AT JOHNSON C. SMITH UNIVERSITY
This report was written on July 2, 1980 1. Name and location of
the property: The property know as the Teacher's House at Johnson C.
Smith University is located on the Campus of Johnson C. Smith University at
100 Beatties Ford Rd. in Charlotte NC.
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the present owner and
occupant of the property: The present owner and occupant of the property
Johnson C. Smith University, Inc.
100 Beatties Ford Rd.
Charlotte, NC, 28216
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 original
24-acre campus of the Biddle Memorial Institute, now Johnson C. Smith
University, is recorded in Mecklemburg County Deed Book 9, Page 323. The Tax
Parcel Number is 078-201-06.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property:
In the nineteenth century, it was customary for colleges and universities
to provide housing for the members of the faculty and their families. 1
The building which now serves as the University Health Center was originally
used as a teacher's home. Architecturally, the house belongs to the last
quarter of the nineteenth century. However, its was moved to its present
location sometime between 1911 and 1925, probably before 1921. 2
It is reasonable to infer that the house was moved from its initial site to
make way for another University building.
Johnson C. Smith University had its beginnings in the mid-1860's, when
the black population of the South found itself unprepared to participate in
the mainstream of American life. Samuel Carothers Alexander, a native of
Pennsylvania and minister of
Steele Creek Presbyterian Church during the Civil War, joined with Rev.
Willis L. Miller, member of the Concord Presbytery, in attempting to keep
the blacks within the fold of the Presbyterian church rather than having to
join the A. M. E. Zion churches, which emerged as a seperate black
domination in the South in the 1860's. Unable to maintain their connection
with the Southern Presbyterian Church, Alexander and his two associates
secured their commissions as missionaries of the Northern Presbyterian
Convinced that blacks would no longer remain in Southern Presbyterian
Churches which they had attended as slaves, Alexander, Miller, and Murkland
recruited members for the Northern Presbyterian which they had established,
such as Seventh Street Presbyterian Church or the
First United Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC 4
One can imagine the courage and the fortitude which men such as
Alexander, Miller, and Murkland had to possess. In the opinion of many of
their former colleagues, these white men where turncoats and renegades.
Indicative of the feelings of the Southern Presbyterian ministers was a
letter which appeared in the Western Democrat, a Charlotte newspaper,
on October 22, 1867. "Oh, how unpleasant is it to have our pastorates
invaded and certain classes of the flock weaned off to other pastures," the
writer exclaimed. 5
On October 8, 1867, the Western Democrat announced that the Rev.
Alexander and his associates had obtained a charter to establish "Biddle
Memorial Institute," an institution for "preparing Teachers, Catechists, and
Ministers for the education of the colored race." 6 Named for
Major Henry Jonathan Biddle (1817-1862), who's widow provided funds for the
school, the institution acquired its first president in 1870. He was Rev.
Stephen Mattoon (1816-1889), who had just returned to the United States from
Siam, where he had served as a missionary for several years. Mattoon was a
person of great administrative talent. During his presidency, (1870-1884)
and (1885-1886), the school prospered. 7 In October 1873, it paid
$1600 for land approximately one mile west of Charlotte. 8 By
1875, the institute had established its campus on this site. The faculty
consisted of four individuals, J.H. Shedd, R.W. Hall, W.E. Meese, and W.H.
Hartzell. All teacher's houses were probably erected during these years.
In 1883, the name of the school was changed to "Biddle University."
10 That year also witnessed the completion of
Biddle Hall, which cost forty-thousand dollars to construct. 11
Stephan Mattoon died on August 15, 1889. 12 His funeral took
place in the University chapel, and Mattoon and his wife are buried in
Charlotte. "The Doctor was a man of fine personal presence and more than
ordinary strength of character," The Charlotte Chronicle observed.
13 It is obvious that Mattoon had transformed Biddle University
into an institution which enjoyed the respect of the west majority of
Charlotteans, both black and white.
An important and symbolic turning point in the history of Biddle
University occurred in 1891, when the school aquired its first black
president, Dr. Daniel J. Sanders. 14 Thereafter, the institution
has flourished under a succession of black leaders. In 1895, a generous gift
from Miss Mary A. Carter of Geneva, NY, enabled the University to construct
an elegant dormitory, appropriately, named "Carter
Hall." 15 The presidency of Rev. H. L. McCrorey (1907-1947)
witnessed two events of momentous significance in the history of the school.
In 1923, the name of the institution was changed to Johnson C. Smith
University in honor of Johnson C. Smith, a druggist from Pittsburgh, PA.,
who had made a fortune in the tin plating business. Between 1921 and 1929,
his window contributed $400,000 for buildings and equipment. 16
In 1924, the financial stability of the University was strengthened even
more by a bequest from the Duke Endowment, the philanthropic foundation
established by James Buchanan Duke. 17 Johnson C. Smith
University has continued to prosper in the intervening years and has become
one of the leading black institutions of higher learning in the South.
Clearly, the hopes and aspirations of men such as SC Alexander, W.L. Miller,
and S.S. Murkland have been more than fulfilled.
1 One can see this phenomenon at work in the early history of
2 A photograph in the historical archives of Johnson C. Smith
University , dated 1925, shows the house at its present location. Another
photograph, undated but probably taken before 1921, also shows the house at
its present location. The 1911 Sanborn Insurance Map of Charlotte reveals
that the house was not at its present site in 1911 (see 1911 Sanborn
Insurance Map, p. 87). However, the 1929 Sanborn Insurance Map shows the
house at its present location (see Sanborn Insurance for 1929, Vol. II., p.
3 Inez Moore Parker, Helen Vassy Callison, ed., The
Biddle-Johnson C. Smith Story (The Observer Craftsman Company,
Charlotte, NC, 1975) pp. 3-4. Hereafter cited as Parker.
4 Parker, p. 4. The Western Democrat (October 22,
1867), p. 3.
5 The Western Democrat (October 22, 1867), p. 3.
6 The Western Democrat (October 8, 1867), p. 3.
7 Parker, pp. 6-8. For a photograph of Rev. and Mrs. Mattoon,
see Parker, p. 6. Dumas Malone, ed., Dictionary of American Biography
(Charles Schribner's Sons, New York, 1933) Vol. 12, pp. 424-425. Hereafter
cited as Malone.
8 Mecklemburg County Deed Book 9, p. 323.
9 Charlotte City Directory for 1875-76, p. 125.
10 Henry Lawrence McCrorey, Sr., "A Brief History of Johnson
C. Smith University," in Johnson C. Smith University Bulletin (May
1935) pp. 5-23.
11 Parker, p. 8.
12 Malone, pp. 424-425.
13 Charlotte Chronicle (August 16, 1889), p. 4.
14 Parker, pp. 11-12. For a photograph of D. J. Sanders, see
Parker, p. 93.
15 Parker, p. 13.
16 Parker, pp. 19-20. For a photograph of H.L. McCrorey, see
Parker, p. 93.
17 Parker, pp. 19-20.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains an architectural description of the property prepared by Jack O.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria set forth in N.C.G.S. 16OA-399.4:
a. Special significance in terms of its history, architecture,
and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property
known as the Teacher's House at Johnson C. Smith University (now
University Health Center) does possess special historic significance in
terms of Charlotte- Mecklemburg. The Commission bases its judgments on the
following considerations: 1) it is among the oldest structures on the
campus of Johnson C. Smith University; and 2) architecturally, the
exterior of the house represents a rare example of a local Victorian
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling
and/or association: The Commission judges that the architectural
description included in this report demonstrates that the majority or
original portions of the exterior of the structure meet this criterion.
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: The commission is aware that
designation would allow the owner to apply annually for an automatic
deferral of 50% of the Ad Valorem on all or any portion of the property
which becomes "historic property." The current Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal of
the Teacher's House (now University Health Center) at Johnson C. Smith
University is $27,320. The property is currently exempt from the payment of
Ad Valorem taxes.
Charlotte City Directory for 1875-76.
Henry Lawrence McCrorey Sr., "A Brief History of Johnson C. Smith
University ," in Johnson C. Smith University Bulletin (May 1935) pp.
Dumas, Malone ed., Dictionary of American Biography (Charles
Scribner's Sons, New York, 1933) Vol. 12, pp. 424-425.
Inez Moore Parker, Helen Callison, ed., The Biddle-Johnson C. Smith
Story (The Observer Craftsman Company, Charlotte, N.C., 1975)
Records of the Mecklemburg County Register of Deeds Office.
Records of the Mecklemburg County Tax Office.
Sanborn Insurance Map of Charlotte, N.C., for 1911.
Sanborn Insurance Map of Charlotte, N.C., for 1929, Vol. II.
The Western Democrat.
University Archives of Johnson C. Smith University.
Vertical Files of the Carolina Room of the Charlotte-Mecklemburg Public
Date of the Preparation of this Report: July 2, 1980.
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director
Charlotte-Mecklemburg Historic Properties Commission
3500 Shamrock Dr.
Charlotte, N.C. 28215
Telephone: (704) 332-2726
On the tree lined back entrance to the campus of Johnson C. Smith
University is a typical late Victorian frame building whose origins match
those of the nineteenth century, the ornamented house was originally a
faculty residence. In recent years, however, it has served a variety of
university needs and it is presently a health service facility.
The two story structure is a rare local example of the
Italianate style popular during the late 1800's. And, typically, there
are suggestions of other modes employed in the exterior detailing. One may
note Eastlake brackets and especially expressive carpentry in the stick
style gable frames, for example. The rectangular mass of the house is a
balanced composition accentuated by pronounced moldings and details.
An early addition, probably at the turn of the century, consists of twin
appendages at the rear. These two story wings have finishing details similar
to those in the original house. Windows in the addition vary noticeably from
the originals, however. The later
sash have a single vertical center
muntin, whereas the earlier units are one large undivided light.
The house rests on a low brick foundation wall which originally consisted
of brick corner piers with intermediate pillars under the outside sills.
These original pier spaces now have solid red brick infill. Just over the
brick foundation is a wide board still band, above which is a narrow sloped
drip mold. Above this base band the exterior walls are sheathed with ship
lap siding and rise two floors to a plain wide frieze under a bracketed
overhang of the typical beaded boards.
Corners are all cased with beaded corner bands which rise from the
foundation to the frieze. The solid curved overhang brackets are paired and
widely spaced under a soffit which follows the
roof line on the building perimeter, except at the gable walls. The roof
edge is a wide molded facia designed to conceal built-in gutters. Here and
there round tin spouts drop through the soffit and reach to the ground.
The front facade, which faces south, is three bays wide. Each bay is
defined by high, narrow, twin windows balanced in the front wall. As noted
above, the original sash have one large undivided light, and in several
windows irregular glass typical of the late nineteenth century is preserved.
Window openings are framed above with a molded hood, and below are thick
sills supported on corbeled brackets. Spanning the width of the front is a
canopy. Slender wood corner columns support the canopy and have scroll sawn
"gingerbread" brackets at the top. In the canopy gable, an ornamented carved
pendant drops to a cross gable ornament, also scroll sawn.
The front porch is now enclosed, but the original roof remains, and
details of the center canopy columns and brackets illustrate the likely
nature of the original.
The front facade is highlighted by an extraordinary center gable at the
roof. Rising high to a truncated front ridge, the gable has steep rake
boards connected by heavy molded cross brackets. In the gable wall under
these brackets is a small hooded garret window.
Roof surfaces are covered with square edged slate. Centered in each slope
are several rows of "fish
scale" shingles. The roof has a long ridge running parallel to the front
interrupted only by the center gable. At each side the roof ends with an
elaborate gable where cross brackets similar to those at the front join the
On the west side, there is a three sided one story bay with a low tin
roof. Twin windows in the center and single windows angled at each side
flood the original parlor with natural light. Below the tall windows there
are recessed molded wood panels.
A covered side entrance porch occurs to the rear beside the bay window.
The porch cover is also a low tin roof, with a molded fascia much like that
over the window bay. The roof rests on slender corner columns, and at the
ceiling there are small curved brackets which lack the exhuberance of those
at the front. An original four panel kitchen door opens from this porch.
With molded edges, the recessed panels display typical skilled planning mill
work of the period. A divided light
transom window completes the entrance frame.
Windows at the second floor are centered above the window bay and above
the kitchen porch. Both are twin double hung units with single lights in
each sash. Hood molding and heavy sills match those at the front.
The east side demonstrates the balance of the original facade. Two rooms
on each on each floor have centered twin windows which form a symmetrical
two bay elevation.
The two story wings depart from the original window pattern. On each side
and at the rear there are single room additions which are lighted by single
windows, rather than by paired units. Also, the later windows have divided
lights with one center muntin, as mentioned above.
This pleasant survivor from the time when the school was known as Biddle
University is an important architectural remnant from the early campus
composition. Built at a time when designers were seeking escape from rigid
traditional motifs, the faculty house was meticulously detailed to embody
some of the best of exciting new styles of the time. It is a significant
building in the history of the university.