SURVEY AND RESEARCH REPORT
HOME FEDERAL SAVINGS AND LOAN BUILDING
1. Name and location of the property.
The property known as the Home Federal Savings and Loan Building is
located at 139 South Tryon Street in Charlotte, North Carolina.
2. Name, address,, and telephone number of the
125 Cottage Place, Charlotte
North Carolina 28207
Telephone Number: 704- 332-5777
3. Representative photographs of the property.
This report contains interior and exterior photographs of the property.
4. Map depicting the location of the property.
This report contains a map depicting the location of the property.
5. Current deed book references to the property.
The most recent deed book to the Home Federal Savings and Loan Building is
listed in Mecklenburg County Deed Book RE 11995, Pages 810-813. The Tax
Parcel Number of the property is 125-012-08. UTM Location:
6. A brief historical description of the
property. This report contains a historical sketch of the property
prepared by Richard L. Mattson.
7. A brief architectural description of the property.
This report contains an architectural description of the property prepared
by Richard L. Mattson.
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 history,
architecture, and cultural importance.
The Commission judges that the property known as the Home
Federal Savings and Loan Building does possess special significance in terms
of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The Commission bases its judgment on
the following considerations: 1) the Home Federal Savings and Loan Building,
designed by Freeman-White of Charlotte, North Carolina, is a fine and
unusual expression of the Modern Movement in architecture, which shaped the
design of the city’s office buildings after World War II; 2) the Home
Federal Savings and Loan Building clearly conveys Charlotte’s growing
prominence as a financial center after World War II; and 3) the Home Federal
Savings and Loan Building is a rare surviving example of a mid-sized,
postwar office building in the center city.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship,
materials, feeling, and association.
The Commission contends that the architectural
description by Richard L. Mattson demonstrates that the Home Federal Savings
and Loan Building meets this criterion. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal :
the current Ad Valorem tax appraisal for the improvements is $3,326,500.
The current Ad Valorem tax appraisal for the land is $2,746,800. The
total Ad Valorem tax appraisal for the property is $6,073,300.
Date of Preparation of this Report.
November 25, 2001
Richard L. Mattson
Mattson, Alexander and Associates, Inc.
2228 Winter Street
Charlotte, N.C. 28205
Section 6—Historical Description
Statement of Historical Significance Of The
Home Federal Savings and Loan Building
139 South Tryon Street
The Home Federal Savings and Loan Building, erected in
1967, possesses local historical importance because it illustrates
Charlotte’s growing significance as an urban place and major financial
center in the decades after World War II. The savings bank was founded in
Charlotte in 1883, and expanded rapidly in the second half of the twentieth
century, reflecting the city’s emergence as a thriving regional metropolitan
center and financial hub. Completed in 1967, Home Federal’s seven-story
headquarters on South Tryon Street expressed the bank’s growing status as a
lending institution in the heart of Charlotte’s booming financial district
in the postwar decades.
Brief History Of The Home Federal Savings And Loan
Charlotte-based Home Federal Savings and Loan began in
1883 as the Mechanics Perpetual Building and Loan Association. Samuel
Wittkowsky, a Prussian immigrant of Jewish descent who owned a successful
general merchandise store in Charlotte, founded the business with a group of
local investors. Originally, the Association offered only home mortgages,
but over time it expanded lending services to homebuilders and contractors,
and offered saving accounts to individuals. In 1943 Mechanics Perpetual
replaced its state charter with a federal charter and changed its name to
Home Federal Savings and Loan. During the decades after World War II,
Charlotte expanded at a remarkable pace, nearing a population of 200,000 by
1960, and Home Federal and other financial institutions grew and prospered.
The assets of Home Federal increased from $3,000,000 in 1943 to $19,000,000
in 1955. Between 1950 and 1954, the savings bank made 5,700 loans to
homebuyers and building contractors. In 1962, Home Federal opened
Charlotte’s first savings and loan branch, strategically located in the
booming southeastern outskirts of the city, in the new Park Road Shopping
Center (Charlotte News March 3, 1983).
In 1955 Home Federal Savings and Loan relocated from the
100 block of East Fourth Street to 139 South Tryon Street. At the time, the
site was occupied by the Buford Hotel Building, which the Association
purchased for $400,000 and occupied for a decade. While the hotel building
provided larger accommodations for the expanding bank, its site along South
Tryon Street was the main attraction. During the company’s 100th
anniversary celebration in 1983, bank president Joe H. King declared that
the move to South Tryon Street was a key to its success. King stated, "Tryon
Street is a financial center in this town, and this corner is a prime
location on Tryon, and we’ve grown dramatically in the last 25 years" (Charlotte
News March 3, 1983).
In the mid-1960s, the bank razed the Buford Hotel and in
February 1967 moved into the seven-story Home Federal Savings and Loan
Building. As Charlotte grew in the 1970s and 1980s, the bank’s assets rose
sharply. During the 1970s Home Federal made 10,000 home loans amounting to
nearly $400,000,000, and loaned $140,000,000 to homebuilders and contracting
firms. By the 1980s, the bank ranked among the state’s top five savings and
loan associations in total assets. In the late 1990s, First Charter Bank of
Charlotte acquired Home Federal Savings and Loan, and the bank’s offices
were relocated elsewhere on South Tryon Street. In November 2000, the Home
Federal Savings and Loan Building was purchased by the Charlotte-based real
estate developer, Byron, L.L.C. Plans are in progress to renovate the former
bank building for a variety of office and retail uses.
The completion of the Home Federal Savings and Loan
Building in 1967 reflected not just the growth of the bank but also the
prominence of Charlotte, and South Tryon Street in particular, as a
financial hub. The city began emerging as the banking center of the
Carolinas in the early twentieth century when local businessmen who had
grown rich through textile manufacturing and real estate deals founded banks
to diversify their investments. Between 1897 and 1930 ten new banks opened
in downtown Charlotte, including a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank in
1927. By the eve of the Great Depression South Tryon Street was becoming the
city’s financial district, promoted by the Chamber of Commerce as the "Wall
Street of Charlotte." The street included First National Bank, Merchants and
Farmers Bank, Commercial National Bank, Independence Trust Company, and the
Federal Reserve. By the 1950s Charlotte had become the banking center of the
Southeastern United States, as banks expanded and merged to finance the
region’s burgeoning manufacturing and wholesaling activities. By 1970 North
Carolina National Bank (now Bank of America) and First Union bank, both
based on South Tryon Street, as well as Wachovia and First Citizens banks,
headquartered elsewhere but with prominent addresses on South Tryon, ranked
a2mong the foremost financial institutions in the entire country (Hanchett
1998: 186-187, 196-197, 225, 317).
Between the 1950s and early 1990s, this success spawned
high-rise bank towers downtown. In 1956, the 15-story Wachovia Building was
completed on West Trade Street. The concrete-clad tower remains, though the
integrity of the building’s interior has been lost. In 1961, the 18-story
NCNB Building (which survives though the base has been gutted and remodeled)
and the 20-story Cutter Building (now radically altered) were built facing
each other on the 200 block of South Tryon Street. In 1966, a front-page
article in the Charlotte Observer featured the 41-story Tryon Towers
(now Wachovia Building) planned for the corner of South Tryon and Second
streets. Completed in 1969, the gleaming rectangular tower, sheathed with
glazed curtain walls, still dominates the south end of the financial
A 1969 Charlotte Observer article entitled,
"Downtown Charlotte: Banking City," observed that "a portion of downtown
Charlotte [centered on South Tryon Street] is becoming dominated by bank and
other financially oriented buildings. It’s just a little larger than the
area between Fourth and Second streets between Church and College streets."
By the early 1970s, College Street, one block east of South Tryon, contained
the 32-story First Union Building and the adjacent Southern National Bank
Center (both now gone). South Tryon included Home Federal Savings and Loan,
the Wachovia Building, the Cutter and NCNB towers, the 14-story Northwestern
Bank (which also remains), and the 14-story Southern National Bank Building
(now gone). In 1974, North Carolina National Bank completed the imposing,
tinted-glass, 40-story NCNB (Bank of America) Plaza just north of Home
Federal, at the southeast corner of South Tryon and West Trade streets.
During the 1980s, both First Union and First Citizens also built new
corporate towers downtown, so that modern skyscrapers 20 to 40 stories high
surrounded the seven-story Home Federal Savings and Loan (Charlotte
Observer December 9, 1966; July 27, 1969; November 11, 1973; August 10,
1979; Greensboro Daily News December 9, 1966; Hanchett 1990: 316;
Woodard and Wyatt 2000: 35-36).
In the early 1990s, another NCNB tower (60 stories high)
arose across the street from NCNB Plaza, on the first block of North Tryon.
When completed in 1993, the Art Deco-inspired skyscraper was the tallest
building in the Southeast. This corporate center continues to tower over the
center city, asserting Bank of America’s position as one of the nation’s
most powerful lenders, and Charlotte’s rank among the nation’s top financial
centers, second only to New York City (Charlotte Observer February
25, 1990; Hanchett 1990: 316).
Section 7—Architectural Description
Statement of Architectural Significance Of The
Home Federal Savings and Loan Building
139 South Tryon Street
The 1967 Home Federal Savings and Loan Building has
exceptional architectural significance as a rare surviving and outstanding
example of a small-scale, Modernist office building from the postwar period
in downtown Charlotte (Woodard and Wyatt 2000). Now surrounded by high-rise
bank towers in the center city, the seven-story Home Federal Savings and
Loan Building is a locally unusual expression of the Modern Movement that
shaped the city’s commercial and institutional architecture between the
1940s and 1960s. Modernism engendered abstract sculptural forms that
expressed function while employing new materials and technology. It
reflected a postwar optimism that industrialization was the answer to
contemporary needs and aspirations. While the architecture of the Home
Federal Savings and Loan Building has these traits, it also stands in sharp
contrast to the rectangular, steel-and-glass designs that marked the city’s
Modernist skyscrapers. The building’s exposed, rough-surfaced concrete
walls, projecting sunshades/balconies, and connection to the landscape
display Japanese-inspired elements of design unusual for downtown Charlotte.
A Brief Architectural Description of the Home Federal
Savings and Loan Building
Home Federal Savings and Loan Building is a seven-story,
concrete and glass office building located on South Tryon Street in the
heart of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. The building’s Modernist
influence is demonstrated in its modern materials, abstract sculptural form,
and clear expressions of function and structure. The tall, recessed first
story supported by concrete columns defines the banking lobby and the
mezzanine, which contained the savings bank offices. The upper floors have
bronzed, aluminum-frame ribbon windows expressed as sheep-shadowed
penetrations of the façade. The windows are recessed between distinctive,
horizontal concrete sunshades/balconies that designate the floors and
emphasize the building’s concrete construction. The overall design also
consciously distinguishes the office space from the service systems. The
elevator shafts, air conditioning, and other mechanical systems are set off
behind the rounded walls of fluted, concrete panels and the vertical slots
that cover portions of the north and northeast elevations.
While the simplicity and elegance of the design is in
keeping with Modernism, it is also evocative of traditional timber
architecture of Japan. Asian architect, Kenzo Tange, first fused traditional
Japanese prototypes with Modernism in a series of Japanese government
buildings, notably the Kagawa Prefecture (1955-1959) in Takamatsu. The
façade’s textured concrete, sunshades, and exposed blocks of concrete that
evoke tenon construction are all key elements of the Home Federal’s design
as well. Moreover, like Tange’s Japanese Modern work, the Home Federal
Building is raised on columns that allow a clear connection with the
landscape. The savings bank’s long, aggregate-stone planter and distinctive
water garden with a small wooden arched bridge, a fountain, and a planter,
are all consistent with traditional Japanese design (Kahn 2001: 210-212).
Inside, the first two floors retain offices and service
areas devoted to the operations of the bank. These two floors survive
substantially intact. The first floor features a sunken lobby area with a
receptionist’s counter, flanked by the main service counter and teller areas
to the south and the elevator lobby to the north. Bank offices are located
to the rear. The main entrance includes a Terrazzo tile floor and an open
spiral stairway with a wood and metal balustrade that ascends to the
mezzanine. The mezzanine overlooks the entrance and contains a large lobby
and bank offices. The three large light fixtures in the recessed ceiling
panels suspended over the main entrance appear to be later additions. Each
of the floors contains an elevator lobby with an original Travertine stone
The upper five floors were leased to a variety of
businesses, including law firms and medical practices. Some of the leased
spaces on the upper floors have been remodeled over the years and contain
replacement doors and wainscoting. The upper floors were intended to be
flexible spaces, with movable, standardized partition walls that could be
readily reattached employing wall receptors. With the exception of the sixth
floor, which has undergone selective demolition, the building’s offices
retain most of the original, tall solid wood doors with wood transoms,
lay-in acoustic-tile ceilings, and ceiling light fixtures. The rear half of
the seventh floor contains mechanical equipment. The basement holds the main
bank vault, subdivided dining areas, and rooms for electrical equipment.
The Charlotte News. Special Advertising Section.
"Home Federal Savings Centennial: 100
Years of Helping Mecklenburg Grow." 3 March 1983.
The Charlotte Observer. 9 December 1966; 17 July
1969; 11 November 1973; August 10, 1979.
Greensboro Daily News. 9 December 1966.
Hanchett, Thomas W. Sorting Out the New South City:
Race, Class, and Urban Development in
Charlotte, 1875-1975. Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press, 1998.
Kahn, Hasan-Uddin. International Style: Modernist
Architecture From 1925 to 1965. New
York: Taschen, 2001.
White, Hugh Edward. Interview with Henry Lafferty. 15
April 2001. Charlotte, North
Woodard, Sarah, and Sherry Wyatt. "Charlotte’s Post-World
War II Architecture: Survey Report." 2000. Prepared for the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission and the North Carolina
State Historic Preservation Office. On file at the North Carolina Division
of Archives and History, Survey and Planning Branch, Raleigh and at the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.