SURVEY AND RESEARCH REPORT
JOHN F. EWART FARM
1. Name and location of property:
The property known as the John F. Ewart Farm is
located at 12920 Huntersville-Concord Road, Huntersville, NC 28078-6251
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the
current owner of the property:
Mary Ewart Cato
13110 Huntersville-Concord Road, Huntersville, NC
Telephone Number: 704-875-6888
3. Representative photographs of the
property: This report contains representative photographs of the
4. A map depicting the location of the
property: This report contains a map depicting the location of the
property. UTM Coordinates: 17 515820E 3918720N
5. Current deed book reference to the
property: The most recent deeds to the property are found in Mecklenburg
County Deed Book 03314 Page 271. The tax parcel numbers for the property
6. A brief historical sketch of the property:
This report contains a brief historical sketch prepared by Richard L.
7. A brief architectural description of the
property: This report contains a brief architectural description prepared
by Richard L. Mattson.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the
property meets the criteria for designation set forth in N.C.G.S.
Special significance in terms of its history,
architecture, and/or cultural importance. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Historic Landmarks Commission judges that the John F. Ewart Farm possesses
special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission
bases its judgment on the following considerations:
John F. Ewart Farm is a tangible reminder of the
county’s agricultural development during the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. The property stands as a rare surviving farmstead
from this period in the county.
John F. Ewart Farm is an integral part of the rural
Ramah community near Huntersville in northeast Mecklenburg County.
John F. Ewart Farm is architecturally significant,
including a handsome I-house with picturesque decorative elements, and
outbuildings that represent traditional outbuilding types. The 1898 house
ranks among the finest remaining late-nineteenth-century farmhouses in
Integrity of design, setting, workmanship,
materials, feeling and/or association: The Commission contends that the
architectural description prepared by Richard L. Mattson demonstrates that
the John F. Ewart Farm meets this criterion.
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: The Commission
is aware that designation would allow the owner to apply for 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 on the farmhouse is $91,100. The current appraised value
of the 8.55 acre parcel of land on which the house and outbuildings stand
is $123,000. The current appraised value of the 8.55 acre tract owned by
Mary Ewart Cato is $232,100.
Date of preparation of
May 10, 2004
Richard L. Mattson
2228 Winter Street
Statement of Significance
John F. Ewart Farm
The John F. Ewart Farm
is a remarkably intact late nineteenth- and early-twentieth farmstead in
Mecklenburg County. The property features the well-preserved 1898
farmhouse, a traditional two-story, one-room-deep, frame dwelling
embellished with stylish, picturesque elements. This handsome
residence reflected John F. Ewart’s status as a successful landowner in
north Mecklenburg County. Its blend of conservative and up-to-date
features is characteristic of the finer rural domestic architecture in the
county during this period. The substantially intact farm complex
contains a dairy, smokehouse, shed, and barn that are contemporary with
the house. The complex also holds a ca. 1939 equipment shelter and a
ca. 1960 equipment shelter. Bordered by mature trees and fencerows,
this tract continues to portray the agricultural way of life that once
predominated throughout Mecklenburg County. The Ewart tract consists
of approximately eleven acres today, with the house as its architectural
centerpiece. Mature pecan and oak trees shade the dwelling and yard.
Architectural Context and Description
The two-story, frame
1898 Ewart farmhouse clearly illustrates the enduring popularity of the
traditional I-house type in Mecklenburg County. This two-story,
one-room-deep, rectangular house form was a favorite choice among
successful middling and large landowners throughout the Upland South
between the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the county
gradually recovered from the Civil War, farmers opted for new dwellings
that often combined nationally popular elements of style with
conservative, regional building patterns. Mecklenburg County farmers
favored the I-house, a common, traditional form that was typically three
bays wide, with a side-gable roof, brick end chimneys, center-hall plan,
and rear kitchen/dining room ell. By the late nineteenth century,
the more stylish examples often featured a decorative center roof gable.
Other popular decorative motifs included picturesque front porches with
turned posts and sawnwork, and bracketed eaves. Inside, mantels
displayed such traits as gently arched surrounds, bracketed shelves, and
reeded or chamfered supports. Doorways on the finest houses included
fluted surrounds and bull’s-eye corner blocks. In the center
hallways, turned or beveled newels anchored staircases with turned
The Ewart House stands
as one of the finer surviving I-houses of the post-bellum era in the
county. Although the house’s original weatherboard exterior was
covered with aluminum siding in the early 1960s, the original decorative
trim and other key elements survive intact. Facing north, the house
has a three-bay façade, common-bond brick end chimneys, and a rear dining
room/kitchen ell. The dwelling features a decorative center roof
gable treated with board-and-batten sheathing, a louvered vent, and fancy
sawnwork and spindlework. The porch’s pedimented entry bay has
similar treatment. The porch also retains its original turned posts,
spindlework frieze, and spindlework brackets. The windows have
original two-over-two sash, and the first-floor fenestration has segmental
arches. A one-story, ca. 1950 bedroom wing extends from the west
side of the rear kitchen ell.
interior follows a central-hall layout with one first-floor room on either
side of the stairhall. Two bedrooms are located in the upstairs of
the main two-story block, arranged around a center hall. The
kitchen/dining room ell is located on the west side of the rear elevation,
and extending from the west side of this ell is the later, ca. 1950
bedroom wing. The first-floor stairhall contains a closed-string
stairway with an ornate, chamfered newel and applied decorative step-end
blocks. Throughout the main body of the house, mantels, door
surrounds, and five-panel doors remain intact. The mantels in the
principal rooms display an array of picturesque elements, including reeded
and slender, lathe-turned supports, applied floral motifs, shelves with
delicate moldings, including rope molding on the living room mantel.
Mantels in the kitchen and upstairs rooms have simpler chamfered and
reeded pilasters. In 1952, the original flooring was replaced with
new wood floorboards and original wainscoting removed in the first-floor
rooms. However, the wainscoting remains in the center hall, and
beaded-board ceilings survive throughout the main body of the residence.
Site Plan (not to scale)
Barn (ca. 1898)
Equipment Shelter (ca. 1960)
Smokehouse (ca. 1898)
Ewart House (ca. 1898)
The assortment of farm
outbuildings on the tract includes traditional forms that builders
constructed on county farms into the middle decades of the twentieth
century. Located next to the kitchen, the ca. 1898 dairy is a frame,
gable-front building with a projecting well canopy. It was used for
keeping dairy products and foodstuffs cool. A trough for running
water leads from the well to the dairy. Situated adjacent to the
dairy, the smokehouse is a frame, board-and-batten building with a
gable-front roof and doors on both the north and west ends. A
gable-roofed board-and-batten shed stands east of the house. Now
ruinous, the ca. 1898 barn stands at the south end of the farm complex.
In traditional fashion, this farm barn has a gable-front form, with a
central passage and shed extension on the side elevations. A ca.
1960, metal and frame equipment shelter, built for modern farm machinery,
is sited at the south end of the tract, and a smaller equipment shelter
stands just east of the residence.
Historical Background and Agricultural Significance
Of German descent, the
Ewarts settled in Mecklenburg County between 1764 and 1817. The John
F. Ewart Farm can be traced back to a deed from William D[ixon?] Ewart to
Hugh Dixon Ewart dated 20 January 1849 for fifty-three acres on the waters
of Clarks Creek. Hugh Dixon Ewart (1816 to 1877) married Mary M.
Carrigan Ewart (1827 to 1911), and by 1871, the year John Frank Ewart
(1871 to 1952) was born, the household included three sons and one
daughter. In 1898, the Ewart farm, by then eighty-nine acres, was
divided among his heirs, including John F. Ewart. In August, 1898,
Ewart hired a local builder, Neil Barnette, to build the present two-story
house his portion of the tract. A nearby farmer, Neil Barnette (1861
to 1940) erected houses after the autumn harvest each year, and
constructed numerous farmhouses around northern Mecklenburg County.
Over the years, Ewart bought out the interests of the other heirs, so that
by 1916 he was the sole owner of the eighty-nine acre Ewart family tract
(Mecklenburg County Deed Books 2: 329, 407-408; 6: 25; 12: 472; 13: 322,
385; 14: 251; 17: 280; Mattson and Huffman 1990: 8: 2-3).
On June 6, 1912, Ewart
was married to Ella Elliot (1880 to 1962) and they had two children Joe
Elliot (1914 to 1959) and Mary (Mrs. William H. Cato). The Ewart
farm produced crops typical of farms in Mecklenburg County in the early
twentieth century. According to Ewart’s daughter, Mary Ewart Cato,
the family raised cotton, corn, and wheat, and had a small fruit orchard
for family consumption (Mecklenburg County Deed Book 127: 446; Mattson and
Huffman 1990: 8: 2-3).
The Ewart farm in the
early decades of the twentieth century reflected middling farmsteads
throughout the county and the region. Cotton was the principal cash
staple. The use of fertilizers, especially guano, increased
production, and the proximity of farms to Charlotte and other textile
manufacturing centers boosted cotton prices and provided a ready market
for the crop. Until the devastation of the boll weevil in the 1920s,
and plummeting cotton prices by the Great Depression, cotton farming was
the foundation of the region’s commercial agriculture. Cotton production
on county farms soared from 6,112 bales in 1860 to 19,129 bales in 1880,
and then rose to 27,466 bales by 1910. In addition to cotton, local
farmers like the Ewarts also raised small grains and livestock for the
market as well as use on the farm. Farmers combined cash-crop
agriculture with self-sufficiency, raising corn in quantity to feed mules,
sheep, hogs, and cattle, storing foodstuffs in small dairies, and curing
meat in smokehouses. Farmyards were an assemblage of barns,
corncribs, granaries, storage and equipment sheds, dairies, well houses,
and smokehouses (Mattson and Huffman 1990; Joines and Morrill 1997).
In addition to farming,
John Ewart was a long-time member of Huntersville school board and the tax
lister for Huntersville Township. After his death in 1952 and that
of his son in 1959, much of the farmland, including the 1898 farmhouse,
came to the ownership of his daughter, Mary Ewart Cato. In 1971, an
8.55-acre lot that contains the farmhouse, outbuildings, and some
adjoining fields, was made into a separate parcel (Mecklenburg County Deed
Books 3314: 271, 283; 3315: 551; Mecklenburg County Will Book 17: 470;
Charlotte Observer 8 January 1952; Mattson and Huffman 1990: 8: 2-3).
Blythe, Mrs. William N.
Daughter of Neil Barnette. Interview with William H.
Cato, Mary Ewart.
Daughter of John F. Ewart. Interview with William H. Huffman,
8 January 1952.
Joines, Sherry J. and
Dan Morrill. “Historic Rural Resources in Mecklenburg County,
On file at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmark Commission,
Mattson, Richard L., and
William H. Huffman. “Historic and Architectural Resources
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.” National Register of Historic
Places Multiple Property Nomination. On file at the North Carolina
Division of Archives and History, Raleigh. 1990.
“National Register Nomination for the John F. Ewart Farm. On file at
North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Raleigh. 1990.
United States Census Records. Mecklenburg County, N.C. Population
1860, 1880, 1920.