Survey and Research Report
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory
Name and location of the property: The property known as the St.
Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory is located at 8600 Mt. Holly –
Huntersville Road in Huntersville, North Carolina.
Name, address, and telephone number of the current owner of the
The current owner of the property is:
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
8600 Mt. Holly – Huntersville Road
Huntersville, NC 28208
Telephone: (704) 399-5193
Representative photographs of the property: This report contains
representative photographs of the property.
A map depicting the location of the property: This report
contains a map depicting the location of the property. UTM: 17
Current deed book reference to the property: The most recent deed
to the property is found in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 1870, page 119.
The tax parcel number for the property is 25-161-07.
A brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains a
brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Emily D. Ramsey.
A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains a brief architectural description of the property prepared by
Emily D. Ramsey.
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 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks
Commission judges that the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory
possesses special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
The Commission bases its judgment on the following considerations:
1. The St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory forms an
integral part of one of the oldest church complexes in
Mecklenburg County – the church itself, the oldest rural
Episcopal congregation in the county, was formed in 1884.
2. The St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory, erected ca.
1897, was constructed by John Ellis McAuley, a local builder
and carpenter who built a number of frame houses in the Long
Creek community in addition to fashioning all of the brick
used in the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church building.
3. The St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory, a T-shaped
modification of the typical I-house plan, is an excellently
preserved example of rural architecture in Mecklenburg County,
and remains as a tangible reminder of the agrarian lifestyle
in such rural communities as Long Creek.
b. Integrity of design, workmanship, materials, feeling, and
The Commission contends that the architectural description by Emily
D. Ramsey demonstrates that the St. Mark's Episcopal Church Rectory
meets this criterion.
Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: The current Ad Valorem tax appraisal
for the improvements is $42,490. The current Ad Valorem tax appraisal
for the one acre of land is $19,200.
Date of Preparation of this Report:
August 1, 2001
Emily D. Ramsey
745 Georgia Trail
Lincolnton, NC 28092
Statement of Significance
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory
8600 Mt. Holly – Huntersville Road
The St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory, constructed ca. 1897, is a
structure that possesses local historic significance as an integral part of
one of the oldest and best preserved rural church complexes in Mecklenburg
County, and as a tangible reminder of the simple agrarian lifestyle of the
county’s small rural communities. The organization of
Saint Mark’s church in
1884 had a tremendous impact on the small rural Long Creek community. The
Hopewell Presbyterian Church had dominated the religious and social lives of
Long Creek residents since its inception in the mid-1700s; when St. Mark’s
rustic Gothic church building was completed in 1887, the congregation had
already developed a small but loyal group of members, thanks in large part
to the efforts of the church’s first pastor, the Reverend Edwin Augustus
Osborne. The late 1800s saw the beginnings of a cotton boom that would buoy
Mecklenburg County’s agrarian economy through the turn of the century and
the first decade s of the twentieth century. Some local farmers prospered during
this period, and they built new schools, churches and houses to reflect
their success. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Rectory, like many of the
rural resources left in the county, represents this period of growth and
prosperity in Mecklenburg’s rural communities. The church complex, which
included the church building and the rectory, set high on a hill overlooking
the Long Creek farmlands, became of the new center of community life for a
number of Long Creek’s established families.
The St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory, an excellently preserved example
of rural architecture in Mecklenburg County, is also significant as the work
of local builder John Ellis McAuley. The construction of the rectory began
in the late 1800s to house local pastors assisting the Reverend Osborne, who
lived in Charlotte, with his duties at St. Mark’s. McAuley erected a large
but simply adorned farmhouse, facing the church, on the northwest corner of
the gently sloping hilltop that had been donated to the congregation by the
McCoy and Houston families. McAuley, who had constructed several similar
houses within the northwestern sections of Mecklenburg County, such as the
William and Cora Osborne
House and the Ephraim
Alexander McAuley House, was also a
master brick mason – using clay from a nearby creek bank and a series of
wooden molds, he made all of the bricks used in the construction of the St.
Mark’s church building. McAuley’s design for the church rectory, a T-shaped
modification of the popular I-house plan, reflected the conservative nature
of rural communities in the late-nineteenth century, while incorporating
modest decorative elements of the popular Victorian style. The house has
been excellently preserved by the St. Mark’s congregation, and the building
remains much as it was when it was completed near the end of the nineteenth
century. In addition, the church complex retains its original rural setting,
set atop a hill and buffered from the rapidly expanding residential
development along Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road by a thickly wooded perimeter.
Historical Background and Context Statement
The decades after the Civil War proved to be a time of great
prosperity for Mecklenburg County farmers. Although the agrarian economy had
been disrupted during the Civil War, the North Carolina piedmont emerged
from the ravages of war relatively unscathed, with vital railroads, growing
towns and established rural communities intact. Mecklenburg’s farmers, most
of whom cultivated only around one hundred acres without the help of African
and African American slaves, were not devastated financially by Emancipation
and the end of the plantation economy. Rather, the post-bellum period saw
many farmers in rural communities across the county planting cotton as a
major cash crop for the first time, thanks in large part to the development
of the fertilizer Peruvian guano. As cotton hit record high prices in the
1870s, farmers in the small communities surrounding Charlotte – which had
emerged in the post-bellum period as a leading cotton trading center – took
advantage of the opportunities provided by the burgeoning economy and
The Long Creek community, located between Charlotte and the town of
Huntersville along the Mt. Holly – Huntersville Road, contained some of the
area’s most successful farming families, all of whom flourished during the
post-war cotton boom. As was the case in most of the county’s farming
communities, the Long Creek community was formed around a deeply-held
Protestant religious faith. Indeed, the community that developed in the Long
Creek area during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was
more intimately tied to the Presbyterian church than almost any other rural
community in Mecklenburg County. Hopewell Presbyterian Church, the oldest
Presbyterian congregation in the county and "one of the oldest Christian
churches in Mecklenburg," was formed in the Long Creek area during the
mid-1750s by itinerate ministers from as far away as New York and
Pennsylvania, all hoping to spread their faith among the Scots-Irish
families who had settled along the Catawba River.2 As one of the only mission
churches in Mecklenburg County, Hopewell attracted members of Long Creek’s
richest and most successful planting families, including John Davidson and
Alexander Caldwell, as well as several signers of the Mecklenburg
Declaration of Independence.3
Although Hopewell remained the social and religious center of Long Creek
throughout the first half of the nineteenth century and through the Civil
War, discontent was brewing within the congregation. Long-time member
Columbus W. McCoy, dissatisfied with the teachings of the Presbyterian
ministers at Hopewell, began looking for an alternative to the strict
religious dictates of Calvinism. After several discussions with the Reverend
Edwin A. Osborne, who had himself left the Hopewell congregation to study
for the Episcopalian ministry, McCoy took steps to bring the Episcopal
church to Long Creek. He began attending services at St. Peter’s Episcopal
Church (then the only Episcopal church in Mecklenburg County), occasionally
bringing interested friends and neighbors from the country. In 1883, McCoy
invited the rector of St. Peter’s, the Reverend Joseph Blount Cheshire, to
preach to a gathering in Long Creek. Cheshire held a series of weekend
services at the Beech Cliff School House, on the land of Columbus’s brother,
Albert McCoy. By June of the following year, Cheshire declared that the
loyal participants of his Episcopal services were ready to officially join
the church and form their own Episcopal congregation. Among the nineteen
founding members of the church were Columbus and Albert McCoy,
Thomas Gluyas, (a prominent farmer and former member of the Mecklenburg
County Board of Commissioners), W. D. Jamison, W. D. Price, N. J. Price, L.
F. Jamison, R. V. Kerns, R. D. Whitley (who owned the nearby grist mill),
Maria Davis, and Jennie D. Alexander.4 Because of the church’s status as the
second Episcopal congregation in the county after St. Peter’s, Reverent
Cheshire and Reverend Osborne suggested the name of St. Mark’s, "because of
the Biblical association between St. Mark and St. Peter as companions, which
could represent a like association between the two . . . churches." 5
Although Reverend Cheshire served initially as the "minister in charge"
of the St. Mark’s mission church, the Reverend Edwin Osborne, whose "earnest
and straightforward preaching style" had particularly impressed the small
congregation, was asked to take over the position in 1885.6 Osborne was a
particularly instrumental figure during the first decades of the St. Mark’s
mission, and he was widely respected as a progressive minister with a varied
background and a deep commitment to the Episcopal Church. Osborn entered the
Civil War at the age of 24 as Captain of a local Company in Iredell County,
eventually rising to the rank of Colonel. After the war, he married and
settled down to a career as a lawyer in Charlotte. After ten years in the
prestigious post of Clerk of the Superior Court of Mecklenburg County,
Osborne resigned to enter the ministry and devote his life to the church.
St. Mark’s Mission was only Osborne’s second appointment as a minister – he
was ordained in 1877 and served first at a small congregation in Fletcher,
North Carolina. His experience in Fletcher did little to prepare him for the
uphill battle of establishing a new church in the Long Creek Community,
where Hopewell Presbyterian Church exerted so much influence. After six
months in his new post, Osborne observed that "the opposition to the work
[of the Mission] is very strong and very bitter. Every influence that can be
brought to bear against us is used, and I hear much misrepresentation begin
Despite the hostile resistance of community members still loyal to
Hopewell, St. Mark’s Mission slowly gained members and influence within Long
Creek. In February of 1885, Robert D. McCoy Whitley and Benjamin Houston,
both large landowners and members of St. Mark’s, donated a two and
one-quarter acre plot of rolling hilltop farmland to the church trustees,
with the understanding that work would begin as soon as possible on a
building to house the mission.8 The construction of the country Gothic church
building utilized the talents of local builder Joseph Grady, Sr., who acted
as general contractor, and carpenter and brick mason John Ellis McAuley, who
made all of the bricks for the church building with clay from a nearby
creek, which he shaped in crude wooden molds and fired in a homemade kiln.9
The first services were held inside the church building on March 27, 1887,
less than a year after construction began, but the church was far from
finished. Throughout the late 1880s and into the 1890s, interior features
such as an alter, chancel rail, prayer desk, and credence table were added
to the church. On May 10, 1896, nearly a decade after the church building
was started, the St. Mark’s Episcopal Mission Church was consecrated.
With this major milestone conquered, the congregation turned it attention
to building a home in anticipation of a minister who could serve the mission
full-time. Although the Reverend Osborne had served St. Mark’s throughout
the mission’s growing pains, he continued to reside in Charlotte, dividing
his time between his duties at St. Mark’s and his work as Superintendent of
the Thompson Orphanage and Training Institute in Charlotte, which he had
founded in 1887.10 In the last years of the nineteenth century, St. Mark’s
trustees commissioned John McAuley (who had fashioned the bricks for the
church’s sanctuary) to build a modest parsonage. The Whitley family, along
with Justice Heriot Clarkson and his wife, Mary Osborne Clarkson, donated a
small parcel of land on the other side of the country crossroads that ran in
front of the St. Mark’s church.11 McAuley, who had constructed several similar
one-and-two story farmhouses across the Long Creek area, completed the St.
Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory, a T-shaped modification of the popular
I-house plan with understated Victorian detailing, around 1898. Although
Reverend Osborne continued to serve as the mission’s official leader until
1910, he did not move into the newly completed rectory. Instead, St. Mark’s
trustees used the building to house several of Osborne’s assistant pastors.
In addition, the rectory served as the community Masonic lodge. The St.
Mark’s rectory served as home to ministers of the modest mission church only
until the early 1930s, when financial strain forced the congregation to rent
the house out to local families.12 The rectory now serves as a community house
and educational building for the congregation, and remains an integral part
of religious and community life in the Long Creek community.
Architectural Context Statement and Physical Description
Architecturally, the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory reflects the
conservative nature of the rural communities in Mecklenburg County and
surrounding areas. Although fundamental changes had occurred in the practice
of building during the last half of the nineteenth century, including the
introduction of mass-produced building materials (made easily accessible
through the ever-expanding network of railroads that crossed the South) and
the advent of light and labor-saving balloon and braced framing,
architecturally, the rural communities of Mecklenburg County adhered to
simple and traditional forms when erecting their own buildings. The most
popular of these forms was the I-house, traditionally a two-story,
single-pile frame structure with a central hall flanked on each side by a
single room. Though largely considered a pre-railroad house form, the
I-house persisted, with numerous variations, throughout the countryside
through the nineteenth century, as the St. Mark’s Rectory attests, and even
into the twentieth century.
Although John McAuley built the St. Mark’s Rectory as a simple T-shaped
modification of the typical I-house plan, he was not immune to the influence
of the wildly popular Victorian architectural style, with its host of
surface ornamentation such as sawnwork, vergeboards, and spindlework.13 McAuley’s understated version of such Victorian detailing adorns the doorway
and porch posts of the Rectory, ornamentation which is mimicked in the
interior woodwork of the church building. The "simple wooden columns . . .
topped by scroll-sawn brackets and arch-shaped trim" that stand where the
side wings join the nave may well have been McAuley’s work as well.14 His work
as a carpenter and builder were well-known among Long Creek residents – in
addition to his work with St. Mark’s Church and Rectory, McAuley constructed
several one and two-story houses across the community.15
The St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Rectory is a two-story, double pile,
T-shaped, side-gabled frame structure with several one and one-and-a-half
story additions extending from its northwest (rear) elevation. The building
has been remarkably well preserved, and remains much as it was when built
near the turn of the century. The rectory retains its original weatherboard
siding, brick end chimneys, decorative door surrounds and door, and original
scrolled porch posts and hipped porch. The only notable changes to the
exterior are the addition of an exterior metal stair, rising to a second
floor window along the southwest (side) elevation, the enclosure of two rear
porches, and the replacement of the windows (most likely originally a
double-hung, six-over-six configuration). The interior of the rectory is
equally pristine, with original wooden floors, bead board walls and
ceilings, wooden doors with original hardware, and the original staircase,
with dark rounded newel posts and railing, all intact. As one of only two
rectories included in the 1997 survey of historic rural resources in
Mecklenburg County compiled by Sherry Joines and Dr. Dan L. Morrill, the St.
Mark’s Episcopal Rectory is a rare rural resource.
As important as the integrity of the house itself is the integrity of its
originally rural surroundings. Although recent years have seen residential
development increase exponentially along the once lightly traveled Mt.
Holly- Huntersville Road, the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Rectory have
retained much of their originally rural setting, and form perhaps the only
rural church complex in Mecklenburg County. The two buildings sit facing
each other atop a wooded knoll above the Mt. Holly – Huntersville Road. The
church graveyard stretches down the northeast slope of the hill, and the
complex is surrounded by a buffering perimeter of dense thickets. At one
time, the Mt. Holly – Huntersville Road ran up the hill and between the
church building and the rectory, rather than around the foot of the hill as
it does now. The church building and the rectory, along with the rural St.
Mark’s school, the Whitley mill and a nearby country store (all of which are
no longer standing), formed the heart of religious, social and commercial
life for many Long Creek residents.16 Despite the change in the Mt. Holly –
Huntersville Road, and despite the addition of a 1950s brick educational and
activities building near the northern corner of the church building, the St.
Mark’s Episcopal Church complex retains a sense of its original rural
As one of the only rural church rectories remaining in Mecklenburg
County, as the work of well-known local builder John Ellis McAuley and an
excellently preserved example of rural vernacular architecture, and as part
of a rare and pristine rural church complex, the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Rectory remains an important rural resource and a tangible reminder of rural
life in Mecklenburg County.
Sherry Joines and Dr. Dan L. Morrill, “Historic Rural Resources in
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina” (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic
Landmarks Commission, 1997). Thomas Hanchett, “The Growth of Charlotte: A
History” (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission), 6-7.
2. “Survey and Research Report on
Hopewell Presbyterian Church” (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks
Commission, 1977), 1-2.
4. Joseph Blount Cheshire, Jr.,
“History of St. Mark’s Mission, Mecklenburg County, NC, from 1883-1885”
(unpublished historical sketch, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church), 1-3. Marilyn
Croteau and Dr. Dan L. Morrill, “Survey and Research Report on the Thomas
and Latitia Gluyas House” (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks
5. Cheshire, Jr., 2-4. William H.
Huffman, “Survey and Research Report on St. Mark’s Episcopal Church”
(Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, 1983), 3.
7. Letter written by Reverend Edwin A.
Osborne, dated 16 July 1885 (St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Records,
8. Mecklenburg County Deed Book 42,
located at the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds (Charlotte: 1885),
9. Huffman, 5-6.
10. Ibid, 5.
11. Mecklenburg County Deed Book 116,
located at the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds (Charlotte: 1896), 134.
12. Jack Stewart, interview by Emily Ramsey,
13. Catherine W. Bisher, Charlotte V.
Brown, Carl R. Lounsbury and Ernest H. Wood III, Architects and Builders
in North Carolina: A History of the Practice of Building (The University
of North Carolina Press, 1990) p.193. Virginia and Lee McAlester, A
Field Guide to American Houses (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc, 1984) p. 89-90.
14. Huffman, 9.
15. Ibid, 6. The Historic Landmarks
Commission is moving the Ephraim Alexander McAuley House to assure its
preservation. Click here for
16. Stewart interview.