THE HARRILL-PORTER HOUSE
This report was written on January 6, 1982.
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Harrill-Porter House is located at 329 E. Kingston Ave. in Charlotte, NC.
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the present owner of the
The present owner of the property is:
Mrs. Stella M. Hooks
329 E. Kingston Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28203
Telephone: (704) 334-1592
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 most recent
deed on this property is recorded in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 4489 at
Page 553. The Tax Parcel Number of the property is 123-076-07.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property:
On September 15, 1894, the Charlotte Observer reported that Joseph
H. Harrill was building a home in
Dilworth, Charlotte's first
streetcar suburb.1 The series of events which led to the
creation of Dilworth began on July 8, 1890, when Edward Dilworth Latta
(1851-1925), native of Pendleton, S.C., son of a wealthy planter, graduate
of Princeton University, and owner of a clothing manufacturing plant in
Charlotte since 1883, joined with five associates to establish the Charlotte
Consolidated Construction Company, locally known as The Four Cs.2
Dilworth officially opened with a gala land sale that began on May 20, 1891.3
The trolley network, which was installed for The Four Cs by the Edison
Electric Company, cost forty thousand dollars.4 The first
electric streetcar had departed from Independence Square, the intersection
of Trade and Tryon Sts., on May 18, 1891.5 The Four Cs operated
two lines, which intersected at the Square. One extended from the Richmond
and Danville Railroad Depot on W. Trade St. to McDowell St. on the eastern
edge of Charlotte, and the other or main line reached from the Carolina
Central Railroad Depot on N. Tryon St. southward to Latta Park, the
amusement park in Dilworth.6
The prospects for Dilworth appeared to be bright. The Four Cs sold 78
lots in May 1891. Despite these propitious beginnings Dilworth was not an
immediate success. The Four C's did sell seventeen lots in its streetcar
suburb from June 1891 until the end of the year, but the situation
deteriorated markedly in 1892. Except for conveying a parcel to the
Charlotte Street Railway Company, its trolley subsidiary, The Charlotte
Consolidated Construction Company did not exchange any lots in Dilworth
during the first nine months of 1892.8 The first breakthrough for
The Four Cs occurred on July 24, 1892, when the D. A. Tompkins Company,
named for its founder and president, Daniel Augustus Tompkins (1851-1914),
announced that it would build the
Atherton Cotton Mill just south of Dilworth.9 Even more
importantly in terms of Dilworth's success, the company purchased an entire
block in the suburb on February 23, 1893, and erected twenty frame cottages
thereon for its mill hands.10 Seven of the
Atherton mill houses survive, six on S. Euclid Ave. and one on S.
Cleveland Ave. They are the oldest homes in Dilworth.11
The Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company endeavored to attract
affluent and middle class residents to Dilworth in the early and mid-1890's.
On March 13, 1893, the Charlotte Observer announced that The Four C's
was contemplating the construction of about thirty-five houses in Dilworth,
to be "purchased on the building and loan plan."12 In June 1893,
the newspaper stated that these new residences were keeping a "number of
hands busy."13 A cluster of modest Victorian cottages in the
Eastlake style did appear on the northern or "upper" end of South Boulevard
and on Caldwell Street southward from Morehead Street.14 Only one
of these structures survives, at 1032 South Caldwell Street.15 In
1894 The Four Cs succeeded in enticing more affluent families to Dilworth.
No doubt the establishment of electric service for homes and the completion
of a sewerage system were important factors in creating this phenomenon.16
The most pretentious abodes in the suburb were located on South Boulevard
between Park Avenue and East Boulevard, on Park Avenue between South
Boulevard and Lyndhurst Avenue, and on Kingston Avenue between South
Boulevard and Lyndhurst Avenue. At least four of the earliest homes in the
section are extant; they are the
Jones-Garibaldi House (1894) at 228 E. Park Ave., the
Lucien Walker House (1894) at 328 E. Park Ave., the
Mallonee-Jones House (1895) at 400 E. Kingston Avenue, and the Harrill-Porter
House at 329 E. Kingston Ave.17 The Harrill-Porter House exhibits
features, such as gables decorated with simple scroll-sawn bargeboards,
large vents with scroll-sawn trim, and diagonal boarding, which one finds in
older center-city neighborhoods, such as the Fourth Ward. It is important to
note that the Harrill-Porter House is unique among the older homes in
Dilworth in this regard, at least in the finer residential section.
Joseph H. Harrill worked for A. H. Porter & Son, a shoe store and men's
clothing outlet on W. Trade St. in Charlotte.18 Mr. Harrill and
his family lived in the house until October 1897, when they moved back into
Charlotte and resided on W. Tenth Street in Fourth Ward.19 On
September 10, 1898, A. H. Porter, Mr. Harrill's employer, bought the house,
and soon thereafter his son and business associate, Augustus C. Porter
(1873-1959) moved into the home.20 A. C. Porter and his wife,
Edna Davis Porter (1875-1952) acquired the house on July 26, 1905, and lived
there until the 1950's.21 A native of Farmville, Va., A. C.
Porter worked in the shoe business until his retirement in 1946, first for
his father, who came to Charlotte in 1897 but returned to Virginia by 1902,
and thereafter for the International Shoe Company. He was a member of
Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church on South Boulevard in Dilworth, where he
served as a Deacon and as Superintendent of Sunday Schools.22
Edna Davis Porter was also a native of Farmville, Va. The daughter of
William C. Davis and Flora Brightwell Davis, she married A. C. Porter in
1892 and came with him to Charlotte in 1897.23 Mr. and Mrs.
Porter had three daughters, the last of whom, Lorna, was born in the house
in 1898.24 Mrs. Porter died on April 7, 1952, in her home on E.
Soon thereafter, Mr. Porter, who lived until August 5, 1959, sold the
house and moved to his daughter's residence on Dilworth Rd. East in
Dilworth.26 The new owner was Robert D. Alexander, president of
the Allright Charlotte Company, who lived in the house for approximately one
year.27 In July 1954 Mr. Richard Kaye, an employee of Ivey's
Department Store bought the residence, and in 1957 he converted the house
into two apartments, one upstairs and one downstairs.28 In August
1960, Mr. Kaye sold the residence to John and Bessie Carabateas, who
converted the house into four apartments. Mr. Carabateas died in 1965, but
his widow continued to manage the structure until July 1966, when she sold
the house to William Plemmons and his sister, Blanche P. Gudger.29
They operated the structure as an apartment house until 1981, when the
house was damaged by fire. Mrs. Stella M. Hooks has recently purchased the
structure, and she intends to repair and restore it as her residence.
1 Charlotte Observer (September 15, 1894).
2 Charlotte News (June 27, July 9, 1890). Latta's
partners in creating The Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company were F.
B. McDowell, E. B. Springs, Dr. M. A. Bland, E. K. P. Osborne, and J. L.
Chambers, all Charlotteans.
3 Charlotte News (May 21, 1891).
4 Charlotte News (February 12, 1891).
5 Charlotte News (May 19, 1981); Morning Star
(Wilmington, NC, May 22, 1891).
6 Charlotte News (March 19, April 23, May 23, 1891).
7 Records of the Mecklenburg County Registrar of Deeds Office.
9 Charlotte Observer (July 24, 1892).
10 Mecklenburg Deeds, Book 90, Page 310.
11 Ruth Little-Stokes, "Dilworth Historic District: Charlotte,
N.C. Architectural Analysis," 1978. Hereafter cited as Little-Stokes.
12 Charlotte Observer (March 13, 1893).
13 Charlotte Observer (June 17, 1893).
14 Charlotte Observer (April 6, 1894).
16 Charlotte Observer (September 30, December 4, 1894).
17 Charlotte Observer (September 8, 1894);
18 Charlotte City Directory 1896-97, p. 177.
19 Charlotte Observer (October 12, 1897).
20 Mecklenburg Deeds, Book 202, Page 67; United State Census
1900, Charlotte Township, p. 9A; Charlotte City Directory 1899, p. 116.
21 Mecklenburg Deeds, Book 200, Page 437; Kat Braswell, "A
Structural Survey Form For the House at 329 E. Kingston Ave." (prepared for
a Historic Preservation Course at the University of North Carolina at
Charlotte, 1979), hereafter cited as Braswell.
22 Charlotte Observer (August 6, 1959); Charlotte City
Directory 1902, p. 492.
23 Charlotte Observer (April 8, 1952); United State
Census 1900, Charlotte Township, p. 9A.
25 Charlotte Observer (April 8, 1952).
26 Mecklenburg Deeds, Book 1551, Page 371; Charlotte
Observer (August 6, 1959); Braswell.
28 Mecklenburg Deeds, Book 1685, Page 105; Braswell.
29 Mecklenburg Deeds, Book 2165, Page 405; Mecklenburg Deeds,
Book 2770, Page 597; Braswell.
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 Commission judges that the property known as
the Harrill-Porter House does possess special historic significance in
terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on the
following considerations: 1) the Harrill-Porter House is one of the few
pre-1900 houses which survive in Dilworth, Charlotte's first streetcar
suburb; 2) the house is a unique example among the more imposing homes of
Old Dilworth in that it displays vernacular motifs and details which one
finds in Fourth Ward; and 3) the house is strategically important in terms
of townscape because it is situated on a corner lot and anchors an entire
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling
and/or association: The Commission judges that the architectural
description included herein demonstrates that the property known as the
Harrill-Porter House meets this criterion.
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: The Commission is aware that
designation would allow the owner to apply annually 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 Ad Valorem tax
appraisal on the Harrill-Porter House is $6,740. The current Ad Valorem tax
appraisal on the .161 acres of land is $2,500. The most recent Ad Valorem
tax bill on the house and land was $166.50. The house contains 3,382 square
feet. The land is zoned R6MF.
Kat Braswell, "A Structural Survey Form For the House at 329 E. Kingston
Ave." (prepared for a Historic Preservation Course at the University of
North Carolina at Charlotte, 1979).
Charlotte City Directory, 1896-97; 1899; 1902.
Ruth Little-Stokes, "Dilworth Historic District: Charlotte, N.C.
Architectural Analysis," 1978. Morning Star (Wilmington, NC).
Records, of the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds Office.
Records of the Mecklenburg County Tax Office.
United States Census 1900.
Date of Preparation of this Report: January 6, 1982.
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
3500 Shamrock Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28215
Telephone: (704) 332-2726
by Thomas W. Hanchett
The Harrill-Porter House is a substantial two story late Victorian home
on a corner lot. It anchors a block of large, closely spaced homes from the
late 1890s to the 1910s, a strong streetscape that survives intact except
for one demolition at the opposite end of the block. The house in its
prominent corner location serves to tie this block to similar homes in
adjoining blocks of Kingston and Euclid Avenues. The massing of the house is
relatively complex, showing influence of the
Queen Anne style which was at its peak when the home was built in
1894-95. The basic block of the building is a two story
hip-roofed rectangle three bays long and two bays deep. Two brick
chimneys poke through the east and west sides of the roof. The top of the
east chimney has been clumsily rebuilt, but the simple corbeled cap of the
west one remains. Four
gable-roofed two story wings, each one bay wide, jut out from the main
block, one on each side of the house. Gables are decorated with simple
scroll-sawn bargeboards, large vents with scroll-sawn trim, and diagonal
boarding. Eaves are narrow and simply boxed with no decorative elements.
The walls of the house are clapboard with beaded corner boards.
Windows are two-over-two pane
double-hung sash in plain surrounds. The front door is trimmed with wide
fluted molding and bull's eye corner blocks, a common Victorian motif. The
first story front windows extend from floor to ceiling under the porch. The
one story porch wraps around the south (front) and east sides of the
building. It is
shed-roofed except for a small gable with scroll-sawn bargeboards that
marks the entrance. The east side of the porch was walled in to create a sun
porch, probably in the first decades of this century. On the remainder of
the porch the original balustrade railing and turned porch columns are still
visible, though the original balusters have been removed. Concrete steps and
walk dating from the early twentieth century lead up from the sidewalk to
A low concrete wall from the same period contains the small front yard,
raising it about two feet above the public sidewalk, once a common feature
of better Charlotte homes. The foundation of the building is brick. There is
evidence that the house originally rested up off the ground on brick piers,
a common southern practice, and that the spaces between the piers were later
bricked in. Under the home only enough area has been excavated for a furnace
room. To the rear of the house are several additions. The two major ones are
a one story gable-roofed kitchen wing, which may date back the original
construction of the house, and a two story shed-roofed sleeping porch at the
northeast corner that probably dates from the l910s-1930s when such porches
were popular. Entering the home through the front door one is in a long,
relatively narrow hallway, a feature more typical of the mid nineteenth
century than of this period. A straight run of stairs rises from the rear of
this hall back toward the front of the house, giving access to the second
floor. Its massive newel post remains in good condition. In the main block
of the house there are two major rooms on each side of this central space on
each floor. Victorian era mantels survive in several rooms, as do many of
the original wood panel doors. Beyond this there is little decorative
woodwork. The house was heavily damaged by fire in summer, 1981. Most damage
was confined to the attic, the upper stairwell, and the rear rooms of the