SURVEY AND RESEARCH REPORT
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- Name and
location of the property: The property known as the Siloam
Schoolhouse is located on John Adams Road in Charlotte, North
- Name and address
of present owner of the property:
Young Properties of Charlotte, LLC
1510-A Third Street, Wilmington, North Carolina 28402
photographs of the property: This report contains
representative photographs of the property.
- Map depicting
the location of the property:
- UTM coordinates:
523505 E, 3909964 N.
- Current deed
book and tax parcel information for the property:
The tax parcel number of the property is 02965105. The most
recent reference to this property is recorded in Mecklenburg Deed
Book 19115, page 559.
- A brief
historical sketch of the property: This report contains a
brief historical sketch of the property.
- A brief
architectural description of the property: This report
contains a brief architectural description of the property.
- Documentation of
why and in what ways the property meets the criteria for
designation set forth in N.C.G.S. 160A-400.5:
Special significance in terms of its history, architecture, and/or
cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property
known as Siloam Schoolhouse does possess special significance in
terms of Charlotte –Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its
judgment on the following considerations:
The Siloam Schoolhouse, a rural primary school for African
Americans in northeast Mecklenburg County, is a rare surviving
example of the institutions built by newly-freed blacks after the
Civil War. The school stands as a testament to the
perseverance of Mecklenburg’s black residents, who were willing to
undergo severe hardships in order to obtain a basic education.
was built in the 1920s and replaced an earlier schoolhouse on the
site and is a rare surviving example of the institutions built
during the Jim Crow era;
Siloam Schoolhouse is a physical legacy to a rural lifestyle
that is fast disappearing as development expands to that portion of
the County where Siloam is located, Mallard Creek.
10. Ad Valorem tax appraisal:
The Commission is aware that the designation would allow the owner
of the property to apply for an automatic deferral of 50 percent of
the Ad Valorem taxes on all or any portion of the property which
becomes a “historic landmark.” The current appraised value of
the 1.12 acre lot is $20,000, the building has no appraised value.
Prior to the 1880’s educational opportunities for all but the most
elite children of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s were non-existent.
Though the Freedmen’s Bureau had established schools for black
children at the end of the Civil War, there was little local or
state government support for public education in the first decade
after the War. Growing concern over the lack of educated
workers to staff Charlotte’s rapidly expanding economy, led the
City’s civic leadership to weigh in on the issue of education.
Among these men was Charlotte Observer Editor Charles R. Jones.
In March of 1880 Jones submitted a petition to the Charlotte Board
of Alderman demanding the establishment of a public school in
accordance with the North Carolina State School Law (1874). He
additionally called on the Board to find funding for schools and
proceed with the election of an eight member school board.
In 1882 the City of Charlotte established its first graded schools,
one for white children and another for black.
the 1890’s Mecklenburg County began to buy land for county schools
for the education of black children. All school buildings were
locally funded, with the county school board paying for teacher
salaries and supplies such as wood out of local tax revenues, which
led to disparities between the quality of education in wealthier
communities and poorer rural ones.
1890 there were 43 public school buildings in the county for the
education of black children. Most of these schools were
located on the grounds of local churches. They were originally built
and financed by African American churches in response to newly freed
black’s ardent desire for education. The census for that year
shows that there were 6,617 black children between the ages of six
and twenty-one in the County. Though most Blacks recognized a link
between freedom and literacy, the difficulty of county rural life
meant that only about half of county children were enrolled in
school by their parents in 1890. White children of the area
also attended school in similarly bleak numbers.
Though the county school board provided operating costs disparities
in funding, teacher training, and lack of general support for black
education, on the part of the all white school board, led blacks to
seek control over their own schools. In 1890 a petition
by the “Colored Citizens” of Mallard Creek, the location of Siloam,
was brought before the Mecklenburg County Board of Education.
These civic minded men, ignored Jim Crow race etiquette, and asked
the Board to appoint a “committee of colored men to look after the
interests of the colored school in said district.” Like Blacks
throughout the Reconstruction South this group sought control over
its own institutions, believing that “the present committee of white
men fail to take that interest in the welfare of their school”
September 11, 1903 the County Board of Education purchased an
acre of land from F.C Query, for $101.00.
The lot, located on John Adams Road, a dirt road off of Mallard
Creek Church Road, became the site for the Siloam School. The school
is named after the Siloam Presbyterian Church, located 1.5 miles
north of the school. This church at one time educated newly
freed blacks at a school building on church property
There is anecdotal evidence that the original structure built on the land
acquired from Query was log.
Oral history suggests that the current building was constructed in the 1920’s,
after the demolition of the original log structure.
The current building is similar to the Rowenwald School Plan No.
1-A. However there is no indication that the school building
Rosenwald School Plan 1-A
was constructed using funds from the Rosenwald program.
Rosenwald plans were widely published, and it is likely that these
published plans influenced the design of this particular building. Attendance
and budget records exist for the 1922-23 and 1924-25 school years. Children
attended school for a six-month term during the 1920’s, and Siloam was one of
five schools for the education of African-American children in the Mallard Creek
district. Though it housed grades one through seven the school employed a
single teacher. During the 1922-23 school year Margaret Gilliard was the
teacher at Siloam, the following two years Mattie Osborne taught. Gilliard was
paid a monthly salary of $50.00; the next years Osborne earned $55.00 a month.
The 1930 Charlotte City Directory lists both women as residents of the City of
Charlotte. It is likely that during their tenure they lived in the city, and
made the long commute out to the County.
Eighty-seven year old local white resident Jean Kirk recalls seeing
the teachers of Siloam on their way to and from work. He
recounts that from his family’s property he often saw Siloam
teachers disembarking the bus that made the 15-mile journey from the
city each morning. They would arrive between 9:00 and 10:00 in
the morning, depending on conditions. The teachers then walked
three miles from the bus stop to the school, the last leg on the
dirt John Adams Road. The last bus left at 3:30 from the rural
community, with these women on board.
Between 1938 and 1952 many of Mecklenburg’s rural schools were
closed as part of an effort to consolidate students into more modern
and centralized locations. Though it is not clear which year
Siloam ceased to operate, beginning in 1947 the County School Board
sought an owner for the Siloam School property. In 1951 The Young
family purchased the one-acre lot and schoolhouse.
The Young family already had an extensive historical attachment to
the school. Eighty-year old Reverend James Young, the most
recent private owner, attended school there in the 1930’s.
Young’s father, Nelson, worked as the school’s janitor. The
elder Young’s duties included maintaining the property, starting the
fire in the coal stove that served as sole heat sourced for the
building, and obtaining water from a spring located a quarter mile
away. During the building’s use as a school it never had
indoor water and plumbing.
Young’s family initially lived five miles away from the schoolhouse,
and as a boy as young as six he would walk five miles each way to
Under such difficult conditions it is not surprising that while in
1924, 72 African-American school age children lived in the school’s
zone, only 63 children registered and the average daily attendance
was 39 for that year.
Lack of transportation, the demand for child labor in agriculture,
and poverty conspired to prevent higher attendance. While
limited economic and social mobility was possible for blacks in the
nearby city of Charlotte, most county blacks faced limited
employment opportunities primarily as domestics, laborers, or
agricultural workers. The hardships rural Blacks were willing
to overcome, in the face of such bleak prospects, to educate their
children is astounding.
When the Young family purchased the property they made internal
structural changes. Initially used by the family as a residence,
Nelson and his wife Cora added the wall at the rear of the building
in order to accommodate a kitchen, and walls for bedrooms. The
Youngs lived in the tiny residence with their three youngest
children, nine others including James had left home by this time.
1973 Nelson and Cora had moved into the city of Charlotte. It
was then that they conveyed the property to Reverend Young and his
wife Vera. Young converted the property to an auto shop.
He demolished most of the internal walls and built the large garage
door that now exists on the east side of the property. Young
closed his shop in the 1980’s, and the property began to serve
primarily as a dumping ground.
The Siloam Schoolhouse is located near the intersection of John
Adams Road and West Mallard Creek Church Road. It stands on a
one-acre lot approximately 150 feet from John Adams Road, at the top
of a steep hill. The schoolhouse is a one-story front gabled wood
shingled structure. The building rests on rectangular brick piers,
which run in five rows, each containing five piers for a total of
twenty-five. The moderately sloped roof is covered with 3-v
metal sheets, with exposed rafter ends.
The front façade of the building, which faces north, is three bays
wide. The front entrance, currently without a door, is reached
by three-riser high set of stairs, which is currently in very poor
condition. A small wood awning covered with green roof
shingles shelters the doorway. A small louvered vent is
located above the doorway. On either side of the door are
six-over-six double-hung windows. Most of the glazing is missing.
Originally the east elevation of the building contained five large
fixed-pane windows, approximately eight feet in height. These
windows are typical of schoolhouses of the era and would have
provided light to the un-electrified school. Of the original
six windows only three are extant. The center of the wall
currently has a large opening. The opening at one time accommodated
a large wooden garage-type door, which was installed by James Young
in the 1970’s to accommodate his automotive business.
Currently the door is all but gone, with the exception of a few
panels that hang from the top of the doorframe. A brick chimney
flanks the north side of the doorway.
The east façade of the building has more random fenestration, with
two levels of irregularly placed windows. A window, now
boarded, is located in the middle of the lower level. Near the
rear/south end of the facade is a doorway. The doorway is
sheltered by a shed roof. Closer to the roofline are three
small fixed-pane windows. The south façade of the building is the
simplest and contains one window and a door that is also sheltered
by a corrugated metal awning.
The interior of the building measures approximately 22 feet across
and 40 feet in length. Originally a single room, the interior of the
building has undergone a number of renovations. Currently the
front of the building has a small vestibule that is formed by the
walls of two small rooms, which flank either side of the front
entrance. It is not clear when these rooms were added, or what
their purpose was. Their dimensions preclude their use as
sleeping quarters, and were probably used by either the Young family
or James Young’s automotive business as storage space. Both rooms
originally opened into the large main room, and had doors, which are
currently missing. The exterior door and that between the
vestibule and the main room are no longer present.
The large main room measures 22 feet wide by 29 feet in length.
In the 1950’s the room was divided into living and sleeping
quarters. When James Young turned the dwelling into an automotive
garage in the 1970’s he removed those dividing walls. In the
southwest corner of this room is a chimney that vented a
coal-burning stove. At the rear of the building is a 22 foot wide by
8 foot deep room. The partitioning wall that forms this room was
not part of the original schoolhouse structure. Nelson Young
partitioned the room from the rest of the buildings space when he
bought the house in 1951 to accommodate a kitchen.
The wooden floors of the building are in varying states of
disrepair. While intact in much of the building, in other places the
floor has rotted out. Most of the interior walls are covered
in beadboard, as is a portion of the ceiling. In much of the
building however the ceiling has been removed and the space is open
to the rafters.