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CENTER CITY: FOURTH WARD
Significant Structures and Sites

NORTH CAROLINA MEDICAL COLLEGE BUILDING, 1907
229 N. Church St.

 

In 1987 Dr. Paul Barringer founded the Davidson School of Medicine at Davidson College, at that time the only medical school for whites in North Carolina. In 1907 the institution moved to Charlotte, with its many hospitals, and was renamed the North Carolina Medical College. When this new building opened, St. Peters Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, the Charlotte Sanitorium and the original facilities of Mercy and Presbyterian hospitals were all located within walking distance downtown. Soon after instruction commenced in the Charlotte facility, however, an evaluation report by the Carnegie Foundation criticized the college for having inadequate facilities. It closed in 1914.

The handsome red brick building, with understated stamped metal trim, was the work of Charlotte architect J.M. McMichael. It was subsequently used as a hotel for many years.

LIDDELL-McNINCH HOUSE, c. 1892
511 N. Church St.

An excellent blend of Shingle Style and Queen Anne influences, this house is among the finest late-nineteenth century residences surviving in Charlotte. It was constructed for Vinton Liddell, an important industrialist whose Liddell Foundry supplied machinery to to developing Piedmont industrial region. In 1907 Liddell sold his residence to Charlotte mayor S.S.McNinch. President William Howard Taft visited the home at McNinch's invitation in 1909.

The dwelling remained in the McNinch family until the 1970s, when current owner Ellen Davis purchased it and began restoration. The house retains its original features to a remarkable degree, from its elaborate wood interior trim to the cast iron fence along the street.

 

FREDERICK APARTMENTS, 1931
515 N. Church St.

 

This apartment block is noteworthy for its elaborate polychrome terra cotta, the most colorful use of the material in the city. It dates from the era when multifamily dwellings began to replace the large detached houses within walking distance of the central business district. Among its residents was W.J. Cash, an editorial writer for the Charlotte News in the 1930s achieved national prominence for his book The Mind of the South, partly written here.

 

BAGLEY-MULLEN HOUSE, 1895
129 N. Poplar St.

 

This residence is the best brick example of the Queen Anne style in Charlotte. Note the cornet tower. It was built speculatively, one of hundreds of Victorian dwellings that lined Charlotte streets from the 1890s until the "urban renewal" era of the 1960s and 1970s. Its first owner-occupant was Mr. A.J. Bagley, a ticket agent for the Southern Railway.

 

SAINT PETERS HOSPITAL, 1878
229 N. Poplar St.

 

Mrs. Jane Wilkes and the congregation of Saint Peters Episcopal Church led the effort to open this institution in the early 1870s, Charlotte's first civilian hospital. The first section of the present building opened in 1878, with additions in 1882, 1898, 1907, 1922, and 1935. The facility was replaced by Memorial Hospital on a spacious suburban site in 1940. The red-brick building with its distinctive stepped gables today houses residential condominiums.

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 1857
200 W. Trade St.

 

First Presbyterian has long been the religious centerpiece of this Presbyterian city. Its spire dominated the skyline through the boom years of the late nineteenth century, and it continues to occupy a full city block in the heart of the central business district. The Gothic Revival complex has been built up in stages over the years as the city and the congregation grew. The church building itself features an 1857 entrance, 1884 spire, and 1895 sancutuary with major additions in 1917, 1951, and 1961.

 

SETTLERS CEMETERY, 1770s
200 W. Fifth St.

 

This was the city's main burial ground into the 1860s. Many notable early leaders were buried here, including first settler Thomas Polk and Revolutionary general George Graham. The plot has always been city property, despite its proximity to First Presbyterian Church, and it has been the target of numerous beautification projects over the years, including one by noted planner John Nolen. About 1850 the city opened larger Elmwood Cemetery at the edge of Fourth Ward, which slowly took the place of this older facility.

CHARLOTTE COTTON MILL COMPLEX, 1880
502 W. Fifth St.

Charlotte's transformation from a small town to today's major city is a result of the development here of textile manufacturing and trade. The Charlotte Cotton Mill complex includes the city's very first successful textile plant, a one-story brick structure facing Fifth Street. Over the years more mill buildings were added to the original structure, and today the complex houses textile machinery distributor the Spiezman Company.

 

ELMWOOD AND PINEWOOD CEMETERIES, 1854
700 W. Fifth St.

This city-owned burial ground with its winding, park-like drives, was evidentally modelled on Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston, the first of the naturalistic city cemeteries. Part of its design is said to be the work of early Charlotte landscape architect Leigh Colyer.

Elmwood is the resting place of most of Charlotte's New South leaders, including Myers and Latta. Exuberant funery architecture ranges from mausoleums with stained glass windows to a granite "log" cabin.

Pinewood Cemetery, at the rear of Elmwood, was for blacks. It was set off by a high fence until the 1960s when the fence was removed at the urging of black politician Frederick Alexander. Pinewood holds the graves of black civic and religious leaders, former slaves, and also a pair of mausoleums notable for their polychrome brickwork and locally-produced cast iron columns.

 

OVERCARSH HOUSE, c. 1880
326 W. Eighth St.

 

The Overcarsh House is one of the handful of good examples of Queen Anne style residential architecture that survive in Charlotte in the 1980s. The house is believed to have attained its present configuration in the 1880s under the ownership of Methodist minister Elias Overcarsh, who seems to have incorporated an earlier structure in his large new residence. The ornate dwelling features a corner turret sheathed in "fishscale" wood shingles, complex roof shapes, an ornate wrap-around porch, and the heavy interior trim characteristic of the last years of the nineteenth century.

BERRYHILL HOUSE, 1884
324 W. Ninth St.

 

The architecture of this corner house shows influence of the Italianate style, particularly in its low-pitched roof, heavy cornice, and elaborate scroll-sawn porch bracketry. The first owner, J.H. Newcomb, ran a wood-planing mill in the city, and the residence may have been designed partly as an advertisement for his services. Newcomb's daughter married storekeeE E.W. Berryhill, who came to live in the house. The Berryhill grocery store was right across the street, illustrating the close relation between home and work in the early days of the city.

 

CROWELL-BERRYHILL STORE, 1897
401 W. Ninth St.

 

For decades this small, frame grocery store was the neighborhood commercial center of Fourth Ward. It was extensively renovated in the early 1980s, and returned to its original exterior appearance. Today it is the last of the nineteenth century neighborhood groceries that once dotted the original four wards.

 

YOUNG-MORRISON HOUSE, 18??
226 W. Tenth St.

 


This dwelling was built as a farmhouse at what was then the edge of the village, but was soon swallowed up in the growing city. The two story frame structure is among the center city's oldest residences. It is preserved in good original condition, including Victorian porch and gable trim.

POPLAR APARTMENTS, 1930
301 W. Tenth St.

The concept of apartment living, with its similarities to the crowded tenements of the poor, was slow to catch on in America's fashionable circles. The elegant Poplar Apartments represented a breakthrough in acceptance of the trend among Charlotte's elite. The project was conceived by a New York City investment group in 1929. They planned a cooperative-style arrangement with ninety-nine year leases, but with the onset of the Depression reverted to normal year-by-year rental. No compromises seem to have been made in architectural quality. Designed by Lockwood-Greene and erected by J.A. Jones, the four story block features a fashionable brick and stone Jacobethan style exterior, a basement parking garage, two elevators, separate stairs for servants and residents, and abundant natural light and ventilation in all units. The Poplar was quite successful in attracting well-to-do residents, and remained a fine property even in the 1960s when much of the rest of Fourth Ward had become transient housing.