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Hovis Funeral Home



The Hovis Funeral Home is the work of the prolific Charlotte architect William Peeps.  Facing west along North Tryon Street, the narrow, two-story building sits opposite the imposing edifice of the Gothic Revival Style First United Methodist Church.   The ca. 1925  funeral home is located in the center of the block, surrounded by other low-rise commercial buildings.  The nature of the 500 block of North Tryon changed drastically between the First World War and the onset of the Great Depression.  According to a Sanborn Company Map, the block was entirely residential in 1911.  But later maps indicated that by 1929, the real estate bordering on Tryon Street was largely commercial in nature.  By 1929, the Hovis Funeral Home shared the block with the Oscar J. Thies Automobile Sales and Service Building, the massive Guthery Apartment Building, and the now demolished Colonial Apartments.

The somber nature of the mortuary business is reflected in the architecture of the building.   Peeps incorporated elements of the Gothic Revival Style into the building, a style not commonly found in 20th century commercial buildings.   The building’s prominent entrance, and the use of  quoins,  and elaborately bordered panels and shields, may have been influenced by the Beaux Arts Style.  The building’s ornate façade rests on a simple granite foundation that incorporates stone front steps.  Small basement windows pierce the granite foundation. 


The façade is composed of a prominent projecting central bay, constructed of sandstone.  The bay contains the entrance and all of the windows that pierce the façade on the first and second stories, and is flanked by narrow blank bays constructed with tan wire-cut brick.  The change in the masonry between the central and side bays mimics the dental pattern of the quoins.  The central bay is itself divided into three sections. 




The entrance is sheltered by a wide but shallow Tudor archway that shelters a replacement door.  Separated from the entrance by simple pilasters are Tudor-Arch window openings containing original casements that feature trefoil tracery.  The first-story fenestration is topped by a limestone cornice that could also be interpreted as a balustrade sill for the second-story windows. 



The cornice features the four flared and pointed capital of the pilasters.   These capitals are connected by a belt course of stone panels.  Second-story windows openings reflect the dimensions of the first-story fenestration. 



The center window opening contains four replacement divided-light sash.  These tall ten-light sash are each topped with two-light transoms, and are similar in design to the original sash as depicted in a directory add from the 1930’s.  The center window opening is flanked by narrower window openings containing paired sash also topped with transoms.  The second-story windows are topped with a moulded cornice that extends across the blank side bays and wraps around the building.  Above the cornice rises a parapet.  Like the rest of the façade, the parapet is divided into three sections, with center section realized in limestone and the secondary bays featuring wire-cut brick.   The center section is composed of vertical stone panels that rise into a low Flemish gable with a thick coping, and featuring a cartouche.  The brick sections of the parapet feature ornate rectangular1 scuppers.


In contrast to the facade, the  sides and rear of the building are unadorned.  The building is seven bays deep.  The side walls are topped with a stepped parapet, protected by terra cotta tile.  On the north elevation, first and second story window openings are filled with replacement double-hung window.  Basement-level window openings are fill with glass block.  An original feature of the building is the beveled northeast corner, probably designed to allow vehicles access to the rear of the building.   The rear of the building features a wide garage opening topped with a steel lintel.   The south elevation is partially obscured by a neighboring building and is otherwise blank.