Survey and Research Report on the
1. Name and location of the property:
The property known as the Funderburk-Plaxco House is located at 316 East
Matthews Street in Matthews, N.C.
2. Name and address of the current owner of
R. Frank Plaxco
36 Harvest Ln
3. Representative photographs of the
property: This report contains representative photographs of the
4. A map depicting the location of the property:
5. Current Tax Parcel Reference and Deed to the property:
The tax parcel number of the property is 21501224. The most recent deed to
this property is recorded in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 19602, Page
502-505. UTM 525665.9 E 3886079.0 N
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report
contains a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Brandon
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This
report contains a brief architectural description prepared by Stewart
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
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 Funderburk-Plaxco House possesses special significance in terms
of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on the
1. Constructed c. 1880, the Funderburk-Plaxco House is
important as one of the best examples of late 19th century architecture in
2. In its grand scale and fashionable style this house clearly asserted
the Funderburk family’s rank among the leading early citizens of Matthews.
3. The Funderburk-Plaxco House represents the prosperity and development
of the Town of Matthews at the end of the 19th century.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling
and/or association: The Commission contends that the architectural
description prepared by Stewart Gray demonstrates that the property known as
the Funderburk-Plaxco 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
a "historic landmark." The current appraised value of the house and
land is $298,400.
10. Portion of the Property Recommended for Designation. The
interior and exterior of the house, the outbuildings, and the land associated with tax parcel
Statement of Significance
Ellison James Funderburk was the patriarch of one of
the most important families to settle in the Town of Matthews in the late 19th
century. One of the first four town commissioners elected after the town’s
incorporation in 1879, Funderburk was a cotton farmer, landowner, and
businessman who also had a hand in starting one of the first schools and the
first bank in Matthews. Three of his sons also became local prominent
citizens, and present-day Matthews still bears many signs of the Funderburk
family legacy. One of the oldest homes still standing in the town,
the Funderburk- Plaxco House at 316 East Matthews Street is a symbol of Funderburk's local prominence and
has been in the Funderburk family since its construction. By the turn of
the twentieth century, domestic designs in Mecklenburg County’s small
railroad towns began to
reflect the newfound wealth associated with the booming textile industry and
a rural prosperity based on commercial cotton cultivation. Small town
merchants and professionals like Ellison James Funderburk and his sons began
to favor newer house designs popularized in widely circulating architectural
publications and builders’ guides. Often mirroring contemporary Charlotte
city dwellings in their sophistication, these houses introduced urbanity into
the small towns and countryside of Mecklenburg County.
The historic significance of the Funderburk-Plaxco House is most readily
appreciated within the context of the evolution of the Town of Matthews and
the roles various members of the Funderburk-Plaxco family played in that
evolution. Architecturally, the house has evolved in response to the
desires of a prominent local family to employ the most fashionable
architectural styles of different eras.
The Town of Matthews emerged as one of
many satellite communities that were established on the outskirts of
Charlotte after the city developed as an important cotton distribution
center and railroad hub in the 1850’s. What would become Matthews began to take shape on July 12, 1825, when postal department records
show that John Miles Fullwood was appointed postmaster in an area known as
Stumptown. The area was named Stumptown because so many stumps were left after
the land was initially cleared. The new post office was
established outside Fullwood’s home and general store on present-day South
Trade Street, and it served as a stagecoach depot and resting spot for travelers
journeying between Charlotte and Monroe. Stumptown soon became
known by the locals as Fullwood.
Soon after the Civil War, a collection
of general stores and other businesses emerged around the Fullwood
post office. According to the Rev. S.J. Hood, “Wylie Noles chose this spot
for a sawmill, and with Arthur and Watson Reid at the headblocks and a slave
negro driving the ox log cart, he sawed enough lumber to build a half dozen
crude houses that formed the nucleus of the town.”
Many stores sold whisky and spirits along with agricultural supplies to
support the growing village and surrounding farms, and several operated cotton gins.
Cotton was the main crop of antebellum Mecklenburg County and was initially
transported by wagon to markets located at the fall line of major rivers
until several railroad lines linked Charlotte with the coast and
dramatically increased the city's importance.
By 1870 the stagecoach stop of Fullwood had started to take shape as a town.
Building lots were surveyed, and streets were mapped out as cotton and timber
fueled more growth and an increasing number of farmers settled in the area.
One of these early settlers was Ellison
James Funderburk, who had traveled through Fullwood with his new bride and
liked the settlement so much that he decided to stay.
Born on July 1, 1836, in Chesterfield County S.C. near the town of Pageland,
Ellison was the son of James Funderburk and Elizabeth Threatt. It was
rumored that he was named Ellison after a local surveyor who labored in the area
at the time of his birth. In 1857, at the age of 21, Ellison married Selia Anne Williams, age
19; and the couple eventually produced 11 children. Ellison and his
older brother William, as well as their two younger brothers Jerry and Tom,
volunteered for the Confederate Army at the outbreak of the Civil War.
is listed on the Confederate Roster in Washington, D.C. as “Funderburk, EJ,
pvt. Co. A, Cav. Bat’l; Co.-Inf.Reg., Holcombe’s Legion- S.C.”
 According to the 1860 census, Ellison, his wife, and two young
children were living at that time in the Union County community of Walkersville.
Civil War, Ellison, accompanied by his family,
left Union County and eventually settled in Fullwood as a cotton
farmer. It is not certain when he arrived; but the 1870
census, conducted on October 11, 1870, listed Ellison as a resident
of the Morning Star Township near Fullwood, so named because the
Morning Star Lutheran Church was established in 1798 in that section of
Mecklenburg County as one of the first
Lutheran houses of worship in North Carolina.
By this time, Ellison and his wife are listed as having nine children, the
youngest 8 months old.
The Funderburk family history describes Ellison James Funderburk as “a man of dignity, rugged
independence, strong will, and self confidence. He was a good farmer, able
businessman, and owner of valuable real estate.”
Funderburk was indeed able to become a prosperous cultivator of cotton and
an adroit entrepreneur in Fullwood, which entered a period of rapid growth soon
after 1874. In that year a section of the Central Carolina Railroad was
completed through the town, connecting Fullwood with the Wilmington-Tennessee line.
The first train rolled into town on December 15, 1874.
The railway officials named the Fullwood stop "Matthews Station" in honor of
Watson Matthews, a director of the Central Carolina Railroad Company; from
1875 onwards, incoming mail arriving by train to the town was addressed to Matthews.
By the 1920’s, five passenger trains and eight freight lines passed through
Matthews daily, and the cotton gins in town used the railroad to ship bales of cotton to
textile mills in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.
The citizens of the prospering
community felt that Matthews should officially become a town, and prominent
local farmer Jeremiah Solomon Reid headed a committee to secure a town
charter from the North Carolina State Legislature. The charter was granted
on March 8, 1879, and Matthews was officially awarded legal
power to operate as a municipal corporation. The 1880 census listed 191 town residents.
Ellison is mistakenly recorded as “Ellison Tunderburk,” along with his wife and eleven
children, six boys, and five girls.
A mayor, a marshal, and four town commissioners were elected for the new
town, and one of the commissioners was Ellison J. Funderburk. Ellison took
office in 1879 and was reelected in 1886, having become one of the
most prosperous and important citizens in Matthews.
By 1909, Matthews had four general stores (three of which
operated one or more cotton gins), a drug store, a bank, a grist mill, a
blacksmith shop, a livery stable, a hotel, and one of the first high schools
built in North Carolina; Ellison Funderburk or his sons had a stake in
almost all of these ventures.
Ellison was heavily involved in real
estate transactions in the early years of the town’s history, the first
appearing in the Mecklenburg County Book of Deeds as a grantee on May 22, 1872
He is listed as the grantee in 46 separate land transactions from 1872 to
He appears as a grantor of property in 41 transactions in Matthews from 1882
first appearing as a grantor on February 11, 1882, by transferring ¼ acre of
land to the “School Commission of Morningstar Township.”
A fervent Baptist, Ellison and fellow Matthews pioneer T.J. Renfrow were
instrumental in organizing one of the first schools in town on the grounds
of the old Baptist Church.
He is also recorded as one of two Matthews delegates to the 62nd
annual Baptist State Convention in Raleigh on December 8-12, 1892.
On January 12, 1878, Ellison Funderburk
acquired land on which he eventually operated the E.J. Funderburk General
Merchandise Store, presently at 165 North Trade Street.
On November 22, 1898, he deeded the property to his son Benjamin DeWitt
(B.D.) Funderburk (born May 22, 1868),
on which B.D. erected in 1901 along with his brothers Thomas Lee Funderburk (born June 2, 1870) and
Ellison Albertus Morgan Funderburk (born December 25, 1863), a
one-story brick building that served as a general store, presently
at 159 N. Trade Street..
The Funderburk Bros. General Store sold dry goods, coal, fertilizer, and
other farm supplies to the community and its environs. The Funderburk family also operated a
cotton gin and a cotton-buying business in town, as well as a grist mill, a
blacksmith shop, and a livery stable.
On May 15, 1909, Ellison deeded more
property near the stores to the Funderburk Bros.,
and the stores were enlarged. The brothers constructed a two-story brick
structure on the site of the original building and offered groceries and
banking services in addition to the items they had previously sold. The
first bank in town, the Bank of Matthews, opened for business on November 4,
1909; the articles of incorporation show that Ellison and his son, B.D. Funderburk,
were principal stockholders in the bank along with other prominent
In 1926 Lee Edward Funderburk, Ellison’s grandson and B.D’s son, became
president of the bank and remained in that position until 1976, when the
Bank of Matthews merged with BB&T after operating independently for 50 years
B.D. Funderburk eventually became
the sole owner of the Funderburk Bros. Store, and it became known as B.D.
Funderburk’s. After a long career as one of the most distinguished and
important citizens in Matthews and a longtime member of the Mecklenburg
County Board of Education, B.D. Funderburk died on October 5, 1954.
B.D. and his wife Sallie had three children, all of whom were involved in
some way in the operation of Funderburk family enterprises in Matthews. His
son Louie operated the Funderburk Store until his death in 1945, and
afterwards his daughter Louise Funderburk Plaxco and her husband Boyce
Plaxco returned to Matthews from Glen Alpine, N.C. to assume
responsibility of overseeing the family businesses. They ran the store until their deaths in 1973.
The Funderburk Store was liquidated and closed after 75 years,
although the buildings still remain as an important part of Matthews’s
The history of the Funderburk-Plaxco house at 316 East Matthews Street closely parallels
that of the Funderburk Brothers stores. Ellison J. Funderburk reared all 11
of his children in the house and lived there with his wife until he died of
tuberculosis on March 14, 1916. Called in the obituary “one of the oldest
and best known citizens of this place,” Ellison died at age 79 and was survived
by his wife Selia and 8 of his children.
Sometime after Ellilson's death, the house was rolled to its current location from
across the street on pine logs stripped of their bark, pulled by a team of
According to Rev. Donald Funderburk, Ellison’s grandson who was reared in
the house in the 1920’s, the house was moved by his father, Thomas L. Funderburk Sr. Thomas wanted to build on his father’s property and
the family home across the street so he could do so. Architectural
elements suggest that when the house was
moved, the wraparound porch on the second story was removed, leaving a porch
only on the front side of the house.
Ellison’s widow, Selia Williams Funderburk, resided in the house until her
death on May 17, 1927.
After Selia’s death, Thomas L. Funderburk lived in the home with his wife
and children. The 1920 census shows Thomas, his wife Rena, and three sons:
Thomas Funderburk Jr, Charles, and Ellison living together.
Donald was born the next year, in 1921. Thomas Funderburk Sr. died on Dec.
and his sons Charles, Ellison, and Donald continued to reside in the house
until they all went overseas in 1940 to fight in World War II. During the
war the house was rented to the principal of the Matthews School, a Dr.
When the brothers returned
from the war, they deeded the house to their uncle B.D. Funderburk and his
wife Sallie, on May 15th, 1945.
B.D. and Sallie owned the house until May 4, 1950, when they passed it on to
their daughter Louise Funderburk Plaxco and her husband Boyce so they would
have a place to live in town while managing the Funderburk Bros. Store.
 Boyce Plaxco died in January 1973, and when Louise
Funderburk Plaxco died a few months later, on May 27, 1973, she left the house
to her two children, Charles William Plaxco and Sarah Louise Plaxco.
Lee Edward Funderburk, B.D.'s son, was also an heir, but gave up his share
of the house to the Plaxco relatives on April 19, 1974.
Neither Charles nor Sarah Plaxco ever married or had any children and
remained in the house until their deaths. On August 25, 1982,
they secured the services of relative and attorney R. Frank Plaxco of Greenville S.C. as a
trustee of their property;
on November 2, 2005, R. Frank Plaxco as trustee granted a portion of their
property, along with a temporary easement of 1,970 feet granted earlier on
February 3, 2003, to the Town of Matthews, owners of the adjoining property.
Charles Plaxco died on August 31, 1985,
and Sarah Louise Plaxco remained the sole occupant of the house until her
death on November 21, 2011. The house is currently in the possession of R.
 Paula Lester, Discover Matthews:
From Cotton to Corporate (Matthews, NC: Town of Matthews Tourism
Council, Herff Jones Pub. Co., 1999), 5
 Rev. S.J. Hood, “Many Had a Part in the
Founding and Growth of Matthews.” Charlotte News, December
 Tom Hanchett, Sorting out the New South
City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 20
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 7
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 6
 Guy B. Funderburk, Funderburk History and
Heritage (Salem, WV: Salem Press, 1967), 330
 United States Federal Census, 1860, Roll 915
 John Allan Long, “Matthews: A Special
Bicentennial History.” Southeast News, November 10, 1975, 6
 United States Federal Census, 1870, Roll 1148
 Funderburk, Funderburk History and
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 55
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 7
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 55
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 7
 United States Federal Census, 1880, Roll 1972
 Southeast News, Nov. 10, 1975, 6
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 8
 Mecklenburg County Book of Deeds, Book 7,
 Mecklenburg County Book of Deeds Grantee
Index, 1840-1918, Page 84-86
 Mecklenburg County Book of Deeds Grantor
Index, 1840-1918, Page 117-118
 Mecklenburg County Book of Deeds, Book 30,
 Southeast News, Nov. 10, 1975, 2.
 Minutes of the 62nd Annual Baptist
State Convention, Dec 8-12, 1892
 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 9, Page 357
 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 144, Page 40
 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 15G, page 545
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 131
 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 242, Page 589
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 29
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 30
 Charlotte Observer obituaries, October
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 32
 Charlotte Observer obituaries, March
 Lester, Discover Matthews, 6
 Phone interview with Rev. Donald Funderburk,
January 24th, 2012
 Charlotte Observer obituaries, May 18,
 United States Federal Census, 1920, Roll
1310, Page 228
 Charlotte Observer obituaries Dec. 13,
 Phone interview with Rev. Donald Funderburk,
January 24, 2012
 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 1175, Page 93
 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 1589, Page 518
 Mecklenburg County Will Book 24, Page 240
 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 3670, Page 709
 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 4578, Page 368
 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 19602, Page
 Charlotte Observer obituaries, Sep. 1,
The ca. 1880 Plaxco-Funderburk House faces roughly north and is set back
approximately fifty-five feet from East Matthews Street in Matthews.
The house sits in the northwest corner of a square, one-acre
lot on the edge of a residential section of town clustered around East
Matthews Street, McLeod Street, and Matthew-Mint Hill Road.
To the west and south of the house the nature of the neighborhood
changes from residential to commercial.
The frame, two-story house may date from the time of the
incorporation of the Town of
Matthews in 1879. The house was built by Ellison James Funderburk, a prominent town leader
and businessman. A two-story
wrap-around porch, most likely added to the house around 1900, was removed
before the house was relocated to its present location about 1920 from a nearby
The age of the house
can be approximated by examining its history and architectural
features. The deep trim, known as hoods, over the front door and front first-story
windows are elements particular to the Italianate Style. The house's
eave brackets, and especially the arrangement of the brackets, are
also consistent with that style. The Italianate Style was popular until
around 1885, when it was largely replaced by the Queen Anne Style. The
nearby Reid House clearly demonstrates that the Queen Anne Style was being
used in Matthews by 1890.
If Ellison Funderburk did indeed rear all of his 11 children in the
house (son Ellison Albertus Morgan Funderburk was born in 1863), then 1880
would be around the latest reasonable date for construction of the house. An earlier date than 1880
does not seem likely because of the apparently original five-horizontal-panel
doors found throughout the house. The original interior woodwork
appears to have been produced at a shop or factory as opposed to
on-site. This manufactured millwork would have been readily available
in 1880 in a railroad town such as Matthews. Even so, the 1880 date
for the five-horizontal-panel doors is quite early, with the doors not
becoming widely popular in Mecklenburg County until around
The house is three bays wide with a symmetrical façade
and sits on a low continuous brick foundation.
The façade is dominated by a nearly full-width flat-roof porch that
is not original to the house and was likely constructed at the time the
house was moved. The
porch roof is supported by four substantial square brick columns,
each topped with a simple concrete cap.
The porch is topped with a decorative iron handrail.
Similar iron-work posts and brackets were added to the
existing brick posts. Two brick
steps that lead to the porch are bordered by low brick cheek walls topped
with thick concrete caps. Iron
handrails border the steps. The
porch floor is narrow tongue-and-groove boards, with a simple wood band.
The porch ceiling is plywood panels with battens covering the joints.
The exterior of the Plaxco-Funderburk house is covered with simple
weatherboard, terminating in simple corner boards with prominent capitals
with ovolo trim. Siding
protected by the porch transitions
at vertical members located near the corners and is laid in a slightly
narrower reveal. It was typical
for siding to transition at the porch from weatherboard to flat siding.
The curious use of weatherboard under the shelter of the porch may indicate that the
siding was replaced over time.
The façade’s center bay contains an original doorway
with a four-light transom. The
transom lights are notably short. The
doorway also features two three-light sidelights, each with a single vertical
panel. The doorway
contains a replacement nine-light door.
The doorway is topped with a pointed segmented hood with a torus
(rounded) detail on the tails. The other bays sheltered by the porch contain single four-over-one
windows. The windows feature
simple sills, wide jam trim and pointed segmented hoods like that over the
The heavy hoods are a defining characteristic of the Italianate Style.
The window trim
is original, but the windows would have originally contained one- or
two-light sash. The
existing four-over-one sash, typical of the Craftsman Style, were likely added when
the house was moved around 1920. The
massive brick columns are also consistent with the Craftsman Style.
On the second story the fenestration
aligns with the fenestration below. The
bays contain three four-light windows. The windows are bordered by
decorative shutters and terminate in a deep band that tops the wall.
The cornice features sawn brackets with a scotia pattern.
The brackets support a relatively deep eave and are paired at the
corners of the house and over the windows, with single brackets set between
the windows. This particular
arrangement of brackets is peculiar to the Italianate Style. The fascia is
composed of two plain stepped boards. The
hipped roof is covered with asphalt shingles and is pierced by two large
internal chimneys with corbelled tops. The
topmost section of the east chimney may have been removed.
The symmetry found on the front of the house continues
on the east side. The principal
section of the house is two bays deep, and the fenestration found on the
east side is limited to four single
window openings, each containing a four-over-one window like those
found on the second story of the front elevation.
In the cornice the detail is carried over from the front.
The west elevation fenestration is similar with the exception of
paired four-over-one windows in the rear bay on the first story.
The rear elevation is partially obscured by a remodeled
The three-bay-wide second-story fenestration is largely intact
with the east and west bays containing single four-over-one windows.
The center bay contains a short four-light window set high in the
wall to allow for the ridge of the rear wing.
The center bay may have at one time contained a full sized window
opening, but it appears that the present configuration dates at least to the
time of the house being moved.
The rear wing and the exposed second story rear
elevation of the principal section of the house are covered with artificial
siding. The rear wing is gabled
with a low-sloped roof and a deep overhang.
A portion of the rear wing may have
originally been a porch. The rear elevation of the wing features a four-light panel door
bordered by banks of three ganged nine-over-nine windows.
The only historic element apparent on the rear wing is a pair of the
small three-over-one windows
at the kitchen.
A pair of modern eight-light sash are
set high in the gable.
The east elevation of the rear wing is set back slightly from the
principal section of the house, but the deep eave juts past the older
east elevation contains a row of six windows ganged together.
A small gabled wing with artificial siding extends from the west
elevation of the rear wing and is one bay wide and one bay deep, with
paired nine-over-nine windows piercing each
elevation. A simple chimney
pierces the roof.
Detail of west
elevation and rear wing
The massed-plan house features four rooms
on the first and second stories, bisected by center halls. The house has
been renovated over the years, but many original interior features remain, and
the original interior layout has largely survived. On the first story the
center hall contains a staircase with a substantial turned newel and a wide moulded handrail. Turned balusters rest on original pine treads, now
partially covered with carpeting. Sawn brackets decorate the
The west front room likely served as the parlor. It
contains a Craftsman-Style fireplace mantle that may have been updated when the
house was moved and Craftsman elements were added to the exterior of the house.
The fireplace features a rectilinear shelf supported by simple pilasters.
A concrete hearth may have been added at the time of the move. The
walls feature a tall baseboard with a moulded cap, and the walls are
topped with Cavetto trim at the ceiling. The ceiling has been replaced or
covered with fiberboard panels. The door and windows features moulded trim
mitered at the corners. It is likely that wallboard was applied over an
earlier wall finish, leaving the original trim flush with the newer wall
covering. Trim was then added to give greater relief. Narrow pine
flooring is not original but may date to the early twentieth century. The
original door leading to the hall has been replaced with a fifteen-light door with a
Below: East front room
Across the hall from the parlor, the east
front room contains an older mantle consistent with the Italianate Style. The mantle features trim that mirrors
the segmented pointed hoods of the front door and windows. The
fireplace is bordered by two five-horizontal-panel closet doors with glass
knobs. Trim around the doors and windows is simple boards. The ceiling in this room is also covered with fiberboard panels.
The dining room is the only room in the
principal section of the house that has retained an original beaded-board tongue-and-groove
ceiling, The ceiling and wall juncture features cyma recta trim.
Window and door trim is simple. The room features the same mantle found in
the parlor. It is possible that when the house was moved some of the fireboxes
were rebuilt to burn coal, and the replacement mantles better fit the smaller
opening. The dining room features a built-in china cabinet, with two
three-horizontal-panel doors at the base, four-light glazed doors in the middle,
and two short single-panel doors set above the glass doors. The original door
leading to the hall was also replaced with a fifteen-light door.
The floor plan of the second story generally mirrors the
layout on the first story. The staircase leads to a center hall where
the stair rail turns into a handrail around the floor opening. Whereas
many of the first story interior doors have been replace, the second story
hallway is lined with original five-panel doors. A partial-height
window illuminates the south end of the hallway and sits over a short panel
door that gives access to the attic over the rear wing. The
hallway has been altered with the addition of a ca. 1920 bathroom that
occupies the north end of the hallway, and a closet has been added to the
north of the staircase.
The upstairs rooms are all similar. Each contains a
single closet with a narrow five panel door and an elegant but simple
mantle with pilasters and a replacement tile hearth.
Typical second story room detail
The interior of the wing was significantly remodeled late in
the twentieth century, with the ceiling and floor covered with new
materials. The only notable historic feature is a six-light two-panel
door that probably dates from the time of the house being moved.
The property contains two outbuildings. The larger is
a frame gabled barn/workshop, with distinct shed wings. A panel door
is set in the center of the front elevation and is topped with a simple loft
door. The second building is a front-gabled block garage that may date
from the 1960s.