The Reid House
This report was written on June 3, 1987
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Reid House is located at 134 W. John Street in Matthews, North Carolina.
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property: The owner of the property is:
Mrs. Sarah Carter Redd
400 Edisto Ave.
Columbia, S.C. 29205
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 which depicts the location of the property.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most recent
reference to this property is recorded in Mecklenburg County Will 86-E-1863.
The Tax Parcel Number of the property is: 193-262-01.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains
a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr. William H.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains a brief architectural description of the property prepared by Laura
A. W. Phillips.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria for designation set forth in N.C.G.S. 160A-399.4:
a. Special significance in terms of its history, architecture,
and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property
known as the Reid House does possess special significance in terms of
Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on the following
considerations: 1) the Reid House, erected in 1890, has been continuously
owned by members of the same family since its construction; 2) the Reid
House was the home for over fifty years of Dr. Thomas Neely Reid
(1868-1946), a prominent physician in Matthews and its environs; 3) Nancy
Alexander Reid (1898-1986), a schoolteacher and community leader, was born
and continued to reside in the Reid House until her death; and 4) the Reid
House is a distinctive local example of a late Victorian Queen Anne style
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling,
and/or association: The Commission contends that the architectural
description included in this report demonstrates that the Reid House meets
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
"historic property." The current appraised value of the improvement is
$47,540. The current appraised value of the 116 by 200 foot lot is $4,640.
The total appraised value of the property is $52,180. The property is zoned
Date of Preparation of this Report: June 3, 1987
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
1225 S. Caldwell St.
Charlotte, N.C., 28203
Dr. William H. Huffman
May, 1987 The Reid House is an oasis of charm and grace in the
center of the business district of
Matthews. Built in 1890 by Edward Soloman Reid, it is a splendid and
rare example of architectural creation from the late nineteenth century. For
many years, accompanied by its huge magnolia tree, it has been a distinctive
landmark that has been known far beyond the confines of the town.
Edward Soloman Reid (1864- 1934) was born in Providence Township of
Mecklenburg County, the son of J. Soloman Reid, a prominent poetical figure
who served in county offices as well as the state legislature, and Mary
Grier Reid, also of Providence Township. Educated at the Bryant and Stratton
Business College in Baltimore, Maryland, E. S. Reid lived in Matthews for a
time, then moved to Charlotte, where he engaged in the cotton and yarn
brokerage business. His first marriage was to Nancy (Nannie) J. Alexander,
the daughter of John O. Alexander, with whom he had four children. The first
Mrs. Reid died at the age of thirty-three of tuberculosis in 1898. E. S.
Reid was married again to Junius P. Woodall of Charlotte in 1914. In
Charlotte, he was quite active in civic affairs, and served as an alderman
and member of the school board. 1
From the deed records, it appears that in November, 1889, E. S. and Nancy
Reid were given a 200' by 200' lot (which now encompasses the house and the
Matthews Branch of the Public Library) on John Street by W. W. and M. M.
Grier, grandparents of E. S. Reid, upon which they were to build their
house, and in January, 1890, sold the property to John O. and Jane E.
Alexander (Nancy Reid's parents), who gave the house and an 89' by 200' lot
back to the couple as a gift two months later. 2
About 1893, the house (and in 1895, the adjoining lot) were sold to E. S.
Reid's sister, Ellen (Ellie) E. Reid (1867- 1917). 3 Ellen Reid
was married to Dr. J. Van Bell of Matthews in 1886, who died in 1890. She
subsequently married Dr. Thomas Neely Reid (1868- 1946) of Matthews in 1893.
4 Dr. T. N Reid was born in Sharon Township of Mecklenburg
County, the son of Eliza Alexander and Hugh Kirkpatrick Reid. He attended
Davidson College and the University of Virginia, then completed his medical
studies at the University of the City of New York. 5 For over
fifty years, Dr. Reid practiced medicine from the Queen Anne house, and
covered a wide area that encompassed parts of Mecklenburg, Union and
Cabarrus Counties and parts of South Carolina, originally with horse and
buggy. As reported by Louise Matthews,
...when the automobile made its advent he was one of the first in the
county to purchase an International Harvester-Runabout. Older residents of
the town recall when the sound of his auto was heard children and chickens
scattered, and disgruntled farmers had to dismount from their wagons to
hold the bridles of their frightened horses.
Dr. Reid's death in 1946 signified the end of an era when doctors were
more than professionals. They were trusted friends and family counselors
as well. Possibly the busiest time of his long career occurred during
World War I when the extremely cold weather and disastrous flu epidemic
caused widespread suffering. Often he would come home at daybreak after
ministering to patients all night, exhausted and with his moustache
frozen. Many entire families were stricken. In such cases he built up the
fires, fed and watered the stock, and even cut wood before leaving. With
only skimpy hospital facilities available in nearby Charlotte, his
services were demanded at the old Camp Greene where many of the thousands
of recruits in training for overseas duty fell victim to the dreaded
In addition to raising a daughter from Mrs. Reid's first marriage, Mary
(Mrs. James Adderton of Lexington), two more daughters were born and raised
in the house, Lida Ellen Reid (Mrs. Nash Spenser) Cochran ( 1894-1958), and
Nancy Alexander Reid ( 1898-1986). Lida Reid Cochran was a graduate of Flora
Macdonald College and a musician of some talent. She won the North Carolina
Woman's Club award for Musical Composition, and for more than forty years
was the organist at the Matthews Presbyterian Church. 7 Nancy
Alexander Reid was a lifelong resident of the house who retired as a teacher
from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system after a twenty-eight year
career. She died in 1986 at the age of eighty-eight. 8 In 1980,
she wrote some her recollections as a brief "History of the Reid House":
Prior to 1890, my uncle, Mr. Edward S. Reid, who was also Rosalyn Reid
Harris' grandfather, and Alice Reid Digilio's grandfather, hired Mr. Howe
and his son Clarence to build him a house in Matthews. Uncle Ed, as I
called him, had heart pine lumber shipped from the Eastern part of North
Carolina to build the house. He, his wife and then one child, who was born
in North Carolina, lived in the louse a few years. My mother who had
previously married Dr. J. S. Bell, had two daughters; Mary, who was three
years old and Jessie who was 9 months when he (sic) died, was at that time
about to marry Dr. T. N. Reid. They bought the house from Uncle Ed, who
moved to Charlotte, and moved in. My sister Lida Reid Cochran and I were
born in the house.
There were three bedrooms on the left hand side of the house. On the
right was a living room, dining room, kitchen and pantry. A hall separated
the bedrooms from the rest of the house. The house was surrounded by a
white picket fence which separated the front yard from the backyard. On
the other side of the picket fence was a vegetable garden which was
enclosed by a larger, taller picket fence. That fence was one of my
favorite walking places. My mother and father planted the magnolia tree in
the front yard shortly after they moved in.
The house originally had a red metallic roof, but I loved to hear the
rain come down on that roof. It made such a noise, it put me to sleep. In
the backyard was a well-house with running water, where Mama kept her milk
and butter in a stone trough. When I was very young, Mama and Papa rolled
the well house over to the house and made it into a kitchen and pantry.
This is the room where Elnora [Elnora Stitt, Nancy Reid 's housekeeper
-companion] now stays. The original dining room was where the kitchen is
now. The dining room was Mama's and Papa's bedroom. The rest of us girls
stayed on the other side of the house. Bathrooms were later added, as was
the now screened back porch. 9
The Reid House has been a distinctive landmark in the Town of Matthews
for nearly a century. By virtue of its architecture, long association with
the Reid family, and with the town itself, its historical significance is
clearly evident, and its preservation is manifestly of great importance.
1 Charlotte Observer September 11, 1934, Section 2, p.
1; City of Charlotte Cemetery Records, Elmwood Cemetery.
2 Mecklenburg County Deed Book 68, p.386,23 November 1889;
Book 70, p. 441, 18 January 1890;Book 71,p.499,7 March 1890.
3 Deed to house lot not in records; for adjoining lot: Deed
Book 116, p.66, 15 August 1895; in 1950 the latter was sold for a public
4 Charlotte Observer. October 12, 1917, p. 10;
Mecklenburg County Marriage Register, 1889-1898.
5 Ibid. November 30, 1946, p. 7A.
6 Louise B. Matthews, 'A Charming Reminder of a Gracious Era:
Mathews Loves The Victorian Home of the Old Doctor," undated typescript,
kindly furnished by Sarah (Mrs. Carter) Redd of Columbia, SC, the heir to
7 Charlotte Observer. March 11, 1958, p. 9A.
8 Ibid., July 27, 1986, p. 29A.
9 Nancy A. Reid, 'History of the Reid House,' manuscript dated
June 27, 1980, kindly furnished by Sarah Redd.
Laura A. W. Phillips
February 29, 1980 (based on field work of January 10, 1980)
The Reid House is a late Victorian
Queen Anne style cottage situated on a spacious lot at the northeast
corner of W. John and Freemont Streets in Matthews, North Carolina. Located
adjacent to the commercial center of town, the Reid House commands a
prominent site in Matthews. Built in 1890 by Edward Solomon Reid, the house
was purchased several years later by Thomas Neely Alexander Reid and his
wife, and is still occupied and carefully maintained by their daughter,
Nancy Reid, who was born in the house in 1898.
Though the Reid House is not large, it displays a wealth of fanciful
details typical of the period during which it was built. On the exterior,
these details are concentrated on the main facade. The one-story
frame house is sheathed in weatherboarding, except for the area of the
front porch, which is covered with very narrow molded siding, and the corner
tower which is sheathed with scalloped
shingles. This tower and the porch are, in fact, the primary exterior
decorative features of the house.
Curving around the southwest corner of the house, the rounded shape of
the tower contrasts sharply with the angularity of the rest of the house The
tiny tower is topped by a polygonal roof which boasts a decorative ironwork
weather vane. Serving as a visual counterbalance to the tower, the southeast
corner of the house projects forward as a large three-sided bay.
The front porch extends across only a portion of the facade, encompassing
the entranceway and the flanking windows. In keeping with the irregular form
of the Reid House, the porch projects outward in front of the entrance. The
porch is a visual treat with its fluted chamfered posts, curvilinear
sawnwork brackets with pinwheel design, frieze with sawnwork panels and
turned pendants, and fluted balustrade vaguely related to the Chinese
Chippendale style. The front entrance features a door with two narrow glazed
upper panels set above two wooden panels. The panels themselves have fluted
surrounds with bulls-eye corner blocks, while the door as a whole has a
surround detailed by fluted bands.
Other details are somewhat more subtle. The
cross gables which project on the front and left side of the house are
sheathed in the same narrow molded boarding as found on the porch, only this
time placed on the diagonal, forming a chevron pattern. A vertical board and
rectangular louvered vent serve as the dividing line for this diagonal
boarding. On the original portion of the house the windows are
2/2 sash with wood louvered shutters. Interior chimneys with simple
corbeled caps project from the tripped and gabled roof. The roof is edged by
a slightly overhanging cornice with boxed eaves and wide frieze board
underneath. The house originally rested on a brick pier foundation, though
now the spaces between the piers have been infilled with brick.
Noticeable alterations to the exterior of the house include replacement
brick front steps with ironwork handrails, a small bathroom nestled between
the corner tower and the side projecting wing behind it, and several
additions on the rear of the house. The additions have been handled in a
manner sympathetic to the original design of the house, and do not
significantly detract from the overall architectural integrity.
The interior of the Reid House features a center hall plan with rooms of
irregular size and configuration on either side All interior decorative
detailing is late Victorian in style. The center hall itself (visually
divided into a front hall and a rear hall) is decorated with a beaded board
wainscot. To right and left of the front hall, doors lead to a parlor and
sitting room. (The doorway to the room on the right has been enlarged.)
While the room on the right angles outward to reflect the projecting bay,
the room on the left bows outward at the corner reflecting the rounded
tower. Behind the two front rooms, and sharing chimneys with them, are the
dining room on the right and the primary bedroom on the left. To the rear of
these is an assemblage of other rooms, largely additions, including kitchen
Although all the mantels in the house are fairly similar with paneled
pilasters, paneled frieze and molded mantel shelf, each differs from the
others in detailing, especially in the type of paneling used, The mantel in
the tower room to the left of the hall is especially fanciful with its
lozenge-shaped raised panels on frieze and pilasters and with the scalloped
edge which runs along the underside of the frieze.
Other interior details of note include pine floors, baseboards with
beaded upper edge, and four-panel doors with fluted-band surrounds (matching
those of the front door), some of which still extend upward and outward
beyond the upper corners of the doorway.
Northwest of the house is a one-story outbuilding, probably dating from
the second quarter of the twentieth century, which appears to have been
utilized as a storage building and possibly as servants quarters.