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
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.
prominent entrance, and the use of quoins, and elaborately
bordered panels and shields, may have been influenced by the Beaux Arts
The building’s ornate façade rests on a simple granite foundation that
incorporates stone front steps. Small basement windows pierce the
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
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.