This report was written on July 6, 1976
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Providence Presbyterian Church is located on Providence Rd. in the
southeastern portion of Mecklenburg County.
2. Name, location, and telephone numbers of the present owners and
occupants of the property:
The present owner of the property is:
Providence Presbyterian Church
10140 Providence Rd.
Matthews, NC 28105
Telephone: (704) 847-9585
3. Representative photographs of the property: Representative
photographs of the property are included in this report.
4. A map depicting the location of the property: This report
contains two maps. Map A shows the 3.99 acres which the Church owns on the
western side of Providence Rd. Map B shows the 7.28 acres which the Church
owns on the eastern side of Providence Rd.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the Property: The most recent
reference to both parcels is found in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 2665 at
6. A brief historical sketch of the property:
Providence Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest Christian
congregations in Mecklenburg County. Indeed, Alexander Craighead, the noted
minister of Colonial Mecklenburg, regarded it as "one of his houses." The
first meetinghouse was a simple log structure which was erected in 1767 and
stood to the east of the cemetery overlooking a rock spring. William
Richardson, pastor of the Waxhaws Presbyterian Church and son-in-law of
Alexander Craighead, preached the first sermon in the edifice as the initial
minister at Providence. Members of the congregation played an important part
in local affairs during the turbulent years of the American Revolution.
Three signers of what according to some was the Mecklenburg Declaration of
Independence are buried in the Providence Cemetery: Neill Morrison, John
Flennekin, and Henry Downs. General Cornwallis' Army moved through the area
on its march toward Charlotte in September 1780. In 1804, a new and larger
building was erected to the east of Providence Rd. and in front of the
cemetery. The first old log structure now became a schoolroom, the
Providence Congregation. Also worth noting in this regard is the fact that
two of its early ministers, Dr. Robert Hall Morrison and Dr. Samuel
Williamson, later became the first two presidents of Davidson College.
The present sanctuary dates from 1858. The refinement of the structure,
especially of the interior, confirms that these were prosperous times. The
farmers of the Providence Community were enjoying the benefits of the cotton
economy of the Old South. Of course, their way of life was to end with the
defeat of the Confederacy. But the church remains as a symbol of the
affluence of that era. It continues to serve as the place of worship for the
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains an architectural description 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 Providence Presbyterian
Church rests upon two factors. First, it has strong associative ties with
one of the oldest Presbyterian congregations in the county. Second, it has
architectural significance as one of the oldest and most refined frame
churches in the county.
b. Suitability for preservation and restoration: Providence
Presbyterian Church retains much of its original integrity and therefore
is suitable for preservation and restoration.
c. Educational value: Providence Presbyterian Church has
educational value as one of the oldest frame churches in Mecklenburg
County. Moreover, its members have played a significant role in local
history since the coming of permanent white settlers to this region.
d. Cost of acquisition, restoration, maintenance or repair: The
Commission has no intention of purchasing this property nor is it aware of
any intention of the owners to sell. The Commission asserts that all costs
associated with renovating and maintaining the property will be paid by
the owner or subsequent owners of the property.
e. Possibilities for adaptive or alternative use of the property:
The Commission concurs with the present owners' intention to maintain
the property as a viable church. The structure and grounds, however, could
be adapted to a wide variety of uses.
f. Appraised value: The current tax appraisal value of the
improvements on the property is $108.990. The current tax appraisal value
of the land is $55,580. The Commission is aware that designation of the
property would allow the owner to apply for a special tax classification.
g. The administrative and financial responsibility of and any person
or organization willing to underwrite all or a portion of such costs:
As indicated earlier, the Commission has no intention of purchasing this
property. Furthermore, the Commission assumes that all costs associated
with the property will be met by whatever part, now owns or will
subsequently owns the property. Clearly, the present owners have dominated
the capacity to meet the expenses associated with maintaining the
9. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria established for inclusion in the National Register of Historic
Places: The Commission judges that the property known as the Providence
Presbyterian Church does meet the criteria of the National Register of
Historic Places. Basic to the Commission's judgment is the knowledge of the
fact that the National Register of Historic Places functions to identity
properties of local and state historic significance. The Commission believes
that the property known as the Providence Presbyterian Church is of local
and regional historic significance and thereby meets the criteria of the
National Register of Historic Places.
10. Documentation of why and in what ways the property is of
significance to Charlotte and/or Mecklenburg County: As noted earlier,
the property known as the Providence Presbyterian Church is of local
historic importance for two reasons. First, it has strong associative ties
with one of the oldest Presbyterian congregation in Mecklenburg County.
Second, the structure itself is one of the oldest and most refined frame
churches in Mecklenburg County.
An Inventory of Older Buildings in Mecklenburg County and Charlotte
for the Historic Properties Commission.
Providence Presbyterian Church 1767-1967 (a pamphlet distributed
by Providence Presbyterian Church).
Records of the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds Office.
Records of the Mecklenburg County Tax Office.
Date of Preparation of this report: July 6, 1976
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
139 Middleton Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28207
Telephone: (703) 332-2726
The building is a simple rectangle with high side walls and plain gabled
ends. In the gabled north end, the centered entrance consists of eight foot
high double doors with a six light
transom window above. Over this are three tall windows, one wide and two
narrow. Flanking the entrance are towering three
sash windows. Rising from chair rail height, these windows reach some
twenty five feet above the church floor, and contain a total of twenty seven
lights. At each side four similar windows occur and at the south gabled end,
two units flank the interior preaching platform. Unexpectedly, one may see
original louvered blinds at all windows. These green-painted three section
blinds have been remarkably preserved with careful painting and repair and
still hang on original wrought iron hardware. The structure rests on low
foundation walls of cut Mecklenburg granite. Exterior walls are white
painted square edged narrow-lapped siding. Starting at the foundation with
no molding band, these walls rise about thirty feet to a narrow bed mold
under a wide overhang.
Typical of meeting house design, this cornice configuration includes a
which wide overhang, which is the dominant exterior feature. Projecting out
some two feet from the wall, the overhang fascia is a narrow board with a
wide shingle mold and no gutter. At the gabled ends, this wide overhang
continues up the rake with similar molding trim. The roof has two
uninterrupted surfaces rising steeply to a high ridge line. Upon entering
the narthex through the original entrance doors, one encounters a small room
which has seen several alterations. Originally two doors led to side aisles
in the nave. These were removed in modern times and a center double door
installed. Originally the entrance to the gallery seating was through an
exterior door at the right side front and up steep stairs. This door was
removed in recent years and a new door installed from the narthex to
altered, shallow rise stairs. One other change in the interior front was the
enlargement of the small left side room to provide an interior session room.
Fortunately, the nave, chancel, and gallery construction have remained
unaltered, and they show the fine craftsmanship of these original features
today. Upon entering the nave, one encounters a remarkably preserved room.
Little change has occurred in this sanctuary since its original
construction. Throughout this rectangular room are hand-planed pews facing a
raised pulpit platform at one end. With carefully shaped seats and backs
these pews show clearly the skill of the early craftsmen. The pew end panels
show rare decorative treatment in this severely simple building. The panel
tops are gracefully shaped curved rails and in the lower panels are
elaborate scroll inserts. The wide-center section of pews is divided by a
solid rail running front to rear. Traditionally this is the dividing line
between seating for men and women. Along the full length at each side,
narrow galleries are supported by widely spaced tapered wood columns. The
original wide plank flooring remains, now covered with carpeting. Walls are
horizontal tongue and grooved boards. A fine molded chair rail occurs at
window sill height on all walls and below this are recessed panels with
The high ceiling has a pattern of wide hand planed boards running the
length of the room between raised battens with molded edges. There is no
crown mold. At the face of the balcony framing there are also molded
recessed panels of wide hand planed boards. Above this are round wood rails
connecting square posts which are capped with ornamental wooden balls. In
the roof framing are remarkable examples of the skill of the early
carpenters. Huge rafters, joists and braces are joined in tightly fitted
mortise and tenoned joints to form widely spaced roof trusses. These members
show typical parallel saw marks of water powered mills, and all joints are
secured with the nails and pegs. Purlins of heavy hand hewn pine spans the
space between these trusses and support the ceiling and the original
shingling strips. In the garret, many of the original hand split shingles
remain where they fell when new roofing was installed. Examples of the early
manufactured nails remain in the shingling strips and shingles. The
character of this sanctuary reflects the simplicity of meeting house
architecture. Elaboration is deliberately avoided and molded trim kept to a
minimum. In its simplicity the builders created a strikingly handsome
building and one which illustrates the severity of life in early
Mecklenburg. The Providence Congregation has, through the years, carefully
preserved this remarkable building. It is a rare treat to find a church
which has been in constant use for over 125 years so little changed. This
meeting house is an architectural treasure.