About the Commission
The Mecklenburg Historical Association persuaded the Charlotte City Council and the Board of Commissioners of Mecklenburg County to create the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission (as of January 1990 called the Historic Landmarks Commission in line with changes in State Enabling Legislation) in 1973. Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Fred Alexander called the first meeting of the Commission to order on August 9, 1973. The first chairman was Mr. Edgar Love, III.
In October 1974, Dr. Dan Morrill, a UNCC professor, became the Consulting Director of the Commission. He has served in this part-time position for 26 years and was presented an award by the Mayor and City Council for perfect attendance at HLC meetings during these 26 years. The Commission meets the second Monday night of each month twelve months yearly. The current HLC Chairman, the 18th, is Mr. Jeff Bradsher. In addition to the monthly meeting the Historic Landmarks Commission has four committees, described below, which meet on a regular basis. The committees are composed of HLC members and individuals in the community who can contribute time and expertise to the work of each committee.
1) The Design Review Committee meets monthly to consider Applications for Certificates of Appropriateness. The Committee is chaired by HLC member Ms. Ava Autrey. In 1981 State Enabling Legislation was amended to empower the Commission to exercise design review over historic properties. Previously, the only power the Commission had was to delay demolition. Even today the fate of a property resides with the owner who can legally, with a certificate of appropriateness, demolish a designated property. The HLC can delay demolition of a designated historic property up to one year and can try during this time period to persuade the owner to find a better solution for the structure than total destruction. The Commission has 228 designated historic landmarks - more than twice as many as any other county in North Carolina. Fourteen of the designated properties have been lost - some through demolition such as the Masonic Temple and the Independence Building and some to fire such as the Rozzelle House and Murkland Presbyterian Church. Reports on all the historic properties can be found on the Commission's website - www.cmhpf.org - along with walking and driving tours of Mecklenburg County, current and past projects, latest news, and links to other sites related to the work of the HLC.
2) The Survey Committee, chaired by HLC member Ms. Deborah Cox, meets at least every other month to consider properties that might be worthy of consideration for historic designation by the HLC. In order for a property to be designated historic, it must be voted on at a joint public hearing with the HLC and the City Council or Board of County Commissioners, depending on whether the property is located in the City or the County. Property taxes are cut in half each year for properties which are designated historic. The Survey Committee sponsors inventory surveys such as the reconnaissance inventory of the historic built environment in 1975 which assessed the potential revitalization of Fourth Ward as an historic area. Currently an inventory is underway to document Post World War II properties before 1965. The Commission secured a matching grant from the N. C. Division of Archives and History and brought historian Dr. Thomas W. Hanchett to Charlotte to conduct a comprehensive survey of Charlotte's pre-World War Two neighborhoods. In 1989 the HLC obtained a grant to perform a comprehensive survey of rural and small town historic buildings and sites in Mecklenburg County.
3) The Projects Committee meets regularly to discuss properties which can be bought and restored with the $9 million revolving fund. The Projects Committee oversees the restorations and management of the fund. Mr. John J. Parker, III, a member of the HLC is the current chairman of this committee. The Historic Landmarks Commission has the largest public revolving fund in the United States. Some of the properties which the HLC has bought, renovated and sold include the W. G. Rogers House on East Boulevard, the John Paul Lucas House in Elizabeth, the S. W. Davis House, Oak Lawn, Ingleside, the old Seaboard Station, the Funderburk Buildings in Matthews, the Blakeney House, the Croft Schoolhouse and the Trolley which the HLC still owns and leases to Charlotte Trolley, Inc. for one dollar yearly. The Commission secured an option to buy Rural Hill Plantation and thereby saved it from development. It also restored the Davidson Schoolhouse at Rural Hill. Current projects include the W. T. Alexander Plantation and the Charlotte Cotton Mills. When the Commission buys and resells properties, deed restrictions are placed on the property to prevent destruction of the property forever. The HLC owned the Duke Mansion for ten minutes and placed deed restrictions on the property so that it can never be demolished.
4) The Education Committee, chaired by HLC member Mr. John Misenheimer, supervises the HLC's website and promotes the work of the HLC in the community. This Committee sponsors workshops and has published brochures and books which help educate the public about Charlotte-Mecklenburg's history.
The Commission has twelve voting board members - six (Ms. Ava Autrey, Mr. Jeff Bradsher, Ms. Phiderika Foust, Mr. John Misenheimer, Ms. Ross Richardson, Mr. Mike Sullivan) appointed by the Board of County Commissioners, four (Ms. Deborah Cox, Mr. Bernard Felder, Mr. Scott Hirsch, Mr. Grier Martin) by the City Council and two (Ms. Tattie Bos, Mr. John Parker) by the Mayor. The President of the MHA, Mr. Van Hill, also a past member of the HLC for 8 years and HLC Chairman two years, serves as an ex-officio member of the Historic Landmarks Commission. Mr. David Ritch currently represents the MHA at the monthly HLC meetings.
The HLC is located at 2100 Randolph Road in an historic house designed by the notable architect, William Peeps and built in 1925 for Louis Ratcliffe, the owner of the historic Ratcliffe Flower Shop, also designed by Mr. Peeps. The HLC office was first located in the Middleton Drive home of Dan and Mary Lynn Morrill (four years). Other locations have included the Myers Home on Hermitage Court (one year), the Hezekiah Alexander Homesite on Shamrock Drive (four years), the old Montaldo's Building on N. Tryon St. (1 1/2 years), the Strawn Annex on S. Blvd.(8 years), the demolished Law Building on E. Trade St. (one year), and the historic Thies Building (three years) at 500 North Tryon.
The Historic Landmarks Commission founded the non-profit Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Preservation Fund (Foundation) over ten years ago and operated the organization until February 1999. The HPF restored the trolley, bought a permanent home for the HLC, established a website for the HLC and rehabilitated endangered properties which were not designated historic such as old mill houses in North Charlotte, etc. The donation of the Hand Pharmacy and the Welch McIntosh House to the HPF, buying, rehabilitating and selling endangered properties, tours, newsletters, special events, speeches, the sale of trolley paper weights, T-shirts, gnomes and pins and donations of money received from mail solicitations supported the HPF's fundraising efforts. Ms. Joe Brickey, Mr. Hugh Harkey, Mr. Gary Kidd, Ms. Tina Wright, Mr. Bruce James, Dr. William Huffman, Ms. Mary Wintzer , Ms. Lisa Hankin and many others contributed to the organization's work. Dr. Morrill served as President and Treasurer of the Foundation and the HLC Chairman served as the Chairman of the Board. The HLC Board also served as the Board for the Historic Preservation Foundation, Inc. In January 1999, the HLC/HPF Boards voted that the HPF should operate independently with paid staff. Mr. Grier Martin was hired by the HPF to serve as the executive director, new by-laws were developed which enlarged the board and included six members from the HLC, Mr. David Ritch was elected President of the Board and a new name was chosen - Historic Charlotte, Inc. Today, Mr. Tony Pressley serves as HC's second President and Ms. Sally Billington as the executive director. Mr. Martin now works for Preservation N. C. and continues to serve as a member of the HLC.
The Historic Landmarks Commission is funded by Mecklenburg County and derives its powers from N. C. General Statute 160A-400. The Commission functions for Charlotte, the unincorporated portions of Mecklenburg County and the Towns of Matthews, Mint Hill and Huntersville.
The meetings of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission start at 6PM on the second Monday of each month. Meetings occur at the offices of the Historic Landmarks Commission at 2100 Randolph Road, Charlotte. All meetings are open to the public.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission office in the Ratcliffe-Otterbourg House, 2100 Randolph Rd.
About the Hornet Nest Logo
The logo of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission is the Hornets Nest. The Hornets Nest is the most powerful historic symbol of Mecklenburg County. Banastre Tarleton, a British officer, stated that Charlotte was a "Hornets Nest" when he and the British army, headed by Charles Cornwallis, occupied Charlotte in September-October 1780 during the American Revolutionary War. The residents of this community have embraced that name, even giving the name "Hornets" to Charlotte's NBA basketball team.
Monument commemorating the McIntyre skirmish October 3, 1780, seven miles from Charlotte on Beatties Ford Road.
Learn more about what the HLC does...
This site was created using a Macintosh Performa 6290 by Bruce Schulman. This site is maintained for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission by Bruce R. Schulman.