THE WILLIAM GRIER HOUSE
This report was written on February 1, 1978
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
William Grier House is located on Steele Creek Rd. opposite from its
intersection with Shopton Rd. in the southwestern portion of Mecklenburg
2. Name address and telephone number of the present owner and occupant
of the property:
The present owner of the property is:
Mrs. Agnes S. Byrum
Charlotte, NC 28210
Telephone: (704) 588-0434
The present occupant of the property is:
Mrs. Marion Starnes
Charlotte, N.C. 28208
Telephone: (704) 588-0673
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 a map depicting the location of the property.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most recent
reference to this property is found in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 3753 at
page 974. The Parcel Number of the property is 14111210. This report
contains a complete chain of title for the William Grier House.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property:
Among the early Scotch Irish settlers of the Steele Creek Community
was James Grier, who died on June 29, 1784, at the age of seventy. In the
mid-1740's Mr. Grier and his wife, Margaret, conceived and gave birth to a
son whom they named Thomas. Thomas Grier, who lived until January 29, 1828,
married twice. By his first wife, Hannah Alexander, he had four children who
attained adulthood. Susannah Grier, daughter of James and Catherine Spratt,
was his second wife, by whom Thomas Grier had nine children. Among the sons
produced by this union was William M. Grier, born August 20, 1804.1
It is clear that Thomas Grier was a farmer of considerable prominence in the
Steele Creek Community in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries. Indicative of his economic prowess is the fact that in 1820 he
owned twenty-nine slaves, a large number for a Mecklenburg planter of that
era.2 The Catawba Journal of February 5, 1828,
characterized Thomas Grier as a "highly respectable and most valuable
citizen."3 One can logically infer that he possessed the economic
means to erect the house which still stands on Steele Creek Rd. Thomas
Grier's Last Will and Testament, dated January 23, 1828, contains a codicil
which proves that the structure was being built for William M. Grier at that
time. It reads as follows:
"It is my will that the frame of a house now on hand for my son William
M. Grier be put up and raised on the cite (sic) now chosen by the said
William and that he be assisted out of my estate to complete said house
and finish it...."4
Wllliam M. Grier married twice. His first wife was Minerva W. Grier,
daughter of John Hayes of Lincoln County. She died on May 29, 1837, at the
age of twenty-seven.5 Their only child, Minerva William Susan
Grier, died on August 19, 1838.6 The second wife of William M.
Grier, who was to outlive her husband, was Ferriby C. Grier.7 The
most notable child of this union was Calvin E. Grier, a soldier in the army
of the Confederate States of America who later moved to Charlotte and became
one of the "brightest lawyers" in this community.8 William M.
Grier died on May 30, 1870, having been "afflicted for the last (sic) six
months with paralysis."9 Ferriby C. Grier lived until September
27, 1878, when she expired at the age of sixty-nine.10 In 1867
William M. Grier had sold his homeplace to Margaret Jane Lewis, a daughter
of his half-sister, Susan Grier White.11 Included in the
inventory of items purchased by Margaret Jane Lewis were "900 pounds of
bacon, an old carriage and harness, and seven spitoons."12 Mrs.
Lewis retained the property until January 12, 1888, when she sold all but a
ten acre tract to Robert Franklin Byrum.13 Mr. Byrum, born on
June 9, 1862, "was a successful farmer and enterprising citizen of the
community." He and his wife, Janie Porter Byrum, had six children, three
sons and three daughters. He died on June 1, 1925,14 having made
provisions for the division of his estate whereby his son, Fred K. Byrum,
acquired the house.15 Fred K. Byrum served in the United States
Army during World War I and was thereafter associated with the C. W.
Upchurch Motor Co., a local Studebaker dealer on W. Trade St. He died of a
heart attack on January 29, 1936, at the age of forty-eight.16
The three children of Fred K. Byrum and his wife, Margaret Rudisill Byrum,
retained joint ownership of their father's estate until May 12, 1969, when
they divided the property among themselves and gave ownership of the house
to Robert Franklin Byrum,17 who was an associate of his uncle, W.
Lester Byrum, in operating Byrum's General Store.18 Robert
Franklin Byrum died on February 7, 197319 and his widow, Agnes S.
Byrum, has owned the house since that time.20 She continues the
practice of her husband in operating the structure as rental property.
1 Mrs. Robert McDowell, A List of those Buried in Historic
Steele Creek Burying Grounds (Charlotte: 1953), pp. 36-37. Hereafter
cited as List.
2 The United States Census (1820), p. 178.
3 Catawba Journal (February 5, 1828) p.3.
4 Mecklenburg County Will Book A, p. 163.
5 Charlotte Journal (June 2, 1837) p. 3.
6 Charlotte Journal (August 24, 1838) p. 3.
7 Daily Charlotte Observer (September 28, 1878) p. 3.
8 The Daily News (May 2, 1889) p. 1.
9 The Western Democrat (June 7, 1870) p. 3.
10 Daily Charlotte Observer (September 28, 1878) p. 3.
11 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 7, p. 268.
12 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 5, p. 170.
13 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 57, p. 513.
14 The Charlotte Observer (June 2, 1925).
15 Mecklenburg County Will Book U, p. 9.
16 The Charlotte Observer (January 30, 1936) sec. 1, p.
17 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 3114, p. 35.
18 Mecklenburg County Will Book 10, p. 16.
19 The Charlotte Observer (February 9, 1973) p. 2C.
20 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 3753, p. 974.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains an architectural description prepared by Ms. Ruth Little-Stokes,
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria set forth in N.C.G.S. 160A-399.4:
a. Historical and cultural significance: The historical and
cultural significance of the property known as the William Grier House
rests upon three factors. First, the structure formed the focal point of
an antebellum plantation in Mecklenburg County. Second, the structure is
one of the few Federal style plantation houses which survives in
Mecklenburg County. Third, individuals of local prominence have inhabited
b. Suitability for preservation and restoration: There is reason
to believe that the structure might be so structurally unsound as to
render its preservation and restoration infeasible. However, every effort
should be made to retain the structure. Moreover, existing documentation
would provide ample information to guide the preservation and restoration
of the structure.
c. Educational value: The William Grier House has educationa1
value because of the historical and cultural significance of the property.
d. Cost of acquisition, restoration, maintenance or repair: At
present, the Commission has no intention of purchasing the fee simple or
any lesser included interest in this property. The Commission presently
assumes that all costs associated with renovating and maintaining the
structure will be paid by the owner or subsequent owner of the property.
e. Possibilities for adaptive or alternative use of the property:
The property, presently zoned for residential use, is not suitable for a
commercial adaptive use. The house could be converted into a house museum.
f. Appraised value: The current tax appraisal of the
improvements on the property is $630. The current tax appraisal of the
6.02 acres of land is $45,690. The Commission is aware that designation
would allow the owner to apply for a deferral of 50% of the rate upon
which Ad Valorem taxes are calculated.
g. The administrative and financial responsibility of any person or
organization willing to underwrite all or a portion of such costs: As
stated earlier, the Commission has no intention of purchasing the fee
simple or any lesser included interest in this property. Furthermore, the
Commission presently assumes that all costs associated with the property
will be paid by the present or subsequent owners of the property.
9. Documentation of why and in why ways the property meets the
criteria established for inclusion in the National Register of Historic
Places: The Commission judges that the property known as the William
Grier House does meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic
Places. Basic to the Commission's judgment is its knowledge that the
National Register of Historic Places, established by the National Historic
Preservation Act of 1966, represents the decision of the Federal Government
to expand its recognition of historic properties to include those of local,
regional, and State significance. The Commission believes that the
investigation of the William Grier House contained herein demonstrates that
the property is of local importance. Consequently, the Commission judges the
property known as the William Grier House does meet the criteria of the
National Register of Historic Places.
10. Documentation of why and in what ways the property is of
historical importance to Charlotte and/or Mecklenburg County: The
property known as the William Grier House is historically important to
Mecklenburg County for three reasons. First, the structure formed the focal
point of an antebellum plantation in Mecklenburg County. Second, the
structure is one of the few Federal style plantation houses which survives
in Mecklenburg County. Third, individuals of local prominence inhabited the
Chain of Title
1. Deed Book 3753, p.974 (July 22,1974).
Grantor: Carol Byrum Simpson & husband, Danny W. Simpson Patricia Byrum &
husband, C. Daryl Byrum
Grantees: Agnes S. Byrum, widow
2. Deed Book 3114, P Re 35 (May 12, 1969)
Grantors: Nancy Jane Byrum Jackson & husband, W. N. Jackson William Albert
Byrum & wife, Shirley White Byron
Grantees: Robert Franklin Byrum
3. Will Book U. p. 9 (April 15, 1927).
Devisor: R. F. Byrum
Devisee: John E. Byrum, Fred K. Byrum, W. Lester Byrum, Kate Alice Knox,
Irene Youngblood, Frankie Byrum
4. Deed Book 57, page 513 (January 12, 1888)
Grantor: Mrs. M. J. Lewis of Chester Co., SC
Grantee: R. F. P. Byrum
5. Deed Book 7, page 268 (May 11, 1871).
Grantor: Wllliam M. Grier
Grantee: Margaret Jane Lewis
6. Deed Book 5, p. 170 (March 26, 1867).
Grantor: William M. Grier
Grantee: Margaret Jane Lewis
7. Will Book I, p. 225 (March 29, 1850).
Devisor: Susannah Grier
Devisee: Andrew Grier, William M. Grier, Zenas A. Grier, Margaret Jane White
8. Will Book A, p. 161 (February 4, 1825).
Devisor: Thomas Grier
Devisee: James Grier, Thomas L. Grier, Alexander Grier, Andrew Grier,
William M. Grier, Zenas Grier
An Inventory of Older Buildings in Mecklenburg County and Charlotte
for the Historic Properties Commission.
Charlotte City Directories
Daily Charlotte Observer
Mrs. Robert McDowell, A List of those Buried in Historic Steele Creek
Burying Grounds (Charlotte: 1953).
Mecklenburg County Estate Records
Records of the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds Office
Records of the Mecklenburg County Tax Office
The Charlotte Observer
The Western Democrat
United States Census Records
Vital Statistics of Mecklenburg County
Date of Preparation of this Report: February 1, 1978
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
139 Middleton Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28207
Telephone: (704) 332-2726
Summary of Significance
The William Grier House, a two-story frame house site, faces Steele Creek
Rd. on the outskirts of the settlement of Shopton in southern Mecklenburg
County. The main brook, three bays wide and two bays deep, was constructed
in 1828, and contains ornate woodwork in the mature Federal style. The rear
one and one-half story frame wing contains traditional Federal-Greek Revival
trim, and was apparently added ca. 1840. The house retains a substantial
portion of its original design, although various interior partition walls
have been added, the eaves and chimneys of the main block have been
reworked, and the present wrap-around front porch is an early twentieth
century replacement of the original porch. The William Grier House is an
important vestige of early Mecklenburg County, for its finely crafted ornate
Federal trim and interesting
Flemish bond chimney are a precious remnant of an era when quality was
assured by hand craftsmanship. The framework of the house is in a dangerous
state of deterioration, and if the house is to be preserved it needs
The most striking feature of the main facade is its asymmetry. The center
front door is located slightly west of center, and the center second story
window is located slightly east of center. The east bay windows are much
closer to the facade corner than the west bay windows. This inharmonious
spacing is probably the result of the pragmatic approach of the builder and
the disregard of both builder and owner to then-fashionable standards of
asymmetry. The position of the front door equalizes the size of the hall and
parlor. The position of the second story window accommodates the attic stair
in the west room. The result of this functional approach to openings is
comical when viewed with the present-day porch, whose cross-gable entrance
is exactly centered. The exterior fabric of the main block consists of
replacement lapped siding, small sash
windows (nine-over-nine lights on the first story, nine-over-six on the
second) with molded surrounds, and small gable end windows which probably
originally contained six pane
casements and now have replacement
sash. The front door is a twentieth century replacement but retains its
original four pane
transom and molded surround. The rear doorway transom and surround are
identical to those at the front of the house, but the original six raised
panel door remains at the rear. The additional rear door in the east room
has a six flat paneled door and transom, and was probably added during
construction of the rear wing. A window in the rear wall of the east room is
now closed up, and is another indication that the wing is an addition. The
first story of the main facade is covered with hand-planed flush sheathing,
indicative of the original presence of a one-story porch.
gable roof has boxed, molded eaves with large pattern boards. These
appear to have been rebuilt, for the gable end fascia board cuts off a
corner of the gable end window. Federal houses in this geographic region
customarily have flush raking cornices ornamenting the gable ends. The
single stepped shoulder exterior end chimneys have stone bases, and are laid
common bond brick. These are probably late nineteenth century
replacements, for Federal chimneys are usually laid in Flemish bond or a
regular pattern of common bond. The house rests on a fieldstone pier
foundation, infilled at a later date with brick. The only portion of the
frame which is visible to the attic construction. This consists of hand-hewn
rafters with pegged peaks. Early machine-made square head nails were found
in the rafters. The rear wing has lapped aiding, nine-over-six sash with
molded surrounds (some in pairs), and four-over-four sash in the rear gable
end. The wing was apparently built in a one room wide form, with a single
exterior end chimney at the rear, and was enlarged in the late nineteenth or
early twentieth century to its present two-room width. At this tine the room
line was altered, and additional sash and a small rear brick chimney were
added. The original rear chimney is laid in Flemish bond, with a single
stopped shoulder. The chimney is one of the most interesting feature of the
house, for the handmade brick are unusually large. The interior of the main
block was originally a hall-and-parlor plan on both floors. The front
entrance originally opened into the west room, the hall. The only
alterations to this plan were the addition of partition walls creating
narrow center halls on both floors, and the removal of the original stair
from the first to second floors. The original stair was probably a corner
stair in a rear corner of the west room. Because the ceiling and floor are
covered with newer materials, no trace of the stair opening was found. The
original interior trim of the main block consists of
wainscots, plaster walls, molded surrounds, ornate mantels, and paneled
and batten doors. The main parlor contains a large tripartite mantel with
delicate, paired fluted colonnettes supporting corner blocks, a deep reeded
and molded cornice, and a shelf. The corner blocks and center tablet contain
sunbursts, and an unusual beehive ornament adorns the center of the tablet.
The fireplace surround is reeded, with sunburst corner blocks. The
flat-paneled wainscot and molded chain rail are of mahogany, a very unusual
feature. The hall has a similar but less ornate mantel and a flush-sheathed
wainscot. On the second floor, the east room has a delicately reeded Federal
mantel, while the mantel in the west room has been removed. Both rooms have
flush sheathed wainscots and batten doors with unusual tapering ledges
(horizontal braces). The rear wing, probably constructed as kitchen and
dining room, has been substantially altered on the interior, but retains a
late Federal mantel in the southeast room. The only stair from the first to
the second floor is located in the wing, adjacent to the main block. The
open-string stain rises in two flights, with a landing, and must be original
to the wing, for the design of the stair railing is late Federal. The
surrounding open space has been considerably whittled down by highway
construction, and no original outbuildings are standing on the property.