SURVEY AND RESEARCH REPORT
ON THE TOMLINSON-WILSON
HOUSE AND FARM
This report was written on 25 May 1992
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Tomlinson-Wilson House and Farm is located at 11400 Old Statesville Road,
Huntersville, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The owner of the property is:
Thomas A. Davis and wife Charlotte B. Davis
11400 Old Statesville Road
Huntersville, North Carolina 28078
Telephone: (704) 875-6947
Tax Parcel Number: 019-131-02
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 019-131-02 is listed in Mecklenburg County Deed
Book 2561 on page 161.
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 Tomlinson-Wilson House and Farm does possess special significance
in terms of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The Commission bases its
judgment on the following considerations: 1) the Tomlinson-Wilson Farm,
once a part of a much larger tract of land, is a good example of the
agricultural environment that was predominant in Mecklenburg County and
North Carolina; 2) the Tomlinson-Wilson House is believed to have been
constructed by the Tomlinson family in the 1840's; 3) as the only
surviving early house on the agricultural tract, the Tomlinson-Wilson
House is a good example of a mid-19th century vernacular farmhouse with
some Adam details; 4) the Tomlinson-Wilson House is architecturally
significant as an I-house plan in the Tidewater South, Folk House
tradition; 5) the Tomlinson-Wilson House has many exterior features, such
as the one-story shed-roofed porch and the front door surround, that are
intact and in very good condition; 6) the Tomlinson-Wilson House has many
interior appointments, such as the fireplace surrounds and the curved
balustrade, that are intact and in very good condition; and 7) the
Tomlinson-Wilson House and Farm can provide valuable insight into the life
of Mecklenburg County's early yeoman farmers.
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 Tomlinson-Wilson 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 505
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
improvement is $59,140. The current appraised value of the 26.32 acres of
Tax Parcel 019-131-02 is $131,600. The total appraised value of the property
is $190,740. The property is zoned R3.
Date of Preparation of this Report: 25 May 1992
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill in conjunction with Ms. Nora M.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
The Law Building, Suite 100, 730 East Trade Street
Charlotte, North Carolina
Ms. Paula M. Stathakis
The Tomlinson-Wilson House was once part of a large farm that consisted
of at least 186 acres. Although there are no extant documents that
authenticate the date of the house, the accepted local history about the
house is that it was built in the early 1840s. Deeds for the property cannot
be traced beyond 1891; it is therefore not possible to verify this
assumption through legal records.
According to an initial report made by M. B. Gatza, the earliest name
that can be associated with this house is Tomlinson, the family who probably
built it in the 1840s. The Wilson family subsequently purchased the
property. According to the earliest deed that can be identified with this
property, J. F. Wilson is the first member of the Wilson family that can be
documented as an owner of the land. 1 J.F. Wilson was a son of
Cyrus Wilson who was probably the Wilson who purchased the property. Cyrus
Wilson was killed by a fall from a swing in the backyard of this house.
The history of this house is obscure, but the legal records suggest that
the Wilson family encountered financial difficulties prior to the 1890s and
lost the house. C. W. (Clarence Wesley) Wilson, son of Cyrus Wilson, lost
the property because he defaulted on a loan. No records exist to explain to
whom he was indebted or for what purpose. The property was auctioned at the
courthouse and purchased by J. F. Wilson. 3 By January of 1892,
C. W. Wilson owned 98.25 of the original 186 acre tract and J. F. Wilson
owned the remaining 87.75 acres. It is not clear if C.W. Wilson purchased
the land or if it was given to him by J.F. Wilson. 4
This property is located in the Mallard Creek Township, a rural area
populated almost exclusively in the late nineteenth century by small farmers
who grew corn and other grains, cotton, and raised livestock. Farmers in
this area appeared to be more dependent on cotton as a cash crop towards the
latter part of the nineteenth century, as did farmers in other parts of
Mecklenburg County. Unfortunately, the Wilsons do not appear in the existing
agricultural censuses for the nineteenth century in Mecklenburg County, so
there is no way to document their agricultural activity on this land. There
is, however, no reason to suspect that they behaved any differently than
their neighbors regarding agriculture. 5
J.F. Wilson sold his land in 1896 to P.T. Christenbury. 6
Christenbury deeded the land to his daughter Margaret in 1933. 7
Margaret Christenbury Dellinger and her husband C. M. Dellinger sold part of
the property in 1946 to N. S. and Eva Tomlinson. 8 N.S. Tomlinson
was the last owner to farm this land. The Tomlinsons sold the property that
same year to Charles and Helen Bruce. 9 When the Bruces bought
the property, they found bales of cotton piled on the porch of the house.
Charles Bruce was employed as a salesman for Howard and Shelton in
Charlotte. In 1975, Helen Bruce sold the house to the current owners, Thomas
and Charlotte Davis, her daughter and son-in-law. 10
1 Deed 81-490, 11-25-1891 mentions that J.F. Wilson was the
son of Cyrus Wilson who was the previous owner of the property. Indices of
deeds in the nineteenth century do not list a Cyrus Wilson as a landowner of
any property in Mecklenburg County.
2 Charles William Sommerville, The History of Hopewell
Church, Charlotte, N.C.: Observer Printing House, 1939, p. 198. Survey
report by M.B. Gatza.
3 Deed 82-59, 8-3-1891, Mecklenburg County Courthouse. In a
confusing array of deeds, this property appears to have passed back and
forth between J. F. Wilson and E. M. and N. W. Puckett in 1891 and 1892. J.
F. Wilson ended up as sole owner of the property in 1892.
4 Deed 82-592, 1-7-1892. Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
5 According to the 1880 Agriculture Census for Mecklenburg
County, one of the owners of the property, E. M. Puckett grew fifteen acres
of cotton, ten acres of corn, and ten acres of oats. Puckett probably did
not grow these crops on the Tomlinson-Wilson land, but these crops were
typical for the area and the region.
6 Deed 112-625, 11-18-1896. Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
7 Deed 846-126, 11-16-1933. Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
8 Deed 1188-10, 2-11-1946. Mecklenburg County Courthouse. This
deed conveyed 49.75 acres, slightly more than half of the tract that the
9 Deed 1222-65, 10-17-1946. Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
10 Deed 2561-161, 1-1-1975. Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
Ms. Nora M. Black
The Tomlinson-Wilson House and Farm is located on the east side of Old
Statesville Road (Highway 115 running from Charlotte to Huntersville). The
house is north of Alexanderana Road but south of Hambright Road. The house
is approached by a long unpaved driveway crossing the Southern Railroad
tracks (formerly the Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio tracks) that parallel Old
Statesville Road. The front or west facade of the house faces Old
Statesville Road; the rear or east facade overlooks a grassy field and
woodlands. The house is located on a roughly rectangular-shaped parcel of
26.32 acres owned by Thomas A. Davis and his wife, Charlotte B. Davis. Large
trees and tall shrubbery make the house difficult to see from the Old
The Tomlinson-Wilson House is a Pre-railroad Folk House built in the
Tidewater South tradition. The house is a subtype of the Tidewater South
tradition called the extended I-house type.) 1 Pre-railroad folk
houses built before ca.1850 to 1890 (and locally as late as ca.1920),
reflect the difficulty and expense of transporting bulky building materials
such as lumber and brick over long distances. Inland regions, far from the
coast or navigable rivers, depended on transportation provided by
horse-drawn wagons. For that reason, the average citizen was limited to
construction that used materials found on site or very close at hand. The
forests covering the eastern half of the United States provided a huge
supply of timber and established wooden folk building as the tradition.
The linear-plan of the extended I-house type reflects the milder winters
of the Southern United States. The plan is exemplified by a center passage
running from the front entry to the back door with a single room on either
side of the center passage. In two-story plans, the stairway is constructed
in the center passage. The plan generally had a one-story shed extension
along the rear of the house. Although the New England tradition (massed plan
that was two-rooms deep) provided more interior space, builders in the South
used the linear one-room deep plan because less time was spent indoors and
for cross-ventilation to cool the house.
The Tomlinson-Wilson House was constructed during a period of great
change in North Carolina. It is important to note that "[f]or many
Carolinians, the 1830s were years of economic decline and outmigration; the
decade was also a time of greater economic stratification, as planter
families continued to consolidate property and the plantation system
expanded into the Piedmont." 3 The North Carolina State Railroad
between Charlotte and Raleigh would not be completed until 1854. The tracks
of the Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio, just west of the Tomlinson-Wilson House,
would not be constructed until 1860 and then relaid in 1874. The American
architectural profession, in its infancy in the 1830s, influenced the work
of local builders much less than plan books and carpenters' handbooks.
In the midst of the changes in both the state and the country, the
Tomlinson-Wilson House was constructed. The house is roughly contemporary
Cedar Grove (1831-33), another rural house in northern Mecklenburg
County. Comparing the two houses gives a good example of the economic
stratification in the area. Cedar Grove, the larger of the two, was built by
a merchant-planter able to afford the expense of constructing brick kilns
and importing hardware and manufactured goods from New York and
Philadelphia. In contrast, the owners of the Tomlinson-Wilson House, being
yeoman farmers, had to use less expensive materials available locally.
Unlike the Greek Revival style of Cedar Grove, the Tomlinson-Wilson House is
constructed in a Folk House tradition.
The ground plan of the Tomlinson-Wilson House is that of a typical
extended I-house plan in the Tidewater South Folk House tradition. Plan
variations include a one-story, rear-facing ell and a later extension of the
ell on the northeast corner of the principal mass. A one-story addition on
the southeast corner provides an infill between the ell and the shed
extension of the principal mass. The house presents a symmetrical, two-story
elevation to Old Statesville Road. The Tomlinson-Wilson House has a
shed-roofed front porch typical of the extended I-house plan. By the
late 18th century, this became a common feature in southern folk houses to
provide a cool shelter from both the summer's heat and frequent
thunderstorms. The side-gabled roof is a common roof type found in this
The Tomlinson-Wilson Houses has two types of siding: horizontal lapped
board siding and flush horizontal siding. The flush horizontal siding is
under the protection of the front porch; that type of siding indicates the
porch was considered an exterior room. Wide boards trim the corners of the
house. The exterior, including the trim, is painted white. The house is set
on rectangular piers of granite; the current owner placed concrete block
infill between the granite piers.
The side-gabled roof has a moderate slope. It encloses an attic that
provides storage space for the house. The roof is supported by common
rafters with tie beams; the roof sheathing is tongue-and-groove boards. The
charcoal gray composition shingles are laid in a simple, coursed pattern.
The boxed eaves support charcoal gray gutters which carry roof runoff to the
white downspouts. The gable ends have a moderate overhang. An exterior
chimney is centered on each gable end. Wooden louvered vents flank each
chimney at the attic level. Gray stucco covers the stone base and brick of
Many of the windows in the Tomlinson-Wilson House contain the original
leaded glass. Additionally, the original wooden sash has the deep and narrow
muntins (wooden moldings holding the individual panes in place) of the Adam
style. Except for those in the addition on the southeast corner, all
windows are double hung wooden sash. First floor windows in the gable
end section are tall 9/9 windows placed singly but in symmetrical rows.
Second floor windows in the gable end section are shorter 6/6 windows also
placed singly and symmetrically. Windows in the ell section are pairs of 6/6
and 2/2 windows. The addition on the southeast corner has three pairs of
casement windows on the east facade and two fixed
sash stained glass windows on the south facade.
The symmetrical front elevation is three units wide with the front entry
forming the center unit. The one-story shed-roofed porch extends across the
front of the house. The roof of the porch is supported by square
Tuscan-style columns; the porch railing is a simple wooden balustrade. Most
of the balustrade is original; however, a couple of sections, milled to
match the original, have replaced deteriorated sections. Both the floor and
the ceiling of the porch are tongue-and-groove boards. Five brick steps lead
to the porch. A single light fixture is centered at the front entrance.
The front entry, located on the west elevation, is the most decorative
element of the exterior. It appears to have changed little over the years.
It consists of a wooden enframement surrounding the paired doors with five
sidelights on either side. The white enframement has simple decorative
sidelights do not run the full height of the door but end at knee
height. Beneath the sidelights are white wooden panels. A pair of screen
doors opens to a pair of narrow two panel wooden doors. The narrow vertical
panels emphasize the height of the white doors.
The Tomlinson-Wilson House has no porch on the back or east facade of the
house at this time. The back door, which is located in the southeast corner
addition, is approximately at ground level.
Much of the interior of the Tomlinson-Wilson House has not been
modernized. Most of the historic fabric is not only intact but visible. Most
rooms have original painted moldings and original hardware for the two-panel
wooden doors. In the two-story section, the interior walls are boards laid
horizontally. This section also has board ceilings. The ell and the
southeast corner addition have walls of various materials including antique
bricks, boards and sheetrock. The ceilings are approximately 9' high
throughout the house. Wide pine boards were used for flooring in most rooms.
Flooring in the entry hall and the parlor were replaced due to
deterioration. The current owner salvaged similar pine flooring from the
Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church for those two rooms. The southeast corner
addition has a floor of oversized brick.
The front doors open to the center passage hall. The unbroken run of the
open staircase begins at the left (north) of the door. A closet is enclosed
beneath the stairwell. A sheetrock wall closes off the east end of the hall;
it could be removed if an owner wished to restore the center passage to the
back of the house. The square newel on the first floor has a simple square
cap while another square newel on the second floor has a round pillbox cap.
The balustrade, composed of narrow strips of wood, supports a gracefully
curved and carved handrail.
To the right (south side of the house) when standing at the front entry
is the room presumed to have been the original parlor. The focal point of
this room is the fire surround on the south wall. The fire surround has
simple engaged pilasters, set on unadorned plinth blocks, on each side of
the fireplace; the pilasters support a high shelf. Beneath the shelf, the
wood is paneled in a three-part design with a raised center tablet. Above
the shelf, a wooden panel is cut into a pair of quarter circles. The brick
hearth is flush with the floor. A fireplace insert makes the chimney more
The dining room is to the left (north side of the house) when standing at
the front entry. The fireplace occupies the north wall of the room. The fire
surround has the appearance of a pedimented door surround. Engaged pilasters
support a frieze board, cornice and shelf. Above the shelf, the triangular
piece of wood resembles a pediment. This fireplace has a raised brick
The dining room has a doorway on the east wall leading to the kitchen.
The kitchen has modern conveniences. The oak flooring in the kitchen,
although not original, came from the site. A storm in 1980 felled a white
oak tree in the back yard and a red oak tree in the front yard. State
officials measured the fallen white oak tree and determined it to be the
fourth largest in North Carolina. It was also believed to be the tree that
held the swing from which Cyrus Wilson fell to his death. The current owners
had the trees taken to a sawmill and have used some of the lumber in the
The kitchen, laundry room and small sitting room form three narrow rooms
within the original one-story shed extension on the rear (east) side of the
house. The ell on the northeast corner of the house contains a crafts
workroom, a bathroom and a bedroom laid out in linear fashion. The
easternmost section of the ell had to be rebuilt after a tree fell on it.
The stone foundation for the original kitchen chimney is still under the
rebuilt section. At the extreme southeast corner of the house is a family
room added by the current owners in 1980. The brick floor was salvaged from
the Glen Alpine textile mill. Two stained glass windows flank a large
fireplace set in a wall of old brick.
The second floor is also laid out in the center hall passage plan. A bath
has been constructed in the west end of the center passage. The original
stair to the attic is located in that bath. At the east end of the hallway,
a half-door conceals a storage area tucked under the shed roof of the rear
There are bedrooms located on the north and south sides of the second
floor hallway. The south bedroom has a fireplace on the south wall with a
fire surround similar to the one in the dining room. A cupboard, originally
built-in on the first floor, has been moved to the south bedroom. It serves
as closet since the house, as originally constructed, had no closets. The
fireplace in the north bedroom was closed when an early oil furnace was
used; however, the current owner may reopen it since he has a new heating
A natural gas pac system provides heat and air conditioning for the
residents of the Tomlinson-Wilson House. The whole house was rewired in 1953
to provide better lighting, but the work was done in a sensitive manner. The
house contains 2,893 square feet according to Mecklenburg County tax
The Tomlinson-Wilson House and Farm is a mostly intact example of a
typical farm with a house built in the extended I-house plan in the
Tidewater South Folk House tradition. finishes and decorative details of the
Tomlinson-Wilson House suggest that the house was built by a skilled local
craftsman who had access to the pattern books of his day. The house and farm
can provide valuable insight into the settlement and land use patterns of
this area during the Antebellum period.
1 Virginia & Lee McAlester,A Field Guide to American Houses
(New York, 1986), 74-75, 80-82.
2 Ibid, 75.
3 Catherine W. Bishir, with photography by Tim Buchman,
North Carolina Architecture (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1990),195.
4 Interview with Thomas and Charlotte Davis, current owners;
23 May 1992.