MADISON WADE HOUSE
This report was written on May 1, 1983
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Howard Madison Wade House is located at 530 Hermitage Road, in Charlotte,
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner and
occupant of the property: The present owner and occupant of the property
John H. Cutter and wife Rita F. Cutter
1500 E. Fourth Street
Charlotte, NC 28204
Telephone: (704) 334-2489
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 which depicts the location of the property.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most recent
deed to this property is listed in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 4056 at Page
981. The Tax Parcel Number of the property is: 155-053-07.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains
a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr. William H.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains an architectural description of the property prepared by Thomas W.
Hanchett, architecture historian.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria set forth in N.C.G.S. 160A-399.4:
a. Special significance in terms of its history, architecture,
and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property
known as the Howard Madison Wade House does possess special significance
in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on
the following considerations: 1) the Howard Madison Wade House, erected in
1928-30, was designed by Charles Barton Keen, an architect of national
significance; 2) the grounds of the Howard Madison Wade House, were
designed by Earle S. Draper, the most important landscape architect and
planner in the southeastern United States in the first half of the
twentieth century; 3) the Howard Madison Wade House is one of the finer,
local examples of the Colonial Revival style; 4) the Howard Madison Wade
House is situated at the intersection of Hermitage Road and Granville Road
directly across from a park making the site extremely important to the
overall integrity of Myers Park; 5) Howard Madison Wade (1876-1961), the
original owner was a businessman of regional importance, specializing in
custom interior woodworking.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling
and/or association: The Commission contends that the attached
architectural description by Mr. Thomas W. Hanchett demonstrates that the
Howard Madison Wade 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
"historic property." The current appraised value of the 1.857 acres of land
is $96,000. The current appraised value of the improvements is $325,840. The
total current appraised value is $421,840. The property is zoned R12.
Date of Preparation of this Report: May 1, 1983
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
218 N. Tryon Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Special Note: Please note that
Charles Barton Keen sometimes spelled his name with a final "e." Dr. Huffman
uses the latter spelling in his essay, and Mr. Hanchett uses the former
spelling in his essay.
WlLLIAM H. HUFFMAN
When Howard Madison Wade (1876 - 1961) came to Charlotte in 1906, he
wanted to apply his seemingly unlimited energy to business pursuits that
could grow with the town which seemed "an up and coming place," and the
climate would possibly be better for his wife, the former Rosalie Tarver
(1878 - 1956), to whom he was married in 1900. 1 Born on a farm
outside Columbus, Georgia, on August 21, 1876 Mr. Wade earned a B. A. degree
from Emory University, at that time located in Oxford, Georgia, following
which he became the principal at Columbus High School, where he taught Latin
and Greek as well as modern and medieval history. In 1901, he decided to
leave the teaching profession and apply his talents to the business world,
and so he traveled north to enroll in the Eastman Business College,
Poughkeepsie, New York, where he studied commerce and banking. After
graduation, Wade returned to Columbus, where he became vice president of the
Georgia Manufacturing Co., and from 1903 to 1906, was the secretary -
treasurer of the Massey - Perkins Yarn and Hosiery Manufacturing Company.
After his arrival in Charlotte, the thirty-year-old entrepreneur started
the Wade Manufacturing Company, located off South Graham Street between
Stonewall and Hill Streets near the railroad tracks. For over seventy years,
Wade Manufacturing produced custom interiors, primarily of fine polished
wood, including fixtures, furnishings and paneling, for stores, banks,
churches and other similar establishments. Expert craftsmen were brought
over from Europe to make the furnishings, examples of which may still be
seen at 630 South Graham Street, now the office of Southern Shows, Inc. H.
M. Wade had chosen his new home well, for not only did he and his company
participate fully in Charlotte's steady, at times rapid growth of the next
few decades, but they also supplied customers throughout North and South
Carolina, Georgia and other Southern states. 3
Following the birth of their daughter, Isabelle Tarver, in 1911, the
Wades decided to move from their residence at 610 North Church Street in the
city to a place in the country, and so they purchased a lot about two miles
south of the Square in September of that year. 4 The
one-and-a-half-acre site they chose on Hermitage Road facing a small park
was located in the newly-opened
Myers Park, a suburban development by businessman George Stephens of the
1200 acre farm owned by his father-in-law, John Springs Myers. At the time,
the Wades were one of the first property owners in the newly-designed area
which was originally laid out by
John Nolen, a professional landscape architect and town planner from
Cambridge, Massachusetts. Providence Road was yet to be paved for a few
years, and the first
streetcar leaving the Square and passing through the gates on Queens
Road on its way to Queens College did not make the journey until a year
after they purchased their new home site. 5 The enterprising Mr.
Wade designed their first Hermitage Road residence himself, and had it built
by workers from his manufacturing company. His daughter, Isabelle Wade
Bacon, described it thus:
It was a white shingle house, and he drew the plans himself. Downstairs
it had a living room, library, dining room, breakfast room, kitchen,
bedroom and bath . Then on the second floor it had four bedrooms and two
baths. The feature we all loved was an old-fashioned porch, all open, and
we all sat around on it.
The house was elevated. You had to go up a round driveway, and it was
one of the old houses with the porte-cochere that the driveway goes up
In the years following the Wade's move to the "country," Myers Park began
to grow and change as more and more business and professional families came
out to build homes along the suburb's curved, tree-lined streets. In 1915,
John Nolen brought to Charlotte another young landscape architect and town
Earle S. Draper, to prepare landscape plans for each purchaser of a lot
in the development. Two years later, Draper went into business for himself,
and helped continue the planning and landscape designs for Myers Park, and
other developments. The prosperity of the Teens and Twenties in Charlotte
was accompanied by many fine homes being constructed around the Wades. In
1919, a nearby mansion,
White Oaks, was purchased and greatly enlarged by James B. Duke, and is
now on the National Register of Historic Places. Another neighbor at 611
Hermitage Road, across from the Duke house, was John H. Cutter, a real
estate investor-developer and cotton broker, the grandfather of the present
owner of the Wade house, who after having lived at the then fashionable
North Tryon Street purchased the residence in 1921. One block away, on
Providence Road, John M. Jamison, the Stonewall Hotel owner, had put up his
stone house (1912 - 13), and next to it Charles P. Moody built his red
brick residence (c. 1913) at number 830. 7
In the nineteen-twenties, Mr. Wade had been in Winston-Salem and seen
some of the fine large houses there designed by Philadelphia architect
Charles Barton Keene (1868 - 1931). 8 Keene, who received his
architectural training at the University of Pennsylvania, was first brought
in to North Carolina to design the Reynolda House for R. J. Reynolds in
1917, a sixty-room "bungalow" outside Winston-Salem. After this commission,
Keene, a nationally known architect, was in much demand to design other
houses there, which he executed over the next fourteen years. In Charlotte,
a neighbor of H. M. Wade, Charles E. Lambeth, one-time mayor of the city and
prominent realtor, had Keene draw the plans for a house at 435 Hermitage
Road, which was constructed about 1927. 9
A year later, Howard Wade hired the Philadelphia architect to draw the
plans for a house to replace the one of his own design. While many owners
are quite happy to leave the design and construction of a house to the
architect and builder, just the opposite was the case with Mr. Wade who
meticulously involved himself in the most minute details of both the
planning and building of his new home. Once he and Keene had agreed on a
design the manufacturer personally dealt with the contractors in negotiating
construction bids from whom he required various options on using different
materials and features. The successful bidder, B. Lowndes Jackson, agreed to
construct the house for $63,865.00, but before he was accepted, H. M. Wade
required him to submit the names and reputations of all the subcontractors
he planned to use. In a letter of September 20, 1928, Jackson complied:
Carpenter, H. Wright, who was foreman on Mr. Ivey's house; bricklaying
foreman, P. A. Jackson; millwork, J. H. Wearne Co.; structural steel,
Southern Engineering Company; slate roof and metal work. G. G. Ray Co.; and
plastering, M. P. Braswell. 10
After about three more months of negotiations, Wade was finally
satisfied, and on the date after Christmas of 1928 he took out a building
permit from the city so that construction could begin. 11 It took
nearly three years to complete the steel-girdered, Georgian Colonial
mansion, which was finished with fine moldings plastering, metalwork, marble
floors, antique fire places as well as numerous other fine features. One of
the many personal touches put in the plans at Wade's insistence was that of
the dining room: its design is a replica of the Baltimore Room in the
Metropolitan Museum, which the Wades had seen on a trip to New York. Another
is an unusual chimney flue on the third floor, which goes at a sharp angle
from above the fireplace on the outer wall of the drawing room, where Wade
required it to be placed, to the chimney on the inner wall, where Keene said
it had to be. 12 A year after construction began on the
sixteen-room home, Earle Draper was hired to design the landscaping for the
site, and many of the plantings and other features of his original design
remain, including the restored pool in the garden behind the house. 13
Draper, who built a
house not too far away at 1621 Queens Road in 1923 and built his
planning business into one of the largest in the country with offices in
Atlanta, Washington and New York, became Director of Town Planning and
Housing for the Tennessee Valley Authority from 1932 to 1940, and head of
wartime housing for the FHA from 1940 to the end of World War II in 1945.
When the construction of the stately house was completed and the
decorating finished, the Wades could look forward to many years of enjoying
their commodious, yet surprisingly intimate residence. Rosalie Wade, who was
an avid gardener and kept the small park across the street well planted in
addition to her own grounds, was very active in the DAR, Colonial Dames and
Alexander House activities, and many meetings of these groups were held at
the home. 15 The family life was characteristic of people of
means of that time and of that particular area. To maintain the household,
the service staff included a chauffeur-butler, a cook, a maid and a
gardener. For thirty-seven years, the chauffeur-butler was O'Dell Roberts,
who was known to everyone by his courteous and gentlemanly manner. The house
was also witness to two gala events: the wedding receptions for daughter
Isabelle, and, when it was the turn of another generation, that of
granddaughter Rosalie. 16
When H. M. Wade, who was president of the Charlotte Country Club for
twenty five years, retired from the manufacturing business in 1954, he went
into the real estate business with an office in the Latta Arcade. It was
said of the indefatigable industrialist that "when he 'retired,' he had one
secretary, and afterward had two." Over the years he had acquired a good
deal of real estate, much of it in the area around his manufacturing plant.
17 In 1956, Rosalie Wade passed away, and a year later H. M. Wade
married her first cousin, Mrs. Louise Watkins Powe, who became the new
mistress of the Wade mansion. 18 After Mr. Wade died in 1961, she
lived in the house for another sixteen years, but decided she could no
longer maintain the estate when some of the longtime servants retired
because of age and health. 19
Thus in 1978, ownership of the Wade house passed to John H. Cutter, III,
the grandson of H. M. Wade's former neighbor and good friend, and his wife,
Rita. 20 The Cutters, who have taken a keen interest in the
history of the house, have undertaken extensive renewal and restoration of
the fine home to bring it back to nearly as new condition. Their efforts are
of clear historical significance, because the Wade mansion will be one of
the few, if not the only, house of its size (fourteen thousand square feet
or above) in Charlotte that is essentially intact as originally built.
21 The city will therefore be fortunate in having one of its fine
larger houses in the early Myers Park area preserved indefinitely. The area
is a fragile one, under constant threat from commercial encroachment, and
thus to have such an excellent reflection of a particular way of life from
another era, designed by an architect of national prominence, and which
reflects in its details the personal desires and close interest of the
owner, preserved in its original state, will be a significant step in
maintaining Charlotte's historical heritage.
1 Charlotte News, April 25, 1961, p. 1 B; interview
with Louise Watkins Powe Wade, Charlotte, N. C ., 8 March 1983.
2 Charlotte Observer, April 25, 1961, p. 1B.
3 Interview with Louise Wade.
4 Charlotte City Directory, 1910; Deed Book 283, p. 71, 12
5 Information on file at Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic
6 Interview with Isabelle Tarver Wade Bacon, New York, 12
7 Interview with John H. Cutter, III, 15 February 1983;
information on file at Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission.
8 Interview with Isabelle Wade Bacon.
9 Information on file at Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic
10 Correspondence in the possession of John H. Cutter, III.
11 Building Permit No. 9693, 26 December 1928.
12 Interviews with Louise Wade, Isabelle Wade Bacon, and John
H. Cutter, III.
13 Plans in possession of John H. Cutter, III.
14 Information on file at Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic
15 Charlotte News, February 10, 1956, p. 10B; interview
with Isabelle Wade Bacon.
16 Interview with Louise Wade.
18 Charlotte News, April 25, 1961, p. 1 B.
19 Interview with Louise Wade.
20 Deed Book 4056, p. 981, 10 May 1978.
21 Interview with John H. Cutter, III.
by Thomas W. Hanchett
March 19, 1983
The 1930 H. M. Wade residence is an imposing red brick Colonial Revival
style mansion in the heart of Charlotte's elite Myers Park neighborhood. The
house is the work of Charles Barton Keen of Philadelphia, one of America's
foremost designers of "country houses", as suburban estates were known in
the early twentieth century. Today both the house and its grounds by
landscape architect Earle Sumner Draper are in excellent original condition.
Because of the caliber of its architect and landscape designer, and because
of its prominent location at the corner of Hermitage and Granville roads
facing one of the neighborhood's two small parks, the Wade mansion is of
architectural significance to Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
Of special note is the fact that the present owner still has most of the
plans and correspondence dealing with construction of the house. The
collection has over fifty items, including detailed drawings of everything
from floorplans to precise layout of flagstones in outside walkways,
contracts with craftsmen, letters between Keen, Wade, and Draper, fixture
brochures and wallpaper samples, and more. According to Dr. Margaret Smith,
art historian at Wake Forest University who is studying Keen's work in the
South, such a body of material is of great scholarly interest.
Viewed from the street, the Wade mansion consists of three gable-roofed,
two-story wings arranged in a "C" around an inset front porch. The main wing
is three bays wide, with the central front door topped by a delicate
fanlight. A pair of end chimneys bracket the ridgeline and three
clapboard-sided dormers pop through the front roof. The two flanking wings
are set with their ridgelines at right angles to the main wing's roof. Each
flanking wing has an end chimney facing the street.
Roofs are of thick gray slate and eaves are quite shallow. The red brick
walls are laid in
Flemish bond. The white exterior woodwork is simple in design. The porch
has a modillion cornice and unusually slender two-story columns.
six-over-six-pane double-hung sash. The overall effect that Keen
achieved with these touches was a simplicity and flattening of detail. Such
an approach was a far cry from the elaborately textured exteriors of
Colonial Revival dwellings built in the city in the early 1920s, for example
Martin Boyer's 1920 design for the J. L. Snyder mansion at 1830 Queens Road,
now known as Queens College's Carol Hall.
At the rear of the Wade house, the north flanking wing is extended back
to provide garage space with servants' quarters above. Nestled in the
resulting "L" between the servants' wing and the main block of the house is
a formal garden designed for outdoor entertaining. A brick walk surrounds a
lawn with a pool and fountain at its center. French doors from the grand
dining room open onto one side of the space, and at the other a low carved
stone wall of Neoclassical design provides seating niches under the trees.
Hedges and shrubbery wall off this garden from the rest of the grounds,
creating a spacious "outdoor room."
This formal area was evidentially the main contribution to the estate's
design by landscape architect Earle Sumner Draper. It represents one of
Draper's later residential works, executed in 1930 three years before Draper
gave up private practice to become head of planning for the Tennessee Valley
Authority. A hand-colored rendering of the garden drawn in Draper's office
now hangs in the Wade house. Much of Draper's work on the sides and front of
the residence consisted of adapting the planting done for Wade's earlier
dwelling to the new house. The earlier design had been created in 1919 by J.
Franklin Meehan, a Philadelphia landscape architect, and one of Meehan's
planting plans survives in the present owner's collection.
The interior of the house shows the same restraint in decoration that
characterizes the exterior. Keen's main emphasis seems to have been on
creating an elegant flow of spaces, rather than on decoration for its own
sake. Downstairs rooms feature delicate plasterwork and molding. The quality
of the cabinetry and woodwork throughout the house shows evidence of
store-fixture manufacturer Wade's care, and much of it is said to have been
produced by craftsmen from his factory.
The main entrance of the mansion opens into a large oval foyer with black
and white marble parquet floors. The ceiling has a cast plaster medallion in
the center. A cast plaster cornice circles the room and four antique brass
sconces highlight the walls. The sweeping cantilevered
stair has handwrought bronze
balusters, each numbered by its maker for its specific position.
At the right of the foyer is the library. This room is paneled in
Norwegian pine and has built-in bookshelves. Several stacks of shelves were
hidden under paneling, to be uncovered as the owner's book collection
expanded. A carved wooden cornice runs along the ceiling and the floor is
laid with random width boards. The highlight of the room is the fireplace
with a veined marble surround and a rustic carved mantel depicting goats at
play, said to have come from a Spanish castle.
At the left of the foyer is the large drawing room. It features an
elegant molded plaster cornice. Molds for this cornice and the one in the
foyer are still in the house. A plaster medallion adorns the center of the
ceiling. The room is lit by a Bohemian Crystal chandelier and six French
gold and crystal wall sconces. Walls feature panel and chair rail molding.
The focus of the room is the Adamesque mantel of white marble with sienna
Behind the drawing room is the sun parlor, which opens onto a side porch.
The room has a molded plaster cornice similar to that in the drawing room.
An ornamental fountain of stone dominates one wall.
Directly in front of the main entrance, behind the foyer and adjoining
the sun parlor, is the formal dining room. It, too, has an antique marble
inlaid fireplace, a large crystal chandelier, and crystal wall sconces. Tall
french doors look out onto the formal garden at the rear of the house. There
are two spacious storage closets flanking the short hall between the sun
parlor and dining room which are equipped for hanging storage of the
The last "public space" on the ground floor is a corridor next to the
library that leads to the side entrance to the house. On the left of this
corridor is a small bathroom with jade green ceramic tile on the floor and
halfway up the walls. Also opening onto the corridor is the telephone room,
a small closet-like space frequently found in the houses of Charlotte's
wealthy built in this era when the telephone was still something of a
The right rear of the ground floor is the service area of the Wade
mansion. Opening off the dining room is the butler's pantry. It has a built
in electric plate warmer and it is lined with superbly crafted built in
cabinets and shelves with glass doors for storage of china and crystal. Next
to it is the kitchen, which features more cabinetry. A rustic fireplace has
recently been added to this room to make it the everyday eating area for the
Cutters and their two children.
Next to the kitchen is the small breakfast room. A servants' stair rises
from this room, as does a compact electric elevator. The elevator,
manufactured by the Ace Elevator company, was installed after the house was
completed and services both the two main floors and the attic and basement.
The second floor of the house contains a small sitting area at the top of
the grand stair, and four large bedrooms. Each has its own bath with tile
wainscoting, and porcelain fixtures. The master bedroom has a sleeping
porch with built-in brass screens which overlooks the rear garden. In
addition to ample closet space in bedrooms there are two large linen closets
with shelves and drawers built in, a broom closet, a general storage closet,
and a sewing room.
A corridor from the second floor sitting area leads back to the servants'
wing. This area comprises three small bedrooms and a pair of bathrooms.
Beneath is a three-car garage.
At the top of the servants' stair is a full attic over the entire house.
It includes a game room with built-in drawers, and a pair of huge walk-in
closets, and three large unfinished storage areas. At the bottom of the
servants' stair is the basement. It holds a laundry room fed by a chute from
the upper floors, a furnace room, storage rooms, and a bathroom. The
unfinished portion is an earthen floor which has been packed and smoothed
until it resembles adobe. There is a series of open tunnel walkways leading
to various heat ducts and junctions which provide ready access for
Note: The description of Wade house
interior is based in part on a 1970s description provided by Carson Realty
Company of Charlotte and now in the collection of the Cutter family.