DR. WALTER PHARR CRAVEN HOUSE
This report was written on 18 December 1990
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Dr. Walter Pharr Craven House is located at 7648 Mt. Holly-Huntersville
Road, Charlotte, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property. The owners of the property are:
Bobby Don and Margie Davis Lawing
7648 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road
Charlotte, North Carolina 23208
Telephone- (704) 399-3058
Tax Parcel Numbers: 033-141-02 and 033-141-03
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 maps which depict the location of the property.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most recent
deed to Tax Parcel Number 033-141-02 is listed in Mecklenburg County Deed
Book 5789 at page 834. The most recent deed to Tax Parcel Number 033-141-03
is listed in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 3007 at page 333.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains
a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr. William Huffman.
7 . A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains a brief architectural description of the property prepared by
Richard L. Mattson, Ph.D.
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 its history, architecture,
and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property
known as the Dr. Walter Pharr Craven House does possess special
significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its
judgment on the following consideration:
1) the ca. 1888 Dr. Walter Pharr Craven House is one of the most intact
dwellings of the post-Civil War period;
2) the Dr. Walter Pharr Craven House is architecturally significant for
exemplifying the vernacular Victorian, T-shaped, two-story farmhouse of
3) the array of intact farm outbuildings represent traditional forms and a
variety of construction techniques including a log outbuilding;
4) the farm setting is enhanced by the preservation of pastoral vistas;
5) the Dr. Walter Pharr Craven House and its associated outbuildings
provide valuable insight to rural life in Mecklenburg County.
b. Integrity of design, settings, workmanship, materials, feeling,
and/or association: The Commission contends that the architectural
description by Richard L. Mattson, Ph.D., included in this report
demonstrates that the Dr. Walter Pharr Craven 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
a designated "historic landmark." The current appraised value of the
improvements is $130,170. The current appraised value of the 10.45 acres is
$39,600. The total appraised value of the property is $169,770. The property
is zoned R-15.
Date of Preparation of this Report: 18 December 1990
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill
in conjunction with
Ms. Nora M. Black
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
1225 South Caldwell Street, Box D
Charlotte, North Carolina 28203
Note: The following architectural and
historical reports, combined on the form entitled "National Register of
Historic Places Registration Form," were prepared under the auspices of the
North Carolina Division of Archives and History. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Historic Landmarks Commission is not responsible for errors.
National Register of Historic Places
Section number 7
Shaded by mature oak and magnolia trees in a rural setting northwest
of Charlotte, the ca. 1888 Dr. Walter Pharr Craven House is among rural
Mecklenburg County's most intact dwellings of the post-Civil War period. Its
T-shaped two-story form and vernacular Victorian decoration exemplify a
popular local expression of farmhouse architecture that appeared between the
late 1870s and the turn of the century. Associated with the Craven House is
an assortment of farm outbuildings dating from the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. The tract, which is approximately five acres, includes a small
fenced pasture where horses now graze.
frame Craven House represents a divergence from the I-house tradition
that dominated middle and upperclass rural domestic architecture during the
19th century. Facing north, the main three-bay facade includes a one-story,
hip-roofed porch that spans the front. Slightly altered by latticework
and a wooden frieze composed of a series of
arches that were added in the 1960s, the porch retains its original
configuration as well as original chamfered posts. Although the majority of
the facade is covered by original lapped weatherboards, a portion of the
facade around the main entry features original German siding. The entrance
is framed by
transom as well as a cossetted surround.
Windows around the main body of the house and rear ell are primarily
sash windows, although the main facade in the gable-end wing has paired
windows with four panes in each sash. The window surrounds are simply
moulded. A two-room, one-story dining room/kitchen wing extends to the rear
of the house's east side. Additions to the original house include a rear
shed-roofed, one-story room (den) west of the kitcen ell, and an
enclosed porch on the east side of the ell which serves as a reading area
and place for storage. These exterior modifications, as well as an open
wooden deck attached to the rear of the present den, were added by the
current owners in about 1968.
The basically intact interior reflects the methods of construction, the
craftsmanship, and the standards of design of middle-class farmhouses of
this era in the county. Although the kitchen has been modernized, the
remainder of the original rooms retain original woodwork and hardware. All
of the original rooms, with the exception of the kitchen, have intact
board-and-batten ceilings; and the majority of rooms retain original
flush-board walls. Dr. Craven's former office, located behind the parlor in
the gabled front section, has plaster walls. The rooms and hallway, which
separates the two main sections of the house, have simply finished
baseboards and four-panel doors with simple, moulded surrounds. Box locks
and porcelain door knobs survive throughout the interior. In all of the
rooms except the kitchen, mantels are intact. Composed of a basic
post-and-lintel shape, each is a slightly different and inventive variation
of a common vernacular Greek Revival mantel type in North Carolina. For
example, the mantel in the north upstairs bedroom features pilasters with
unusual v-shaped applied moulding. The mantels in the principal first-floor
rooms have curvilinear lintels with carpenter-built scalloped decoration.
Outbuildings (keyed to map) C-contributing; NC-noncontributing
|B - Well Canopy
||Hip-roofed, frame well canopy with concrete floor and latticework
posts. Date inscribed on concrete floor.
|C - Chapel
||Utilitarian, gable-front, frame, one-story building erected as a
family Catholic chapel. Present owners call it the "chapel," and use it
as an informal playhouse and storage building.
|D - Barn
||Gable-front, frame four-unit barn with central passage. Still in use
as horse barn, and all four pens are used for stables.
|E - Corncrib
||Side-gable, log corncrib with half-dovetail notching and frame shed
|F - Tool shed
||Frame, one-story tool shed with shed room
|G - Auto Garage
||Frame, one-story gable-front auto garage with storage area; door
located on the side- gable (north) facade as well as on the gable-front
|H - Carport
||Gable-roofed, metal carport, measuring about 18 feet on a side;
located behind house on southeast side.
The remainder of the five-acre tract is composed of pasture used by the
current owners to graze horses. Surrounded by new post and board fences,
this area represents an adaptation of a traditional rural land use.
National Register of Historic Places
Section number 8
The Dr. Walter Pharr Craven House is architecturally significant under
National Register Criterion C for exemplifying the vernacular Victorian,
T-shaped, two-story farmhouses that appeared in Mecklenburg County during
the post-Civil War period. (see Associated Property Type 1--Houses--Postbellum
Farmhouses) The relatively intact exterior and interior display first-rate
craftsmanship representing a variety of carpenter-built Victorian elements.
In its decorative and apparently locally crafted mantels, chamfered porch
posts, crossetted entrance surround with sidelights and transom, and German
siding focused around the main entry, the ca. 1888 Craven House includes
essentially the full spectrum of post-Civil War Victorian architecture as
applied to farmhouses in Mecklenburg County. The board-and-batten ceilings
and board walls bear witness to the construction and restrained interior
finish of even the more stylish middle-class farm dwellings of this period
in the county. The array of intact farm outbuildings represent traditional
forms and construction techniques, including side-gable corncrib and cental-passage
barn, and both log and frame building techniques. (see Associated Property
The Craven House and surrounding buildings afford us a glimpse into the
life of a country doctor and farmer. In addition to providing medical care
to the Hopewell community, Dr. Craven also farmed, although not on as large
a scale as most of his neighbors. A corncrib, barn, toolshed and well canopy
occupy the site, as well as a small chapel that was built as a place of
worship for the Catholic wife of one of Dr. Craven's sons.
The house, located at 7648 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road, was built by Dr.
Walter Pharr Craven (1845-1929) probably shortly after his purchase of the
property in 1888 1. That year, Dr. Craven bought 18 acres from
Robert Blair McGee and his wife Mary W. McGee 2. Dr. Craven
appears in the 1880 Agricultural Schedules of the Census as a renter of 18
acres of land, which is likely the same land he bought from the McGees.
According to the current owner, Marge Lawing, Dr. Craven practiced medicine
from one of the rear rooms on the west side, which was complete with special
cabinets for stored medicine 3.
Dr. Craven was born in Randolph County and was raised in Iredell County.
At the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the Confederate Army. His service in
the field ended when he was captured at the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia,
eight days before the war's end, and spent several months as a prisoner at
Staten Island, New York 4. After the war, Dr. Craven returned to
North Carolina and studied at Davidson College in northern Mecklenburg
County and at Trinity College (now Duke University). After completion of his
undergraduate studies, he spent two years in Texas where he taught school
and farmed. In 1872, he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons in
Baltimore to study medicine. When his training was complete (about 1876), he
returned to North Carolina, and established his practice in the Hopewell
community of Mecklenburg County. In that year, he also married Martha Addie
May Gluyas (1859-1903), daughter of Captain and Mrs. Thomas Gluyas of
Hopewell, with whom he had eleven children who survived to adulthood. In
1907, Dr. Craven married Ossie Lawing of Spurrier who died after a few
years, and he was subsequently married for the third time to Mary Andrews of
Charlotte in 1917 5.
Considering that Dr. Craven had a large family and a country doctor's
practice was not highly lucrative, it was not unusual that he also ran a
small farm on his 18 acres. The census records show that he hired black farm
laborers for thirty-two weeks in 1879 for a total expenditure of $100.00,
which was proportionally consistent with the hiring practices of the other
farmers in his communtiy. Apparently, he did not keep much livestock: the
1880 records show that he had one milk cow, some swine, and poultry (fifteen
hens produced seventy-five eggs in 1879). He also raised corn (10 acres
yeilding 100 bushels), wheat (4 acres yeilding 45 bushels) and cotton, (4
acres yeilding 3 bales). 6
Dr. Craven was a highly visible member of the Hopewell community; he
served the Hopewell Presbyterian Church as a ruling elder for several years,
and his professional services were a valuable asset to the local population.
The other doctor in the area, Dr. Sam Abernathy, was considered by many to
have been Dr. Craven's competitor. They were nicknamed by the locals "Dr. PW
and Dr. Powder," but it is not clear who was who. Two of Dr. Craven's sons,
William and Thomas, became doctors. 7 Dr. Thomas Craven (d. 1952)
is reported to have lived and practiced medicine in the house for a time
after Dr. Walter Craven's death, but later he moved to Huntersville where he
lived and maintained his practice. After Dr. Thomas left the house, another
son, Harry Craven (d. 1957), lived in the house for an indeterminate time,
then moved to Mooresville. For a number of years, the house was not
continuously occupied, but was used as a summer retreat for members of the
family and also as a gathering place for holidays. About the early Fifties,
another son of Dr. Walter Craven, John, retired and lived in the house until
his death in 1962. John Craven added a bath and modernized the kitchen.
The year following John Craven's death, 1963, a granddaughter of Dr.
Walter Craven, Ruth Craven Roddey and her husband, Sidney H. Roddey, Jr.,
bought the house from the heirs and lived in it until 1968, when they sold
it to the present owners, Bobby Don and Margie Davis Lawing. 9
Thus after eighty years, the house passed out of the possession of the
1 Mary Beth Gatza, "Architectural Inventory of Rural
Mecklenburg County", 1988. On file at Archives and History, Raleigh.
2 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 62, p. 411.
3 Interview with Marge Lawing by Mary Beth Gatza, 1988.
4 Charies W. Sommerville. The History of Hopewell
Presbyterian Church (Charlotte: Hopewell Presbyterian Church, 1939), p.
5 Ibid., pp. 123-4.
6 Agricultural Schedules, 1880 U.S. Census.
7 Sommerville, p. 123; Gatza, "Survey." 8 Interview
with Margie Lawing and Ruth Craven Roddey by William H. Huffman, 1989.
9 Mecklenburg County Deed Books 2435, p. 237; 3007, p. 333.
National Register of Historic Places
Section number 9
Gatza, Mary Beth. "Architectural Inventory of Rural Mecklenburg County."
1987. On file at North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Raleigh.
Interviews with Marge Lawing by Mary Beth Gatza, 1988, and with Ruth
Craven Roddey by William Huffman, 1989.
Mecklenburg County. Deed Books.
Sommerville, Charles W. The History of Hopewell Presbyterian Church
(Charlotte: Hopewell Presbyterian Church, 1939).
United States. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Tenth Census
of the United States, 1880: Agricultural Schedules, Mecklenburg County, N.C.