THE NORTH CAROLINA MEDICAL COLLEGE BUILDING
This report was written on February 6, 1979
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
North Carolina Medical College Building is located at 229 N. Church St. in
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the present owner and
occupant of the property:
The present owners of the property are:
Delores Boyce Richards
Nancy G. Ford
Charlotte, N.C. 28213
Telephone: (704) 332-2632
The property is unoccupied.
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 depicting the location of the property.
5. Current Deed Book Reference: The most recent reference to this
property is recorded in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 4142 at page 412. The
Tax Parcel Number of the property is 07801203.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property:
The North Carolina Medical College Building was officially dedicated on
October 2, 1907.1 The architect was James Mackson McMichael
(1870-1944). a native of Harrisburg, Pa., who had moved to Charlotte in
1901. A specialist in church design, McMichael was the architect of several
imposing edifices in this community, including Myers Park Presbyterian
Church, (now Spirit Square), the old Public Library on N. Tryon Baptist
Church, and the
First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church at N. Tryon and East
Eleventh Sts.2 The building was used exclusively for educational
purposes. No one lived there.
The basement contained the showers and toilets, the cadaver vats, and
service rooms. The entrance on Sixth St. provided access to the dispensary
which consisted of a drug room, separate waiting rooms for black and white
patients and several examination and treatment rooms. Each day between
11:00AM and noon, individuals could come here for free medical services.
Also located on the first floor were administrative offices, a lounge, and
several rooms equipped for clinical lectures and demonstrations. On the
second floor were three 20 x 40 foot laboratories, a large lecture hall, a
library, and reading room. The uppermost floor housed two laboratories and a
dissecting hall with a concrete floor.3 The most impressive
feature of the building is a two-story amphitheater at the rear. The
Charlotte News called it the "crowning glory" of the edifice and
boastfully exclaimed that it was "fully as large and handsomely furnished as
the amphitheater in Bellevue Hospital." Sources disagree as to how many
individuals could sit in this room, but the capacity was at least two
hundred and fifty. It had windows on all sides and multiple entrances on the
first and second floors.4
The North Carolina Medical College played an important role in the
evolution of medical education in North Carolina. During the antebellum era,
the overwhelming majority of physicians in this state secured their training
under the tutelage of an established doctor. The first medical school in
North Carolina was the Edenborough Medical College chartered in 1867 and
located on a plantation near Raeford, N.C. This institution, which ceased
operations in 1877, was a proprietary school, meaning that it was a
profit-making organization that depended upon student fees for its income.
An institution of this type might have been established in Wilmington, NC.
in 1871; however, there are no records of anyone having attended or
graduated from this school, known as the College of Physicians and Surgeons.5
The first proprietary school for prospective physicians that was
nominally associated with an institution of higher learning was the Leonard
Medical School in Raleigh, NC. Chartered in 1882, the school ceased
operations in 1914. Throughout its hiatus, this institution provided medical
training for students at Shaw University and was, therefore, open only to
African American people.6 On February 12, 1879, medical
instruction commenced at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill,
NC. However, this enterprise was discontinued in 1885.7
Consequently, in the mid-1880's a medical college for the instruction of
whites did not exist in North Carolina. This unfortunate situation ended in
1887, when Dr. Paul B. Barringer (1857-1941) established a proprietary
school at Davidson, NC, initially called the Davidson School of Medicine.
Son of General Rufus Barringer and Eugenia Morrison Barringer, Dr. Barringer
had become the physician for Davidson College in 1886. In 1889, he joined
the faculty of the University of Virginia and sold his fledgling medical
school to Dr. John Peter Munroe, his successor as physician of Davidson
Dr. Munroe, a graduate of Davidson College in 1882 and of the medical
school of the University of Virginia in 1885, moved quickly to expand the
proprietary school that Dr. Barringer had begun. A second year of
instruction was added in 1890. In 1893, the institution was chartered as the
North Carolina Medical College, now a three year institution. Dr. Munroe
secured a larger building for the college in 1896, and in 1901 a structure
was erected for clinical teaching. It is important to note that the North
Carolina Medical College had no official relationship with Davidson College,
even though members of the Davidson faculty taught there under separate
contractual arrangements. Indeed, high school graduates enrolled at the
medical college. The college also offered a course for students from other
institutions who sought to prepare themselves for licensing examinations
required by the State Board of Medical Examiners.9
In 1902, the North Carolina Medical College began sending its senior
class to Charlotte, where the students had greater opportunities for
clinical training because of the numerous hospitals located there.10
The entire student body moved to Charlotte in 1907, when the North Carolina
Medical College Building on N. Church St. was completed at a cost of
$27,000.11 At the official dedication, Dr. Monroe explained why
the institution had abandoned its facilities in Davidson, NC. He stated that
the opportunities were greater, the scope for work broader in Charlotte than
elsewhere.12 The North Carolina Medical College prospered in
Charlotte. Eighty-two individuals enrolled as full-time students in
1907--25% more than had matriculated in 1906. Mary of the prominent
physicians of the community taught at the institution on a part-time basis,
as did all members of the faculty.13
In the summer of 1910, however, the Carnegie Foundation sent a
representative to the North Carolina Medical College to evaluate the
institution. In a published report, the Carnegie Foundation criticized the
college for not having adequate facilities. In 1914, Dr. Monroe and his
associates, unwilling or unable to spend the money required to bring the
college into conformance with the Carnegie standards, closed the facilities
in Charlotte and enrolled their students at the Medical College of Virginia
in Richmond, VA, where they received their degrees as graduates of the North
Carolina Medical College. The last degrees were awarded in 1917.14
The building on N. Church St. was sold and converted into luxury
apartments, initially known as Churchill Suites.15 The North
Carolina Medical College was an important institution, not only for
Charlotte and Mecklenburg County but also for the State of North Carolina.
The definitive history of Medicine in North Carolina, Medicine in North
Carolina: Essays in the History Of Medical Science and Medical Service,
1524-1960, states that the school was "obviously important in the growth
of medical education and medical practice in the state."l6
Seven hundred and thirty-two students attended the college, and three
hundred and forty Doctor of Medicine degrees were awarded by its faculty.
Robert H. Lafferty, an official of the institution, contended that "the
impetus it gave medicine in Charlotte and this section of the State was both
great and lasting."17 Among its graduates were Mary Martin Sloop
and her husband, Eustace Sloop, who established a hospital at Crossnore, NC.
Portia McKnight, another female graduate, was a co-founder of a clinic in
Sterling, Colorado.18 Dr. B. C. Nalle, founder of the Nalle
Clinic in Charlotte, was a member of the faculty. A group of the faculty
established the Charlotte Sanatorium at N. Church and Seventh Sts, the
hospital where the first x-ray machine was used in this community. The most
significant legacy of the North Carolina Medical College, however, were the
rank-and-file graduates who established medical practices in communities
throughout the State of North Carolina.19
1 The Charlotte Observer (October 3, 1907), p. 6.
2 The Charlotte News (October 2, 1907), p. 5. The
Charlotte Observer (October 4, 1907) . 1.
3 Robert H. Lafferty, The North Carolina Medical College
(Charlotte, 1946), p. 25. The Charlotte News (October 2, 1907), p. 5.
4 The Charlotte News (October 2, 1907), p. 5.
5 Dorothy Long, ea., Medicine in North Carolina: Essays in
the History of Medical Science and Medical Service, 1524-1960, Vol. II.,
pp. 351-364. 6. Ibid., pp. 364-367.
7 Ibid., pp. 377-379. Medical instruction resumed at Chapel
Hill in 1890.
8 Ibid., p. 368. Lafferty, The North Carolina Medical
College, pp. 5-8. Dr. Charles M. Strong, History of Mecklenburg
County Medicine (News Printing House, Charlotte, N.C., 1929), pp.
9 Long, Medicine in North Carolina, Vol. II., pp.
10 Lafferty, The North Carolina Medical College, p. 21.
11 The Charlotte News (October 2, 1907), p. 5.
13 Lafferty, The North Carolina Medical College, p. 25.
A list of the faculty of the North Carolina Medical College is included in
14 Long, Medicine in North Carolina, Vol. II., p. 370.
15. Charlotte City Directory: 1916, p. 552. The property was sold on March
16 Long, Medicine in North Carolina, Vol. II., p. 371.
17 Lafferty, The North Carolina Medical College, p. 2.
18 Long, Medicine in North Carolina, Vol. II., p. 371.
19 Lafferty, The North Carolina Medical College, p. 33.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains an architectural description prepared by Jack O. Boyte, A.I.A.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria set forth in N. C. G. S. 160A-399.4:
a. Historical and cultural significance: The historical and
cultural significance of the property known as the North Carolina Medical
College Building rests upon two factors. First, the building was designed
by an architect of regional and local importance, James Mackson McMichael.
Second, the building was the only Charlotte location of an institution
which occupies an important place in the development of medical education
in North Carolina.
b. Suitability for preservation and restoration: The building
retains its essential exterior integrity. The interior was massively
changed in 1915, when the edifice was consorted into an apartment
building. The building could be easily restored to its configuration as of
c. Educational value: The North Carolina Medical College
Building has educational value because of the historical and cultural
significance of the property.
d. Sost of acquisition, restoration, maintenance or repair: At
present, the Commission has no intention of securing the fee simple or any
lesser included interest in this property. The Commission presently
assumes that all costs associated with restoring and maintaining the
property will be paid by the owner or subsequent owner of the property.
e. Possibilities of adaptive or alternative use of the property:
The property is highly suited for a variety of adaptive or alternative
uses. The property is zoned B3
f. Appraised value: The current tax appraisal of the structure
is $22,750. The current tax appraisal of the .123 acres of land is
$21,500. The most recent tax bill on the land and improvements was $752.25
The Commission is aware that designation would allow the owners to apply
for an automatic deferral of 504 of the Ad Valorem taxes on all or any
portion of the tract which becomes "historic property."
g. The administrative and financial responsibility of any person or
organization willing to underwrite all or a portion of such costs: As
stated earlier, the Commission presently has no intention of purchasing
the fee simple or any lesser included interest in this property.
Furthermore, the Commission presently assumes that all costs associated
with the property will be paid by the present or subsequent owners of the
9. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria established for inclusion in the National Resister of Historic
The Commission judges that the property known as the North Carolina Medical
College Building does meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic
Places. Basic to the Commission's judgment is its knowledge that the
National Register of Historic Places, established by the National Historic
Preservation Act of 1966, represents the decision of the Federal Government
to expand its recognition of historic properties to include those of local,
regional and state significance. The Commission believes that its
investigation of the property known as the North Carolina Medical College
Building demonstrates that the property possesses local, regional and state,
historical, and cultural importance. Consequently, the Commission judges
that the property known as the North Carolina Medical College Building does
meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
10. Documentation of why and in what ways the property is of
historical importance to Charlotte and/or Mecklenburg County:
The property known as the North Carolina Medical College Building is
historically important to Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for two reasons.
First, the building was designed by an architect of regional and local
importance, James Mackson McMichael. Second, the building was the only
Charlotte location of an institution which occupies an important place in
the development of medical education in North Carolina.
Charlotte City Directory: 1916.
Estate Records of Mecklenburg County.
Robert H. Lafferty. The North Carolina Medical College (Charlotte,
Dorothy Long, ed. Medicine in North Carolina: Essays in the History of
Medical Science and Medical Service. 1524-1960. Vol. II.
Records of the Mecklenburg County Resister of Deeds Office.
Records of the Mecklenburg County Tax Office.
Charles M. Strong. History of Mecklenburg County Medicine
The Charlotte News.
The Charlotte Observer.
Date of Preparation of this Report: February 6, 1979
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historical Properties Commission
139 Middleton Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28207
Telephone: (704) 332-2726
In Charlotte's Fourth Ward near the center city area the original three
story red brick home for the North Carolina Medical College remains today
much as it was when first built. Opened in 1907 to wide acclaim, the college
prospered for only a short time. Following a critical report from the
Carnegie Foundation, which from the perspective of history appears
unfounded, the college soon ceased operation, and the building was altered
in 1914 for residential use. Designed by Charlotte architect, James
McMichael, the structure reflects many turn of the century details common to
multi-storied masonry and wood late Victorian buildings. Exterior walls are
solid brick, varying from twelve to sixteen inches thick. Face brick
American Bond (called
English Bond by some) showing five stretcher courses for each header
course. Sited on the southwest corner of Fifth and Church Streets, the
building measures some fifty-five by one hundred and twenty five feet. The
main entrance is on Church, with a secondary access from Fifth. The exterior
facades at the left side and rear, obviously designed to closely abut
adjacent structures, have no decorative trim. On each of three stories are
closely spaced wooden windows with two large single glazed sash.
Window openings have arches above formed by three rows of brick headers.
Sills are double corbeled brick headers. On the front and right sides, the
architect followed the popular mode of the time with applied classical
The building, therefore, in its visible facades could be styled "Colonial
Revival." Facing east on Church Street the pilasters rise from low molded
pedestals to Doric order Abacus. Above this is a broad, projecting
entablature which frames the square opening for recessed double entrance
doors. The recessed entranceway has a smooth marble
wainscot (now painted, but in good condition) at each side which
continues to the interior foyer. The floor rises from here a half dozen
steps to the first floor center hall. The entrance step treads and risers
are also of smooth white marble and retain essentially their 1907 condition.
Above a low foundation wall which encloses a partial cellar, the front and
right sides have a wide water table band of corbeled brick on which a smooth
cement plaster surface is applied to simulate limestone. In the symmetrical
front facade there are two closely spaced windows at each side of the
entrance. These windows are repeated on each of the three floors with
varying architectural treatment. On the first floor the windows have
simulated cast stone sills with small square support brackets. Window heads
are rounded with added transom lights. Above this are arched brick heads
with center keys of simulated stone. Second floor windows have much the same
treatment. Variation is achieved with flat brick jack arches featuring
centered key stones. These windows, however, have no transom lights.
At the third floor the window treatment is much simpler. Sills are
simulated stone and window heads are rounded. No other elaboration is used.
In the spandrel between the second and third floors there are molded
rectangular panels of simulated limestone at each window bay. These panels
give emphasis to the contrasting simulated stone pattern of applied facade
details. Further elaboration is achieved with equally spaced brick pilasters
which divide the front into three balanced segments. Rising from the low
stone foundation band to a corbeled brick band also at the second floor, the
pilasters are interrupted here with a simulated stone base molded of tin.
This band creates a stacked effect, with the upper two stories accented.
Above the elaborately framed entrance are additional classical elements of
massive proportions. At the second floor a molded tin gable pediment rests
on curved support brackets. Under this are tall twin windows with a
fan light transom. Above the parapet cornice is a heavy molded arch
fabricated of tin, which crowns and dominates the entire front facade.
Finally, of course, there is a tall wooden flagpole. At the parapet line on
the street facades the wide molded tin entablature unifies the whole with
heavy classical ornamentation. Along the Fifth Street side of the structure
all of the decorative details of the front are repeated in equal segments
defined, again, with
Doric order pilasters. Inside the building one finds an array of early
nineteenth century details and furnishings. From the small white hexagonal
ceramic floor tile remaining here and there to the repeated glass transom
windows at hallway doors; from the patterned brass hardware to the clawfoot
ceramic bathtubs, the structure retains an astonishing variety of original
A seven foot wide center hall runs the full length of each floor --
altered in 1914 to provide access to luxury apartments created when the
medical school ceased. Ceilings are approximately eleven feet on each floor,
the plaster finish appears to be original. Floors are narrow tongue and
groove strip pine throughout, except where ceramic surfaces occur in baths
and on the original undisturbed first floor area. Walls are all plaster
featuring -- a wide molded chair rail installed consistently. Doors vary
from the front portion to the rear and indicate a departure in design where
the changes were made. At the front rooms doors are typically single panel
with wide rails and styles. At the back they are three panel and likely came
with the 1914 remodeling. Near the front entrance a wide wood
stair rises in two runs to the second floor, then similarly to the
third. Worn brass nosings occur on these treads and appear original. The
stair balustrade consists of turned painted wood
balusters, three on each
tread, supporting a wide-molded stained mahogany
rail. At the rear hall where the secondary entrance from Fifth Street
occurs, there is another stair which appears to have been installed later.
The balusters are noticeably different from those at the front, and the
handrail smaller. A careful reading of the interior would likely determine
the original building plan with its classrooms, laboratories, amphitheater
and other facilities. But the alterations were accomplished at such an early
period in the building's life that the present conditions have enough
historic and architectural merit in themselves to be preserved.