This report was written on Sept. 25, 1993
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Flow-Lee House is located at 4122 Hoodridge Lane, in Mint Hill, Mecklenburg
County, North Carolina.
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The owner of the property is:
Catherine B. Curlee
4122 Hoodridge Lane
Charlotte, North Carolina 28227
Telephone: (704) 394-4838
3. Representative photographs of the property: This report
contains representative photographs of the property.
4. Maps depicting the location of the property: This report
contains maps which depict the location of the property.
Click on the map to browse
5. Current deed hook references to the properties: The most recent
reference to the Flow-Lee House property, Tax Parcel Number 195-043-69, is
listed in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 6907 at page 277.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains
a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Frances P. Alexander.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains brief architectural description of the property prepared by Frances
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the properties meet criteria
for designation set forth in N.C.G.S. 160-400.5:
a. Special significance in terms of history, architecture, and
cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property known as
the Flow-Lee House property does possess special significance in terms of
Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The Commission bases its judgment on the
following considerations: 1) the Flow-Lee House was built ca. 1890 and is
one of the few historic buildings remaining in the crossroads community of
Mint Hill; 2) as the home of a local cotton gin and mill owner, the
Flow-Lee House is a vestige of the once predominant cotton culture of
rural Mecklenburg County during the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries; and 3) the Flow-Lee House is a rare surviving example of
vernacular Victorian domestic architecture in the county.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling,
and association: The Commission contends that the architectural
description by Frances P. Alexander included in this report demonstrates
that the Flow-Lee House property meet 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 properties which become
designated historic landmarks. The current appraised value of the
improvements to the Flow-Lee House property is $64,630. The current
appraised value of Flow-Lee House, Tax Parcel Number 195-043-69 is $22,500.
The total appraised value of the Flow-Lee House property is $87,130. Tax
Parcel Number 195-043-69 is zoned R20.
Date of Preparation of this Report: 25 September 1993
Prepared by: Frances P. Alexander, M.A.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
P.O. Box 35434
Charlotte, North Carolina 28235
Location and Site Description
The Flow-Lee House is now located on a sparsely developed residential street
off Matthews-Mint Hill Road in Mint Hill, North Carolina. Formerly located
in the town center of Mint Hill, the house was moved approximately 1 mile to
this 1.19 acre site in 1992 when the structure was threatened with
The house occupies a large, roughly rectangular lot on the north side of
Hoodridge Lane. Once part of a large farm tract owned by the Hood family,
the area is now comprised of large, single family parcels, some of which are
undeveloped. The house is the only building on this lot which is bounded by
woods on the north side, a vacant parcel to the west, and a house to the
east. Having been moved to this site recently, there is little landscaping.
The proposed designation includes the house and the 1.19 acre tract on which
the building is situated.
Exterior The Flow-Lee House is a one story, wood frame dwelling with
asymmetrical massing and a multiple
gable roof. A
hip roof porch extends across the facade (south elevation) and along the
west elevation. The house rests on a modern brick foundation which
replicates an alteration, made in the mid-1930s, of the original open brick
The house is covered in wooden German, or shiplap, siding, and there are
molded pilasters at the corners of the house. The siding under the steeply
pitched gables is laid in a herringbone pattern. The roof has wide,
overhanging eaves and is covered in replacement asphalt shingles. One of the
two brick chimneys has a decorative vernacular Victorian cap.
The porch has the original turned posts and railing pickets, reputedly
constructed of heart of cedar, but the floor has been recently replaced
because of deterioration. The porch roof has a single gable marking the
windows on the facade and portions of the side elevations are
one-over-one light, double hung, wooden sash with diamond shaped upper
lights. The windows in the rear portions of the house are four-over-one
light, double hung, wooden sash. All windows have molded surrounds.
The facade has a central entrance with a bay on the west side and a
single window to the east. Decorative jigsaw millwork is evident above the
porch roof where the gable projects over the bay. The single Eastlake door
has replacement lavender stained glass in the upper section which is said to
be the color of the original. There is no transom or sidelights. The
original decorative wood framed screen door is also intact.
Two gable end bays project on the side elevations, with the porch
terminating at a doorway to the projection on the west side. The paneled
wooden door with single light upper section is original. On the east
elevation, the end bay is three-sided. This east bay has the same jigsaw
millwork found on the facade, marking the extension of the gable over the
There is a rear ell with an enclosed hip roof porch extending along the
east side of the ell. The porch was enclosed in the late 1940s, but has been
remodeled in the past year with four one-over-one light, double hung, wooden
sash windows and the addition of a wood framed, glass door. Until recently,
the rear bay of the porch was open and had turned porch posts, but this bay
has been enclosed to accommodate a bathroom.
The house originally had a center hall plan, but the front section of the
hall was removed in the 1940s to create a larger parlor. The front entrance
now leads directly into the parlor which has vertical beaded board
wainscoting, molded chair railing, plaster walls, beaded board ceiling,
molded cornice, and hardwood floors. A fireplace is located on the interior
(north) wall. The classical mantel with scrolled overmantel and classically
derived, turned posts is original as are the fire bricks which have been
recently cleaned. The molded door and window surrounds with bull's eye
modillions found in the parlor are repeated throughout the house. All rooms
also have 12 foot high, beaded board ceilings except the ell porch which has
a ceiling of German siding. The parlor has doorways leading to the dining
room on the west side, and on the north side, to what is now an interior
hall. The door to the dining room is an original paneled door, while the
multiple light, hall door appears to have been added in the 1940s when the
hall was remodeled.
The dining room has the same interior features as the parlor, including
the vertical beaded board wainscoting, chair railing, hardwood floors, and
paneled doors. However, the mantel in this room is not original, but was
chosen because it was compatible with the period of construction for the
house and because it matched the shadow outline of the original. This mantel
has simple classically derived piers, but a highly decorative overmantel
with an oval mirror, molded frame, classical columns, and a swag motif.
Behind the dining room is a small closet (approximately 4 feet deep),
covered in horizontal beaded board, which connects to what is now the
The kitchen has a horizontal beaded board walls, vertical beaded board
wainscoting, molded chair railing, hardwood floors, and an original
fireplace mantel. The mantel is a heavy, vernacular fixture with turned
posts and molded panels. Modern appliances and cabinets have been added
along two walls. A door to the porch opens from the kitchen, which occupies
the projecting west end bay. A wide doorway, situated in the center of the
north kitchen wall, opens into one of two rear bedrooms.
The middle bedroom on the west side has the same horizontal beaded board
walls above a vertical beaded board wainscoting and hardwood floors. French
doors lead to the rear bedroom. Used earlier in this century as a kitchen,
the second bedroom apparently was the scene of a stove explosion, and the
horizontal beaded board walls show scars from this accident. Because of
damage to the hardwood floors during the explosion, this bedroom is the only
room to have carpet. A paneled door with multiple light upper section leads
to the enclosed porch, which retains the once exterior shiplap sheathing and
wooden floors. A modern bathroom is now situated in the rear portion of the
enclosed porch. Added in the mid-1930s, a second bathroom is located at the
juncture of the main house and the porch. This bathroom has new fixtures,
with the exception of a footed tub, and linoleum flooring. Stained glass was
used in the single window to prevent the need for more extensive remodeling
in this small room. This bathroom is also connected to the east bedroom.
The eight foot wide interior hall allows access to the parlor, kitchen,
rear porch, and the east bedroom, located directly behind the parlor. This
bedroom has the vertical beaded board wainscoting and molded chair railing
found throughout the house, but the walls are plaster. A fireplace is
located along the south wall and is identical to the one found in the
parlor. The fireplace is flanked by two closets, one of which has a
mid-twentieth century, two paneled door rather than the five paneled doors
original to the house. Two small overhead storage areas are built into the
wall above the closets.
The Flow-Lee House was built cat 1890 by Thomas Jefferson Flow in the
crossroads community of Mint Hill, twelve miles east of Charlotte. Little is
known about Flow except that he was born in 1844, married three times, and
had no children. He was also an elder in Philadelphia Presbyterian Church,
one of the seven eighteenth century Presbyterian churches in the county,
around which some of the earliest rural communities were established by the
Scotch-Irish settlers. Flow married his third wife, Jeannette Davidson
Rankin in 1905, and she continued to live in the house after his death in
1913 (Records of Catherine B. Curlee).
In 1920, John Newton Lee and his wife, Catherine Miller Wilson, bought
the house and the eleven acre tract from Mrs. Flow (Letter of Clarkson,
Taliaferro, and Clarkson, 6 April 1920). The Lees were also members of
Philadelphia Presbyterian, and Mr. Lee owned three farms as well as
operating a cotton gin and grist mill in Mint Hill. The family grist mill
was located on Bain School Road. John Lee died in 1927, but his wife
continued to live in the house with her son, Louis Wilson Lee, and his wife.
During the Depression, Louis Lee, a carpenter and farmer, rented the two
front rooms of the house to local school teachers, and the family continued
to take in boarders through World War II. After Louis Lee's death, his widow
remained in the house until 1984. From 1984 to 1988, the house was leased to
tenants, but was vacant from 1988 to 1992 when the current owner bought the
house. Rapid suburban growth since World War II has compromised many of the
once rural communities of the county, and the Flow-Lee property, rezoned for
business because of its location on one of the main streets of Mint Hill,
was slated for demolition. The owner had the structure moved to its current
site, approximately 1 mile south of its original location.
The Flow-Lee House was originally built near the center of this
unincorporated market town, which served the surrounding cotton and corn
farms. With a population of 100 in 1896, Mint Hill was not one of the larger
rural villages in Mecklenburg County. The absence of rail connections
undoubtedly limited the growth of the town. Indeed, the larger towns in the
county, such as Davidson, Huntersville, Cowan's Ford, Matthews, and
Pineville, all functioned as minor rail centers and, in many cases,
supported textile mills which relied on rail access. Without such
transportation facilities, Mint Hill remained an important, but smaller,
rural market center. Local merchants or farmers, as represented by the Lees,
often operated cotton gins where local farmers would have their cotton
ginned and baled for easier shipment to rail depots. In the case of Mint
Hill, cotton was taken primarily to Matthews.
The Flow-Lee House was originally sited on the Matthews-Mint Hill Road,
one of the principal routes connecting Mint Hill with Matthews to the south.
This prominent location, and the attention to stylistic detailing found in
this house, suggest that the Flows and Lees were fairly prosperous members
of their community. In addition, the historic eleven acre site, which was
too small to support farming, indicates that this house was a town house and
associated with a mercantile family.
The Flow-Lee House has been moved from its historic location in the
center of Mint Hill and therefore has lost its association with the
historical and geographical development of the town. However, the house was
never the centerpiece of a large farm operation so its current setting on a
residential lot, still within the boundaries of Mint Hill, mitigates
somewhat the loss of integrity of location. In addition, rapid suburban
development in recent years has already compromised the historically rural
character of Mint Hill, and despite being moved, the Flow-Lee House is one
of the few late nineteenth century buildings to remain in Mint Hill.
The Flow-Lee House remains architecturally significant as a rare example
of late nineteenth century domestic architecture in Mecklenburg County. In
its substantial size and picturesque architectural elements, the house
illustrates the general importance and prosperity of its owners, who had
commercial as well as farming interests in this cotton-based agricultural
community. The house retains its architectural integrity with few
alterations since the 1930s and early 1940s. Since the move, the
once-neglected house has undergone a largely sensitive restoration.
Bishir, Catherine. North Carolina Architecture. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
Blythe, LeGette and Charles R. Brockmann. Hornets' Nest.
Charlotte: Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, 1961.
Branson, Levi. Branson's North Carolina Business Directory. 8
Interview with Catherine B. Curlee, 17 September 1993.
Lefler, Hugh Talmadge and Albert Ray Newsome. North Carolina .
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1954.
Mint Hill. Vertical Files. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library.
Letter to Mr. John N. Lee. Clarkson, Taliaferro, and Clarkson, Attorneys.
6 April 1920.
Files and Historic Photographs. Records of Catherine B. Curlee.