Route II: South & East Charlotte
Almost 100 years ago, this
was farmland, and a suburb was only one man's dream. Edward
Dilworth Latta was already involved in the manufacturing business
in Charlotte when he formed the Charlotte Consolidated Construction
Company (the Four C's) in 1890 and bought 422 acres of farmland
south of the city. Before the first land auction for his newly laid
out development, Latta ran a lively ad campaign encouraging people
to "buy a house with the rent money," and to "build a city where we
now have a town." Other enticements included the promise of a park
with a large lake, winding drives, gazebos, botanical gardens, and
a grand pavilion.
Edward Dilworth Latta, 1851-1925
The sales began on May 20, 1891, before a crowd
of 2,000 people. The event was boosted by the extension of the
streetcar system to serve the new suburb. Originally, Dilworth was
to be ringed by four grand boulevards, but only three were ever
built: East Blvd., Morehead St., and South Blvd. Here on East Blvd.
the streetcar used to run down the center of the street as it
headed for Latta Park.
1. Notice where the road narrows behind
you. For many years this was the end of the line for the trolleys. For 50 years these
streetcars took passengers between the city and the pavilion.
Speeds were restricted to ten miles an hour, and a bell had to be
rung loudly as the cars neared a street crossing, but to Charlotte
they seemed fast and exciting. Here at the end of the line people
would have spilled out of the car and headed for the comforts of
home or the pleasures of the park and fairgrounds. (The city
fairgrounds were to the south of East Blvd.)
up East Blvd. heading towards South Blvd., notice the Greek
Orthodox Cathedral about three blocks up on your left, opposite the
Dilworth Methodist Church.
2. Latta chose this site for his
own home, which was not built until 1905-6. (It was demolished in
1965.) The very fact that his own house in the suburb was not built
until 15 years after the suburb's inception suggests that Latta's
development was not initially successful in luring new residents
away from the city. Indeed, during the early years his company was
only saved from bankruptcy by D.A. Tompkins, another New South
leader, who kept the project afloat by buying a block at the
southern edge of the suburb for his Atherton mill and mill village
Continue to drive down East Blvd., still a very gracious
street. Just past the traffic lights at Euclid Ave., stop at the
fourth building on your right, 311 East Blvd. (Now a
The Mayer House, 311 East Boulevard
3. This was the first part of Dilworth to
be developed, and for quite some time the streetcar passed through
the countryside that divided the new suburb from the city proper.
In addition to its turn-of-the-century charm, this Victorian
cottage is worth noting as it was the former residence of the
novelist Carson McCullers during the late 1930s. She drew
inspiration for her novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter from
the Charlotte that she saw. Particularly striking to her was the
contrast between the affluent suburbs and the factories with their
mill villages such as Tompkins's Atherton Mill just across South
4. It is interesting to see how popular
architectural styles changed during the growth of the New South
Neighborhoods between 1890 and 1930. The house next door, 307 East
Blvd., is a good example of the fashionable Queen Anne style. Houses
of this type lined the major boulevards of the city, but there they
mainly date from an earlier age. In 1903, when this house was
erected, the Queen Anne was on its way out of fashion. Notice how
asymmetrical the house is, with its pentagonal tower and parapet to
the left, and its bays to the right. Also notice the variety of
window styles, and the abundance of decorative woodwork.
House, 307 East Boulevard
The Brem House
Special Note: Walter Brem's first house in Dilworth, built
in 1901, stands at 211 East Boulevard. It is significant because it
is one of Charlotte's earliest examples of the Colonial Revival
style. The architect was C. C. Hook. You will have to take a
special side trip to see the Walter Brem House, because it is not
on the tour.
Walter Brem and his wife, Hannie Caldwell Brem, bought this
house in 1912. Although his main line of work was insurance, Brem
also invested in the development of the New South Neighborhoods.
The Brems moved here from their larger house down the road, but
this was not their last move. In 1916, Brem's young partner, George
Stephens, persuaded Mr. and Mrs. Brem to move to the new suburb of
Myers Park, but two years later they moved back here to this house
complaining that Myers Park was "too far out in the country."
immediately after the Brem house turn right onto Cleveland
5. The first house on your right,1717
Cleveland, is a more modest version of the popular Queen Anne
style, typical of the first phase of building here during the 1890s
and 1900s. Mr. C.M. Scott, owner of the Good Roads Machinery Co.,
had the house constructed in 1900 to 1901.
two blocks, and pull to the curb just in front of the stop sign at
E. Park Ave.
6. The imposing Colonial Revival style house
filling the corner lot in front of you, across Park Ave., is the
largest surviving private residence in the earlier part of
Dilworth. It has been described as "a product of the
turn-of-the-century industrial boom which marked the beginning of
the New South," but which retains "the polite dignity and
generosity of scale expressive of the Old South."
The original owners were John Villalonga and his
wife, Constance. Mr. Villalonga owned a roofing company and a brick
making company. They only stayed for two years, however, and were
succeeded by Robert and Mary Alexander in 1903. Mr. Alexander was
another representative of Charlotte's boom years, being a
successful cotton broker and "one of the best authorities on staple
cotton in the state." He was also a colorful character and
conducted his own revival meetings in a tent on South Blvd. His
message was that material prosperity would only come to those who
followed his lead: "If you prefer to live on bacon and cornbread,
keep living as you are living now. But if you wish to have good fat
beef-steak and biscuits and butter, be sanctified as I am." One
wonders what the mill workers thought of his advice. Probably not
The Villalonga-Alexander house was designed by
Charles Christian Hook,
one of Charlotte's first resident architects. The son of German
immigrants, Hook arrived in Charlotte in 1891 to teach mechanical
drawing at the Charlotte Graded School nearby. By 1892 he was able
to enter private practice, and he executed many of his first
commissions in this growing suburb. He billed himself as a
specialist in the Colonial Revival style, and his success can be
measured by the prestigious projects he designed, including the Old
Post Office building on W. Trade St., the VanLandingham estate on
the Plaza, the Duke mansion on Hermitage, the Belk mansion on
Hawthorne, the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Station on N. Tryon St.,
and the Charlotte City Hall on E. Trade St.
7. To your left, diagonally opposite the
Villalonga-Alexander house, is another gracious Colonial Revival
house. This is believed to be one of Hook's earliest works in
Charlotte; it was built in 1894 for insurance entrepreneur C.
Furber Jones. Jones was at the heart of the booming business world
of Charlotte's New South era. In 1894, he started the Piedmont Fire
Insurance Company. Only 37 years old, Jones died in 1903 from
pneumonia, and Joseph Garibaldi bought the house. A jeweler and
local politician, Mr. Garibaldi worked his way up from the bottom.
In 1896, he was able to open his own jewelry store with his partner
William L. Bruns. He later served on the City Council and as
Commissioner of Health, and eventually in the State
The Colonial Revival style of both the Jones and
Villalonga-Alexander houses represents a movement away from the
fanciful Queen Anne houses of the Victorian period. Symmetry,
harmony, and balance replaced the complex and whimsical mixtures of
the Queen Anne. Both houses display classical features, with Doric
columns, pilasters, and, on the Jones' house, modillians along the
right onto Park Ave.
8. A stunning example of C.C. Hook's rendering of the
Colonial Revival style is the house at 320 Park Ave., which is on
your right just beyond the apartment complex. The wealthy New York
widow Mrs A.R. Gautier had the house built in 1897 and sold it a
year later to Peter Spence Gilchrist, a chemical engineer from
Continue along E. Park Ave. When you arrive at the park, take
the left fork onto Myrtle Ave. and then an almost immediate right
onto Romany Rd. Follow Romany Rd. as it winds along with Latta Park
on your right.
9. Latta Park is the surviving remnant
of the more extensive park which lured weekend crowds in the 1890s
and 1900s. The valley on your right is the site of the lake where
boating was so popular. Although sales were sluggish initially, by
1910 Charlotte's dramatic economic growth had secured an endless
stream of new customers for Latta's real estate. As the population
outgrew the city center, the new streetcar suburbs became the
fashionable place to move to. To long term Charlotteans it must
have seemed as if the whole county was being turned into a
Eager to follow up on the success of his initial
vision, Latta sold his streetcar system to J.B. Duke's Southern
Power Company in 1911 and used the capital to develop his Dilworth
extension on the site of the city's fairground and ballpark. By
this time the orderly grid-iron approach to suburban design had
become outdated, and sweeping drives following the natural contours
were all the rage. Not one to be behind the times, Latta hired the
prestigious Olmsted brothers to plan and landscape his new suburb.
The Olmsted brothers were the son and stepson of pioneer landscape
architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and theirs was the leading
planning firm in the United States. The landscaping of the grounds
of the White House and Duke University were among their major
Since the development of the Dilworth extension
took about 40 years to complete, some of the Olmsteds' plans were
sacrificed, but the commitment to curving tree-lined streets can
still be seen. You will notice a sharp contrast in architecture
between the part of Dilworth that you are now driving through and
its older part of the neighborhood that you just left. When the
Dilworth extension was being developed in the 1920s and 30s,
conservative brick Colonial Revival and English Tudor Revival
styles were sweeping the Charlotte market, and they are well
junction of Romany and Dilworth Road, turn left, and continue along
10. Dilworth Rd. was the centerpiece of
the Olmsteds' plans for the suburb--a grand boulevard, linking
Morehead St. to East Blvd. via two forks: Dilworth Rd. East and
West. (The Olmsteds never envisioned the confusion that this has
created, for they intended each road to have a separate name.)
During the 1920s, the streetcar tracks were extended from South
Blvd. down Morehead St. and along this road. They then looped
around Berkeley, Myrtle, and Mount Vernon, and back onto Dilworth
Rd. for the twelve minute return journey to uptown Charlotte.
11. Businessmen were not the only
residents of Dilworth's streets. The movie star Randolph Scott
lived at 1301 Dilworth Rd.
(on your right just before the church grounds) for a short while in
the 1920s, before departing for the bright lights of Hollywood in
1927. He had spent his boyhood in the 4th Ward of uptown Charlotte.
Scott's talent was recognized by Cecil B. DeMille, and he went on
to make 150 films, mostly Westerns.
Randolph Scott House
12. Covenant Presbyterian Church was
constructed in the 1950s when the Second Presbyterian Church joined
with the Westminster Presbyterian Church and decided to follow
their congregations to the suburbs. The success of the New South
Neighborhoods had by this time drawn people away from the city
center, and the character of uptown Charlotte was changing as
businesses replaced dwellings. The church is on your right.
Covenant Presbyterian Church
Immediately after the church, and before the traffic island,
take a sharp right onto Morehead St.
13. Before you get onto Morehead, notice
the Charlotte Woman's
Club that faces you across the street. Founded as part of a
national movement the club challenged the view that a "woman's
place is in the home." An early president of the club, Mrs. F. C.
Abbott, told her members: "You should...include civic activities
for the sake of [your] children. There are health, laws, school
matters, and social influences which you should investigate and
discuss." The group began with just six members in 1899, but soon
needed more space than private drawing rooms could provide. By the
time that this clubhouse was built in 1924, it boasted 500 members.
Among their many achievements were the organization of the YWCA and
the P.T.A., the introduction of Charlotte's first kindergarten and
public health nurses, the creation of the League of Women Voters
and the Domestic Relations court. The clubhouse was designed by the
redoubtable C.C. Hook.
Charlotte Woman's Club
14. About two blocks beyond the church on
your right, look out for the imposing two-story, frame home on
your right. The first Buick south of the Mason Dixon line was
driven by the man who had this house built in 1917. On his way to
Charlotte from New York, Charles Campbell Coddington stopped at a
drugstore in Greensboro, North Carolina, and remained there for a
year to woo and wed a woman he happened to see there. He and his
new wife, Marjorie, arrived together in 1909, and he made his
reputation as the only Buick dealer in the Carolinas. Eight years
later their dream house was built here on fashionable Morehead St,
following the plan of an old house of Marjorie's ancestors in
Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Marjorie Coddington's tragic death in 1925
must have overshadowed her husband's triumphs of that year; he
completed the Coddington building uptown and bought WBT radio
station. He swapped the house for the Duke mansion in Myers Park in 1926, but
the Duke family never lived here on Morehead St.
C. C. Coddington House
into the left lane in preparation for making a sharp left turn onto
Kings Dr., which is two blocks down at the second traffic signal.
Once on Kings Dr. take the first available right turn onto Baldwin
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.