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Mabonsie

 

1.         Name and location of the property:  The property known as Mabonsie is located at 312 S. Thompson Street, Davidson, NC.

 

2.         Name, address, and telephone number of the present owners of the property:

 

            Leamon B. and Renee Brice

            312 S. Thompson Street

            Davidson, NC  28036

 

3.         Representative photographs of the property: This report includes photographs of the property.

 

4.         A map depicting the location of the property:  This report includes maps depicting the location of the property.

 

  

 

 

 

5.         Current tax parcel reference and deed to the property:  The tax parcel number of the property is 007-023-05.  The most recent deed to the property is recorded in the Mecklenburg County Deed Book 6645, Pages 491-492.  UTM coordinates are 542184.3 E, 8938225.8 N.

 

6.         A brief historical sketch of the property: This report includes a historical sketch of the property.

 

7.         A brief architectural description of the property:  This report includes an architectural description of the property.

 

8.         Documentation of why 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 history, architecture, and/or cultural importance: The property known as Mabonsie does possess special significance in terms of the Town of Davidson and Mecklenburg County.  Judgment is based upon the following considerations:

 

1)      Mabonsie is significant as a well-preserved example of Rustic Style Architecture.

 

2)      Mabonsie represents the social history of the Town of Davidson through its family connections and its unusual reason for construction, specifically during the Great Depression.

 

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 part of the property which becomes a designated "historic landmark." 

 

10.       Portion of the property recommended for designation: The interior and exterior of the house, and the land associated with the tax parcel.

 

Date of preparation of this report:  May 2013

 

Prepared by:  Susan V. Mayer

Historical Essay

            Set within the woodsy end of South Thompson Street in Davidson, “Mabonsie” reaches back into the rural history of the town. Mabonsie has two attributes which make it a suitable candidate for local historic landmark designation.  As the primary point of consideration, Mabonsie is an excellent example of Rustic Style Architecture, especially in Mecklenburg County where few of its type remain.  Secondly, the builders of the house, Bonnie and Johnsie Shelton, are connected to two historically influential Davidson families, the Sheltons and the Johnstons.  Activities of the Shelton family had tremendous impact upon the evolution of the town in the late 19th and early 20th century. 

Rustic Style Architecture in Mecklenburg County

            Much has been written about rustic architecture in Mecklenburg County.  The most comprehensive survey, which highlighted 20th century log structures, was conducted by Stewart Gray in 2005.  He identified ten properties as significant examples of this type of construction, many of which are discussed in this section.[1]

            Log construction was common in early Mecklenburg County due to the easy availability of building material and relative speediness of erection.  This method of construction persisted through the 19th century.  The oldest surviving log structures in the county are the Hugh Torrence Store and McAuley Log House, both constructed in 1780.[2]Both structures utilize typical details found in log construction, specifically square-hewn log timbers with notched half-dovetail joints.  The growth of sawmills in the area enabled the popularity of frame construction, though log building persisted in more rural areas of the county.

            Log construction experienced a cultural renaissance upon entering the 20th century.  Residential pattern books, which had been dominated by the Queen Anne style, began including log buildings and other forms of rustic architecture.  One of the first of these publications included Log Cabins: How to Build and Furnish Them by William S. Wicks in 1889, which targeted the construction of retreats and camps.[3]

This illustration of a cabin in Herkimer County, New York, taken from Wicks’ Log Cabins,shows an inspiration for the revival of Rustic Architecture at the turn of the 20th century.

Additionally, the Boy Scouts as well as contemporary marketing strategies may have contributed to the popularity of log construction during this period. The Mecklenburg County Council of the Boy Scouts of America was chartered in 1915.  Included in the organization’s first three editions of the Handbook for Boys were plans and instructions for log construction.  Additionally, marketing during the early 20th century elevated rural themes, such as Southern culture, to the sphere of romantic nostalgia.  The log cabin received similar treatment and was used to market maple syrup, whiskey, and toys.

These three products are indicative of the marketing usage of rustic Americana during the early 20th century.

            Residential log construction also became a trend within the emergent Arts and Crafts architectural movement.  Craftsman architectural pioneer Gustav Stickley constructed a log building at his Craftsman Farms country estate in 1911.  Originally intended to serve as a club house, Stickley modified the upstairs to make the building his family residence.  His publication More Craftsman Homes, published in 1912, featured sections highlighting log construction within contemporary American architecture as well as his own home.[4]In Mecklenburg County, the earliest rustic-revival structure is identified as 5930 Lakeview Drive in south Charlotte.  Constructed circa 1925, the home was originally the clubhouse of a golf course development.  The detailing of the home, while incorporating rounded logs chinked with mortar, indicates its derivation from Craftsman architecture rather than its rustic log predecessors.  The gambrel roof features a wide hipped front porch and banks of windows.  However, this structure stands as the lone example of upper-class residential log construction.

The Lingle Hut, Mt. Zion Hut, and Ramah Church Hut are local examples of log-constructed community buildings from the 1930s.

            The onset of the Great Depression hampered construction across the country.  Architects and builders who could find work were employed in the design and construction of Works Progress Administration projects. The Civilian Conservation Corps continued the revival of rustic architecture with their use of log construction for federal projects, many in national parks, due to low cost, surplus of manual labor, and availability of local building materials.  These factors trickled down into Mecklenburg County as well.  Log construction was utilized in various types of buildings, with most surviving examples in northern areas of the county.  Community buildings were the most common as shown by the Lingle Hut (1931) at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Davidson, the Mt. Zion Hut (1932) at the Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Cornelius, and the Ramah Presbyterian Church Hut (1935) in Huntersville.[5]

Residential log structures from the 1930s and 1940s include the Dr. Hood Cabin, the Page House, and the Bobby McConnell House.

            Homeowners also found log construction to be a suitable choice for residential structures during the 1930s.  Articles about the ease of construction of log homes as well as plans appeared in many national publications, including Popular Science and the Sears pre-fabricated home catalog.[6]  Aside from the Mabonsie, several other examples exist within Mecklenburg County.  The Page House (circa 1935) in Derita features log construction in the form of siding.  Another residence in Derita, the Bobby McConnell House (circa 1940), portrays a more rustic appearance with rounded logs extending beyond the corners and a stone chimney.  The Dr. Hood Cabin (circa 1935) in Davidson was built as a secondary structure behind the Davidson College psychology professor’s Concord Road home, Restormel.[7]  Like the Mabonsie, this cabin was constructed primarily as a place of entertainment.  This trend among wealthier homeowners emerged in the 1920s.  In a 1929 issue of House Beautiful, a log cottage constructed along the James River in Virginia was profiled as “a sort of whimsical playhouse—a rude shelter against storm for one who delighted in the joy of silent woodlands.”[8]

Shelton Family

            The history of Mabonsie is tied to two well-known Davidson families, the Sheltons and the Johnstons.  The latter family owned extensive tracts of land in the area and held connections to two well-known plantations in the area, Walnut Grove and Cedar Grove.[9]  The genealogies of the Sheltons and Johnstons intersected with the marriage of Robert William Shelton and Mary Minnie Johnston, parents of Mabonsie builders.

            Robert William Shelton was born on August 22, 1858 in Catawba County, North Carolina, the son of David Wesley Shelton and Nancy Paulina Little.  He married Mary Minnie Johnston in about 1884.  Minnie was born May 19, 1866 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  She was the daughter of James Sidney Johnston of Mecklenburg County and Susan Jemima Ruddock of Charleston, South Carolina.  James owned a great deal of land around and in Davidson, primarily along South Main Street and Concord Road.  Robert and Minnie had six children:  Robert Johnston, Conrad Johnston, Mary Johnston “Johnsie,” Bonnie Kathleen, Howard Reid, and Virginia Adele.

            Robert was a successful businessman and merchant.  In 1890 he was one of the initial investors in the construction of the Linden Cotton Factory in Davidson and routinely traveled around the region as far as Georgia to purchase cotton for the mill.[10]Robert also owned one of the many Davidson livery stables.[11]Other businesses connected with Robert included M.C. Mayer Grocery Company in Charlotte, which he began business with in around 1900.  He later rose to the position of president of the company, renamed Mayer-Blanton Grocery.[12]

This May 1, 1904 Charlotte Observer advertisement mentions salesman Robert William Shelton, a prominent member of the Davidson business community.

            The Sheltons were active within the Davidson community.  Robert served on the town commission from 1886 until 1894and as mayor during 1890 and 1891.[13]They were members of the Davidson College Presbyterian Church.  Family members were also involved in local community organizations such as the Davidson Civic League, Intermediate Christian Endeavor Society, and Davidson Music Club.  Son Conrad attended Davidson College in 1907.[14]

            The Shelton family resided in a home on South Street until about 1905, when local builder B.C. Deal constructed them a residence at 426 Concord Road.  The two-story Queen Anne with its octagonal tower was indicative of the family’s wealth.[15]Many parties and other engagements were held at the residence, which quickly became a popular society location in Davidson.

            Robert died March 5, 1919, at the National Hotel in Wadesboro, North Carolina of a pulmonary hemorrhage while traveling for business.  The death certificate notes that he had previously suffered heart attacks. As noted in the funeral notice, “in the death of Mr. Shelton, the town has lost one of its most prominent and influential citizens and the church an earnest and faithful member.”[16]He was buried in the Davidson College Cemetery in Davidson, North Carolina.[17]Minnie died May 9, 1938 in Davidson and is also buried in Davidson College Cemetery.[18]

            Of the Shelton family members, sisters Bonnie and Johnsie are most applicable to the history of the Mabonsie, for they were responsible for its construction. Bonnie Kathleen Shelton was born July 22, 1896 in Mecklenburg County.  She attended Elizabeth College in Charlotte, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Columbia University in New York.[19]Bonnie worked as a teacher, primarily with the second grade though records show she also taught fourth grade.[20]She taught at many schools in the area, including Woodleaf in Rowan County and Hope Mills in Cumberland County.[21]Later she was the second grade teacher at the Davidson school.[22]Bonnie, who never married, was known as a sportswoman.  She was the director of the Girl Scouts camp in Portsmouth, Kentucky, during the summer of 1928 and also ran programs at Camp Miniwanca in Stony Lake, Michigan.[23]The extensive Shelton land housed a large stable and much pastureland upon which she would ride horses.  As noted by local historian Mary D. Beaty, Bonnie “would sometimes go horseback riding in the late afternoons, splendid in her crimson coat shining boots, and impeccable jodphers” with “a red cap…jauntily on her black hair.”[24]She died on July 13, 1955, and is buried in the Davidson College Cemetery in Davidson, North Carolina.[25]

            Her sister Mary Johnston “Johnsie” Shelton was born January 14, 1892 in Mecklenburg County.  Like Bonnie, she also never married and was a teacher.  She taught at many schools within the area including Mooresville and Hope Mills but gave up the profession due to bad eyesight.[26]Johnsie later worked as a private nurse for a local family.[27]She also served as the housemother for Pi Kappa Alpha and Phi Kappa Phi fraternities at Davidson College.[28]She was the 1949 recipient of the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, presented by the Southern Society of New York to honor Davidsonians who worked for the betterment of the town and college.[29]Johnsie died on July 24, 1983 and is also buried in the Davidson College Cemetery in Davidson, North Carolina.[30]  Both Bonnie and Johnsie lived in the family home at 426 Concord Road in Davidson until their deaths.

Town of Davidson and Davidson College

            The story of Davidson is synonymous with Davidson College, established in 1837 by the Presbyterian church.  The school formed the entirety of the isolated town until the reconstruction of the railroad line between Charlotte and Statesville in 1874.From this point forward, commercial and industrial growth characterized post-bellum Davidson.  Textile manufacturing facilities included the Linden Mill, which featured among its initial investors Robert Shelton, the Delburg Mill, and the Southern Cotton Seed Oil Company.[31]

This map, from Mecklenburg County Deed Book 90, Page 34, shows a portion of Shelton land in Davidson divided into lots and sold off over the next two decades.  Lot 6 was deeded to the Davidson College Presbyterian Church for the establishment of Davidson Academy.

            Although much town land was owned by Davidson College, it is erroneous to assume this of all land within the city limits.  The Shelton family, through Robert’s marriage to Minnie, owned expansive property below Concord Road around the South Main Street area. Over the years, Robert and Minnie sold off most of the land for development, thereby directly contributing to the growth of the town.  The family donated a lot on South Street for the Davidson Academy in 1893.[32]In May 1909 Robert contracted with the Southern Realty and Auction Company to sell off fifty lots of land along Concord Road in an occasion called “a notable [day] in the business history of the town.”[33]

            But Davidson’s residential growth did correspond directly with the expansion of the college.  Under the leadership of President Dr. William J. Martin, in the 1910s the college expanded its faculty from twelve to forty members.[34]  Since Robert had made a great deal of land adjacent to the college available, this led to a boom of homebuilding along the Concord Road area of Davidson.  Such professors as M.G. Fulton in the English department, John L. Douglas of mathematics, and Thomas W. Lingle, the French and Spanish languages professor, constructed homes in this area.[35]

            Due to Robert’s untimely death in 1919, Minnie had to find alternative sources of income.  One solution was the selling of family land.  In 1923 she auctioned off land south Concord Road for development of residences for Davidson College faculty, an area nicknamed Shelton Heights at the time.  Among the faculty purchasing lots were retiring college president W.J. Martin, chemistry professor Oscar J. Thies, and mathematics and astronomy professor W.W. Wood.[36]


This property map from 1946 denotes the acreage Minnie had subdivided and sold as residential lots, many to Davidson College professors,beginning in the 1920s.  Lot 3 is the site of Mabonsie.

Mabonsie

            Local historian Mary Beaty described the land beyond Concord Road during the initial decades of the 20th century as “unbroken pastureland owned by the Shelton family and occupied by cows of extreme irascibility.”[37]Thus, this property made an ideal location for a pastoral residential setting.  In September 1932, Minnie deeded 5.5 acres of land along Thompson Street to Bonnie, who took out a mortgage against the property with Cornelius Building and Loan Association for $750.[38]  Bonnie received an additional 13 acres of land, presumably pasture that Bonnie used for riding horses, from her mother in 1938.  Soon afterwards, Bonnie subdivided the additional acreage and began selling it off residential lots.

            During the early 1930s, the sisters wished to have a weekend getaway built away from the hustle and bustle of Concord Road.  Since the town was quite small, they would not have to go far.  Bonnie had retained ownership of a 5.5 acre parcel at the end of S. Thompson Street, which would have been the back of the original Shelton property.  The sisters named their retreat “Mabonsie,” after “Momma,” “Bonnie,” and “Johnsie.”[39]  An architect or draftsman was commissioned to design the house as evidenced by the original drawings which have been passed down through each owner of the property.  However, no names or identifying marks on the drawings reveal who the designer may have been.

            The construction of Mabonsie brings to light the building methodologies and technology of its era. Logs used in the house’s construction were harvested from the property and hauled in place by mules and horses. One log on the south elevation runs the full length of the house.  The logs were coated with creosote to protect them from weathering and rot.[40]One material used throughout the interior of the house is Celotex.  This fiberboard, made of sugar cane fibers, was applied to the ceilings and walls as a cheaper alternative to plaster and lathe.[41]A coal furnace was installed in the south side of the basement with a chimney for ventilation.  Heaters were placed in the kitchen and dining rooms.  Also, two wood-burning stoves were the den and front bedroom.  The screened back porch included bins for coal and firewood.

            Additionally, personal touches reflective of the two sisters were added to the house.  The stone rubble for the chimney and the shells on the name plaque were gathered by Bonnie and Johnsie on many of the vacations they took.  The sisters were known for bringing back suitcases of rocks from the mountains.[42]  Bonnie and Johnsie spent weekends relaxing in their retreat.  Bonnie had imagined a place for keeping her horses.  Robert and Sue Baggett, owners of the home after the Sheltons, remember Johnsie as “giving, caring, and a kind woman” who loved the company of the neighborhood boys.  The family home on Concord Road as well as Mabonsie was known as a favorite play place for the town children.  A favorite pastime of Johnsie’s was to sit on her back porch and watch the children play baseball and other games.[43]

            Johnsie inherited the property after her sister’s death in 1955.  She leased the house to Davidson College, which rented to students and faculty for the next twenty years.  This practice was common throughout the town’s history especially during the post-World War II enrollment expansion of the college.  During the 1957-1958 school year, student Harold P. Johnson resided in the house.[44]  Assistant football coach Robert C. Brown resided in the home in 1966-1967.[45]  Other known occupants of the house included Jim Martin, professor of chemistry and later governor of North Carolina, football coach Dave Roberts, and classics professor George Labban.  Davidson College made several changes to the house during their lease, including replacing the Celotex with drywall in several locations, removing the heaters, and replacing the coal furnace with a newer gas one that remains today.  The pasture backyard became wooded during this period.[46]

            In 1974 Johnsie sold Mabonsie to Robert and Sue Baggett.  Robert was the ROTC instructor at Davidson College.  The Baggetts made several changes to the house.  The attic was incorporated as a half-story with two bedrooms, nicknamed “the dorm” since the family’s two sons and numerous friends were in and out of the house.  The Baggetts dug out the basement, which was full of coal dust, and poured a concrete slab to house a pool table.  The screened back porch was enclosed.  Also, the family added two decks and a greenhouse that still stand. French doors were added to the south elevation for access to that deck.  During their residence, Robert and his sons reapplied creosote to the home.  The family said the smell was awful and that mosquitoes and other bugs stayed away for quite a while.[47]

            In 1987 the Baggetts sold the property to Patrick and Lori Cave.  Four years later, the Caves sold the property to Leamon and Renee Brice, the current occupants of Mabonsie.[48]The Brices have made structural repairs to the home, including the reconstruction of the stone foundation under the east elevation.  The northeast corner of the house near the large stone chimney, severely sagging at the time of purchase, was repaired.  The kitchen also has been remodeled.  In 2009 the Davidson National Historic District was established, and Mabonsie is listed as a contributing structure within the district.[49]

Bibliography

Beaty, Mary D.  A History of Davidson College.  Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1988.

Beaty, Mary D. Davidson: The History of the Town from 1835 to 1937.  Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1979.

Gray, Stewart.  “Log Building Construction in Mecklenburg County from 1920 to 1945.”  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.  2005.  http://landmarkscommission.org/Surveys/SurveyLogHouses.htm.

Mattson, Richard L. and Frances P. Alexander.  “Davidson Historic District.”  National Register of Historic Districts Nomination Form.  Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2009.

McAlester, Virginia and Lee McAlester.  A Field Guide to American Houses.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.

Payne, Jennifer and Dan L. Morrill.  “The Evolution of the Built Environment of Davidson, North Carolina.” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.  April 2006.http://landmarkscommission.org/Surveys/surveydavidsonpayne.htm.

Stickley, Gustav.  More Craftsman Homes.  New York, NY: The Craftsman Publishing Company, 1912.

Personal Interviews

Robert and Sue Baggett, May 20, 2013.

Leamon Brice, May 4, 2013.

 

Chain of Title

Grantor:           Patrick and Lori Cave

Grantee:          Leamon and Renee Brice III

Date:               September 27, 1991

Deed Ref.:      Book 6645, Page 491

 

Grantor:           Robert and Sue Baggett

Grantee:          Patrick and Lori Cave

Date:               January 22, 1987

Deed Ref.:      Book 5409, Page 901

 

Grantor:           Johnsie Shelton

Grantee:          Robert and Sue Baggett

Date:               May 24, 1974

Deed Ref.:      Book 3678, Page 478

 

Grantor:           Bonnie K. Shelton

Grantee:          Mary Johnston “Johnsie” Shelton (via will)

 

Grantor:           Minnie Johnston Shelton

Grantee:          Bonnie K. Shelton

Date:               September 17, 1932

Deed Ref.:      Book 831, Page 131

Architectural Description

            Mabonsie is a 1.5 story front-gabled log structure with a porch off the front of the home.  It sits on the highest terrain of the northeast corner of 5.5 acres of wooded property.  The property features steep topography, sloping down from the northeast corner.  The front elevation of the home faces southeast; for the purposes of this report, this elevation will be designated as the east elevation with all other elevations of the home following cardinal directions.

            The foundation is constructed of a stone rubble wall with brick piers throughout the interior crawl space and basement.  The house was originally built upon exterior stone piers, with the open spaces filled in at a later time (Figure 1).  The structure of the house is comprised of rounded logs chinked with cement grout.  The logs are of varying sizes, and corners have saddle notches with extended ends (Figure 2).The roof eaves are open with exposed rafter tails.  Most windows throughout the house are original double-hung six-over-six-light sash, with rope sash cords. The windows are now covered on the exterior with aluminum storm windows (Figure 3).  Newer windows, six-over-six-light wood sash with aluminum jambs, are called out where they occur in respective elevations.

Figure 1–Individual stone piers are visible within the foundation wall.

Figure 2 - This typical corner detail shows the extended logs sitting in saddle notches.

Figure 3 - Typical original double-hung wood sash window, exterior and interior views.  Storm windows have been installed on the exterior.
 

Figure 4 - East elevation

            The east elevation of Mabonsie is front gabled, with a hip-roofed shed porch topped with asphalt shingles.  Four cedar steps and peeled-pole cedar railings lead up to the porch floor, which is constructed of cedar boards.  The structure of the porch is held up by stripped cedar logs.  The porch railing also is constructed with peeled-pole cedar, featuring low horizontal rails with one centered vertical and two mirrored diagonal balusters.  The elevation is three bays wide with a centered three-panel solid oak door and flanking pairs of double-hung six-over-six wood windows with wide painted wood trim.  The lower portion of the structure is comprised of rounded wood logs with cement grout.  The gabled area has a frame structure with vertical board and batten wood siding.  A bank of three double-hung wood sash windows with aluminum jambs pierces the center bay of the gable elevation. The open eaves feature round log extensions, an ornamental detail rather than a structural one.

            The north elevation is five bays wide and one story in height.  The first and second bays feature single double-hung wood sash windows.  These two bays are split by a stone rubble chimney.  A concrete plaque with the home name, “Mabonsie,” is located at the bottom of the truncated portion of the chimney. The third, fourth, and fifth bays each feature a pair of double-hung wood sash windows; however, the windows in the third and fifth bays are taller than the windows in the other bays.  Also, the fifth bay of the house, while having the same log structure, is a later addition.  Originally designed as an open porch, later owners closed in the space and added wood sash windows with aluminum jambs matching the original ones.

Figure 5 - North elevation

The west elevation of Mabonsie is two stories in height and has a hipped roof.  This elevation may be divided into three bays.  The upper level is the main floor of the house while the lower level features an entrance to the basement.  The left bay of the upper level is the former screened porch which has been closed in.  It features a pair of double-hung wood sash windows with aluminum jambs.  A large wood deck, added in the 1970s, extends out from this bay of the house.  The center bay has a bank of three wood sash windows.  The upper west elevation is split by log ends protruding from the face of the wall.  This feature is indicative of the newer back porch enclosure.  The right bay has a bank of two wood sash windows. 

            The lower level of the west elevation is also split into three bays by stone piers.  Low stone foundation walls and vertical logs with cement grout fill the space between the piers.  Visible in the top of the second stone pier is a wood structural beam.  The right bay has a half-light wood door for access to the basement. 

Figure 6 - West elevation

The south elevation is also two stories in height and has access to the basement. The upper level of this elevation may be divided into four bays.  The first bay has a pair of wood sash windows.  The second bay also has a wood sash window, but it is smaller than the others since it is located in the main level bathroom.  The third bay has a pair of wood French doors opening into a wood deck.  The fourth bay also has a pair of wood sash windows.  Also visible from the south elevation between the third and fourth bays is a third smaller stone rubble chimney.  This structure serviced two wood-burning stoves, which have been removed, in the den and downstairs front bedroom respectively. 

            The lower level of the south elevation may be divided into three bays.  This section of the house also has stone piers between each bay with low stone foundation walls and vertical logs with cement grout.  The first lower bay features a wood door leading into the basement.  A wood frame shed roof greenhouse with glass and corrugated paneling extends from this bay.  The second lower bay also has an entrance into the basement.  A sliding glass door, added by later owners, is covered by a wide painted wooden door with diagonal wood slats which slides along a top-mounted metal track.  This feature once included two doors, but the second door has been removed.  The third lower bay has no fenestration.

Figure 7 - South elevation

            The interior of Mabonsie has many well-preserved original details. Many original six-panel solid wood doors remain as well as wood moulding and pine flooring throughout. There is a mixture of solid log and wood frame partition walls in the interior of the house as evidenced by the varying thickness of walls.

Figure 8 - The log structure of an exterior wall as well as the partition walls of Celotex were revealed during a renovation of the downstairs bathroom.

Figure 9 - Living room

            The most notable preserved areas of the interior are the living and dining rooms.  The front entrance opens directly into the living room which has many features identified with Craftsman-style residences.  A large stone rubble fireplace is flanked by wood sash windows.  The hearth is a newer addition, since the original bare concrete hearth was cracked.  The coffered ceiling features false wood beams crisscrossing the room, a detail continuing into the adjacent dining room.  A pair of wood sash windows with wide wood trim centered within the space also is indicative of the Craftsman influence.

Figure 10 - This chimney, exposed in the kitchen (top) and dining room (bottom), once served the coal-burning furnace.

            The third chimney visible in the south elevation is exposed in the interior of the house.  While rubble on the exterior, the interior brick structure is exposed in the kitchen, while in the dining room it has been plastered.  A vent formerly serving heaters powered by the furnace remains although the thimble has been capped (Figure 10).


[1] Except where noted, much of the information from this section of the report was taken from Stewart Gray, “Log Building Construction in Mecklenburg County from 1920 to 1945,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, 2005, http://landmarkscommission.org/Surveys/SurveyLogHouses.htm.

[2] Both are designated as local historic landmarks.  See Dan L. Morrill, Frances P. Alexander, and Paula M. Stathakis, “Cedar Grove and Hugh Torrence House and Store,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, 22 April 1993, http://www.cmhpf.org/S&Rs%20Alphabetical%20Order/surveys&rcedargrove.htm; Dan L. Morrill and Nora M. Black, “Ephraim Alexander McAuley Log House,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, February 1990, http://www.cmhpf.org/S&Rs%20Alphabetical%20Order/Surveys&rMcauleyLogHouse.htm.

[3] This movement toward seemingly primitive forms of construction may have been due to the backlash against the Victorian-era lack of masculinity.  The figurehead of this cultural transition is Theodore Roosevelt.

[4] Gustav Stickley, More Craftsman Homes (New York, NY: The Craftsman Publishing Company, 1912), 146-165.

[5]See also Stewart Gray, “Survey and Research Report on the Unity Church Cabin/Lingle Hut,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, December 2007, http://landmarkscommission.org/S&Rs%20Alphabetical%20Order/surveys&rLingle%20Hut.htm.

[6] William Gray Dorr, “Log Cabins Anyone Can Build,” Popular Science 119, No. 1 (July 1931): 92-93; Sears, Roebuck, and Company, “Nipigon,” The Book of Modern Homes, (Norwood, OH: Sears, Roebuck, and Company, 1939), 42.

[7] For more information on Restormel, see Kimberly Tweedy and Jennifer Payne, “Survey and Research Report on Restormel,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, 25 April 2006, http://www.cmhpf.org/S&Rs%20Alphabetical%20Order/surveys&rhoodhouse.htm.

[8] Edith Tunis Sale, “A Little Cabin of Logs,” House Beautiful 65, May 1929, 622.

[9]Minnie Johnston Shelton was the daughter of James Sidney Johnston, whose father James Johnston owned Walnut Grove.The elder James’ brother Robert Houston Johnston was a one-time resident of Cedar Grove.  Mary D. Beaty, Davidson: A History of the Town from 1835 until 1937 (Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1979), 14, 97-98.Here after referred to as Beaty, Davidson.

[10]Beaty,Davidson, 69; DailyCharlotte Observer, October 2, 1895.

[11] Beaty, Davidson, 150 n14.

[12]Charlotte Observer, March 6, 1919.

[13] Beaty, Davidson, 178.

[14]Quips and Cranks (Davidson, NC: Davidson College, 1908).

[15] Richard L.Mattson and Frances P. Alexander, “Davidson Historic District,” National Register of Historic Districts Nomination Form (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2009), 17-18.

[16]Charlotte Observer, March 6, 1919.

[17] “Robert W. Shelton,” North Carolina, Deaths, 1906-1930, Family Search, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F3DF-XQ2; “Robert W. Shelton,” Find A Grave,www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Shelton&GSiman=1&GScid=641032&GRid=27402695&.

[18] Mecklenburg County Death Index, Book 53, Page 481; “Minnie Johnston Shelton,” North Carolina, Deaths, 1931-1994,” Family Search, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FPNF-TV3; “Minnie M. Johnstone Shelton,” Find A Grave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Shelton&GSiman=1&GScid=641032&GRid=27428502&; Beaty, Davidson, 97.

[19]Charlotte Daily Observer, September 18, 1914; Charlotte Observer, July 14, 1955.

[20]Davidsonian, November 7, 1934.

[21]Charlotte Observer, January 5, 1920; Davidsonian, February 12, 1919.

[22] Beaty,Davidson, 171.

[23]Portsmouth Daily Times, June 23, 1928; Charlotte Observer, July 14, 1955.

[24] Beaty, Davidson, 111.

[25] 1920 U.S. Census; Mecklenburg County Death Index, Certificate No. 1983002053; “Bonnie Kathleen Shelton,” Find A Grave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Shelton&GSiman=1&GScid=641032&GRid=27401903&.

[26]Charlotte Observer, January 5, 1920; The Davidsonian, February 12, 1919; Davidsonian, April 22, 1920.

[27] 1940 U.S. Census.

[28]Davidsonian, February 12, 1965; Mary D. Beaty, A History of Davidson College (Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1988), 391.

[29] Beaty,Davidson, 185.

[30] 1920 U.S. Census; Mecklenburg County Death Index, Certificate No. 1983002053; “Mary Shelton Johnstone,” Find A Grave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Shelton&GSiman=1&GScid=641032&GRid=27402649&.

[31] Jennifer Payne and Dan L. Morrill, “The Evolution of the Built Environment of Davidson, North Carolina,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, April 2006, http://landmarkscommission.org/Surveys/surveydavidsonpayne.htm; Beaty, 69.

[32] Beaty, Davidson, 64.  The school, which has undergone numerous additions over the years, now houses Lake Norman Christian School.  It was designated a local historic landmark in February 2012.

[33]Charlotte Daily Observer, April 26, 1909.

[34] Mary D. Beaty, A History of Davidson College (Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1988), 239.

[35] Beaty, Davidson, 111-112; Beaty, Davidson College, 282.

[36] Beaty, Davidson, 162-169; Davidsonian, November 12, 1925; Mattson and Alexander, 106.  These residences were built along Woodland Street and Lorimer Avenue.

[37] Beaty, Davidson, 113.

[38] Mecklenburg County Deed Index, Book 831, Page 131; Mecklenburg County Deed Index, Book 843, Page 172.

[39] Robert and Sue Baggett personal interview, May 20, 2013.

[40] Baggett interview.

[41]Celotex was first manufactured in 1922 in Marrero, Louisiana.  Initially made with sugar cane fibers, Celotex later became asbestos-based.  The material became a more common interior sheathing following the 1929 stock market crash, when Celotex went bankrupt and had market its products beyond insulation.  “Material Name: Celotex,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, last revised September 27, 2007, http://cameo.mfa.org/browse/record.asp?subkey=1950; A.E. Buchanan, “An Industry that was Made to Order,” Scientific American 144 (May 1931): 322-324; Elbert C. Lathrop, “The Celotex and Cane-Sugar Industries,” Industrial and Engineering Chemistry 22(May 1930): 449-460; “Celotex: Houses from Sugar Cane,” Fortune 19 (February 1939): 80-84, 120, 122-124, 126.

[42]Leamon Brice personal interview, May 4, 2013; Baggett interview.

[43] Baggett interview.

[44]Davidsonian, October 4, 1957.

[45]Davidsonian, September 23, 1966.

[46] Brice interview; Baggett interview.

[47] Mecklenburg County Deed Index, Book 3678, Page 478; Baggett interview.

[48] Mecklenburg County Deed Index, Book 6645, Page 491; Mecklenburg County Deed Index, Book 5409, Page 901.

[49]Brice interview; see Mattson and Alexander, “Davidson Historic District.”