard
East in the new streetcar suburb of Dilworth for Walter and Hannie Caldwell
Brem. 1 The Four C's was organized in 1890 by Edward Dilworth
Latta to develop 250 acres of rural land south of the city, the
accomplishment of which was facilitated by the opening of Charlotte's first
trolley line from the Square to Latta Park in 1891. The Brems had engaged C.
C. Hook, Charlotte's first resident architect, to design the house. 2
Charles Christian Hook (1870-1938) had settled in Charlotte in 1891 to teach
in the Charlotte Graded School at South Boulevard and E. Morehead Streets.
His arrival in the same year as the beginning of the Four C's development of
Dilworth resulted in many early commissions for dwellings in that community.
Some of the best known structures designed by Hook were the
Charlotte City Hall and the
James B. Duke mansion. 3
Sketch of the
Walter Brem house
Designs," a promotional booklet published by Hook & Sawyer Architects
Walter Brem was born in Charlotte July 31, 1849, and was one of the few
citizens of the city whose parents were also born in town. He was the son of
Col. Thomas H. Brem, commander of Brem's Battery in the Civil War, and
Martha Fox Brem, who descended from the prominent Erwin family of Burke
County. Walter Brem, in association with William H. Martin, was at one time
the owner of a hardware store at the southeast corner of Trade and Tryon
Streets, and, about 1890, went into the insurance business with George S.
Stephens, who was a college friend of his son's from Chapel Hill. In 1902,
Mr. Stephens married Sophie Myers, daughter of John Springs Myers, and
subsequently developed his father-in-law's 1200-acre farm into the Myers
Park subdivision. Mr. Brem spent the remainder of his business career as
head of Walter Brem and Sons, general agents for the Traveler's Insurance
Co. During his life he was actively involved in the Charlotte public school
system and the city YMCA. He died at the age of 76 on February 11, 1925.
Hannah Caldwell Brem, who was born in Morganton on November 4, 1851 and
died in Charlotte April 21, 1931, was the daughter of Governor Todd Robinson
Caldwell of Morganton. 5 The Brems had four children: Dr. Walter
Brem (a fraternity brother of, and semi-pro ballplayer with George S.
Stephens), who practiced medicine in Los Angeles; Todd Robin Brem, Mina Brem
(Mrs. Robert A.) Mayer, and Helen Brem (Mrs. R. R.) Beatty, all of
Charlotte. In 1903, when they moved into the fine house on Boulevard East
(for which they paid $6045.86), the latter three children were still at
home, but Mina Brem was married later that same year and no longer lived at
the residence. 6 In 1912, the Brems bought a smaller,
Queen Anne style house a block to the east of the one they had built,
which was constructed eight months after theirs. 7 Their original
house was rented briefly and stood vacant for some months before it was sold
to Regger D. Craver in 1914 for the consideration of $9000.00. 8
Mr. Craver was a pioneer in the motion picture business in the Carolinas.
At one time, he was one of the largest individual theater owners in the
South, which included movie houses in the Carolinas and Virginia. In
Charlotte, he operated the old Broadway theaters on East Trade and West
Trade Streets, and afterward operated the Broadway theater on South Tryon.
The Cravers lived on East Boulevard with their four sons, Gilda, R. D., Jr.,
William and Alton. In 1928, Mr. Craver was stricken and died after a brief
illness at the age of 50. He was survived by the children and his wife, the
former Bessie Jenkins of Gastonia. 9 Mrs. Craver continued to
live in the house after he husband's death, but apparently could not
maintain it when the Great Depression hit with full force, for in 1931, it
was sold at a foreclosure sale to the South Atlantic Investment Corp. for
Once more the house stood vacant as it changed owners among investors
twice in 1932, then went back to the ownership of the South Atlantic
Investment Corp. in 1934. 11 In the latter year, the house was
rented to Thomas K. Culp, a foreman for the Southern Power and Utility
Company, who remained until it was purchased in 1936 by Mrs. Mae King Blume.
12 Mrs. Blume, the widow of John H. Blume, converted the property
to the Colonial Apartments, a name which was maintained for many years.
13 In 1936, Mrs. Blume was the proprietor of the Piedmont Hotel, Queen
City Hotel, Frances Hotel, Windsor Hotel, Southern Hotel, the Franklin Hotel
and the manager of the New Albert Hotel. 14 Mrs. Blume moved to
211 E. Boulevard in 1939, and has lived there to this date. 15
1 Charlotte Observer, July 15, 1902, p. 6.
2 Some Designs by Hook and Sawyer, Architects,
Charlotte, N.C. (Charlotte: Queen City Printing, 1902, p. 38.
3 "Survey and Research Report on the Seaboard Air Line
Railroad Passenger Terminal," Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties
4 Charlotte Observer, Feb. 12, 1925, p. 4; Interview
with Dr. Walter Brem Mayer, 28 July 1981.
5 Certificate of Death, Book 48, p. 615; Charlotte Observer,
Feb. 12, 1925, p. 4.
6 See note 4; Deed Book 173, p. 497, 20 Feb. 1903.
7 The house was built for William G. Crutchfield, who
purchased it from the 4 C's on 13 Oct. 1903. (Deed Bk. 182, p.8) See
"Historical Sketch of the Crutchfield House," by Dr. William H. Huffman,
Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Hist. Prop Comm., August, 1981.
8 Charlotte City Directory, 1913, p. 530; 1914, p. 591; Deed
Book 327, p. 574, 7 Sept. 1914.
9 Charlotte Observer, Dec. 20, 1928, p. 6.
10 Deed Book 809, p. 487, 14 Nov. 1931.
11 Deed Book 814, p. 593, 28 April 1932; Deed Book 827, p. 49,
25 Oct. 1932; Deed Book 849, p. 266, 20 Feb. 1934.
12 Deed Book 900, p. 467, 9 May 1936.
13 Charlotte City Directory, 1937, p. 776 and subsequent
14 Ibid., 1936, p. 105.
15 Ibid., 1939, p. 747.
by Lisa Stamper
Located near the corner of East and South Boulevards, the Walter Brem
house still exhibits the grandeur of the fine Colonial Revival homes of the
turn of the century. One of Charlotte's first examples of the style, this
magnificent two-story residence was designed by C. C. Hook, a prominent
Charlotte architect. When erected in c. 1902-1903, East Boulevard was a
fashionable residential street which was the showplace of Dilworth, the
city's first streetcar suburb. The Brem House has been added to over the
years, and the original wooden clapboard siding has been covered with white
asbestos siding. However, much of its fine detailing remains intact.
Originally, the Brem House was basically a rectangular house with two
squarish, small 'pavilions' on both front corners. Between the projecting
pavilions was a large one-story balconied entry portico. It also had a
balconied one-story back porch. Over the years, numerous additions have been
made to the back of the house. Also, an addition has been made to each side
of the building.
The main portion of the house has a decorative slate tile roof, with a
low pitch. It also has two small, symmetrically placed dormers at the front.
the dormers are heavily pedimented and have diamond shaped glass panes. The
two pavilions have flat roofs with broad bracketed eaves. Originally a
wooden balustrade topped these roofs. These balustrades had heavy, paneled
The Brem House has four original brick chimneys. Two identical exterior
side chimneys bisect the sides of the pavilions. Another chimney is an
interior one which is located in the back and off to one side. It was an
interior chimney to avoid interference with the back porch design. the first
two chimneys mentioned are thin, arcaded stacks with slightly stepped
shoulders. The tops of these stacks have five courses of corbelling. These
two chimneys have been painted brick red from the ground to the eaves, but
have not been painted above the eaves. The interior chimney within the
hipped roof is thicker and more square than the side chimneys. However, the
five-course corbelled top is the same style. The back chimney is very
simple. It is just a thin, rectangular stack without embellishment. New
brick can be seen at the top of this chimney; therefore, possibly the top of
this chimney once had corbelling like the others.
The composition of the impressive front facade was symmetrical and very
well planned. Decorative corner boards on the second level of the wings
lightened the second story as well as defined it. The first level was
separated from the second level by horizontal wooden coursing. Repetition of
dormers was created by the pediment window heads of the second-level
windows of the wings. On the second level, two more single-paned,
double-hung windows were placed below the dormers. The first level of the
front facade had for single-paned windows, topped with stained glass
rectangular panels. Straight wooden window heads and frames unified the two
types of glass. One windows was located in each wing, while the other two
flanked the double door. The door was horizontally paneled with glass in its
upper portion. Wooden pilasters flanked the door.
The front portico was magnificent. Six symmetrically placed columns held
up the portico. These columns, along with the plain entablature, were of the
Tuscan Order. Large projecting brackets support the projecting cornice.
Its balustrade had six thick, paneled posts that corresponded to the columns
below. However, these posts were thinner than those on the pavilions'
balustrades. These posts were topped with urns. Steps lead from the columns
up to the porch deck, which extended from pavilion to pavilion. A railing
identical in style to the pavilions' balustrades enclosed the high porch.
Today, the corner boards are gone. One pediment window head is missing. A
door has been placed between the two second story windows in the central
section to allow access to the top of the portico. An awning covers the
doors and windows. The portico's wooden balustrade has been replaced with a
simple, cast iron one. The other balustrades are gone. A side section of one
porch was removed and a set of metal stairs was added. However, only one
bracket is missing, the rest of the railing is intact, the columns are in
excellent condition, the dormers seem unaltered, and the slate tile is still
The sides of the house were identical before the additions were made. It
is difficult to discern exactly how many windows were on each side, but it
appears to have been six, four on each wing and two on the main portion,
near the back. Both the first- and second-story windows were single-paned,
double-hung sash. Probably all the windows of the Brem House, and definitely
the ones on the sides and front, had dark, louvered shutters. None of these
shutters remain on the house today.
The back facade is covered with a hodgepodge of additions, so it is
difficult to determine what was once there. To visually balance the
asymmetrically placed back chimney, a pediment was located on the back. From
an early photograph, a corner of the back porch can be seen. The back porch
was not as impressive as the front, but it also had a balustrade complete
with urns, wide eaves, Tuscan Order columns, and a surrounding wooden rail.
The columns, railing, etc., were removed when the back porch was converted
into part of an apartment.
The additions are used as apartments, as is the original house. Some of
the additions are two-story and some are one-story. Stairs run wild on the
exterior of these additions. The additions have brick foundations, as does
the original house. For uniformity, all the brick was painted, and white
asbestos siding with wood grain texture was placed on all the additions and
the original house.
Inside the Walter Brem House, the original floor plan seems to have been
symmetrical, as befitting a Colonial revival style house. Many walls were
later added to create apartments, especially on the second level, and
original walls are often hard to identify. The first level rooms all have
high ceilings, while the second level rooms all have standard height
ceilings. All of the original flooring was probably of wood. Much of the
original wall molding is intact. The first level original rooms still have
their simple, horizontal wooden wainscoting along most of their walls.
The front entry door opens into a small foyer. Another wooden double door
with eighteen glass panes (three panes by six panes) in each side opens into
what was once the great hall and is currently used as a lobby. Except for a
small additional wall at the left back corner, the great hall is practically
unaltered. Much of the early paneled
wainscoting and wooden chair rails are still intact. A chandelier was
recently removed from the middle of the great hall.
stair begins slightly to the left of the foyer, turns to continue up the
back wall of the great hall, and turns once more to connect with the second
level. Its wooden balustrade, with thick paneled posts resembling those of
the exterior balustrades' posts, is still intact. Also, the same type of
wainscoting found on the great hall walls is found on the walls of the grand
stair. Large round pendants hang from underneath the stair posts at the
A brick mantel is located in front of the stair facing the front door,
offset slightly to the right. Brick brackets support a wide wooden shelf.
The fireplace is not currently used.
It appears that four doors lead from the sides of the great hall to the
remainder of the home. One single eighteen glass-paned door leads to each
pavilion room. The other doors lead to the back rooms of the home.
The mantle in the pavilion room to the right is very ornate. The mantle
is mainly of wood, with a brick interior and an intricately-detailed solid
metal screen. The mantel has flanking wooden stylized
Ionic columns plus large brackets supporting the shelf. Egg and dart
molding plus fine dentil molding is used freely in the design, as are
garland and festoon ornamentation. It may be assumed that the other
pavilion's mantle is also very elaborate and similar in design. Neither of
the pavilion fireplaces are currently in use.
The mantle at the back of the house is of very decorative brickwork. In
the middle of the upper portion of the mantle a diamond shaped pattern is
created with bricks. The upper portion is separated from the lower portion
by massive corbelling. Vertical corbelling is also employed as a decorative
feature. This is the only fireplace in the house still in use, according to
Mr. Trull, resident of approximately 23 years.
East Boulevard runs in front of the Brem House. A driveway runs next to
the South Boulevard side of the house and to the rear of the property. The
back of the site is used as a small parking lot for residents. The front
yard is well kept and landscaped. Boxwood foundation plantings dominate the
Although a good bit of the interior and exterior decoration is missing
from the Brem House, enough is still present to justify historic
designation. Also, with the aid of an early photograph, copies of which are
in the possession of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties
Commission, a very accurate restoration could be made.
This grand home sits on the outskirts of Dilworth, in an area which is
fighting to keep its historic character despite the insensitive commercial
construction which is replacing many of its interesting earlier buildings.
However, this area still has many of those turn of the century grand homes
which have been beautifully restored and currently house a variety of
businesses. The Brem House is currently for sale, and historic designation
could save this home from losing all of its historic significance while
encouraging buyers who would positively use the house as an asset to the