This report was written on June 27, 1991
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Robinson House is located at 8716 Steele Creek Road, Charlotte, in
Mecklenburg Courtly, North Carolina.
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The owner of the property is:
Mrs. Wilda Robinson
8716 Steele Creek Road
Charlotte, North Carolina 28273
Telephone: (704) 588 1139
Tax Parcel Numbers: 199-241-09
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.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most recent
deed to Tax Parcel Number 199-241-09 is listed in Mecklenburg County Deed
Book 1074 at page 273.
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 history, architecture, and /or
cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property known as
the Robinson House does possess special significance in terms of Charlotte
and Mecklenburg County. The Commission bases its judgment on the following
1) the original section of the Robinson House is believed to have been
built before the Civil War;
2) William Wallis Robinson, the first owner, was employed as
superintendent with the county school board;
3) the family of William Wallis Robinson sold an acre across from the
Robinson House for the site of the Shopton School in 1896;
4) the Robinson House housed Lester Byrum of the Hayes-Byrum Store
while his own house was under construction;
5) the Robinson House is architecturally significant for the
vernacular interpretation of Greek Revival detailing by a fine craftsman;
6) the Robinson House provides a timeless landmark to the people of
the Shopton community.
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 Robinson House 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 $61,810. The current appraised value of Tax Parcel
199-241-09 (4.000 acres) is $60,000. The total appraised value of the
property is $121,810. The property is zoned R15.
Date of Preparation of this Report: June 27, 1991
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morris in conjunction with Ms. Nora M.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
1225 South Caldwell Street, Box D
Charlotte, North Carolina 28203
Telephone: (704) 376-9115
Paula M. Stathakis
The Robinson Family that built this house has resided in the Steele Creek
community since the mid-eighteenth century. The family patriarch, Richard
Robinson, came to the American Colonies from Scotland and, like so many of
the early immigrants to Mecklenburg County, arrived in North Carolina via
Pennsylvania. Richard Robinson settled in the Steele Creek area of
southwestern Mecklenburg about 1765.1 Richard married Martha
McLeary (1770-1815) on June 14, 1790, by whom he had three sons, Michael,
Alec, and Wallis. Martha Robinson died in 1815 at the age of 45; and soon
thereafter Richard married his second wife, Jane Robinson, who died in 1826
at the age of 20. Richard Robinson, who survived his second wife by only
four months, died in 1827 at the then advanced age of 69. As one would
expect, Richard Robinson, his two wives, and many of his descendants are
buried in the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church cemetery.2 During
the nineteenth century, Steele Creek continued to be a thriving agricultural
community; but, like much of the North Carolina Piedmont, it was composed
mostly of relatively small, diversified farms. The 1850 Census of
Agriculture, for example, shows that Wallis Robinson (1804-1853), Richard's
son, owned a 161-acre farm, on which he raised horses, cows, and hogs, as
weir as harvesting 27 bushels of wheat, 225 bushels of Indian corn, 40
bushels of oats, three 400-pound bales of cotton, 4 bushels of peas and
beans, and 10 bushels of sweet potatoes. This enterprising farmer married
Mary Brown on March 5, 1831.3 Local tradition holds that the
Robinson House was built by Captain William Wallis Robinson (1835-1894), son
of Wallis and Mary Robinson and the grandson of Richard Robinson.
The Robinson family believes that the core or first section of the house
was built in the mid-nineteenth century, shortly after Captain Robinson's
marriage to Laura Cooper (1842-1903) and sometime before the Civil War.
Unfortunately, there are no extant records of his marriage or of the
construction of the house. Consequently, the known historical record does
not provide an exact or approximate age of the dwelling.4 William
Wallis Robinson, the original owner of the house, was an important figure in
the Steele Creek Community. Like so many young men of his generation, he
joined the ranks of the Confederate army, rising to the rank of captain. Not
surprisingly, Captain Robinson returned home at the end of this bitter
conflict and resumed his career as a farmer. His most notable civic
accomplishment, however, was serving as superintendent of the county school
board. He and his wife, Laura Robinson, had three children -- a son, Edward
Brice or "E.B.", who graduated from Davidson College and who served as a
Presbyterian minister in Alabama, and two daughters, Feriba Blanche and
Minnie.5 Laura Robinson lived in the house until her death in
1903. No doubt she took great pride in the accomplishments of her
son-in-law, Plato D. Price, the husband of Minnie Robinson. Plato Price was
especially noteworthy for his resolute commitment to the improvement of
public education for black people. At a time when racism was rampant in much
of Mecklenburg County, Plato Price worked tirelessly to focus the
community's attention upon the plight of African Americans. It was
altogether fitting and proper that Plato D. Price School was named for him.6
In 1896, Feriba Blanche, who married William Alexander McGinn, Minnie
Robinson Price, and E. B. Robinson gave further testimony to the family's
dedication to the educational improvement of the people by selling one acre
of land across the road from the Robinson House for $50.00, so that the
local school commissioners could establish the Shopton High School. This
school served the area until 1921, when it was consolidated with Dixie High
School. Thereafter, the building was used by the Steele Creek Home
Demonstration Club until it burned in 1924.7 The Robinson House
passed out of the Robinson family's hands in 1909.8 Six years
earlier E. B. Robinson had purchased his sisters' interest in the property,
and he now sold it to Robert I. Griffith.9 Griffith lived there
until 1911, when he conveyed the house and approximately 27 acres of
surrounding land to A. M. "Mel" Taylor and his wife, E. A. J. "Addle"
Taylor. Taylor, a native of Illinois who came to North Carolina from
Minnesota, is still remembered by his Mecklenburg neighbors for his "exotic"
Yankee accent. Mel Taylor, who died in 1925, sold all but four acres of his
property in 1919 to William Lester Byrum, a community farmer and
storekeeper, who also occupied the Robinson House as a tenant from 1925
until 1927. This transaction in 1919 reduced the property to its current
size.10 Addie Taylor sold the Robinson House to James R. Erwin
for $1,000 in 1927.11 Erwin resided there until his death in
about 1933, when ownership passed to his widow, Neely Porter Erwin, who
expired in 1940.12 In 1942, the Robinson House was purchased by
J. Y. Robinson and his wife, Wilda, then a young couple with small children.13
Mrs. Robinson retains ownership of the house.14
1 From the Robinson Family History, access kindly provided by
Mr. Mack Brown.
2 Steele Creek Presbyterian Church was the social and
religious center of the surrounding community. For an inventory of the
church cemetery, contact the church office.
3 Book of Marriage Bonds. Register of Deeds, Mecklenburg
County Court House.
4 The current owner of the house, Mrs. J. Y. "Wilda" Robinson,
no relation to the Richard Robinson line, relates that her son, who is an
architect, has examined underneath the house and can tell where the original
section and the additions fit together.
5 Interview with Mr. Mack Brown and Miss Laura McGinn,
December 6, 1990.
7 The History of the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church,
3rd edition, Historical Committee of 1976. (Charlotte, N.C.: Craftsman
Printing House, 1978), pp. 172, 174; Deed 112-493, October 13, 1896. L. C.
Robinson, E. B. Robinson, P. D. Price, W. A. McGinn, and R. A. Coffey, Comrs.
of School District no. 21 for the construction of a school for whites. The
deed also stipulated that if the premises were abandoned and not used as a
white school, the title, but not the building, would revert to the grantees.
8 Deed 248-152, July 6, 1909. Register of Deeds, Mecklenburg
County Court House.
9 Deed 185-258, October 26, 1903. Register of Deeds,
Mecklenburg County Court House.
10 Deed 276-442, October 2, 1911. Register of Deeds,
Mecklenburg County Court House; Deed 438-152, December 5, 1919. Register of
Deeds, Mecklenburg County Court House. Death Certificate Book 24, page 45.
A. M. Taylor died on February 17, 1925. The certificate of death records his
birthplace as Illinois, his occupation as farming, and the cause of his
death as cancer of the face.
11 Deed 644-219, January 4, 1927. Register of Deeds,
Mecklenburg County Court House.
12 Will Book W, page 410. Office of the Clerk of Estates,
Mecklenburg County Court House.
13 Deed 1074-273, May 14, 1942; Interview with Mr. J.Y.
Robinson, December 1, 1990.
14 Mrs. Robinson has routinely complied to requests from
people whose families formerly occupied the house and wished to see the room
where a relation died or was born. The setting of the house was severely
altered in September 1989, when Hurricane Hugo destroyed several trees near
Nora M. Black
The Robinson House is located on the west side of Steele Creek Road in
the Shopton community. It is south of the intersection of Steele Creek Road
with Dixie River Road and north of the intersection with Trojan Drive. The
front or east facade of the house faces Steele Creek Road; the rear or west
facade overlooks a field and wooded area. The Robinson House encompasses
2,312 square feet according to the Mecklenburg County tax records. It
appears that the house was constructed in three sections. The plan of the
original four-room section of the house is organized around two interior
chimneys. Each chimney served two fireplaces, located back to-back in two
rooms. Each block of two rooms was separated by a long hallway running from
the front door to the back door of the house. Large fieldstones turned on
end served as piers in this section. The rafters in the attic over the first
section are pegged together. The second section of the Robinson House added
a bedroom the kitchen, the back porch, the bay of the dining room and
extended the hallway; all of this addition occurred on the back or west side
of the house.
It was supported on brick piers; cut nails are visible in the attic. The
last section to be added was a large rectangular room on the southwest comer
which served as a bathroom; it has since been remodeled into two smaller
bathrooms.1 When the Robinson family was making repairs to the
exterior of the third section, they found a board stamped with the date
1912. That finding led them to believe the last section was added during or
shortly after that year.2 The one story front elevation is
dominated by the steeply-pitched roof. At first glance, the Robinson House
appears to be a compound plan gable-front-and-wing house. Actually, it has a
simple plan with irregularities formed by projections from the principal
mass of the house that are less than room sized. A flat-roofed, one story
porch spans the width of the front of the house. The three sections of the
house are believed to have been built over a period of fifty years. As with
many houses that grew with the size of the family and the fortune, details
copied from earlier eras have been used to enliven plain, utilitarian
facades. The interpretations and finish of the details used depended on the
skill of the builder and the preferences of the owner.
The exterior was covered with asbestos shingles installed in 1963; both
siding and trim are painted white. The ordinal siding is still beneath the
shingles; it consists of lapped horizontal boards approximately six inches
wider. The gray slate roof has a steep pitch; the
shingle slate pattern consists of five rows of plain slates, four rows
of fishscale slates, and four rows of plain slates. Metal finals at the
ridge line decorate the ends of the
gables. The gables have a wide overhang; the wide eave overhang is boxed
with an interior gutter system. The main roof is a series of cross gables
with an interesting variation on the front of the house. A gable end is
presented on the north end of the front. On the south end, the roof rises
from the edge of the porch pediment in the same manner as a
hip roof. However, on the extreme south end, the roof is finished with a
gable that is visible when viewing the south side of the house. It is an
unusual gesture from the builder that tricks the eye when seen from the
road. The front porch, the back porch and the bay portion of the dining room
have nearly flat roofs. Many of the
windows contain the original glass in double hung sash. The bathroom has
double hung sash; the pantry has one small square window. The center
window of the dining room bay has a top section of patterned clear glass
panes set with lead cames. The back porch has been enclosed for energy
The window surrounds are narrow and not elaborate. The brick foundation
piers of the house were infilled with modern brick in 1963; the entire
underpinning is painted gray. The house is four units deep by three units
wide. It has two interior masonry chimneys that exit at the center of the
ridge. Each gable end has a louvered vent. The east or front elevation has a
single window to either side of the door. One unit of the width was
originally devoted entirely to a hallway; an early renovation terminated the
hall at the west wall of the living room. Then the wall that had separated
the living room and the hall was removed to provide more space in the living
roomy. The south elevation is divided into four units having single windows.
The main entrance, located on the east or front elevation appears to have
changed little over the years. It consists of a simple Greek Revival wooden
enframement surrounding the door. The white enframement has a flutes
pilaster to either side of the door and a decorative crown of simple
moldings. Corner blocks with bullseye decoration form the base for the
pilasters. A wide strip of molding runs along the floor for the entire
length of the porch. the door has a large glass panel in the top half; the
bottom of the door consists of four vertical panels in a row with a single
panel above and below. The flat-roofed one-story porch on the front
elevation has wooden flooring that is painted gray. The ceiling is
equal-width flat boards painted white. The fluted square wooden columns are
a vernacular type based on the Greek Revival style; they exhibit a simple
capital, a shaft, and a base. A simple balustrade nuns between the porch
columns. A broad, low-pitched gable indicates entry at the center of the
porch. The porch was screened in 1965; no historic fabric was removed at
The interior has not been gutted although some updating of fixtures has
occurred. Most rooms have original woodwork and six panel doors. Floors
throughout the house are generally of hardwood; some have been covered with
vinyl flooring. Most walls are plaster; gypsum wallboard was used for
bathroom renovations. The fireplaces are not used for heating the house; two
have been closed. The original fireplace surround in the southeast room has
elaborate Greek Revival details. The sides of the surround, left in place,
have been used as the side decoration for a built-in curio cabinet. An oil
furnace makes the Robinson House comfortable for its current owner. The wide
center hallway serves as a den. The north side of the house contains the
service rooms; the south side of the house contains sleeping quarters and
the two baths. The dining room is the most elaborate room. The fireplace on
the east wall of the dining room has a handsome Greek Revival surround.
Half-round columns support the mantel and mirrored overmantel; the
egg-and-dart design decorates the capitals. The
wainscot has a wide, heavy top molding. The room is ringed by a
decorative plate rail with brackets. The three-sided bay has a wide window
seat. Most of the hardwood floor is visible. The east wall of the dining
room has one door leading to a short passageway to the living room; built in
cabinets and bookcases line the passageway. The west wall has one door
opening to a passageway to the kitchen; the entrance to the pantry and a
built-in cupboard are in the short passage. On the south wall, a door leads
to the hallway. The Robinson House has served as a residence for several
families since its construction in the late 19th century. Renovations have
been, for the most part, sensitive to the original fabric of the house. It
serves as an example of the home of a public servant in Mecklenburg County
during the late 19th century.
1 Telephone interview with Mr. James Robinson, Jr., an
architect in Hilton Head, South Carolina, on July 26, 1991. Mr. Robinson is
the oldest son of Mrs. Golda Robinson, current owner of the house. His
observations span the many years he lived in the house and helped with
4 Interview with Mrs. Golda Robinson, current owner of the
house, on June 15, 1991.