Survey and Research Report
Jackson Court (1928)
1. Name and location
of the property. The property known as Jackson Court is located between
Concord Road and Faculty Drive on the Davidson College campus in
2. Name, address and
telephone number of the present owner of the property. The owner of the
Davidson College Physical Plant
Davidson, N.C. 28035-7166
Telephone: (704) 894-2000
The current occupant of
the property is:
(Various departments of the college)
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. The UTM coordinates for the property are:
5. Current Deed Book
Reference to the property: There is no individual deed to the property.
The tax-parcel number of the property is 00316201A.
6. A brief historical
sketch of the property: This report contains a brief historical sketch
of the property.
7. A brief
architectural description of the property: This report contains a brief
architectural description of the property.
8. Documentation of how
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 historical, prehistorical, architectural, or cultural
importance: The property known as Jackson Court possesses special
significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission
bases its judgment on the following considerations:
b. Integrity of design,
setting, workmanship, materials, feeling, and/or association: The
architectural description by Abbey L. Coker, which is included in this
report, demonstrates that the essential form of Jackson Court meets this
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 that becomes a "historic
landmark." The property is exempt from payment of taxes. The total
current appraised value is $978, 600.00. The property is zoned
Date of Preparation of
this Report: December 30, 2005
Prepared by: Abbey L. Coker and
revised and edited by Dr. Dan L. Morrill
Summary Statement of Historical
Jackson Court possesses
special historical significance because it is reflective of the history
of expansion and growth of the college; because it served as meeting
houses for social fraternities on campus; because it was designed by
locally acclaimed architect M. E. Boyer, Jr.; and because it is
associated with Frank Lee Jackson.
Jackson Court, a collection of Colonial Revival style buildings, was
erected in 1928 and can best be understood within the context of the
overall development of the built environment of Davidson, North
Carolina. The evolution of the town is directly intertwined with the
history of Davidson College, a Presbyterian institution of higher
learning established in 1835 and opened in 1837. The college, named for
Revolutionary War hero General William Davidson, was founded to educate
the young men of wealthy families.
Because the college was relatively isolated, there were few
opportunities for social events; and, moreover, students were given
little time for socializing. Eventually, the growth and expansion of the college in
combination with the desire for social opportunities led to the founding
of fraternal organizations on the Davidson College campus.
Both the town and the college have a history of
development and expansion, which is best exemplified by the local built
environment. A fraternity court, later to be named Jackson Court, was
constructed by the trustees of Davidson College. The buildings were
erected for nine social fraternities and two clubs in order to restore
fraternity life on campus that had once existed before 1923. At the
time of its construction, the group of buildings was located on “a
rolling raw wooded tract facing two streets, the stadium, and private
buildings presently sit directly off Concord Road just as they did in
History of Expansion
Jackson Court is part of a “long history of construction
and reconstruction at Davidson.”
The great Chambers building, built between 1857 and 1860, housed a
quarter of the college’s dormitory rooms. After 1900, three dormitories
were constructed in a period of ten years. The student body had doubled
from 1902 to 1912; and as a result, plans were drawn up in 1915 for a
major campus expansion. The Alumni Gymnasium was built, and there were
plans for many new buildings. These plans, however, were not realized
because a fire destroyed Old Chambers on November 2, 1921.
With a quarter of the college’s dormitory rooms destroyed, including
fraternity dormitories, the college built temporary housing for
students. Fraternities were tired of the close quarters and close
supervision; consequently in 1923 they began moving off campus into
boarding houses. The college had a history of lodging its students in
boarding houses, a Davidson tradition since the early years of the
According to Beaty, “for a student to be in eating
houses around town was nothing new, but many of them were now virtually
based at their fraternity houses which they had bought or rented.”
Before fraternities moved off campus, however, the college started the
process of designing a fraternity court on Concord Road. It took six
years for the college to make decisions regarding the rules and
regulations of the fraternity court. These meeting halls had no dining
or dormitory facilities and were supervised and owned by Davidson
College. In February 1928, this plan was adopted, and Davidson’s “then
innovative system of fraternity housing was underway.” Fraternities
built their own houses in an area on campus between the gymnasium and
Meeting houses and fraternity life
Because the college was very isolated, there were few
opportunities for social events. Davidson College had a tradition of
literary societies as the center of social life for students, but by the
end of the 1850s, however, two other very different societies ascended:
the Sons of Temperance and social fraternities. The Sons of Temperance
pledged against drinking liquor which pleased the trustees who “were
fighting to forbid the sale of intoxicating liquors within three miles
of the college.”
Not all students, however, pledged to rule out alcohol consumption. By
the 1850s, students had a desire for “a sort of organization livelier
than the temperance meetings and less academic than the literary
Representatives from the Beta Theta Pi fraternity visited the college in
December of 1857, and a small group of students were receptive to the
idea of establishing a fraternity on campus. Three members were
initiated on January 8, 1958, and the fraternity history at Davidson had
commenced. Within that year, Beta Theta Pi grew to thirteen members.
Soon thereafter representatives from the Chi Phi fraternity at Chapel
Hill visited Davidson and founded the Gamma Chapter on March 25, 1859.
By 1866, students were forbidden to participate in
fraternal organizations or “any secret club or association, other than
the literary societies already established.”
This ended fraternity life for a brief period.
Fraternities were once again on the rise by 1890, during which five
fraternities had established: Beta Theta Pi, The Kappa Alpha Order,
Kappa Sigma, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Fraternities began to rival literary societies and rose to the center of
the college’s social life. According to Mary Beaty, “students had found
better things to do on Saturday nights than go to society meetings and
hark back to the days of when their ‘fathers and uncles rose from
dignified plush seats and spun off long mellifluous sentences in eulogy
of Civil War heroes.”
The faculty then added five more fraternities to suit the growth of the
college. By the 1920s, the fraternities had outgrown the campus
dormitories and had spilled into houses around town.
Members of the fraternities moved into houses they bought or into
boarding houses where they rented rooms. The absence of fraternity life
on campus resulted in the building of the fraternity court in 1928.
The buildings of Jackson Court served as meeting houses for Davidson
College fraternities and clubs. According to a 1938 campus map, the
fraternities that occupied Jackson Court were: Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta
Theta, Sigma Phi Epsilon, The Kappa Alpha Order, Pi Kappa Phi, Pi Kappa
Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Phi Gamma Delta, and Beta Theta Pi.
Jackson Court, Courtesy of the Davidson College Archives
In 1958, the Phi Kappa Phi house burned, not to be rebuilt.
It was torn down, and the area was landscaped, leaving behind ten
buildings. Once again, Davidson College was embarking on expansion and
improvement. According to The Davidsonian, the buildings of
Jackson Court were to be rented as office spaces and as housing for
students because fraternities would be moving out after the completion
of the new fraternity court named Patterson Court.
Colonial Revival style
Jackson Court is reflective of early 20th century
architecture that exists throughout the town. The
Colonial Revival style became
a popular American house style in the years between 1880 and 1955.
Reflecting American patriotism, Colonial Revival trends interpreted
previous colonial styles. Between World War I and II, Colonial Revival
was the most popular historic revival house style in the United States.
Boyer, Jr. (1893-1970)
Jackson Court was designed by locally acclaimed architect M. E.
Boyer, Jr. (1893-1970) who was one of the most prominent architects in
Charlotte during the first half of the twentieth century. Thus, these
buildings possess local historic importance because they are a
representative example of the type of residential buildings constructed
in Charlotte in the 1920's.
A “prominent architect in Charlotte for more than fifty years,” Boyer
was known primarily as an outstanding architect of fine residences.
His intent was to “have each of the eleven buildings individually
different and of equal limited cost and equally desirable.”
His “work included, survey consultation, subdivision of land,
negotiation of assignment, building design, electricity system, sewer
systems, water systems, landscape work, and supervision of all.”
Boyer was the first Charlotte architect to become a member of the
American Institute of Architects. He was best known for houses designed
in the Eastover and Myers Park neighborhoods of Charlotte. Martin Evans
Boyer, Jr. was born in Virginia and moved to Charlotte in 1908.
After attending Charlotte High School,
he graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1917 and then
served as an architect for the U.S. Navy. During World War I, he served
as a naval architect, and in World War II was a lieutenant colonel with
the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. Boyer later owned his own firm in
Charlotte for more than fifty years until 1966. Boyer was highly
awarded and well renowned. Many of his works appeared in nationally
While representative of the style of architecture that
was popular in Mecklenburg County in the 1920s, the fraternity court was
innovative and modern. According to newspaper reports, the court was a
prototype of fraternity housing for American colleges.
The Charlotte News reported that the “fraternity lodges or
clubhouses [are] to be arranged in a semi-circle about a beautifully
landscaped court. Gravel walks and driveways will connect each of the
eleven houses, which are to be constructed at an approximate cost of
The houses were built to be uniform in size, but the fraternities chose
exterior designs based on their preferences. Designs included:
“lounging room with fireplaces and bookshelves; a chapter room; a
kitchenette with built-in cupboards; a dressing room with lavatory
attached; linen closets; and a porch attached.” The fraternity court was
built to “bring fraternity and non-fraternity men at Davidson into
association with one another in such a way as to perpetuate age-old
traditions of democracy and friendliness which have ever been
characteristic of the college.”
Jackson Court circa 1950, Courtesy of the Davidson College Archives
In 1960, Jackson Court was named for Frank Lee Jackson,
College Treasurer from 1913-1952. “Jackson’s name marked the renovation
of the fraternity court in 1960” after fraternities moved to Patterson
Court. F. L. Jackson, known to many as “Cash,” served as College
Treasurer and Business Manager of the college for thirty eight years.
He graduated from Davidson in 1906. He retired in 1951 and served as
mayor of the town of Davidson from 1951-1969.
According to M. E. Boyer, Mr. F. L. Jackson “represented the owner in
1929 when the work [on the fraternity court] was completed.”
Frank Lee Jackson, Courtesy of the Davidson College Archives
Jackson Court has served an important role in the life of
Davidson College for the past seventy-seven years. Now offices, the
buildings of Jackson Court retain much of their historic qualities. Two
buildings, Jackson Court numbers four and eleven underwent renovations
in 1987, but externally, the buildings have changed very little.
Innovative for its time, Jackson Court is a reminder of the expansion
and improvements that Davidson College has undergone in the past.
Moreover, the court serves as a cultural artifact of Mecklenburg County
and is also a notable example of the work of architect M. E. Boyer, Jr.
Jackson Court is located on the Davidson College campus
between Concord Road and Faculty Drive. The ten numbered buildings that
comprise Jackson Court are arranged in a semicircle and are landscaped
with varieties of trees and hedges. A walkways from each structure
leads to an asphalt circular driveway. Numbers one, two and three face
west towards Faculty Drive; number four faces east; numbers ten and
eleven face west; numbers six, seven, eight and nine face south towards
The buildings of Jackson Court are one-story, simply and
classically detailed structures typical of the Colonial Revival style.
Covered with a brick façade, each building is designed and grouped so as
to symmetrically emulate other buildings located in the court. Six of
the structures have rectangular shapes, while the other four structures
have asymmetrical shapes.
Some buildings have hipped roofs with a gable while
others have cross gabled roofs. Select buildings have center gabled
roofs. Each roof has a moderate pitch with a slight eave overhang that
is boxed with cornice molding. The asphalt shingles that adorn each roof
are arranged in a coursed shingle pattern. All structures have a brick
chimney, some exterior, some interior.
The paneled doors have multi-pane glazing. The front
doors have a decorative wooden crown supported by scroll shaped wooden
brackets. Building numbers two and ten have doors with side lights.
The structures have double hung sash windows with wooden sills, and the
windows are topped with brick corbelling and detailed with black wooden
shutters ornamented with decorative scroll iron pieces. The structures
have trimmed molding and classical columns made of wood and painted
white. These columns support an overhanging roof that covers the porch
of each structure. The buildings have crawl spaces and brick
Each building contributes to the overall symmetry of
Jackson Court. Building numbers one and three mirror each other; numbers
six and nine mirror each other; numbers seven and eight mirror each
other; numbers four and eleven mirror each other; presumably, numbers
two five and ten mirrored each other. (Jackson Court number five was
destroyed in a fire in 1958.) Numbers four and eleven were renovated in
1987, and numbers three and four are now adjoined by a long corridor.
Some details distinctive to particular buildings are
transom lights, side lights, palladium windows, large back patios, and
arched French doors whereas a few windows and doors have been bricked