The 1948 Davidson School is an
L-shaped, two-story, solid masonry building that faces west and sits close
to the sidewalk. The five acre
site slopes to the rear, with a small parking lot to the north of the
principal building, and a larger paved parking lot to the rear of the
building. A 1937 gymnasium
sits toward the rear of the site. The
most prominent feature of the façade is the projecting portion of the
auditorium wing. Much of this
elevation is a simple brick wall laid in common Flemish bond.
One large single large bay is centered in the elevation, and is composed
of three smaller tall and narrow bays, each containing original double panel
doors. Each panel door is
divided into three sections with solid lower panels and a single light at
the top. The doors are
surrounded by moulded cast-stone trim and are topped with large cast-stone
panels with a shield emblem in the center.
Each of the panels are topped with paired twelve-light metal sash
windows. In each of the narrow
bays, continuous moulded stone architrace trim surround the doorways,
panels, and windows. The only
other architectural element on this elevation is a three-part
cast concrete flagpole bracket set high on the wall.
Replacement metal covers the top of the low, flat parapet wall.
Concrete steps bordered by massive curved concrete cheek walls lead
to the three auditorium entrances.
primary entrance to the Davidson School is adjacent to the projecting
auditorium wing, and is further recessed in a shallow porch.
Concrete steps with pipe handrails lead to the porch which is
defined by a simple cast-stone lintel.
The doorway contains two panel doors, each with a single tall
light. The doors are topped
with a five-light transom. Moulded
cast-stone architrave surrounds the doorway.
The cast-stone lintel above the
entrance continues on across the façade as a horizontal band.
Four such bands run the width of the façade, and define sections
of the façade where windows pierce the elevation.
The bands that run above the windows are wider than those that run
at the sill level. A defining
feature of the Modernist Style
is the ribbon window. Four
sets of ribbon windows pierce the façade.
Centered on the façade, on both
stories, are ribbons of seven twenty-four-light windows ganged together.
The effect is a continuous bank of windows with little in terms of
support members separating them. Other
configurations of windows
pierce the façade including single twenty-four-light windows, paired
windows, and small four-over-four double-hungs.
All of the windows are original metal sash windows, some of
which contain window air conditioning units.
A secondary entrance is located
in the southernmost bay of the façade.
Set at grade level, the doorway contain replacement double-doors
topped with an original five-light transom.
The doorway is bordered by narrow glass-brick sidelights that are
set in the brickwork and feature small cast-stone sills. The
doorway is sheltered by a cast-concrete slab-awning, supported by
adjustable metal rods anchored above the awning.
Details of the south elevation
The cast-stone bands that run across the
facade return for a short distance on the south side elevation. The
elevation features a replacement slab door sheltered by a concrete awning.
Large glazed openings with replacement glass illuminate a stairwell.
Four double-hung windows also pierce the elevation.
The rear elevation features six banks of
ribbon windows. Unlike the facade, there is no cast-stone trim on the
rear elevation. The basement level is fully exposed on the rear, and
the basement cafeteria is illuminated by eight eight-over-eight metal
double-hung windows. A set of replacement slab doors sheltered by a
concrete awning give access to the basement. Tall gutter pipes drain
scupper holes at the parapet. A galvanized exhaust pipe is attached to
wall and runs from the basement to the roof. The rear elevation
affords the best view of the schools simple square interior chimney.
A rear wing contains a portion of the
auditorium as well classrooms on the first and second stories. The
classrooms are illuminated by ribbon windows that pierce the south
elevation of the rear wing. A recess between the rear wing and the
principal rear elevation contains an entrance. Double replacement
doors are sheltered by a concrete slab awning.
The rear elevation of the auditorium
wing is mostly a large expanse of uninterrupted brick wall. An entrance at
grade level is sheltered by a concrete awning. The doorway contains
replacement slab doors and is topped with an original five-light
transom. Three widely spaced windows illuminate the backstage area
of the auditorium. The center window is a large twelve-over-twelve
metal double-hung. The others are four-over-four units. The
parapet steps down one step to the south.
The most notable feature of the north
elevation of the auditorium wing is the group of five tall triple-hung
windows. The nine-over-nine-over-nine sash are bordered on each side
by three-light sidelights. The choice of wooden windows for this
elevation is curious, but may have been due to the availability of window
units in this configuration. Original wide panel doors are located in
the sixth bay from the facade, under a shortened triple-hung.
the exterior, the interior of the Davidson School has a high degree of
integrity and features architectural elements typical of the post-war
two stairwells once featured un-glazed wall openings, that have been
filled with fixed glazing. The fire-proof nature of the building is
well demonstrated in the poured-in-place concrete stairways. A
partial-height concrete handrail-wall borders the concrete steps, and
curves in a tight radius where the stairs switchback. A curved
metal-pipe handrail follows the curve of the wall.
Hallways feature terrazzo floors and
glazed tile running up the wall to a height of approximately four
feet. Doorways are bordered by simple wooden trim, and contain a
mixture of slab and panel doors. The most notable doors are slab
doors with a round "porthole" window. The current student
lockers are not original.
Classrooms are lit by original florescent
light fixtures and by the large ribbon windows. that light is shared
with the hallways via traditional wooden six-light hopper window set high
in the classroom walls. The classrooms also feature built-in
cabinets that enclose radiators and feature drawers and shelves. The
floors in the classrooms are covered with linoleum floor tiles.
The auditorium features original metal
and bent-plywood theater seats. The same linoleum tile found in the
classrooms was used on the auditorium floor. The floor of the
auditorium slopes down to the stage, and stairs with simple pipe handrails
give access to both the hallway and the stage. The high stage
opening is surrounded by deep stepped plaster trim that meets at mitered
corners. The stage floor is original hardwood. Widely spaced
beams in the ceiling and piers in the walls are reflected in the
plasterwork. Hanging light fixtures featuring concentric metal
circular bands may be original. A narrow lobby in front of the auditorium
features original slab doors and a terrazzo floor. Stair lead to a
balcony that has been closed-off from the auditorium space.
The schools basement cafeteria
features an original wooden refrigeration unit. The Modernist
porthole doors found elsewhere contrast with the traditional panel doors
found in the storage and workroom in the cafeteria/basement level.
The cafeteria floor has been replaced with a new tile floor.
Davison School Gymnasium
The Davison School Gymnasium is a
two-story side-gabled building. The
building faces west and is set back about 200’ from the principal school
gymnasium’s style draws from the Classical Revival movement which was
widely applied to commercial and institutional buildings throughout
Mecklenburg County during the first half of the twentieth century.
The building is frame construction with a brick veneer laid in a
running bond. The moderately
pitched roof is covered with fiberglass shingles.
Typical of the Classical Revival Style, the gymnasium exhibits
strict symmetry, and it features two hipped-roof wings projecting from the
The façade of the principal
section is five bays wide.
The building’s most notable exterior feature is the group of
half-round arched window openings in the central three bays.
The arches feature stone imposts and keystones, and simple
brick voussoirs. The window
openings contain original large double-hung windows with a twelve-light
sash topped with a fourteen-light curved-top sash.
All of the windows rest on simple angled-brick sills.
The outer two bays contain smaller window openings that are topped
with lintels composed of angled brick voussoirs.
The windows contain original six-over-nine windows.
Five roughly square windows pierce the façade on the
second story. These six-light
hinged awning windows are centered above the larger windows of the first
story, and are topped with brick lintels composed of angled brick
voussoirs. The wall is
topped with a simple deep frieze with a moulded edge.
The frieze is topped with crown moulding.
Along the base of the façade are three brick wells with cast
concrete caps that ventilate the building’s crawlspace.
The two main entrances to the
school are located in the front elevations of the side wings.
Modern slab doors have replace the original double doors.
Half-round arch transoms sit above the doors, and are now filled
with plywood panels. The
half-round arches mimic those found above the center windows.
The entrances are below grade.
The site slopes and the northern entrance is farther below grade. Brick
and concrete steps lead down to the entrances and are bordered by brick
cheek walls topped with cast blocks. Metal
awnings have been added above both entrances.
Top photograph shows the south side elevation.
Below, the north side elevation is relatively obscured by the
grade and trees.
The side wings obscure most of
the side elevations of the principal section of the gymnasium, with the
notable exception of the tall gable. The
gables are stuccoed and each features a tall half-round-arched louvered
vent. The frieze and cornice
of the façade return on the side walls, and the rake features similar
trim. The brick veneer of the
façade also wraps the corner, with the stucco being set back slightly.
The stuccoed gables made it unnecessary to install lintels to carry
the heavy load of brick above the hipped roofs of the side wings.
The wings are six bays wide with six unusual three-over-six
windows set high in the wall. The
brickwork on the sides is simpler that that found on the façade, with
simple soldier courses accenting the lintels above the window openings.
Seven openings pierce the elevation at the basement level.
Six window openings have been filled with plywood panels, and the
original door opening contains a replacement metal door.
A soldier course of brick at the level of the window sills notes
the transition from the solid brick foundation to the brick veneer. The
wings are nearly identical with the exception of the brick flues.
The square flue adjacent to the rear of the building on the south
side elevation is much larger
that the flue at the same location on the north elevation.
Like the façade, the rear
elevation is five bays wide. However,
few of the architectural elements found on the front of the building were
applied to the rear. The
site slopes steeply down behind the gymnasium.
Three doorways with replacement slab double-doors set in
replacement metal frames open out onto brick and concrete steps with metal
pipe handrails. The
southernmost doorway is sheltered with a modern metal awning.
Below the soldier-course water table vent were cut into the wall to
ventilate the crawl space. A
crawlspace door reveals the wooden-girder and wooden -floor joist framing
system. Five wide window
openings are topped with angled brick lintels and contain metal-framed and
metal-sash windows with wire glass. The
units each contain two awning sash. The
windows above the doors are shorter and contain forty-eight lights.
The two larger windows contain fifty-four lights.
The interior of the Davidson
School Gymnasium is overwhelmingly wood, with tongue-and-groove boards
covering the walls and wooden decking exposed on the ceiling.
The interior is principally one large room, with the side wing
containing wooden bleachers that overlook the court.
Wooden posts set into the wall framing carry the load of six metal
trusses that span the depth of the building.
The trusses support steel purlins that carry the roof deck.
Brick walls that enclose the entrance foyers support a steel
I-beam, that in turn supports
a seating gallery that runs along the front wall.
The wooden seating as well as the maple court flooring appear to be
are located in the basement.