The Addison Apartments
Dr.William H. Huffman, Dr. Dan L. Morrill, and Sherry J. Joines
June 1, 1994
Updated September 8, 1997
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Addison Apartments is located at 831 East Morehead Street, Charlotte,
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The owner of the property is:
Morehead Properties, Incorporated
1043 East Morehead Street
Charlotte, NC 28204
Tax Parcel Number: 125-173-22
3 . Representative photographs of the property: This report
contains representative photographs of the property.
4. A map depicting the location of the property: This report
contains maps which depict the location of the property.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most recent
deed to Tax Parcel Number 125-173-22 is listed in Mecklenburg County Deed
Book 8359 Page 0843.
6. A brief historic sketch of the property: This report contains a
brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr. William H. Huffman.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains a brief architectural description of the property prepared by Dr.
William H. Huffman.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets criteria
for designation as 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 Addison Apartments does possess special significance for Charlotte and
Mecklenburg County. The Commission bases its judgment on the following
considerations: 1) The Addison Apartments building was built and owned by
prominent local builder J. A. Jones in 1926. 2) It is one of the few
elegant high-rise apartment buildings built in Charlotte in the early
twentieth century. 3) It was designed by local architect Willard G.
Rogers, who designed a number of important buildings in the city.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling,
and/or association: The Commission contends that the architectural
descriptions included in this report demonstrate that the Addison
Apartments building 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 designated "historic landmark." The current appraised value of the land
and buildings is $5,721,710.00. The size of Tax Parcel 125173-22 is 1.360
Date of Preparation of this Report: 1 June 1994, updated August
Prepared by: Dr. William H. Huffman
Updated by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill and Sherry J. Joines
Charlotte - Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
2100 Randolph Road
Charlotte, NC 28207
Dr. William H. Huffman
The Addison Apartments building represent distinct cultural and
architectural styles of pre-World-War II twentieth-century Charlotte that
have largely passed from the scene. Built in 1926 on fashionable East
Morehead Street in
Dilworth, it is also important because of its association with the
original builder and owner, J. A. Jones, and local Charlotte architect
Willard G. Rogers. The Addison Apartments building was listed in the
National Register of Historic Places in August, 1990.1
From humble beginnings on a farm near Asheboro, James Addison Jones
(1869-1950) came to Charlotte in 1889 as a 19-year-old brick mason and
eventually formed a construction company bearing his name that has built
many local and state landmarks and is now known worldwide. In 1890, the
hard-working and ambitious young man married a local girl of eighteen, Mary
Jane (Minnie) Hopper, with whom he had twelve children. Thrice-widowed,
Jones married a fourth time in 1942, prior to which he had two more children
with his second wife and another with his third. By 1894, Jones had formed
his own construction company and began to win increasingly important
contracts for commercial, governmental and residential buildings in and
around Charlotte. Some of his major contracts prior to the 1920s include the
Cole Manufacturing Plant, Charlotte, 1905;
Hoskins Mill, Charlotte, 1905; library of the University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1907; Efird's Department Store, Charlotte, 1907
(demolished). Charlotte YMCA, 1908 (demolished);
Independence Building, Charlotte, 1908-1909 (North Carolina's first
steel frame skyscraper, demolished); Belk's Department Store, Charlotte,
1910 (demolished); Bishop Kilgo House, Charlotte, 1914-1915;
Masonic Temple, Charlotte, 1914 (demolished); and the Ivey's Department
Store, Charlotte, 1914.2
In 1920, the J. A. Jones Construction Company became a corporation, with
J. A. Jones, president and sons Raymond A. and Edwin L. vice-president and
secretary-treasurer, respectively. This team continued to build some of
Charlotte's and the state's most impressive buildings during the boom times
of the Twenties. They include: some fifteen buildings at what is now the
University of North Carolina at Greensboro; the Forsyth County Courthouse;
the Professional Building, Charlotte, 1922-1923; the N. C. Baptist Hospital,
Winston-Salem, 1922; Hotel Charlotte, 1924 (demolished);
Charlotte City Hall, 1925;
Carolina Theater, Charlotte, 1927 (partially demolished); Charlotte
Observer Building, 1927 (demolished);
Nebel Mill, Charlotte, 1928; The Power Building, Charlotte, 1928; and
the Wilder Building, 1926, Charlotte (demolished).3 During World
War II, the company built the
atomic bomb plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and many other military and
government camps. It also constructed a shipyard and began to build ships as
well, managing to launch 212 freighters in just two years. After the war,
the company sought contracts in many different countries overseas and became
one of the nation's largest construction companies. James Addison Jones died
in 1950, but the legacy of his buildings and construction company will long
In 1922, the J. A. Jones Construction Company bought two 100'x 300' lots
at the comer of East Morehead and McDowell Streets from the Charlotte
Consolidated Construction Company in Dilworth with the clear intention of
developing them.5 Dilworth was Charlotte's first suburb and was
the creation of New South entrepreneur Edward Dilworth Latta (1851-1925).
Latta was a Princeton educated native of South Carolina who, after achieving
success in Charlotte with a clothing store (1876) and the Charlotte Trouser
Company (1883), formed the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company
(often referred to as the 4 Cs) to develop the city's first suburb in 1890.
Originally laid out in grid fashion, the main boulevards such as East
Boulevard and East Morehead Street as well as some side streets boasted
grand homes, while the remainder were more modest middle-class houses, and,
at the southern edge,
mill houses for the
(1892-1893) on South Boulevard. Special inducements were
devised to lure people to the new suburb: a new electric trolley line from the Square (opened 1891); a first-rate park, complete
with a concert and dance hall, racetracks, a pavilion, greenhouses and a
large boating lake; and installment buying for lots. With the Atherton Mill
and seven other factories that were put up along the western side of South
Boulevard in 1894 and 1895, Dilworth's success was assured. The first phase
of development ended about 1912, when Latta Park was reduced to its present
size, and work began on the new section designed by the Olmsted Brothers,
"the most prestigious landscape architecture and city planning firm in the
Development in the second phase, with its curved streets that followed
the contours of the landscape, continued apace through the boom times of the
1920s. It was in part of this new section that J. A. Jones chose to build
the Addison Apartments.6 When Jones completed his plans for the
lots, he formed the Addison Realty Company with his two sons Edwin and
Raymond, and transferred title to the new company to develop it for an
apartment building.7 For the design, they chose local architect
Willard G. Rogers (1863-1947).8 Rogers, a native of Cincinnati,
Ohio, came to Charlotte with his wife Eva Troy Rogers about 1900, and worked
for Stuart W. Cramer, who had an engineering and contracting firm in
Charlotte that built and supplied cotton mill machinery for textile plants
in the Piedmont region. In 1906, Rogers left Cramer to go into private
practice in partnership with C. C. Hook (1869-1938), one of Charlotte's
leading architects. The two practiced together until about 1916, when each
went out on his own. Rogers continued his solo practice until 1942, when, at
the age of 79, he moved to Atlanta. Although there is little information
about his background and career in Charlotte, it is known that he designed
the Wilder Building (referred to above) the Masonic Temple (with Hook) and a
number of residences in the city.9
Visiting the site frequently to see personally that the job went well, J.
A. Jones began construction of the Addison Apartments in March, 1926, and
completed the building in the fall in time to allow tenants to occupy their
new apartments in October and November. The fine new building boasted hot
and cold running water, steam heat, a radio attachment for each room, a
dining room, room service and a beauty parlor. Behind the building, where
the present parking lot is located, Jones built a row of garages for each
tenant's car as well as a gas station and car wash. This latest version of
fine urban living was promoted as "The South's Finest" in a newspaper ad
taken out by Jones' construction company.10 Sometime in the late
1940s, controlling interest in Addison Realty was sold to Gen. Paul R.
Younts, who held it until his death in 1971.11 The following
year, the apartments were purchased by Management Enterprises, Inc, who, a
month later, passed title to a development partnership, Addison Plaza
Associates; they wanted to turn the building into a retirement hotel.
In March, 1973, it was again sold, this time to International Investors,
Inc., headed by insurance executive Emest L. Harris. Harris' group attempted
to turn the apartments into condominiums.13 Finally, in July,
1974, the Housing Authority of the City of Charlotte bought the building for
low-income housing for the elderly. 14 When the Housing Authority
moved the last tenants out and put it up for sale in 1990, the search was on
once again for a suitable owner who might renovate the building, and some
were concerned that it might be lost. It is presently under contract to
Historic Preservation Partners, LLC of Williamsburg, Virginia, which is
under the direction of developer Paul L. Wilson. Historic Preservation
Partners intends to restore the building for use as a fine hotel and
restaurant. Once again the Addison Apartments building will take its place
as a proud beacon of good living on East Morehead Street.
Happily, the Addison Apartments building was purchased by Morehead
Properties, Inc., and was upfitted for office use in 1996 - 1997.
1Certificate of entry in the National Register of Historic
Places dated 23 August 1990.
2Beth Laney Smith and Karen Trogdon Kluever, Jones
Construction Centennial: Looking Back-Moving Forward (Charlotte:
Laney-Smith, Inc., 1989), passim.
5Mecklenburg County Deed Book 485, page 397, 2 October 1922.
6Dan L. Morrill, "Edward Dilworth Latta and the Charlotte
Consolidated Construction Company (1890-1925): Builders of a New South
City," The North Carolina Historical Review, 62 (July, 1985),
7Mecklenburg County Record of Corporations, Book 9, p. 381,
Certificate of Incorporation 27425, 9 February 1926.
8City of Charlotte Building Permit No. 6748, 19 March 1926.
9Information compiled by William H. Huffman.
10 Richard Mattson and Suzanne Pickens, National Register of
Historic Places Nomination of the Addison Apartments, 9 March 1990;
Charlotte Observer, July 14, 1990, editorial by Jack Claiborne, "This
Time and Place;" Sanborn Insurance Company Map of Charlotte, 1929, p. 26.
11 Charlotte Observer , March 15, 1973, p. 4B.
12Mecklenburg County Deed Books 3483, p. 549 and Book 3512, p.
21; Charlotte News, October 13, 1972, p. ?
13Mecklenburg County Deed Book 3545. p. 61; Charlotte
Observer, March 15, 1973, p. 1B.
14Mecklenburg County Deed Book 3 690, p. 3 13; Charlotte
Observer, June 12, 1973.
Dr. William H. Huffman
The Addison Apartments building is located on the north comer of the
intersection of East Morehead and South McDowell Streets in Charlotte, N.
C., about 0.8 miles due south of the Square at Trade and Tryon Streets, and
faces southwest. East Morehead Street at that point slopes gently from
northwest to southeast, and on both sides is completely developed with
low-rise commercial and office buildings, many new and some conversions from
a few old houses, and churches. Built in 1926 by the J. A. Jones
Construction Company and designed by Charlotte architect Willard G. Rogers,
the Addison is an outstanding and rare
Neoclassical Revival landmark. Its rarity comes from its survival on
East Morehead Street, which used to be lined with fine homes and a few
neighborhood stores and restaurants, almost all of which, with just a few
exceptions, are gone. It is also rare as a surviving 1920s high-rise
apartment building for the affluent middle-class (the only other in the city
Poplar Apartments in
4th Ward, which has five stories and was built with 39 suites in 1929).
Last of all, its claim to rarity comes as a surviving Neoclassical Revival
steel frame skyscraper of pre-1930s Charlotte, all the rest of which were
commercial buildings along Trade and Tryon Streets:
Independence Building, 1909 (demolished); Professional Building, 1923;
Hotel Charlotte, 1924 (demolished);
Johnston Building, 1924; First National Bank, 1926 (demolished); and the
Wilder Building, also designed by Rogers, 1926 (demolished).
The Addison Apartments building is a steel-frame structure nine stories
tall, nine bays wide and three bays deep with a base that measures 155 feet
by 51 feet, an sits on a double lot that measures 200 feet along East
Morehead Street and 300 feet along South McDowell. A parking lot takes up
about one-half of the rear of the property, which is paved with asphalt and
is at a lower grade than the building portion of the lot. The bottom story
of the building is partially below ground in the front of the building, but
above ground on the sides and in the back. The front elevation presents the
viewer with a symmetrical, but variegated facade. Resting on a concrete
foundation, the first floor and basement levels are faced with a smooth cast
stone veneer that is topped by an entablature and cornice, which is detailed
with dentils along the side two bays and front side bay.
The second story and up is faced with brick curtain walls laid in
running bond, and the two end and center bays project forward from the
others to add variety. Originally buff color, the brick was painted in
recent years and is now white. Variety is further enhanced by brick quoins
along the center and two end bays and a front side bay, which is repeated in
the rear elevation and rear side bay. The front elevation also features
triple, double and single windows of different sizes, all having cast stone
sills (except for the brick sills for the small bathroom windows) and
one-over-one double-hung sash. Flanking the two sets of double windows in
the center bay are smooth stone pilasters topped by engaged
Corinthian capitals. Embellishments at the crown of the building include
cornices topped by stepped parapets, ornamented cast stone paneled
balconies, and cast stone trim with dentils.
Befitting the style, the main entry portico is the most elaborate part of
the building. Six steps lead up to the two-story porch that spans the width
of the center bay. At the four corners of the porch are square, tapered
vernacular Doric columns with recessed panels topped by
Doric capitals. Flanking the front entry just inside the two front
square columns are two round
Tuscan columns on plain bases also capped by Doric capitals. The columns
support an entablature with a frieze in which "Addison Apartments" is
carved, above which is a cornice with dentils. Above the cornice is a
balcony which has cast stone bases supporting three urns in the front
corners, with a metal railing between them. Another urn is engaged in the
center of the facade just above the porch balcony as part of a decorative
pediment. The double front entry doors are flanked by four pilasters, two of
which frame the doors and two frame the side lights. Both the
side lights have leaded glass with a pattern of intersecting ellipses.
Square ceramic tiles cover the floor of the porch. The McDowell Street
elevation has an entrance directly to the basement level which is protected
by a small canopy suspended from two chains attached to the wall. The rear
elevation facing the parking lot has no decoration, since it was only used
as the service side of the building.
Two major rear projections house the service elevators and stairways, and
a smaller one is for the furnace flue. Through the front entrance on East
Morehead, one passes into the lobby and looks ahead to a small waiting room.
The lobby area is the fanciest and best decorated in the building. Polished
marble covers the walls, and a highly decorative cornice with egg and dart
molding circles the area. Large openings with windows are found to the left
and right. The waiting room is also covered with marble veneer, and has a
cornice of molded plaster, as does the hallway on this floor. A small office
is found to the southeast off the waiting room. The main hall in each of the
floors runs with the width of the building (northeast-southwest), and a
short hall runs perpendicular to it in the third bay from each end that
leads to the elevators and rear stairs. The original elevator doors, rear
stairs and wrought-iron floor indicators are still intact.
From the first floor hall a broad, open stairway of polished marble
veneer leads down to the basement level, which contains what was the dining
room (and most recently was a recreation room); a laundry room; office
space; unfinished storage areas; and a sub-basement containing the furnace.
Originally, the apartments appear to have been laid out in either a two- or
three-room plan. The two-room plan had a combined living room-bedroom with a
small bath, and the larger had an additional room but the same basic layout.
Most of the apartments retain their original plain and simple construction.
The floors are hardwood and appear to be intact (although many are
carpeted), and the rooms have simple baseboards and crown moldings.
All the original wood doors appear to be one panel with simple surrounds
and glass doorknobs. The original bathrooms have checkerboard-pattern small
black-and-white floor tiles, and the walls are mostly covered with large
white tiles. Each bathroom had a sink, bathtub and shower, toilet with a
small window over it, and white ceramic water knobs. In the ensuing years, a
number of the apartments have been altered by the addition of kitchen
facilities and/or changes in room sizes.
Dr. Dan L. Morrill and Sherry J. Joines
Recent renovations have made significant changes to the Addison
Apartments building. Some of these have been quite positive as they enhance
the historic features of the building. The new paint scheme, for instance,
uses two tones of cream to set off the cast stone base and trim from the
brick veneer walls. Gilding highlights the Neoclassical decorative elements
such as the garlands, medallions, and urns.
Other changes are less desirable since they change the historic character
of the building. The new rear elevation is an example of this sort of
change. An addition to the rear of the building projects beyond the original
elevator towers. It has ornament inspired by that of the historic building,
but of a more abstract nature. Thin molding turns and curves into a
triangular pediment design at the top of the new addition. Gilded swags are
found under each floor's triple windows in the center bay of the new
addition and a gilded medallion graces the "pediment". The new addition
serves as a rear entry from the new parking deck. The deck is only two
levels and is not really visible from the front of the building although it
alters the original rear service area. Personal carports for the residents
occupied the building's rear lot historically. The addition's entry mimics
the front entry portico in form, but is glassed in. The decorative elements
are more abstract as well. The addition creates a stepped rear elevation
that has a far more finished appearance than the original rear facade's two
elevator towers and small furnace shaft.
The surfaces of the rear elevation were historically left unadorned
because of the utilitarian nature of this area. The new addition alters this
character, but the original portions are distinguishable since they did not
receive newly applied ornament. On the front facade of the building, the
inscribed "Addison Apartments" in the cornice of the entry portico is no
longer visible. The new entry doors and sidelights have mirrored glass. The
taller doors did not allow space for the original transom. And the upper
story windows in the central bay of the facade are no longer paired, but are
wide, single light over single light. In fact, the windows of the entire
building have been replaced with one over one units divided by wide, flat
muntins. The muntins are rather Post-Modern in their styling, giving the
building a more contemporary feel.
The side of the building facing McDowell Street evidences changes in the
street grade, perhaps due to the addition of the rear parking deck. Also,
the side door entering the basement level had a small canopy (with cornice
and dentils matching the main portico) supported by chains from the
building. This canopy has now disappeared, making the door quite
unnoticeable. Finally, the entire interior of the building was renovated
leaving almost nothing of its historic appearance. While some of the changes
to the Addison Apartments altered its historic character, the basic form,
setback, and front facade were retained and even enhanced. Judging from the
circa 1938 photograph featured on the title page of this report and the more
recent photograph included below, the Addison Apartments building continues
to dominate the landscape at the intersection of East Morehead and McDowell.
A recent photo of the Addison Apartments