Route II: South & East Charlotte
Several miles to the south
of Plaza-Midwood, yet another development plan got underway in
1911. John Springs Myers had already carved off part of his farm to
create the Cherry
neighborhood in 1891. His new dream was to turn the rest of his
large cotton farm into an elegant suburb. He must have spent many
evenings discussing the plan with his family and especially with
his son-in-law, George Stephens. Stephens, who came to Charlotte
after graduating from the University of North Carolina, joined the
insurance firm of Walter Brem (whose house we saw in Dilworth) in
John Springs Myers, owner of the farmland that became Myers
George Stephens, John Myers's son-in-law who hired John Nolen
to design the neighborhood.
A talented businessman,
Stephens was able to take advantage of the excellent opportunities
that turn-of-the-century Charlotte provided, and he quickly became
involved in several schemes. He and Brem joined realtor F.C. Abbott
and textile banker B.D. Heath in developing part of Elizabeth, and in 1901,
Stephens, Abbott, and Word H. Wood set up the Southern States Trust
Company (now NationsBank).
Ten years later, he founded
the Stephens Company with Word Wood and A.J. Draper, and began to
turn his father-in-law's dream into reality. Moved by the same
fashion consciousness as E.D. Latta, the company hired a city
planner to make the plans. They chose John Nolen, whose design for
Independence Park had impressed Stephens a great deal. It was a
good choice, for Nolen later became one of the nation's top
planners with over 400 projects to his name.
Nolen's vision for Myers Park was to use the
natural curves, gentle hills, and creeks to create a secluded glen
cut off from the city. A major boulevard would unite the whole and
provide trolley service to homes scattered along winding side
roads. The results earned Myers Park national acclaim as the
"finest unified subdivision south of Baltimore." To the modern
visitor, the New South Neighborhoods appear to have been
constructed in the midst of a forest, but in fact this was not the
case. It is hard to imagine those first years when it must have
been plain to new residents that they were living on former cotton
fields, and it was only hard work that changed the scenery. In
Myers Park that work began in 1915, when Nolen hired the landscape
architect Earle Sumner Draper to turn the almost treeless farmland
into a suburban park. "Willow, oak, tulip, plane, and elm" were
selected to grace the sidewalks and gardens. Early buyers even had
their lots landscaped free of charge. Not a man to let nature take
its own time, James B. Duke insisted that large trees be planted as
well, and summoned one of his estate gardeners to oversee the
The oldest section of Myers Park is towards the
northern area that you will enter first. For some years the suburb
acted as a separate incorporated town. As houses were erected,
wealthy Charlotteans were lured out of the center city. The first
wave came from among the executives of the eight-year old Southern
Public Utilities Company (now Duke Power), and included its
legendary president, James Buchanan Duke. The next wave of
residents included bank presidents and real estate magnates such as
George Stephens himself. Then came the textile executives such as
the famous Springs family. Civic and commercial leaders also chose
to locate their family houses here, including members of the
families that owned the Belk, Ivey, and Efird department stores,
and "Good Roads" Governor Cameron Morrison.
the junction with 4th St., Hawthorne becomes Queens
35. At this intersection notice the streetcar shelters on both
sides of Queens, facing onto 4th St. When the trolley line was
operating, this was the site of the streetcar gateway that marked
the entrance into our fourth New South suburb, Myers Park.
Continue on Queens across 3rd St. and curve to the left and
then right. At the next streetcar shelter, which is on the left
hand side of the road, turn left onto Hermitage Rd. Shortly ahead,
pause at the entrance to Hermitage Court on your left, which is
flanked with large stone pillars.
36. Hermitage Court was developed by a
subcontractor, Frank Simmons, and he built his own imposing Neoclassical house
here in 1913. This is on your immediate right as you face the
entrance. Notice its grand semicircular portico with two-story
columns. You will notice a contrast between the earlier Colonial
Revival houses of Dilworth, which retained some of their Victorian
features, and their later counterparts here.
The Simmons House
Continue along Hermitage Rd., past Edgehill Park on your right.
Pause in front of the large white house to your
37. Known variously as "Lynnwood," "White Oaks," or just "the
big house," this large Colonial Revival mansion is where James
Buchanan Duke and his family spent several months of each year
between 1919 and his death in 1925. It was one of four family
houses and provided Duke with a place from which to oversee his
thriving utility empire. It also gave his only daughter, Doris, the
opportunity to experience southern life and society. Duke enlarged
an earlier mansion built here in 1915 by one of his executives, Z.
V. Taylor, so that it included 45 rooms and 12 bathrooms. He chose
the architect C.C. Hook to design the additions and Earle Sumner
Draper to landscape the 15-acre garden. Duke had 12 miles of
pipeline laid to the Catawba River to provide a 150-foot fountain
on the grounds--this in itself became known as a local wonder.
"Lynnwood", or "White Oaks"
Duke was already a tobacco magnate when he
acquired the fledgling Catawba Power Company of Fort Mill in 1904.
Building dams to harness the power of the river, his Southern
Utility Company facilitated the expansion of the cotton industry in
early twentieth-century Charlotte.
It was in this house, incidentally, that Duke
set up the endowments which transformed Trinity College into Duke
University and which benefited several other institutions including
Johnson C. Smith University and Davidson College.
Continue on Hermitage Rd. Cross Ardsley
38. After crossing Ardsley Rd, notice the
wooded area to your left. This was the site of J.S. Myers's front
yard which he proudly planted and maintained and which inspired the
name "Myers Park."
next intersection, turn right onto Granville Rd. When Granville
intersects Queens Road, turn right and then take the next right
onto Harvard Place. Pause by 821 Harvard Place, the last house on
the right hand side of the street.
39. George Stephens built this house for himself in 1915. His
father-in-law's 1867 country home used to stand behind, and for a
time it was used as a garage and servant's quarters. The house
Revival and Bungalow influences. Its architect, L.L. Hunter,
came from nearby Huntersville, and designed other buildings in the
area, including the Carnegie Library on the Johnson C. Smith
University campus, which you will visit on Route IV.
The Stephens House
intersection ahead, turn left onto Ardsley. (You can catch another
glimpse of Lynnwood here; it is the house facing you at this
intersection.) Continue down Ardsley and then turn left at the
intersection with Queens Rd.
40. Until 1938, streetcars ran down the median of
the road. The Charlotte Observer tells an amusing story of
schoolboys greasing the tracks where Queens Road dipped into the
valley on this stretch. One Halloween night in the mid-1930s both
tracks were greased and a little gunpowder was included in the
mixture. "As the streetcar struggled vainly to get up the hill in
either direction, anonymous groups lighted the gunpowder-grease
mixture. The way those streaks of fire swooshed down the tracks,
under the car, and up the other hill was something to behold. No
damage, just a real great sight."
in the right lane and when you reach the major intersection of
Queens Rd. and Providence Rd., turn right to remain on Queens
41. Louis Asbury, Sr. designed the Myers
Park Methodist Church that faces you across this intersection of
Queens and Providence roads. Built in 1929, the building closely
imitates Medieval Gothic churches in
its cruciform shape, and by using arched stained-glass windows, and
Myers Park Methodist Church
42. Six houses past the high-rise Carlton
Condominiums, look out for the McManaway House on your right
(1700 Queens Rd.). Like "Victoria" on The Plaza, this 1874 house
was moved from its uptown location to the suburbs in 1916. It is a
rare surviving example of the Victorian Italianate style, with
its bracketed cornice, tall arched windows with decorative crowns,
and a shallow roof. The house has a sad history: the first two
owners died when they were relatively young and at the height of
their careers. The first was an immigrant and merchant, Jacob
Rintels, who was a partner of Samuel Wittkowsky's in a successful
uptown wholesale and retail business. Dr. Charles McManaway had the
house moved from W. Trade St. to this location, but died two years
The McManaway House
to the right when the road divides shortly past the McManaway
house. This is Selwyn Ave. Immediately on your right you will see
the campus of Queens College.
43. Stephens was no doubt copying W.S.
Alexander's enterprising idea (remember Elizabeth College?) when he
decided to attract Presbyterian College for Women from its uptown
location to a 50-acre lot of its choice in Myers Park. He was not,
however, the only suitor that Presbyterian College for Women had.
Three others, including E.D. Latta, made their own offers and
forced Stephens to increase his offer. Eventually he won out, and
the college moved here in 1914. John Nolen laid out the plan
for the college, renamed Queens College, and subsequently used the
same ideas in other campus designs, including the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill. C.C. Hook designed the first
five buildings: Administration, Science and Art, the Conservatory
of Music, and North and South dormitories.
left immediately after the college onto Wellesley and left again
onto Roswell Ave. Notice the first house on the
44. This is a fine example of the Tudor Revival
style, designed by the English born William H. Peeps for Mary
P. Lethco in 1928. The Tudor Revival style was almost as popular as
the Colonial Revival style in Myers Park in the 1920s and 1930s.
Notice the mixture of building materials he used to create a
rambling rustic effect.
next intersection turn left onto Queens Rd., and at the traffic
light bear right. You will now be going back down Queens Rd. where
you were before.
45. Almost opposite the Italianate McManaway house, at 1621
Queens, is Earle Sumner
Draper's own Tudor Revival
residence. From his beginning as on-site supervisor for John
Nolen in 1915, Draper became the leading planner in the
southeastern U.S. In 1933, he left Charlotte to become the chief of
planning for the Tennessee Valley Authority and later acted as a
director of the Federal Housing Administration. Between 1923 and
1933 he lived here with his wife, Norma, and five children. They
enjoyed a typical upper middle class life-style, employing a cook,
a maid, a chauffeur, and a gardener. Look for the family crest on
the chimney face! After they left, local children thought that the
house was haunted. Draper died in 1994 in Florida.
The Earle Sumner Draper House
junction of Queens and Providence Rds. at the next traffic signal,
go straight across. This will put you on Providence
46. After passing the library and
apartment buildings on your left, look for the stone house that's now a branch
office of First Citizens Bank. This was the third house erected in
Myers Park (1912) and was designed for hotel owners John and
Lucille Jamison by Louis Asbury, Sr. It was built using North
Carolina granite laid in a cobweb pattern. Sadly, before it was
completed, Mr. Jamison was killed by a train at Mecklenburg
community of Newell while out on a country drive. Mrs. Jamison,
however, completed the house and the family lived there for 63
47. To your right, look out for the Villa
Square Shopping complex and try to catch a glimpse of the unusual Tuscan
Revival-style villa. (It is possible to park in front of the
house or in the rear for a closer look.) The widowed Mrs. Blanche
Reynolds met her second husband, Mr. Alexis Gourmajenko, a Russian
émigré, during a tour of Europe. They had the house
built in 1926 in a style which must have seemed a little eccentric
for Charlotte at the time. Look for the piazzas to either side of
the house, the square tower, and the low-pitched roof with roof
tiles imported from Cuba. The architect was William L.
right at the traffic light onto Cherokee Rd., and bear to the right
when the road forks shortly thereafter. Pause just past the
intersection with Fenton Pl.