Davidson College's presidents. This Folk Victorian structure
therefore possesses special historic significance because it
illustrates the symbiotic relationship that existed between
and the town of Davidson. The Martin-Worth-Henderson House was also
the home of Dr. Mary Turpin Martin Sloop in her formative years. A
North Carolinian of note, Dr. Sloop established the
which for eighty-two years has increased the educational
opportunities available to children in the North Carolina mountains
and beyond. Finally, the dwelling, like many of the older homes in
Davidson, was later used as a boarding house for students at
The Martin-Worth-Henderson House in the 1930’s
Courtesy of the Davidson College Archives
Historical Context Statement
Davidson, North Carolina
is anomalous among the small towns of Mecklenburg County because
its early development largely resulted from the growth of Davidson
College, rather than from the advent of the railroad or textile
mills. The special significance of the Martin-Worth-Henderson House
can therefore best be understood within the context of the expansion
of the historic built or man-made environment of the town. The
house stands on the fifth lot east of the intersection of College
Road and Concord Road in Davidson, North Carolina, just over one
block from the Davidson College Presbyterian Church. It is visible
from any location on the extreme southern edge of the campus, and
this proximity to Davidson College is a telling feature of its rich
Davidson College was founded in 1835 by a group of Presbyterians who
“deeply” felt a need to construct an institution which would
“[secure] the means of Education to young men within our bounds of
hopeful talent and piety, preparatory to the gospel Ministry.”
The college was a success, and the increasing size of the
student population and faculty was one of the reasons for the growth
of the town. The construction of Concord Road during the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was indicative of this
trend. The Trustees of Davidson College divided the land which
bordered Concord Road into lots in 1870.
These parcels, which were located along the southern border of the
campus, were not for sale in 1870; but by the last years of
the nineteenth century the Trustees had begun to market them to
private citizens, faculty, and townspeople alike.
Martin-Worth-Henderson House came into being as a direct result of
the expansion of the town and the college. As the college
population continued to increase in the late nineteenth century, so
did the demand for highly qualified professors. It was in this era
that Davidson College recruited its seventh faculty member. He was
Colonel William J. Martin, who became professor of chemistry in
1869. He was later named as the acting president of the college.
Colonel Martin and his wife, Letitia Costin Martin, reared three
children, William Joseph Martin, II, Lucy Battle Martin, and Mary
Turpin Martin; and the family was the first of the faculty families
to settle permanently in Davidson.
Portrait of Letitia Costin Martin, wife of Colonel William J.
Courtesy of Davidson College Archives
The formative years of
the Martin daughters in Davidson were inextricably linked to the
town and to the college, although their later lives would take very
different paths. Illustrative of her attitudes about the
relationship between the college and the town, Mrs. Lucy Battle
Martin Currie would later remark that, “try as we may it is
impossible to separate the town’s record from that of the college,
as the one grew up around the other.”
Both young ladies attended a one-teacher schoolhouse in Davidson,
and both would later attend the nearby Statesville Female College
for Women (now Mitchell Community College).
Their mother vehemently objected to the formal education of her
daughters, but Col. Martin insisted that the young ladies “get an
education in more than charming manners.”
Dr. William J. Martin, II, son of Lititia and William J. Martin.
Courtesy of the Davidson College Archives
Mary Turpin Martin and Lucy Battle Martin, daughters of Lititia and
William J. Martin.
Courtesy of the Davidson College Archives
from Statesville Female College in 1891, Mary returned to Davidson
to care for her mother, but doggedly pursued her education. The
only female student at Davidson College, she chose a course of
study that would prepare her for medical school, so that she might
become a medical missionary. Her mother Letitia still did not view
her daughter’s decision as proper. Mary later remembered that “when
I suggested that I’d like to take junior math, which included
surveying, she [Letitia] nearly fainted, and she flatly refused to
allow me to do it. Such a thing was unladylike, even though I
promised to study French at the same time.”
Colonel Martin died in 1898; and his son, the younger William J.
Martin II, a professor of chemistry and later president of Davidson
College like his father, purchased a lot from the Trustees of
Davidson College to build a dwelling for his mother, Letitia. The
deed of the Martin-Worth-Henderson House was recorded in her name.
The census of 1900 shows that Letitia resided in the
house with her two daughters, Mary and Lucy, aged twenty-seven and
Mary would recall that her mother during this period was
“practically an invalid” and needed constant care.
After Letitia’s death in 1901, Mary enrolled at the North Carolina
Medical College, a private medical school in Davidson. However, she
was not allowed to take anatomy, presumably because of the
"unfeminine" nature of the subject. She chose to move to
Philadelphia to attend the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania,
from which she graduated in 1906. She went on to intern at the New
England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston, then served as
the first resident physician at Agnes Scott College in Georgia.
Dr. Mary Martin Sloop in her senior years.
Having overcome the challenges associated with becoming a formally
educated female at the turn of the last century, Mary went on to
achieve even greater accomplishments that would touch the lives of
many individuals. After marrying Dr. Eustace H. Sloop in 1908, whom
she had met while the pair were students at Davidson College, she
and her husband moved to Crossnore, North Carolina, where they
established a school and clinic in 1913 to care for and educate the
children of the North Carolina mountains. The school is still
thriving and has students from twenty-seven counties of North
In recognition of her tireless efforts on the behalf of children,
Dr. Mary Sloop was named American Mother of the Year in 1951.
Both Dr. Mary Turpin Martin Sloop and Dr. Eustace Sloop are buried
on a hill overlooking Crossnore. Partly as a result of the
educational opportunities provided by Davidson College while she was
a resident of the town, Dr. Mary Martin Sloop was able to affect
change in the lives of children in the North Carolina mountains and
Although the contributions of Lucy Battle Martin Currie are not as
well known as her those of her sister, they do illustrate the
degree to which the town and the school were intertwined. As a
daughter of one Davidson College president and the sister of
another, Lucy Martin was intimately connected to the College even
before she began to attend classes. She also benefited from being a
resident of Davidson, because the College did allow females who
lived in the town to matriculate “by courtesy.”
But when she graduated from Davidson College in 1899, her name and
that of one other female student were not published in the catalogue
of the graduating class “according to the custom.”
married Dr. Archibald Currie, a professor and later chair of the
Department of Political Science at Davidson College. The education
that Lucy received at Davidson allowed her to carve out a name for
herself in the professional world as an English teacher at the
Presbyterian College for Women in Charlotte (now Queens College).
She was especially active in the social life of Davidson; she was a
regular member of the Davidson College Presbyterian Church and was
also a member of the Thelemite Book Club. Upon her death in 1967,
she was remembered as a citizen who “for more than three score and
ten years…was identified with [the best interests of the town], and
no one contributed more toward giving the village the cultural tone
which long distinguished it.”
Martin-Worth-Henderson House is associated with another integral
piece of Davidson's history. Boarding houses had begun
proliferating in Davidson within ten years following the
establishment of the college, because running a boarding house
attracted people who wanted to earn a decent living while enabling
their sons to attend Davidson College. Boarding houses in Davidson
have served an important function not only to the students who
relied on these facilities, but they were also important to the
culture of the town in two additional ways. First, the necessity
for boarding houses caused Davidson to have a far greater number of
imposing homes than one would find in the other outlying towns of
Mecklenburg County. In addition, boarding houses drew students into
the life of the town rather than remaining set apart on campus.
Among those who came to town to operate boarding houses was
Josephine Worth. Like others before her, Worth arrived in Davidson
with her three children, David, age fifteen, Katherine, age eleven,
and Frances, age thirteen. Worth was the widow of a missionary,
and operating a boarding house provided her with a steady income, a
good environment in which to rear her daughters, and the opportunity
to attain a quality education for her son. She bought the house in
1905, and the Worths, like the Martins before them, would become
deeply involved in the Davidson community. The dwelling became one
of twelve boarding houses in operation by the second decade of the
The house remained in the Worth family until 1960 even though the
Worths had moved to different locales by that time.
Martin-Worth-Henderson House was bought by Florence and Walter
Henderson in 1960, who also had students as boarders. The
Hendersons were leading citizens of the Davidson community and are
well remembered. Walter Henderson, a 1912 graduate of Davidson
College, operated a watch repair shop for fifty-two years after his
return to Davidson around 1920. Mary Beaty remembers the business as
“a quiet world of exacting craftsmanship.” Students of Davidson
College have fond memories of the meals that Florence Henderson
would cook for her boarders. To this day the house is commonly
known around Davidson as the Henderson House.
"Henderson House 1978-79"; Written in the walkway in
front of the Martin-Worth-Henderson House
Clearly, the Martin-Worth-Henderson House has special significance
within the town of Davidson. This significance rests on its
prominence as a boarding house for Davidson College students, in its
illustration of the Folk Victorian style, and most importantly, in
its role as the home of Dr. Mary Turpin Martin Sloop, an exemplary
citizen of the town.
Mary D. Beaty, Davidson, A History of the Town from 1835 until
1937 (Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1979), 48.
Mary D. Beaty, A History of Davidson College (Davidson, NC:
Briarpatch Press, 1988),
Lucy Martin Currie, manuscript possibly written for the Tuesday
Club, Lucy Martin Currie Collection, Davidson College Archives.
Mary Martin Sloop, Miracle in the Hills (New York: McGraw
Hill, 1953),13; The Mecklenburg Gazette (Davidson, NC)
August, 17, 1967.
Malcolm Lester, A Census of the Davidson College Cemetery
(Davidson, NC: Davidson College, 1996), 51; Beaty, 109;
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Register of Deeds, Deed
reference number 129-455;
Minutes of the Davidson College Board of Trustees, Finance
Committee Report, 1898 (Courtesy of the Davidson College
US Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Twelfth Census of the
Lester, 25; Sloop, 19-20.
Sloop, 20; Crossnore School Bulletin Vol. XXXVII, No. 2 (Crossnore,
NC: Crossnore, School, Inc.); “Crossnore History,” accessed on 16
October, 2005 at
“Mountain Doctor is ‘Mother of 1951,’” unidentified newspaper and
date, Colonel William J. Martin Biographical Family Collection,
Davidson College Archives.
The Mecklenburg Gazette (Davidson, NC), August 17, 1967.
Beaty, A History, 189, 197; The Narrative of the Nines
2 (May, 1949), Lucy M. Currie Collection, Davidson College
The Mecklenburg Gazette (Davidson, NC), August 17, 1967.
 Beaty, A History, 11.
 Ibid. 109, 161, US Department of
Commerce, Census Bureau, Twelfth Census of the United
 Thomas Wilson Lingle, William Joseph
Martin, and Fredrick von Hengeveld, Alumni Catalogue of
Davidson College, 1837-1924 (Charlotte: The Presbyterian
Standard Publishing Company, 1924), 220; Cornelia Rebekah
Shaw, War Record of Davidson College: 1917-1918(
Charlotte: Presbyterian Standard Publishing Company, 1923),3;
“Town Items,” Davidsonian, February 19, 1919; “Town
Items,” Davidsonian, October 7, 1926; “News and
Happenings,” Davidsonian, September 20, 1916; “News and
Happenings,” Davidsonian, February 22, 1928; “Red Cross
News,” Davidsonian, February 6, 1918; “Town News,”
Davidsonian, March 13, 1924.
 Beaty, A History, 11,138; Mr.
Walter Henderson Oral History, June 30, 1976, Davidson College
Archives, Davidson, NC
House, which faces north, is situated on a rectangular lot that
contains approximately seven-tenths of an acre. Directly across
the street from the dwelling is the southern boundary of Davidson
College. The parcel slopes gently downward from Concord Road, and
exhibits significant foliage on the eastern and the southern sides
of the lot. A shared driveway marks the western edge of property
and circles to the eastern portion of the rear of the tract to
provide entry to a free-standing garage.
House, located at 310 Concord Road in Davidson, North Carolina,
is a two story, two bay wide by three bay deep, Folk Victorian
style structure which is sheathed in wooden clapboard and faces
north on Concord Road. The house was originally built on brick
piers, but the foundation has since been in-filled with brick.
The coursed asphalt roof appears to be of fairly recent origin.
The windows are arranged in a 2/2 pattern and are double hung sash
bordered by black louvered shutters which are not original to the
house. The main portion of the dwelling has a hipped roof, and
several projections have been appended to the main block of the
house, adding to the character and complexity of the dwelling.
The most prominent projection
from the house is the one story front porch, which spans
approximately one-half of the front facade and wraps around to the
eastern elevation. The porch has a hipped roof, which like the
main roof, is covered in coursed asphalt. The porch supports are
wooden square piers that terminate as simple columns, and the
spindles are turned.
There are also projections on
each of the other elevations of the house. The protruding right
bay of the front or northern elevation is decorated with a
scrollwork wall surface pattern directly under the gable. The
western elevation of the house exhibits a hipped, two story
projection. The southern or rear elevation has several
projections. The first is a large, gabled addition which extends
to the east with a shed roof. Directly behind this is a porch of
recent origin. What may be the original back porch is still
apparent in a one story, front gabled, projection on the eastern
corner of the southern elevation. Beyond the wraparound porch on
the eastern elevation is a sizeable hipped, one story
House has distinctive details that are easily noticeable from the
street and which contribute to the structure's character. The
first is the scrollwork pattern under the front gable which has
already been addressed. The second is the unusual elliptical
window that graces the left bay at the second story. The window
is enhanced with simple woodwork surround. The paneled front door
has a single, large light, which is similarly elliptical, and also
has a single transom light over the door.
All of these characteristics
combine to make the Martin-Worth-Henderson House a distinctive
structure in the Town of Davidson.
Elliptical window on