THE HAWTHORNE LANE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
This report was written on May 4, 1992
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church is located at 501 Hawthorne Lane,
Charlotte, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The owner of the property is:
Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church
Robert W. Lawing, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
501 Hawthorne Lane
Charlotte, North Carolina
Telephone: (704) 332-8131
Tax Parcel Number: 080-204-08
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 080-204-08 is not listed in Mecklenburg County's
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains
a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Ms. Paula M. Stathakis.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains a brief architectural description of the property prepared by 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
/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property known
as the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church does possess special
significance in terms of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The Commission
bases its judgment on the following considerations:
1) the congregation of the church was organized in 1914 as Hawthorne Lane
Methodist Church to serve the Elizabeth-Piedmont Park community and became
a United Methodist Church in the 1960's;
2) many of Charlotte's most prominent business leaders, including J. B.
Ivey, B. D. Heath and E. A. Cole, were charter members of Hawthorne Lane
United Methodist Church;
3) Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church was designed by a leading
Charlotte architect, Louis Asbury;
4) the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church was built in a popular
church design of the period, the "Akron Plan";
5) the first service at Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church was held on
December 3, 1916;
6) the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church has many exterior features,
such as the bell tower and slate roof, intact and in very good condition;
7) the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church has many interior
appointments, such as the ceiling lined with American chestnut and stained
glass windows with cast stone tracery, intact and in very good condition;
8) the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church is architecturally
significant as a fine example of an early 20th century Gothic Revival
9) the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church has, since 1914,
continuously served the neighborhood and the city of Charlotte with its
active programs for both members and non-members.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials feeling, and
/ or association: The Commission contends that the architectural
description by Ms. Nora M. Black included in this report demonstrates that
the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church 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 $610,450. The current appraised value of Tax Parcel
080-20-08 is $149,000. The total appraised value of the property is
$759,450. Churches are exempt from ad Valorem taxes. The property is zoned
Date of Preparation of this Report: 4 May 1992
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill
in conjunction with
Ms. Nora M. Black
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
The Law Building, Suite 100,
730 East Trade Street
P. O. Box 35434
Charlotte, North Carolina
Prepared by: Ms. Paula M. Stathakis
The congregation of Hawthorne Lane Methodist Church was organized in
1914. The establishment of this congregation was the end result of two years
of preliminary work of a committee created to investigate the necessity of
building a Methodist church to serve the
Elizabeth and Piedmont Park neighborhoods. The proposal to create a new
congregation and church to serve the Elizabeth-Piedmont Park community was
approved at the meeting of the joint quarterly conference of Charlotte
Methodist Churches on April 14, 1914. Among the members of this committee
were some of the most prominent men of the Charlotte business community; J.B.
Ivey, B.D. Heath, and E.A. Cole were all charter members of Hawthorne Lane
The congregation held its first service on December 5, 1915. Before the
sanctuary on Hawthorne Lane was completed, the congregation met at Elizabeth
College and Conservatory of Music, now Presbyterian Hospital. Charles B.
King, president of
Elizabeth College, agreed to rent the Elizabeth College Chapel to the
Hawthorne Lane congregation for $50.00 a month. This fee included the
chapel, two recitation rooms on the first floor for Sunday School,
electricity, and the sexton's salary. In the winter, an additional fee for
coal was assessed. The pipe organ was also rented to the group for an
additional $4.00 a month.2
The congregation met at Elizabeth College until the new church was
completed. The first service in the new facility was held on December 3,
1916. The church was designed by Charlotte architect Louis Asbury.3
Asbury used the "Akron Plan", a popular church design of the period that
used roll up partitions to divide the building into classroom and sanctuary
The interior of the church, featuring details of the "Akron Plan"
The seating in the sanctuary is arranged in a semi-circle around the
altar. Two large, fine stained glass windows depicting John Wesley speaking
on the grave of his father and Jesus at age twelve in the Temple of
Jerusalem flank the altar. The church was built upon land that was donated
to the congregation by charter member B.D. Heath. 4
The first service in the church celebrated the completion of the
structure as well as the first anniversary of the congregation. The service
was conducted by Rev. R.D. Sherrill; his sermon was "Our Indebtedness to the
Past and to the Future" during which he exhorted the members of the new
generation, whom he judged to be especially well endowed with material
wealth, to maintain the blessings of the past and to perpetuate God's work:
"What might we accomplish as a church at large with the old life and power
in our new equipment?"5
Hawthorne Lane Methodist Church's primary significance lies in its role
as a neighborhood church for the Elizabeth suburb. Elizabeth is Charlotte's
second oldest streetcar suburb and until the construction of
Myers Park, Elizabeth was Charlotte's most fashionable suburban address.6
Residential construction began in 1891, and by 1925, Elizabeth had four
neighborhood churches. Hawthorne Lane Methodist was the second church built
in the suburb preceded by St. Martin's Episcopal.7
Although the formal organization of Hawthorne Lane Methodist was guided
by some of the most prominent men of Charlotte, the congregation was
composed of people from different socio-economic levels. Most members
contributed to the maintenance and the welfare of the church in the best
ways they could. Robert E. Evans, who joined the congregation in 1923, went
to the church at 11:00 on Saturday nights to start the coal furnace so
everyone would be warm on Sunday mornings. Air conditioning was installed in
1969, thanks to Terry Hodges. Prior to leaving for Vietnam in 1968, Terry
asked his parents to make a contribution to the air conditioning fund in his
name if anything happened to him. Terry Hodges was killed on August 19,
1968. The air conditioning fund became the church's tribute to Terry. Within
a year, $30,215 was raised to install air conditioning in the church. On hot
summer Sundays, the parishioners can thank Terry Hodges for the air
Charter member J.B. Ivey was in a position to be generous with both his
money and his time. Ivey served the congregation as a Sunday School teacher
and as the Sunday School Superintendent. One of his former Sunday School
students, Zelda Thomas Shoemaker, recalled that Ivey visited her one Sunday
when she was home sick. Ivey brightened her day by taking her a pair of
earrings he made out of peanuts. Ivey also held Easter Egg hunts in his
gardens at the corner of Central Avenue and Louise Avenue.8
The most renowned member of the Hawthorne Lane congregation was Hal Kemp,
a band leader popular in the 1930s. Kemp began his musical career with his
childhood friend John Scott Trotter in the Sunday School Orchestra. Kemp's
band, which included John Scott Trotter on piano, Skinney Ellis on Drums,
Saxie Dowell on sax, and Ben Williams on clarinet, immortalized such hits as
"I've Got a Date With an Angel" and "You're the Top".9
The congregation of the church has traditionally been involved in
missionary and outreach activities. Since December 1915, the women of the
church have contributed to Charlotte community projects, such as providing
social activities at Camp Greene during World War I, contributing to the
Florence Crittendon Home and the Bethlehem Center. The church has sponsored
missionaries in India and Japan. Various youth organizations meet at the
church, both Methodist groups, such as the United Methodist Youth Fellowship
and secular clubs, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Many of the
members of the church have attended the same Sunday School class for years.l0
As the needs of the neighborhood changed, the mission of the church
adapted. Whereas the church once focused on the needs of its members, most
of whom lived in the neighborhood, the church now extends its services to
the neighborhood in general. Hawthorne Lane Methodist Church assists in the
support of Crisis Assistance Ministries, and keeps an account at Stanley
Drugstore, where homeless individuals are sent for meals.
Hawthorne Lane Methodist church is also important to its congregation.
Many members have moved out of the Elizabeth neighborhood but return every
Sunday for church. Many young adults who grew up in this church also
maintain their membership there. The most striking testimony to the
significance of this church to its members is the Heritage Room. The
Heritage Room houses every document and relic that is historically
significant to the Hawthorne Lane Methodist Church. Great pains have been
taken to catalog information through photographs, videotape, and transcripts
of interviews. Much of the information is kept in scrapbooks. The Heritage
Room is very clearly a labor of love and an eloquent expression of the
important role this church has played in the lives of its members.
1 Histories and Organization Notebook: Hawthorne Lane
Methodist Church. Souvenir Booklet, Dedication Day, April 27, 1924.
2 Letter from Charles B. King to J.B. Ivey, October 21, 1915.
Letter property of the Hawthorne Lane Methodist Church.
3 Louis Asbury also designed the E.B. Gresham House and the
Mayfair Manor (now the Dunhill Hotel).
4 B.D. Heath established the cotton and banking firm of Heath
Brothers; he owned several textile mills in North and South Carolina, and
was also president of the Oakhurst Land Company. The cost of construction,
equipment and fixtures for the new church was $350,000.00. A parsonage was
constructed adjacent to the church in 1916. The two story four bedroom, two
bathroom house was torn down in the 1960s and a new parsonage was built at
4818 Hardwicke Road. The original location of the parsonage is now a parking
5 Charlotte Observer, "Hawthorne Church in New
Building." December 4, 1916, p. 6.
Thomas Hanchett, Charlotte and Its Neighborhoods. The Growth of a New South
Citv, 1850-1930. Section III. The Streetcar Neighborhoods.
Unpublished manuscript prepared for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic
Properties Commission, 1981-1985, p. 1.
7 Ibid., p. 15.
8 All anecdotes taken from the Histories/Organization
Notebook, 1915-, property of Hawthorne Lane Methodist Church.
9 Thomas Hanchett, Charlotte and Its Neighborhoods, p.
19; Charlotte Observer, February 5, 1980.
10 History of the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church.
Stepping Stones, 1911-1980. p. 3.
Prepared by: Ms. Nora M. Black
The Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church is located in Charlotte's
Elizabeth neighborhood on the northwest side of Hawthorne Lane at the
intersection of East Eighth Street. In recent years, the section of
Hawthorne Lane in front of the church has become a busy thoroughfare
connecting Independence Boulevard with East Seventh Street and the
Presbyterian Hospital complex. Due to the large number of people who pass
the church each day, Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church is probably one
of the most easily recognized churches in Charlotte's early neighborhoods.
gable of the church's southeast facade faces Hawthorne Lane; one side of
the nave parallels the busy street. The distinctive bell tower is located on
the southeast facade; the double doors of the main entrance are located in
the base of the tower. The northwest facade serves as the connecting side
for passageways to additions that are not being considered for designation;
mechanical equipment also lines this facade. The
cross-gable of the southwest facade faces East Seventh Street. The
northeast end of the building has a low gable wing used for offices.
The Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church is a fine example of an early
20th century Gothic Revival building. Following the Civil War, the Gothic
Revival style was one of the most popular styles of church architecture in
North Carolina. Many denominations supplied official publications on church
building to help local congregations emulate the current fashion. At the
turn of the century, the Classical style of building began to gain favor.
"The Gothic Revival style, however, never lost its hold on church
architecture...Urban and rural congregations of every denomination built
brick, frame, and stone churches in the Gothic style..."
Louis Asbury, the architect, used the "Akron plan" for the Hawthorne Lane
United Methodist Church. The Akron plan is so named because it first
appeared at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio.2 The
Akron plan is a distortion of the circular plan since the square or
rectangular nave has a semicircular arrangement of pews around a point of
focus which is the sanctuary and choirs. The preference for this arrangement
was not new. Early Christians favored a round church, based on the Roman
baths and mausoleums, over the long church which was adapted from Roman
The rise of evangelism at the turn of the century brought the older form
back to popularity as Bishir points out in the following excerpt:
"Although the established plans and styles of religious architecture
enjoyed continued vitality, important changes had begun to appear as well.
Mainstream Protestant churches adopted a new church plan drawn from their
own history and designed to accommodate their worship: the theater or
auditorium plan. Mid-nineteenth-century English and American evangelists
preaching in cities had often rented theaters to accommodate the throngs
they attracted. The arrangement of theaters, with their sloping floors,
provided an excellent model for evangelical Protestant churches, for it
offered a maximum number of good seats from which to see and hear the
preacher. Sanctuaries with sloping floors, curving rows of seats, and
aisles radiating out from the pulpit became widely popular in the late
nineteenth century as denominational publications presented designs for
auditorium or theater-plan churches in large and small sizes...In North
Carolina, this new arrangement appeared in many churches."5
Louis Asbury's design for the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church
included a 52'x 76' auditorium to seat 650 people. Roll-up partitions
separated the Sunday School auditorium from the main church. When those
partitions were opened, the church seated 1,100 people. The basement of the
building had a kitchen, library or club room, a reception hall, and other
conveniences. The construction contract was awarded on 12 February 1916 to
Mr. J. A. Jones based on a bid of $38,119. That bid did not include heating,
plumbing, electrical wiring, windows, seats, fixtures and equipment. The
building committee estimated that the church, completed and equipped, would
cost $50,000. Not included in that figure is the cost of the lot. Donated by
Mr. B. D. Heath, it was valued at $7,500.6 Appraisal cards at the
Mecklenburg County Tax Office give the estimated replacement cost of this
structure as $984,591.
The Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church is constructed of red brick
running bond with white mortar joints. Brick buttresses with cast stone
elements give the structure a sense of weight and rigidity. At the same
time, the buttresses add vertical interest. Each buttress has a gabled cast
stone top decorated with a recessed trefoil arch. The top sections of the
brick buttresses also have recessed panels. These sections resemble niches
of the original Gothic churches that held statuary. The gable roof at the
top of each buttress reminds one of a house and the Biblical quote that
"...in my Father's house there are many mansions..." A belt course of cast
stone encircles the building; cast stone courses also decorate the gable
ends. The walls of the gable ends rise to a parapet topped with a cast stone
coping. The cross-gabled roofs have a steep slope; however, the front-facing
gable hides the roof and keeps it from becoming the dominant element. The
original slate roof is laid in a simple, coursed pattern.
Most of the windows in the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church contain
the original stained glass. Some windows have cast stone pointed arches with
cast stone tracery.
Windows with pointed arches have cast stone hood-moulds to throw off
rain. A few windows, including most of those on the southwest facade, are
double hung wooden
sash; each sash contains stained glass. All double hung sash windows
have cast stone lintels and sills. The three large stained glass windows on
the southeast facade are covered with clear plexiglass to prevent breakage.
The plexiglass has a grid support system that attempts to match some of the
pattern of the cast stone tracery.
The bell tower dominates the front elevation. The tower rises above the
roofline of Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church to end in corbeled brick
battlements. The tower buttresses differ from the buttresses of the main
structure; they lack the recessed "house" niches at the top (described on
page 7). Louvers in the tower are set in cast stone surrounds with
pointed arches. Stained glass windows below the louvers also have cast
stone surrounds with trefoil arches. The main entry to the church is through
the base of the tower. The double doors have a cast stone surround with a
center-pointed, compound arch. The wooden doors, painted dark brown, have
black wrought iron hinges. The single light fixture over the entry is a
simple frosted globe suspended on a curved metal arm. A cast stone panel,
recessed into the brick wall between the light fixture and the point of the
entry arch, is decorated with foliage carved in high relief. Similar panels
are recessed into the wall above the point of the louver arches. Brick
bulkheads topped with cast stone copings form balustrades for the twelve
granite steps leading to the main entry. An iron pipe railing has been
attached to each balustrade.
The Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church has one minor entry on the
southwest facade. It is located on the southwest wall of a recessed section
of the structure that is opposite the location of the tower. The double
doors lead to the northwest vestibule and a passageway to the Education
Building. Short towers at each corner of the southwest facade have
battlements topped with cast stone copings. The gable end of the southwest
facade is quite different from the southeast and northwest facades. Although
the wall has three large cast stone arches similar to the other two facades,
the arches frame much smaller windows. The size of the windows reflects the
fact that there are three floors on the southwest end of the building. Below
the belt course, the sills of the double hung wooden sash in the basement
are at ground level. A small, narrow chapel running parallel to East Eighth
Street has rectangular windows. The windows on the third level, located in
the balcony, are small arched, double hung sash windows within the larger
arched surrounds. The two center windows in the third level have brick
rowlock arches with cast stone keystones. The southwest gable end is a very
elegant and well-executed solution to a difficult problem - that of
providing ventilation in the era before air conditioning.
The interior of the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church has not been
changed to any great degree since its opening in 1916. Most of the historic
fabric is not only intact but visible. The Akron plan, discussed on page 6,
gives clear definition to the organization of the church. All sight lines of
the auditorium are focused on the center of the northeast wall. The choir is
recessed into the northeast wall of the auditorium. In front of the choir,
an area for a small orchestra and organ pit is shielded from the sanctuary
by a tall wooden screen decorated with trefoil arched panels. The sanctuary,
raised above the level of the auditorium floor, is defined by a wooden
balustrade. The floor of the nave slopes up from the sanctuary to the
southwest wall of the auditorium. The area at the southwest end of the nave,
originally used for Sunday School, is now treated as part of the nave. Six
groups of curving, cushioned pews remain in their original locations. Five
aisles radiate from the sanctuary. The center aisle runs from the sanctuary
to the southwest wall. The two side aisles that run from the sanctuary to
the vestibules appear to be the most used. A semi-circular balcony provides
additional seating. Clearly, this intact version of the Akron plan is
serviceable and well liked by the Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church
Interior appointments are simple but elegant and very well maintained.
The beautiful trefoil arched
wainscot and woodwork are stained dark brown. That color provides a good
contrast for the warm ivory of the textured plaster walls. The floor of the
nave is covered with green carpet. Stained glass windows, many of opalescent
glass, make the interior dim and shadowy. The stained glass window on the
southeast wall depicts John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement in
England, standing on his father's grave while speaking to a small group of
people. On the northwest wall, the stained glass window depicts Jesus at the
age of twelve with the elders and high priests in the Temple of Jerusalem.
The ceiling of the main section of the nave is one of the church's finest
features. The entire ceiling is paneled with narrow strips of irreplaceable
American chestnut. Non-structural ribs delineate a pattern of squares on the
flat section of the ceiling. Within those large squares, some smaller
squares are rotated at a 45 degree angle. Light fixtures are suspended from
chains fastened in the centers of the smaller squares. The elaborate wooden
trusses spanning the nave are decorated with St. Andrew's crosses set in
carved and molded squares. The curved sections of the ceiling are also
paneled with American chestnut. Paneled vaults emphasize the two large
stained glass windows depicting the young Jesus and John Wesley (discussed
above). When all the lights of the church are illuminated, one can see that
the American chestnut paneling is a rich, glowing honey color with a
Doors on the southeast and northwest sides of the building's exterior
open to large square vestibules. The vestibule on the southeast corner is
contained within the base of the tower. Each vestibule has two sets of
double doors opening into the auditorium; each door has a large beveled
glass panel over a single wooden panel. Marble thresholds separate the
floors of the vestibules and the nave. Doors on the northeast side of each
vestibule open to wide aisles that lead directly to the communion rail in
front of the sanctuary.
Open stairways on the southeast and northwest walls lead to the balcony.
The stairways are located to the southwest side of the vestibules in the
portion of the nave that once served as the Sunday School. The balcony has
curved rows of wooden fold-up seats with metal stanchions. The wooden
balustrade at the front of the balcony is similar to the wainscot used
throughout the auditorium. On either side of the balcony, there is a small
room with a roll-up partition. Many years ago these two small rooms were
used for Sunday School classrooms. Enclosed stairways, located near the
balcony stairways, lead from the main floor of the nave to the basement and
to exits at basement level.
The southwest end of the main floor contains a narrow, rectangular chapel
that runs parallel to East Eighth Street. The sanctuary for this small
chapel, located on the northwest end, is separated from the seating area by
a wooden communion rail pierced with trefoil arches. Two groups of straight
pews, separated by a center aisle, offer a startling contrast to the curved
pews in the nave. Two window air conditioning units have been installed;
they are located at opposite ends of the chapel. The wainscot in the chapel
has a rectangular design. Double swinging doors at each end of the chapel
provide access to the nave. Each door has a glass panel in a pointed arch
with intersecting tracery over a large wooden panel.
The Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church is an intact example of an
Akron plan, Gothic Revival style church from the early years of the 20th
century. It played an important role in the settlement of the Elizabeth and
Piedmont neighborhoods. As a new suburban church, it offered a place of
worship to citizens in the first exodus from Charlotte's four wards. The
appointments, finishes and decorative details exhibit a wide range of
superior materials and expert craftsmanship. Hawthorne Lane United Methodist
Church has a long legacy of providing comfort and nourishment for the souls
of its members and others within Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
1 Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina Architecture
(Chapel Hill, N. C., 1990), 310-328, 390-395.
2 Roger G. Kennedy, American Churches (New York, 1982),
3 The sanctuary is considered to be the raised area around the
main altar of a church; at minister delivers the sermon. The nave is the
main area for the seating of the congregation. The singers seated in the
choir, located behind the sanctuary, are raised Hawthorne Lane United
Methodist Church, it includes the platform from which the above the floor
level of the nave and the sanctuary.
4 Kennedy, 237.
5 Bishir (reference to Jaeger, "The Auditorium and Akron Plans
- Reflections of a Half Century of American Protestantism"), 321-322.
6 Bulletin - Hawthorne Lane M. E. Church (Charlotte, N.
C., May 1916), Vol. A, No. 1,1-2.