The Crowell-Berryhill Store
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Observer Article on the Crowell-Berryhill Store
This report was written on July 7, 1982
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Crowell- Berryhill Store is located at 401 West 9th Street, Charlotte, North
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the present owner of the
The present owners of the property are:
Mr. Cullie M. Tarleton and his wife, Sylvia D. Tarleton
312 West 9th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
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.
Click on the map to browse
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most recent
deed to this property is listed in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 4386 at page
627. The Tax Parcel Number of this property is: 078-074-15.
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 Thomas W.
Hanchett, architectural historian.
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 Historic Properties Commission judges
that the property known as the Crowell-Berryhill Store does possess
special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission
bases its judgment on the following considerations: (1) The Crowell-Berryhill
Store, which opened in 1897 as a branch of the Star Mills Grocery Company,
is the only turn-of-the-century grocery store which survives in uptown
Charlotte; (2) The grocery store served as the social, political, and
economic centerpiece of neighborhoods in Charlotte at the turn of the
century; (3) the Crowell-Berryhill Store is an excellent example of
sensitive adaptive reuse; (4) the Crowell-Berryhill Store is an important
component of Fourth Ward, a local historic district.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling,
and/or association: The Commission contends that the attached
architectural description by Mr. Thomas W. Hanchett demonstrates that the
Crowell-Berryhill Store 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 .50 acres of land is
$1,090.00. The current appraised value of the store building is $9,720.00.
The property is zoned URC.
Date of preparation of this report: July 7, 1982
Prepared : Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
3500 Shamrock Drive
Charlotte, NC 28215
Dr. William H. Huffman
With the recent renovation of the Berryhill Store at the corner of 9th
and Pine, it will once again take its place as a vital part of the restored
neighborhood that it had when it was built at the end of the nineteenth
Up until the mid-1890's, the property where the store is located changed
hands a number of times as increasingly divided parcels of undeveloped land.
1 In December, 1896, a corner parcel measuring thirty-eight feet
on Ninth Street and ninety-nine feet on Pine was sold for $300.00 to Star
Mills, a local company which produced grits and mill feed at 306 E. Trade
Street. 2 From the records, it appears that in 1897 Star Mills
built a store with an apartment occupying the second floor on the site,
possibly as a retail feed store, and in April of that year sold it on a lot
diminished to the size of thirty-three feet by sixty-six feet to M. L.
Alexander for $1250.00. 3 After a brief ownership of a little
over a year, Mr. Alexander, through choice or necessity, conveyed the
ownership of the store to William M. Crowell in July, 1898, and remained as
a clerk for the new owner. 5
Mr. Crowell, who previously had a grocery at 701 N. Pine one block to the
north of his new location, operated the store as a retail grocery for about
a year and a half when he in turn sold out to another competitor, Andrew
Monroe Beattie (1854-1911) in December, 1899. 6 A. M. Beattie
continued to operate his longtime grocery business at 416 E. Seventh Street,
7 while a newcomer to the trade, Ernest W. Berryhill took over
the operation of the store at 9th and Pine. 8 In 1907, Mr.
Berryhill bought the property outright from Mr. Beattie, 9 who,
four years later, died, according to the attending physician, of "congestion
of the brain" brought on by "work and worry." 10 He had been a
grocer in the city for twenty-seven years. 11
Ernest Wiley Berryhill (1865-1931), whose name is associated with another
landmark in Charlotte's Fourth Ward, the beautifully preserved
Berryhill House located diagonally across the intersection of 9th and
Pine from the store, was a Charlotte native. On January 4, 1893, the
twenty-six-year-old Ernest Berryhill was married to Gussie A. Newcomb
(1872-1956) in Charlotte with the bride's brother, George H. Newcomb
(1869-1925) acting as a witness. 12 Gussie and George were born
in White Plains, NY, and were the children of John H. (1845-1892) and Anna
Augusta ("Gussie") Newcomb (1850-1933). The Newcomb family had come to
Charlotte in 1879, where John and a brother, George, established a bellows
factory in the city. In 1884, the brothers and their wives (who joined
together in the millinery business from 1881-1891) constructed houses next
door to each other on the 300 block of West Ninth Street; the fine Victorian
house on the corner lot at 9th and Pine was built by John Newcomb and his
wife, the elder Gussie.
In 1891, the brothers dissolved their partnership, and John built a
bellows factory behind his house on West Ninth where he was assisted by his
son George. The following year, on July 27, Mr. Newcomb unexpectedly died at
the age of 47, and was widely mourned in the community. 13 Just
under six months later, Ernest Berryhill and daughter Gussie were married.
At the time, he was a store clerk, but shortly thereafter joined with his
brother-in-law to form the Berryhill and Newcomb Bellows Factory, and the
newlyweds made their home in the stately house on the northeast corner of
9th and Pine, which thereafter came to be known as the Berryhill house.
It was, then, right about the turn of the century when Mr. Berryhill went
into the grocery business on the southwest corner of 9th and Pine, and thus
the Berryhill Store came to be a fixture in the mostly residential area in
Charlotte's Fourth Ward for many years. The Sanborn Map of 1905 shows the
store neatly tucked in a corner among tight, neat rows of Victorian houses,
all with large porches along their fronts or sides, and running for blocks
in all four directions from the business. Mr. Berryhill himself was well
known as a gracious and considerate man, who ran a charge and delivery
store, and from whom those who could not pay received, on some occasions, a
free basket of groceries. Working with him in the store for many years was
his longtime black employee, Amzie Roseman, who was a familiar figure to
those who traded at the store and lived in the area, and Mrs. Berryhill as
well was found in the store every day. Also helping out by occasionally
looking after the store summers when Mr. Berryhill went on vacation was
Benjamin S. Gray (b. 1898), who was born and raised at West Ninth and
Graham, one block from the grocery. according to Mr. Gray, Ernest Berryhill
had a carefully tended community business which served well the residents of
his area, from the two dozen or so well-to-do customers to the plainer folk.
Though the store proprietor at first seemed reserved, once you got to know
him, "he was one of the finest men you ever knew." 15 When he
died in 1931, the Queen City lost one of its most respected citizens.
Besides being known as the grocer to Charlotte's 4th Ward, Mr. Berryhill
also maintained rental property in the area and was a founder and director
of the Citizens Savings Bank, which established its reputation by making
loans to ordinary citizens, not just to the wealthy. 16
Thirty-seven years earlier in 1894, the Berryhills had become the proud
parents of their only child, who was born at the 9th and Pine home, John
Newcomb Berryhill (1894-1979). In his youth Newcomb Berryhill attended
Baird's school for boys in Charlotte, and, after graduation, took a job with
Standard Oil Co. after a year or so with that firm, he had the opportunity
to go with the Dupont Company, for which he worked 18 years in various
places in the country. In 1919, while helping set up a plant for the
fledgling General Motors Company in Pontiac, Michigan, the younger Berryhill
met Leonora Lanier, a Nashville native who was also employed by Dupont. The
following January 20, 1920, they were married and continued their careers
with Dupont for the next 12 years. 17
When Ernest Berryhill died in 1931, his wife attempted to continue the
operation of the grocery with hired help, but within a relatively short time
sold the business to Benjamin Gray, the same fellow who used to help the
owners some summers. Despite the depression, Mr. Gray said that the business
was profitable, but after about a year's ownership, he had to relinquish the
store because of illness. 18 It was then in 1932 that Gussie
Newcomb Berryhill asked her son if he would return to Charlotte to look
after the family's real estate interests and the grocery, which he agreed to
do. For the next eight or nine years, despite the lingering depression,
Newcomb Berryhill successfully ran the grocery store and the other family
interests. In 1940, his mother, who for some time had been living alone in
the Berryhill house, suffered a stroke and had to be put in a nursing home.
Within a year, Mr. Berryhill sold the grocery business (but the family
retained ownership of the property), divided the old family house into four
apartments, and devoted himself to his rental properties. With the outbreak
of the war, he entered government service and served in several capacities,
including heading Draft Board Number 1 in Charlotte and supervising
slaughter control in the Carolinas. 19
From 1941 to 1944, the 9th and Pine store was operated as Turk's Quality
Food Grocery, then from 1944 to 1956 as the Charles R. West Cash Grocery. In
the latter year, Mr. West gave up the business because of ill health, and
thereafter, the changing character of the neighborhood could be seen by the
building's history for the next twenty years: In 1957 it was vacant, and the
following year became the Charlotte Paint and Body Supply Company, then came
another vacancy again the next year. In 1960, Mr. Berryhill converted the
location to the self-service Ninth Street and Pine Laundry Center, which
operated until 1973, when the building once again became vacant, as did the
two second-floor apartments into which it had been divided years before.
The Berryhill Store has fortunately benefited from the splendid revival
of the 4th Ward community. In 1975, Mr. Berryhill and his wife sold the
family house, which was in danger of destruction, to the Charlotte Junior
League, which in turn conveyed it to the Berryhill Preservation
organization, thus ensuring its restoration. 21 The store itself
was sold in 1977 to two Charlotte men who undertook some restoration work,
and the following year passed to the ownership of two members of Charlotte's
Junior League. 22 The present owners, Cullie M. Tarleton, an
executive with Jefferson-Pilot Broadcasting, and his wife, Sylvia, are
completing an extensive and comprehensive renovation of the store, including
the two second-floor apartments. 23 In the spring of 1982, the
store will have much of its original appearance and use, and thus once again
it will be an integral part of the revived city neighborhood it served so
well for so many years.
1 Deed Book 28, p. 309, 21 Oct. 1881; Deed Book 78, p. 457, 9
2 Deed book 116, p. 236, 17 Dec. 1896; Charlotte City
Directory, 1899, p. 37.
3 Deed Book 117, p. 208, 17 April 1897.
4 Deed Book 127, p. 152, 20 July 1898.
5 Charlotte City Directory, 1897/8, p. 125. M. L. Alexander
cannot be further identified at the present time.
6 Ibid., 1896/7, p. 81; Deed Book 144, p. 16, 28 Dec. 1899.
7 Charlotte City Directory, 1899/1900, p. 157.
8 Ibid., p. 118.
9 Deed Book 228, p. 72, 17 Oct. 1907, price $2800.00.
10 Mecklenburg County Certificate of Death, Book 1, p. 1070.
11 Charlotte Observer, May 12, 1911, p. 6; Charlotte
Evening Chronicle, May 11, 1911, p. 6.
12 Mecklenburg County Marriage Register, 1889-1898.
"Survey and Research Report on the Berryhill House," Charlotte
Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, undated.
14 Charlotte City Directory, 1893/4, p. 39; Ibid., 1896/7, p.
15 Interview with Benjamin S. Gray, 7 January, 1982.
16 See note 13.
17 Interview with Leonora Lanier Berryhill, 18 December 1981.
18 Interview with Benjamin Gray, note 15.
19 Interview with Leonora Berryhill, note 17.
20 Charlotte City Directories, 1941-1977.
21 See note 13.
22 Deed Book 4016, p. 621, 13 December 1977; Deed Book 4075,
p. 382, 27 June 1978.
23 The Tarletons acquired the property on 2 January 1981: Deed
Book 4386, p. 627.
By Thomas W. Hanchett
The Berryhill Store is a two story frame commercial building on a
prominent corner site in the heart of Charlotte's Fourth Ward neighborhood.
Its design is simple and straightforward, reflecting its utilitarian
function. The structure was extensively renovated for owner Cullie Tarleton
in 1982 and now appears much as it did when it first opened at the end of
the nineteenth century.
The structure is built right at the lot lines of North Pine and Ninth
streets, facing northeast onto Ninth. It is a rectangular block under a
gable roof, with the short end of the rectangle at the front and the
long side of the rectangle stretching down Pine. The first story has always
been a commercial space, the second story residential. Sometime in the
twentieth century a one story flat-roofed addition of cement block was built
at the rear to increase store space to its present 1800 square feet.
The building's siting marks it clearly as a commercial structure. Homes
in Fourth Ward are built closer to the street than in newer parts of
Charlotte, but all are set back at least enough for a porch. The store's
location right at the sidewalk line serves as an advertisement to passersby
over a block away. This is especially pronounced because Pine street is
wider in front of the store than it is after it crosses Ninth to the person
walking or driving down Pine toward the front of the store, the building
appears to be in the middle of the street. In its own humble way the
Berryhill Store provides a pleasing sense of closure in the Fourth Ward
streetscape, bounding the view down the street much as churches often do in
the small towns of Europe.
The building itself is very simple, with no stylistic flourishes beyond
its Victorian balcony and shopfront. The gable roof is sheathed with new
standing-seam sheet metal, duplicating what existed before renovation. The
shallow eaves are boxed and have a single strip of molding at the wall line.
Exterior walls were originally wooden clapboard with corner boards. During
renovation masonite clapboards replaced the wood with care taken to match
the original appearance.
Windows have flat, undecorated surrounds. The long sides of the
structure each have three double-hung six-over-six pane
sash windows on the second floor and none on the first. At the rear of
the main block of the building each of the second story apartments has a
window and door opening onto a new sun deck on the roof of the one story
concrete block addition.
The front of the building is only slightly less utilitarian. Beneath a
large louvered gable vent are four second story windows. These are
six-over-six pane double hung sash like those on the sides of the building.
Below them is a wooden balcony extending over the sidewalk. The balcony
itself has been rebuilt, but its Victorian balustrade with turned balusters,
its heavy chamfered supporting brackets, and even the chains that steady it
from above are said to be original.
By the 1980s the original shopfront beneath the balcony had been
completely replaced by newer designs. The shopfront was ripped out in 1982
and replaced with the present one, following a photograph of the store taken
in 1905. This recreated shopfront is symmetrical, consisting of a central
show window, then a pair of recessed entrances to the store, finally flanked
by two doors to stairways to the upstairs apartments. There is a transom
band running across this entire assemblage above the doorways, and there is
a band of vertical tongue-and-groove panels across the bottom.
Inside, the first floor is a single large room which now houses a grocery
store and delicatessen. Its wide wooden floor planks were salvaged from the
walls and ceiling of the space, and refinished. The remainder of the space
is new. The old wooden coolers, counters, and shelving now in use were
salvaged by storekeeper Paul McBroom from three neighborhood stores
elsewhere in the city. On the second story are two identical loft apartments
created during the 1982 renovation.
For more information...
Survey & Research Report: Berryhill House