Research Report On
The Tom and Mary
Lu Daggy House
Name and location of the property: The property known as the Tom and
is located at 102 Hillside Drive, Davidson, North Carolina.
Name and address of the present owner of the property: The present
owners of the property are: Suzy McKeever and Joan Singer, 3980 S.
Jasmine St., Denver, CO 80237
Representative photographs of the property: This report contains
representative photographs of the property.
Maps depicting the location of the property:
Current deed book reference to the property: The most recent deed to
this property is recorded in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 27622
on page 592. The tax parcel number of the
property is 00701311.
brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains a brief
historical sketch of the property.
brief architectural description of the property: This report contains a
brief architectural description of the property.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the criteria
for designation set forth-in N.C.G.S. 160A-399.4.:
Special significance in terms of its history, architecture, and/or
cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property known as
the Tom and Mary Lu
Daggy House possesses special significance in terms of
Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on the
The Tom and Mary
Daggy House is a significant artifact of the residential development
The Tom and Mary Lu
Daggy House was among the first to be built under a housing plan that
addressed a chronic faculty housing shortage and is credited with
fundamentally enhancing the college through better faculty retainment
The Tom and Mary Lu
Daggy House is also significant as a locally rare and remarkably well
preserved example of the Modernist Style in Davidson designed by
Charlotte architect Harold Cooler.
Valorem tax appraisal: The current assessed value of the property is
Portion of property recommended for designation:
The interior and
exterior of the house and the approximately .5 acres of land associated
with the tax parcel.
11. Date of
Preparation of this Report: October 15, 2012
Prepared by: Stewart
Statement of Significance
The Tom and Mary Lu Daggy House is a significant artifact of the residential development
of Davidson. The house was among the first to be built under a
housing plan that addressed a chronic faculty housing shortage and is
credited with fundamentally enhancing the college through better faculty retainment
and recruiting. The Tom and Mary Lu Daggy House is also significant as
a locally rare and remarkably well preserved example of the Modernist Style in
Davidson designed by Charlotte architect Harold Cooler.
Brief History of the Daggy House
The need for faculty housing in Davidson greatly shaped the town’s built
environment during the twentieth century. With only seven faculty
members in the late nineteenth century, the college could easily
accommodate the professors and their families in houses owned by the
situation changed in the early years of the twentieth century. New
faculty, hired to meet the demands of a growing curriculum and student
body, strained the supply of housing. Some faculty members built
houses along North Main Street.
this free-market solution was apparently not sufficient to meet the
housing demand. In a pattern that would be repeated several times
during the twentieth century, the college began to develop housing for
faculty along Concord Road. Davidson College built a house for
Professor Thomas W. Lingle at 400 Concord Road in 1912, and a house for
English professor M. G. Fulton at 326 Concord Road in 1914. The
professors did not own the homes; the college did. Fulton only
stayed four years. The Lingles lived in their “college house” eighteen
years. Next to the Lingle House, the college built a home for
professor Howard Arbuckle to the professor’s personal specifications,
including a stucco finish on the first story, and shingle siding on the
After World War II, Davidson College experienced another growth surge
with enrollment peaking at 980 students in 1946. The student
population settled into the 800s during the 1950s and then rose to 920
The college endeavored to accommodate this growth. Returning GIs and
their families were housed in prefabricated surplus military barracks.
A more permanent response to this growth was an ambitious building
program on the campus that included a new gym, science building,
dormitory, fraternity buildings, a new church building, and a fine arts
However, housing for faculty was again in short supply. The
growing school attracted new young faculty, and several factors
conspired to limit their housing options. As an isolated small
town, Davidson afforded limited opportunities for residential
development after World War II. The nature of the tenure process, which discouraged
professors from making real estate commitments until they received
tenure, required that the college endeavor to maintain a large stock of
apartments, duplexes, and rental houses for much of the faculty. Even
if houses were available, the new young professors often did not have
the means to buy a home. Documents from the 1950s, from the files
of college treasurer Dr. Grier Martin, demonstrate the “shuffling act”
that took place each year as the Housing Committee worked to assign
faculty to available housing. A later report from April 1961 well
illustrates the problem. Assignments were categorized as either:
Routine family assignments, Involved family assignments, or Bachelor
assignments. Under “Involved family assignments” the report
Jackson – Temporary
housing until Lester moves from College Apt.
Frey – Stay at
Dupler’s until Kelton house is available (could use
temporarily). Kelton house will be offered first to
Stevens –- if he
desires it, then Freys would get Stevens house.
Martin wrote that in the 1950s “there were not enough houses (owned by
the college) and many of them were antiquated. All of them were
rented at the same low price, and this caused serious competition among
members of the faculty for the few ‘better houses.’”
Yet, the low rents charged by the college discouraged faculty from
buying. In addition, suitable houses and lots were not available
in the town, and financing was a problem. Additionally, the
faculty who did own their own homes opposed the college
subsidizing additional faculty housing.
This situation was not just an inconvenience. Martin wrote,
“Acquiring new faculty and staff was seriously hindered by the
address the housing shortage and the associated problems the shortage
caused for Davidson College, the board of trustees voted in 1955 to
embark on an ambitious housing development plan. The college owned
land to the south of Concord Road and to the west of the intersection of Lorimer and Woodlawn roads, rolling land that was not suitable for
campus expansion. Sisters Joan Singer and Suzy McKeever remember
that the land had been a pasture where kids took horseback riding
later described the property as a “gully.” The college
divided the land into a twenty-lot subdivision. Lorimer Road was
extended to the west, and Hillside Drive was constructed. These
lots were offered to faculty at a below-market price with the college
offering financing at 4½ percent. The same financing was offered
to the faculty even if they wished to build elsewhere. And many of
the college-owned homes were offered to faculty with the same generous
financing. But it was the twenty-lot development along Lorimer
Road and Hillside Drive that was the most prominent symbol of the
college’s housing program.
The housing plan and the subdivision were successful. By 1960,
eighteen of the twenty lots had been sold, and sixteen houses had been
constructed. Seven houses were built under the housing plan in
other locations, and nine former college rental homes were purchased by
faculty. In 1955 only around 40% of the faculty were
homeowners. By 1960 80% of faculty either owned a home or owned a lot
upon which they planned to build.
to the college included better faculty moral and a more appealing
prospect to prospective staff and faculty. The program also freed
up rental housing for new non-tenured faculty.
the 1963 Davidson College publication “Report of the President” an
article gives much credit to the housing program in the development and
retention of a strong faculty, sighting “little or no” turnover in
faculty that built homes under the program. In a 1969 Charlotte
Observer article, Louise Martin (wife of Grier Martin) stated that only
one or two faculty had left the college since the housing program had
started in 1955. In the same article, Grier Martin attributes his
becoming president of Davidson College in 1958 to the success of the
housing program and the good will it generated in the faculty.
On October 12, 1956, Tom and Mary Lu Daggy bought a lot in the new
college subdivision at 102 Hillside Drive. Tom was a biology
professor, and Mary Lu was a high school math teacher. They were
both from Indiana, and Tom received his Ph.D from NorthWestern
University. The Daggys moved from Michigan to Davidson in 1947
with their two young daughters Joan and Suzy and resided in a college owned
home on North Main Street. In Davidson the family became
Presbyterians and settled into the life of a small college town.
According to Joan, growing up in Davidson was wonderful with the
exception of their living situation. Their college house, which
had been turned into a duplex and was shared with another college
family, was old, dark, and small. The entire Daggy family shared one
The Daggys were among the first faculty families to purchase a lot under
Davidson College’s new housing plan. The Daggys contacted
Charlotte architect Harold Cooler after Cooler had designed a
traditional home for Dr. Richard Bernard on Lorimer Road, and asked him
to design for them a modern house.
Cooler developed a long and fruitful relationship with the Davidson
faculty, designing around fifteen of their homes over the next two
1957 Bernard House, Designed by Cooler
Daggy grew up on a farm in Indiana. But according to her
daughters, she was not sentimental about country life. Mary
wanted to live in town, “in the action.”
And she did not want her daughters to grow up isolated out in the
country. She “loved everything modern, loved the future, and
wanted that in her house.”
was well matched with Cooler. Cooler studied architecture
at Clemson; and, while not trained in modernism, he was exposed to the
works of the Bauhaus, Gropius, Van der Rohe, and the “Organic
Architecture of Wright.
a young architect, Cooler produced final plans and supervised
construction of a Modernist house in Gaston County, sometime before
leaving Charley Connelly’s Charlotte firm in 1951.
and fellow architect Marshall McDowell established their own firm in
1951, and in 1955 Cooler designed the Modrenist style
Bruce and Meg Laing House in Charlotte.
Cooler embraced the idea of building a modernist house for the Daggys.
While he designed many traditional houses, he found designing a “modern
home more challenging,” and a “more enjoyable experience.”
Cooler recalls that he designed the Daggy House for “the girls,” (Mary
and her daughters) and that Tom Daggy had virtually no input into
Joan and Suzy recall that their father wanted a “quality house,” but
otherwise had no interest in the design. The split-level layout of
the house was the first such design in Davidson.
house was also the first in Davidson to be heated by a heat pump. This early heat pump application required that three-phase power be fed
into the house, which was virtually unheard of in residential
construction. Other modern features included a vacuum tube
intercom system, a built-in hi-fi cabinet, a high sloping ceiling in the
living room, and a white composite roof. Joan remembers that the
kitchen was strikingly different from anything else in town, with a
refrigerator set into the cabinetry, a stainless steel sink, and
built-in oven. Suzy recalls that the neighbors had never seen
anything like the direct-glazed glass foyer wall.
The Daggys hired local builder Floyd Ballard, who built most of the
houses in the new development. The Daggys were happy with the
design and the construction. Suzy recalls her mother saying “this
is costing us more than we expected, but we love it.”
When the Daggys moved into their house at 102 Hillside Drive, Suzy
Daggy McKeever felt that they had “died and
gone to heaven.” Each daughter had her own bedroom with a
large closet, and they shared a pink tiled bath. The lowest level
of the house contained a family room with a ping pong table and a piano.
There was no clutter in the new well planned and designed house. As a
teenager, Joan Daggy Singer found the house’s modern design “almost
embarrassing,” and believed the community thought the house design was
bizarre, but quickly adjusted to the comforts and conveniences of the
The house featured a second kitchen in the lower level, where Mary Lu canned vegetables, and prepared for large dinner parties. Tom and
Mary Lu lived in the house for the rest of their lives. Mary Lu
died in 1987, and Tom died in 1996. The house was rented after Tom
death and suffered some neglect. However, nearly all of the house’s
significant original architectural elements survived.
Architectural Description of the Daggy House
The Daggy House is located in a residential section of Davidson near the
center of the town. While not far from the commercial and
institutional buildings of the town’s core, the Daggy House is
surrounded exclusively by other single-family houses. The
topography of the neighborhood is rolling, which is in stark contrast to
the relatively flat topography of the town’s prominent older residential
development along Concord Road and North Main Street.
Daggy House as it
appeared ca. 1960
The Daggy House faces east on a .5 acre lot, and is set back
approximately 50’ from the street (there is no street-side sidewalk.)
The front yard is treeless and lot slopes up steeply from the road,
giving the Daggy House a distinct prominence in the streetscape.
The front-gabled house is five bays wide. The house’s split-level
layout is evident in the two-story fenestration of the northern section
of the façade. This section of the façade is three bays wide and
is symmetrical. The upper story is clad with vertical Philippine
mahogany boards. A narrow replacement double-hung window is centered in
this section of the façade and is flanked by wider windows of the same
height. These replacement windows replaced the original
three-light aluminum sash windows. The roof peak is centered
over the center window. This upper story projects approximately
one foot over the running bond brick of the lower level. The three
original two-light, aluminum, awning-style windows of the lower story
are in alignment with those of the upper story, and are shorter.
The windows of the lower level sit on simple brick sills.
The front door is south of and adjacent to the two story section of the
house. The original slab door is topped by a large direct-glazed
transom that extends to the soffit and follows the slope of the roof.
The door is bordered to the north by a large direct-glazed sidelight.
The door is setback from the exterior walls, allowing for a small
protected stoop. The masonry stoop is topped with random-shaped
blue stones, and the stone extends under the door and is used as
interior flooring in the foyer. The exterior brick of the lower
level wall and the wood siding of the upper level turn the corner at the
recessed entrance and also continue into the interior space.
The southern portion of the façade features a single large four-light
aluminum window set close to the south side elevation. Between the
large window and the recessed front door is a blank brick wall set in
running bond. The blank section of brick wall is topped with
vertical Philippine mahogany siding that runs to the soffit and follows
the slope of the roof. Above the large window, the siding is
replaced by a single painted wooden panel. Boxed beams, now
wrapped in metal, extend from the interior and support the soffit.
The original wooden soffit is covered with vinyl. A wide barge
board is topped with moulded trim.
The south elevation features a large simple chimney laid in running
bond. The chimney is capped with a 4” concrete slab resting on
four rows of brick, flush with the north and south sides of the chimney
and set back from the front and rear of the chimney, giving the
impression of shoulders. The elevation is pierced by a single
replacement window near the rear elevation. The brick veneer is
topped with a short course of the vertical wood siding found on the
front of the house. The siding runs from the level of the top of
the window to the soffit. An original screened porch extends to
the west, and the roof and soffit of the south elevation run
uninterrupted to cover it.
The rear elevation is dominated by the screen porch, which features
concrete slab floor and a shed roof extension of the principal roof.
The porch room is framed by widely spaced vertical studs, connected with
a chair-rail-height vertical member. Above the screened framing,
Philippine mahogany runs vertically to the soffit. The porch
shelters a ten-light replacement door, a short two-light replacement
window, and a pair of original wooden five-light double doors. The
three-bay-wide gabled section of the front elevation is nearly mirrored
on the rear, with the only variance being a single replacement window
adjacent to the screened porch.
The north elevation features a full-width shed-roof carport that
originally featured a flat roof. The roof is supported by square
posts resting on a partial-height brick wall, topped with a soldier
course. The rear of the carport is enclosed by full-height brick
veneer to form a storage room. The carport shelters two original
two-light doors. Each door features two tall vertical panels.
high degree of integrity found on the exterior of the Daggy House is
also found in the interior. The concept of "bringing the
outside inside" was incorporated into many Modernist house
designs. In the Daggy House this concept is demonstrated in the design of
the foyer. The bluestone pavers of the stoop and the random-width
Philippine mahogany and brick of the exterior walls extend uninterrupted
into the into the interior space of the foyer, with the interior and
exterior minimally separated by glazing. The distinction between
the interior and exterior spaces is also blurred by design
elements. The foyer ceiling transitions into the exterior soffit
at the foyer glazing, and the foyer is separated from the living room by
a partial-height wall topped with a built-in copper planter. The
living room is the most architecturally striking of all of the interior
spaces. Walls are sheathed with ash plywood panels that are set
above a painted baseboad. On the east wall, a painted wood soffit
projects from the wall and contains recessed lighting. The high
ceiling follows the slope of the roof, and exposed boxed beams span the
ceiling and extend to the exterior of the house to support the roof
south wall is drywall, and features a simple fireplace with a long,
shallow raised hearth. The firebox is surrounded by oak mantle trim
that is mitered at the corners. The flooring is red oak.
short flights of stairs lead from the foyer to the upper and lower
levels of the two-story section of the house. A simple wrought
iron handrail with simple widely spaced iron balusters curves at the
foyer and serves both flights. Treads are simple red oak boards
set on painted risers and stringer-boards. The upper level
contains three bedrooms and an office. The office features a
built-in stereo cabinet. The bedrooms all feature red oak floors,
simple curved-profile moulded trim at the doors and base, and simple
wrapped drywall corners at the windows. Two tiled bathrooms exhibit
a high degree of integrity with original tile and fixtures. The
lower level of the two-story section of the house features one large
room adjacent to the front (east) wall and a series of smaller rooms
along the back (west) wall. These rooms include a mechanical room,
a secondary kitchen, a bathroom, and a small workroom that opens onto
Lower Level, ca. 1960
kitchen features the original plywood cabinetry with the original
hardware and the original stainless steel exhaust hood. The
original Formica counters have been replaced by stone counter
tops. The kitchen also features the master control for a
house-wide intercom system.