The Funderburk Brothers Buildings
This report was written on May 29, 1991
1. Name and location of the property: The Funderburk Brothers
Buildings are located on North Trade Street, Matthews, in Mecklenburg
County, North Carolina.
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The owner of the property is:
Mr. Nick J. Miller
1816 Reverdy Lane
Matthews, North Carolina 28105
Telephone: (704) 844-4480
Tax Parcel Numbers: 192-262-06
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.
Click on the map to browse
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most
recent deed to Tax Parcel Number 192-62-06 is listed in Mecklenburg
County Deed Book 5824 at page 921.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report
contains a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr. Dan
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This
report contains a brief architectural description of the property
prepared by Ms. Ruth Little-Stokes and Ms. Nora M. Black.
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 for cultural importance: The Commission judges that the
property known as the Funderburk Brothers Buildings does possess
special significance in terms of Matthews and Mecklenburg County. The
Commission bases its judgment on the following considerations:
1) the surviving elements of the Funderburk Brothers Buildings are an
essential component of the historic streetscape of North Trade Street;
2) the surviving elements of the Funderburk Brothers Buildings are the
only physical remnants of the contribution made by the Funderburk
family to the commercial development of Matthews, North Carolina;
3) the building at 159 North Trade Street is the original ca.
1878-1898 building erected by Ellison James Funderburk;
4) the building at 157 North Trade Street is the first addition
constructed ca. 1901 by Benjamin DeWitt Funderburk as a dry goods
5) the surviving elements of the Funderburk Brothers Buildings bear
testimony to the type of commercial vernacular architecture that was
predominant in the small towns of Mecklenburg County in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials,
feeling, and/or association: The Commission contends that the
architectural description by Ms. Ruth Little-Stokes and Ms. Nora M.
Black included in this report demonstrates that the surviving elements
of the Funderburk Brothers Buildings 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 of the property which
becomes a designated "historic landmark." The following values cover the
entire Tax Parcel and all improvements; tax deferral for the historic
portion of the property will be determined later by the Mecklenburg
County Tax Office. The current appraised value of the improvements is
$329,060. The current appraised value of Tax Parcel 192-262-06 is
$315,000. The total appraised value of the property is $644,060. The
property is zoned UBD.
Date of Preparation of this Report: 29 May 1991
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
Originally Prepared on 22 February 1978
Dr. Dan L. Morrill
A revolutionary event in the economic and social life of the farm
families of eastern Mecklenburg, County occurred in 1874. The Central
Carolina Railroad Company erected a depot near the stagecoach stop and
post office operated by Mr. John M. Fullwood. Situated approximately
midway between Monroe and Charlotte, the facility was named "Matthews"
in honor of Mr. Watson Matthews, a member of the Board of Directors of
the Central Carolina Railroad. 1
The Matthews Depot quickly became the focal point of economic
activity in eastern Mecklenburg County. The farmers of the surrounding
countryside would travel there to obtain supplies and merchandise, both
for their own use and for purposes of stocking small general stores
which they operated for the benefit of the hired hands on their own and
nearby farms. The most intensive phase of business activity happened
each fall, when cotton. the principal cash crop of the region, was sold
and prepared for shipment to distant markets. Illustrative of the
economic importance of the depot is the fact that it served five
passenger trains and eight freight trains daily. 2
By the late 1870's the merchants and other businessmen who had
established enterprises in the immediate vicinity of the Matthews Depot
constituted a settlement which contained approximately two hundred
people. In 1879 they secured a charter of incorporation from the
legislature of North Carolina, creating the Town of Matthews and
empowering the citizens thereof to exercise their authority as residents
of an incorporated municipality. 3
Among the prominent farmers of the Morning Star section of
Mecklenburg County was Ellison James Funderburk. Born on July 1, 1836,
Mr. Funderburk was reared near the Lynches River in Chesterfield County,
South Carolina. He had migrated to Mecklenburg County soon after the end
of the Civil War, a conflict in which he had served as a soldier for the
Confederate States of America. He remained a resourceful and
enterprising entrepreneur until his death on March 14, 1916. Mr.
Funderburk and his wife. Selia Anne Williams Funderburk (1838-1427. had
eleven children (five boys and six girls). In 1878 Mr. Funderburk
acquired the first parcel of land which he was to own in the Town of
Matthews. 4 The Charlotte Observer of March 15, 1916,
reported that he moved to Matthews "during its early days" and that he
The reputation that E. J. Funderburk had established in Matthews was
carried on by three of his sons, Benjamin DeWitt Funderburk, Thomas Lee
Funderburk, and Ellison Albertus Morgan Funderburk. Of the three, B. D.
Funderburk was to become the most prominent. Born in Chesterfield
County, South Carolina on May 12, 1868, B. D. Funderburk came to
Mecklenburg County with his family soon thereafter. 6 He
married Sallie Faulkner Funderburk on July 11, 1895. 7 His
wife, also a native of South Carolina, had been reared near Matthews by
her aunt, Jane K. Reid, wife of Amzi G. Reid 8
On November 22, 1898, B. D. Funderburk acquired the building which
presently houses the antique shop on North Trade Street in Matthews,
North Carolina. 9 It had been erected by his father sometime
between 1878 and 1898, most probably in the latter part of that period.
10 It is reasonable to assume that Mr. Funderburk had used
the building as a general merchandise store and that his son continued
that practice. On May 13, 1901, B. D. Funderburk purchased the lot
adjacent to the original store building, on which he constructed the
more elaborate building which served as dry goods store for many years
and which currently houses the Matthews Emporium. 11
The next expansion of Mr. Funderburk's facilities occurred in 1909,
when a two-story brick structure was erected. This edifice contained the
newly-established Bank of Matthews, a general merchandise store, and
apartments on the second floor. 12 Soon thereafter the
original general store was converted into a barber shop. 13
The complex of buildings also contained a livery stable which was
probably erected sometime after 1901. Two brick structures, also most
likely constructed in the early years of the twentieth century, occupied
the rear of the property. The older of the two served as a blacksmith
shop, while the other was used for a variety of purposes including a
grist mill and a woodworking shop. The Funderburk Cotton Gin, which
stood on the north side of the railroad, is no longer extant. 14
Thomas Lee Funderburk was closely associated with his brother in
launching this aggregate of business enterprises in Matthews, North
Carolina. He met a tragic death on December 12, 1940, when he succumbed
to injuries which resulted from "being run over" by his own wagon
earlier in the day. 15 The third brother, Ellison Albertus
Morgan Funderburk, was a cashier for the Bank of Matthews until his
death on May 31, 1937. 16 But, as stated above, Benjamin
DeWitt Funderburk was the most prominent of the three. The Charlotte
Observer of October 6, 1954, reported that Mr. Funderburk had been a
member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Matthews from 1909 until
his death the previous day. He was even more widely known for his many
years of service on the Mecklenburg County Board of Education, having
served three terms, 1909- 1913, 1915 -1927 and 1935-1949. 17
B. D. Funderburk and Sallie Faulkner Funderburk, the latter surviving
until March 14, 1963, had three children who attained adulthood. All
were to become intimately involved in the operation of the Funderburk
enterprises in Matthews. Louie Lummis Funderburk, born September 5,
1901, operated the general merchandise and dry goods store until his
death on January 15, 1945. 18 Janie Louise Funderburk, wife
of Boyce S. Plaxco, returned to Matthews soon thereafter from Glen
Alpine, North Carolina. She and her husband assumed the responsibility
which had been performed by her deceased brother. Mr. Plaxco, son of
Robert N. and Sara Couser Plaxco of York County, South Carolina, died on
January 11, 1973. 19 Mrs. Plaxco expired soon thereafter, on
May 27, 1973. 20 Their untimely deaths led to the closing of
the general merchandise store and the dry goods store.
Lee Edward Funderburk, born January 10, 1899, continued to serve as
President of the Bank of Matthews, a position he had assumed in 1926.
His wife, Betty Morrah Funderburk of Troy, South Carolina, was a devoted
teacher in the public schools of Mecklenburg County for over thirty
years. Mr. and Mrs. Funderburk occupy positions of great affection and
regard among the citizens of Matthews. They continue to reside in the
Funderburk home on West Charles Street, Mr. Funderburk recently having
retired and having sold the bank to the Branch Banking and Trust Company
of Wilson. 21
The Funderburk Brothers Buildings have experienced considerable
change in the twentieth century. Two major fires have occurred on the
property, one in 1913 and another in 1958. The first destroyed all but
portion of the livery stable and a two-story frame house which occupied
the vacant lot which is now situated between the livery stable and the
bank. 22 On the afternoon of May 11, 1958, a fire destroyed
the second floor of the building which housed the bank and general
merchandise store. 23 Moreover, a new front was placed on the
livery stable sometime before 1950. The rooms at the front of the stable
have been used for a variety of purposes over the years. In the early
1970's the grist mill and the blacksmith shop were converted for a brief
time into a gift shop. They are presently used for storage, as is the
livery stable. 24
Addendum to Historical Sketch: Funderburk
Prepared on 29 May 1991
by Dr. Dan L. Merrill
In 1978, major portions of the Funderburk complex were destroyed to
make way for a new building and parking lot constructed by Branch
Banking and Trust Company. Specifically, the livery stable and the
building erected in 1909, containing the Bank of Matthews and later
Branch Banking and Trust Company, the general merchandise store, and
apartments, were sacrificed. The only portions of the Funderburk complex
which remain are the original store building erected by E. J. Funderburk,
the building constructed by B D. Funderburk in 1901, and the two brick
structures (the blacksmith shop and the grist mill) at the rear of the
The tenants of the various buildings have changed since 1973, and Mr.
L. E. Funderburk has died. His widow, Betty Morrah Funderburk continues
to reside in the Funderburk home on West Charles Street in Mathews.
1 The Southeast News (November 10,1975), pp. 1-24.
4 Guy B. Funderburk, Funderburk History And Heritage
(Salem, WV, Pageland, SC: 1967, pp. 329-331. Mecklenburg County Deed
Book 59, Page 357.
5 Charlotte Observer (March 15, 1916) p. 2.
6 Charlotte Observer (October 6, 1954) p. 1B.
7 Interview with Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Funderburk.
8 Mecklenburg County Will Book L, Page 57.
9 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 144, Page 10.
10 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 9, Page 357. Mecklenburg
County Deed Book 144, Page 40.
11 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 15G, Page 545.
12 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 756, Page 51.
13 Interview with Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Funderburk.
14 Interview with Miss Mary Louise Phillips. Interview
with Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Funderburk.
15 Charlotte News (December 13, 1940),p. 17.
16 Charlotte Observer (June 1, 1937), Sec. 1, p. 8.
17 Charlotte Observer (October 6, 1954), p. 1 B.
18 Charlotte Observer (January 29, 1945), Sec. B,
19 Charlotte News (January 12, 1973) p. 8A.
20 Charlotte News (May 28, 1973), p. 8A.
21 Interview with Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Funderburk.
23 Charlotte Observer (May 12, 1958), p. 1.
24 Interview with Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Funderburk.
Originally Prepared on 22 February 1978
by Ms. Ruth Little-Stokes
The Funderburk Brothers Mercantile Complex, built between ca. 1898
and 1910, occupies most of one block of the two-block business district
on Trade Street in Matthews, a late nineteenth century railroad town in
southeastern Mecklenburg County. The complex consists of the original
store built ca. 1898, a dry goods store, a general store and bank,
livery stable, blacksmith shop and grist mill, built before ca. 1910.
This commercial district represents the most significant survival of a
self-sufficient Victorian mercantile operation in Mecklenburg County. It
is highlighted on the exterior by the fascinating construction of the
blacksmith shop and grist mill, and on the interior by the remarkably
well-preserved early twentieth century banking room. The buildings have
been occupied by variety of commercial functions in recent years, but
have suffered little alteration. The major changes are the removal of
the second story of the general store and bank building as the result of
a 1958 fire, and the remodeling of the livery stable facade ca. 1940 and
the rebuilding of the stable in 1918.
The original Funderburk Store is the smallest structure in the
complex and has the most modest design. The one-story rectangular brick
structure has a three-bay wide street front containing a center double
door with a transom and flanking sash
windows. The brick facade is laid in one-to-five bond, the openings
have flat brick arches, and the sash are early wooden replacements. The
storefront is devoid of ornament, and architectural interest resides in
the contrast with the slightly newer storefronts of the remainder of the
complex, which are traditional Victorian commercial storefronts with
recessed doors and display windows, forerunners of modern plate glass
storefronts. The small windows and flush entrance of the ca. 1898 store
represent a transitional stage between domestic and commercial design.
The flat roof is concealed by the brick parapet, which has a brick
corbel cornice apparently added when the adjacent dry goods store was
built, for the cornice extends across both buildings. The rear elevation
has a center door and flanking windows, but the diagonal batten door and
two-over-two sash windows have molded surrounds and segmental-arched
heads. The interior has an ornate pressed tin ceiling of coffered design
and plaster walls. In the early twentieth century it served as a barber
shop and showers are still in place in the rear.
The dry goods store, a one-story rectangular brick building which
abuts the original store to the north, has a typical turn-of-the-century
storefront, with a recessed double glazed and paneled door with a
transom, flanking wooden display windows, and a wooden bracketed
cornice. The main facade has bondless brick veneer, with a paneled
frieze bearing the painted sign "Funderburk Brothers" and a brick corbel
cornice. The only changes are the alteration of the window dados and the
recent louvered metal transom. The interior, with a wooden floor, narrow
beaded board ceiling sheathing, and side walls lined with built-in
displays shelves with molded cornices, which are probably original, is
The general store and bank, housed in the one story, rectangular
brick building adjacent to the dry goods store, has two identical
storefronts which are quite similar to that of the dry goods store. The
same changes have occurred to these storefronts. In addition, the brick
parapet wall above the storefronts is a replacement necessitated by the
1958 fire, which destroyed the original second story of the building. In
the center bay of the bondless brick veneer facade is the entrance to
the former upper floor, a replacement door with the original
segmental-arched brick surround with
keystone. The exposed side (south) wall of the building has short
windows with arched brick surrounds identical to the second story
entrance. The rear elevation has two double doors with alternating
two-over-two sash windows. The large open interior space has a concrete
floor and is supported by two rows of heavy chamfered wooden posts.
Metal tie rods with crude six-point star heads are visible in the rear
walls of this building and the dry goods store, and may have been made
in the Funderburk Blacksmith Shop. In the rear (northwest) corner, on a
wooden platform, is an office, separated from the display area by a
wooden and iron railing. The early twentieth century office furniture is
still in place, as is a section of the display shelves, similar to those
in the dry goods store.
The banking room, a small room partitioned off in the front
(southeast) corner, is the most significant interior space in the
Funderburk Complex, for it retains elaborate early twentieth century
banking appointments. The tellers' cage, which extends along the north
wall and across the rear of the room as an office partition, is of
walnut, with paneled dado and window area with fluted pilasters and
ornate wrought-iron grillwork. The vault, located in the rear behind the
tellers' cage, has a classical door of heavy cast iron, with fluted
Corinthian pilasters and a broken pediment which enframes a lion's head
bracket and fluted urn. The pressed tin ceiling, consisting of coffers
and cove cornice with acanthus corner blocks, is imprinted with a rich
variety of classical motifs.
The livery stable, separated from the bank and general store building
by a vacant lot, is a rectangular one-story brick building five bays
wide and six bays deep set gable-end to the street. The brick is laid in
one-to-five bond, the windows have wooden sash, metal grills, and
segmental arches, and the low
gable roof is covered with seamed tin. In the center of the front
and rear gable ends is wide segmental-arched door with wooden gate. The
street front, remodeled ca. 1940, is covered with dark red brick veneer
and has a stepped parapet which conceals the roof. Centered over the
stable entrance is a casement window, and on each side of the entrance
is door and window with small glass panes. The gable end of the rear
elevation is covered with lapped siding, and a small wooden shed
addition covers the northwest corner. In each front corner is a small
partitioned office. One of these housed the public library in the
1940's. The remainder of the interior has been converted to warehouse,
and has a dirt floor and heavy circular-sawn timber framework with an
open truss roof. Metal tie rods serve as partial support for the
triangular trusses. The side walls are lined with wooden platforms.
The fifth building in the complex abuts the narrow alley which
parallels Trade Street to the west. This one and one-half story brick
building, apparently constructed in several stages, is the most
architecturally interesting structure in the group. The apparently
oldest stage is a rectangular two-bay wide, four-bay deep structure laid
in one-to-five bond. Brick pilasters flank each opening, a peculiar
feature because they terminate just above the top of each door and
window. The six-over-six sash windows have molded surrounds identical to
those of the oldest store, and segmental-arched brick labels. The south
wall of this section has identical sash windows, indicating that the
south section of the building which conceals this wall is an addition.
This section is of nearly identical construction and must have been
added few years later. It has a wide double batten door in the east
gable end a latticework brick ventilator above the door, six-over-six
wooden sash, the same brick pilaster treatment and a parallel gable
roof. These south sections of the building are said to have been built
as a grist mill. A north wing, set about ten feet from the south
section, is linked by a gable roof, which forms a covered passageway
between the two sections. This rectangular structure, one bay wide and
two bays long, extends lengthwise along the alley. Its construction is
nearly identical to the south addition, and it may have been built
simultaneously. This north wing is said to have functioned a blacksmith
shop. Along the east flank of the wing is a wooden shed addition.
Addendum to Architectural Sketch: Funderburk
Prepared on 29 May 1991
by Ms. Nora M. Black
The four surviving elements of the Funderburk Brothers Mercantile
complex, built between ca. 1898 and 1910 are on the northwest side of
North Trade Street in Matthews. The property is approximately
two-hundred feet west of the intersection of North Trade Street with the
Seaboard Airline Railroad tracks.
The original Funderburk Store, built by Ellison James Funderburk
between 1878 and 1898, is one of the surviving elements. The building,
located at 159 North Trade Street, is occupied by "A Basket Instead."
The brick facade has changed little since the turn of the century. As
mentioned by Little-Stokes, a brick corbel cornice unites the facade
with that of the neighboring 1901 dry goods store facade. The windows
and doorway are protected by a striped canvas awning. The double door,
painted blue with white trim has a stone threshold. The interior has
retained its ornate pressed tin ceiling through various tenants.
The second surviving element is the dry goods store built in 1901 by
Benjamin Dewitt Funderburk. It is located at 157 North Trade Street,
adjacent to the original store. The current occupant has covered the "Funderburk
Bros." sign (mentioned by Little-Stokes) with a blue panel bearing the
name "Gardner's Cottage" and a decorative emblem. The recessed entry
with its double doors, sports a small decorative picket fence. The
louvered metal transom has been covered (or replaced) with a piece of
plywood painted white. Hinges for the screen doors common to this type
of entry remain. The wooden floors, narrow beaded ceiling sheathing, and
built-in display shelves remain intact. Even the low wooden stools,
perched on iron pedestals, seem to await the arrival of ladies eager to
thumb through pattern books and finger soft fabrics as in days past.
The 1901 dry goods store received a south wall of new brick in 1978.
The wall covers the side of the building that was connected to the bank,
general merchandise store, and apartments which were demolished. The
unpainted brick wall has a parapet that steps down from the height of
the street facade toward the rear of the building. The flat wall is
broken near the rear of the building by a window with an arched head.
The window, surrounded by corbel brinks contains two rectangular
double-hung 8/8 sash. The half-oval head is infilled with vertical white
siding. The bottom half of the window currently contains air
The rear elevations of both buildings remain much as described by
Little-Stokes. A shed canopy protects the rear door of the original
Funderburk building. The rear elevation of the 1901 dry goods store has
a shed canopy that extends the width of the building. The painted words
"Dry Goods Clothing and Gro," though much faded, are still visible just
above that canopy.
Both the grist mill and the blacksmith shop remain as described by
Little-Stokes. The buildings have been unused for some time as evidenced
by the disrepair of the roof.
The route of Highway 51 through the center of Matthews altered the
streetscape of that small town; however, the completion of the bypass
will remove much of the noise and congestion that make it difficult and
unpleasant for pedestrians to move between the various stores on North
Trade Street. Unlike enclosed malls, the future North Trade Street could
allow shoppers to enjoy sunshine and fresh air with ample parking at the
front door of stores. The Town of Matthews is challenged now with
protecting the role of its commercial district in the changing retail