The New South
Neighborhoods: Myers Park
by Dr. Dan L. Morrill and Nancy B. Thomas
"In residential developments of this
character we get a good idea of what can be done by municipalities in
beautifying the cities of the country" -- John Nolen
Good ideas produce good results. Myers Park, which opened on September 1,
1912, when the first trolley lumbered through the streetcar gateway on
Queens Road, is a case in point. For more than 65 years, all Charlotteans
have benefited from the vision, courage and imagination of the two men who
oversaw the creation of this lavish and elegant suburb. They were George
Stephens and John Nolen.
George Stephens, a native of Guilford County and one of the best
left-handed pitchers who ever played baseball for the University of North
Carolina, arrived in Charlotte in 1899 and entered the real estate business.
In 1902, he married Sophie Myers, whose father, Jack Myers, owned a
1200-acre farm on the country road which ran from Charlotte to Providence
Presbyterian Church, hence Providence Road. The father-in-law had the land.
The son-in-law had the business expertise. This fruitful combination made
Myers Park possible.
John Nolen, a Harvard-trained landscape architect and comprehensive
planner, spent several weeks in Charlotte in late 1911 designing Myers Park
for the Stephens Company. The Charlotte Observer predicted that
Nolen, who had first come to town six years earlier to create Independence
Park, would fashion "a suburb of surpassing elegance and attractiveness" The
newspaper was right. John Nolen transformed Jack Myers' almost treeless farm
into a showcase of sophisticated suburban inventiveness.
The centerpiece of Nolen's plan was a grand boulevard, Queens Road, with
a grassy median for the trolley tracks and a series of streetcar waiting
stations, like the one that stands at the intersection of Hermitage Road and
Queens Road, along its route to the Campus of Queens College, which Nolen
also designed. Nolen meticulously oversaw every detail. For example, in
1915, he sent Earle S. Draper, his associate, to Charlotte to prepare
landscape plans for the purchasers of lots in Myers Park.
Earle S. Draper, who settled in Charlotte, gave Myers Park its marvelous
canopy of trees. He worked closely with James B. Duke, the legendary
philanthropist and industrialist, who dispatched the gardener from his New
Jersey estate to assist Draper. Wagons went into the surrounding countryside
to gather trees for transplanting along the streets of the suburb. No doubt
Duke and Draper would be pleased if they drove along Harvard Place today.
It's almost like a cathedral.
The homes in Myers Park were handsome and imposing. Most of the first
ones were on Queens Road, named for the College, or Hermitage Road, which
climbed from Queens Road past Hermitage Court, a separate development that
John Nolen also designed in 1911. Two of the older residences in Myers Park
are historic landmarks. In 1919, James B. Duke, who wanted his daughter,
Doris, to spend a few months each year in his native North Carolina, bought
and greatly expanded the Colonial Revival style mansion that Z. V Taylor, an
official of the Southern Power Company, had built four years before.
Designed by C.C. Hook, a prominent local architect, White Oaks is listed in
the National Register of Historic Places. The McManaway House, which
originally stood on W Trade St., was moved to 1700 Queens Road in 1916. The
Charlotte City Council has designated it as an historic property.
George Stephens resigned as president of the Stephens Company in 1922 and
moved to Asheville, NC. In the mid-1920's, Myers Park became part of
Streetcar service to the suburb ended on March 12, 1938. The Stephens
Company sold its last lots in the early 1950's, but the grandeur of Myers