Ellison-Moore House |
2915 Carmel Rd.
Paula M. Stathakis
The Ellison-Moore House stands near the intersection of Carmel Road and Sharon View Road. The house was built in 1927 by Charlotte businessman Ernest Ellison. Ellison hired architect Martin Boyer to design a house that would show Ellison's success. 1 The French Chateau style house was the centerpiece of the country estate Ellison designed once his image expanded beyond the bounds of Myers Park. 2
Ellison first appears in the 1906 Charlotte City directory, employed as a cashier for the Southern Cotton Oil Company. Within four years he had married Edna Lockwood and had become a cashier for the American Trust Insurance Department. 3 For several years, the Ellisons lived at 209 East Morehead Street, one block west of the John and Idella Mayes House.
By 1915, Ellison was promoted to manager of the American Trust Insurance Department. He was also beginning to venture into business for himself, as he was also the treasurer of the American Agency Company, representing the U. S. Casualty Company. He and Mrs. Ellison had moved to Myers Park, at 4 Hermitage Road. Among, Ellison's wealthy and influential neighbors in Myers Park were: David Clark, owner of a publishing firm that specialized in industrial and textile publications, T. P. Banks, district sales manager for the Continental Gin Company, Ingenuin Heckenbleikner, chemical company magnate, A. C. Thies, brother of Oscar J. Thies and owner of the Auto Tire Shop, and E. C. Marshall, assistant secretary treasurer of the Southern Public Utilities. 4
By 1920, Ellison left American Trust and established himself in the insurance business as the agent for Maryland Casualty Company and the Maryland Assurance Corporation. The twenties were a good tine to go into business. The decade after World War I was generally good for America, although not as uniformly prosperous as some historians claim. During the first half of the decade, unemployment was low, production was high, wages and prices were stable. The poor hardly noticed the post war economic boom. The middle class enjoyed some improvement; they added to their material possessions by buying on credit, and many amateur financiers speculated in real estate and on Wall Street where they could buy stock on margin for as little as twenty per cent down. It was the upper classes who really prospered during the boom years. Those who had money usually ended up making more, and when the economy began to slow down in 1927 and 1928, the smart money knew when to pull its investments out of risky ventures. 5
Ellison's business did well enough to permit him to purchase approximately 121 acres on Carmel Road on which to build a show place appropriate for a man of his success and fortune. Ellison's good business sense sustained him through the stock market crash and the depression decade that followed. In 1930, Ellison still represented, Maryland Casualty Company as well as Pyramid Life Insurance Company. 6 By 1934, he established Ernest Ellison, Inc., the primary component of his business interests. During the 1930s, he also (briefly) owned Keystone Motor Company, a Buick and Pontiac dealership, and Southern Friction Materials Company. 7
The land was purchased by Ellison in two parts, These two parcels themselves, over time were pieced together by various landowners. Because the land that comprises the Ellison estate was put together over the period of several years, the precise history of the land is unclear, but it is possible to make inferences about the use of the land by examining the practices of adjoining landowners.
Until Ellison purchased his land and built his home, the land of his estate was most probably used for farming and logging. 8 W.S. Flenniken and John B. Kerr owned land adjacent to what would later become the Ellison lands. Both Flenniken and Kerr were farmers. Flenniken owned eighty acres, forty of which were tilled in 1880, and with no hired labor in 1879, he produced 250 bushels of corn, eleven bales of cotton, and fifty cords of wood. Kerr owned a much larger farm, 160 acres, of which he tilled only lorry acres. In 1879, Kerr paid 100 black laborers a total of $300.00 to assist in the production of 250 bushels of corn, fifty bushels of oats, fifteen bales of cotton and twenty-five cords of lumber. One deed also mentions a mill pond on Kerr's lands. 9
Ellison died in 1939. His son, Robert E. Ellison took over the family insurance business. Mrs. Ellison sold the property in 1952 to Joseph Erwin Moore and his wife Dorothy. Moore was a graduate of Clemson College, a World War I veteran, and the Chief Executive Officer for American Cynamid Corporation. 10
The current owners of the property, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Moore, are in the process of developing the land. According to Mrs. Moore, roads are being laid in anticipation of future construction.
1 Martin Boyer's drawings for the Ellison House are located in the Special Collections Room at Atkins Library, UNCC.
2 According to a survey made by Mary Beth Gatza, the grounds around the house were professionally landscaped, and incorporated within this plan was an old log house. Apparently, Mrs. Ellison was enchanted with this structure and was responsible for its preservation.
3 There are no death certificates or marriage licenses on file at the Mecklenburg County Court House or the Mecklenburg County Health Department for Ernest or Edna Ellison. American Trust Company, through various mergers is, in its most recent incarnation, Bank of America.
4 Charlotte City Directory, 1920.
5 One of the best treatments of the economic conditions of the 1920s and the subsequent crash may be found in John Kenneth
Galbraith, The Great Crash 1929, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1954.
6 Charlotte City Directory, 1330.
7 Charlotte City Directory 1930, 1934, 1935, 1338.
8 One of the parcels Ellison bought was purchased from the Richland Lumber Company. Deed 591-306, 6-15-25, records the purchase of two tracts in the Sharon Township, one hundred and fourteen acres more or less for $1000.00.
9 The 1880 Agriculture Census Schedules were used because the are the most recent source of information for agriculture productivity in Mecklenburg County that is relevant for these farmers. Although two farmers do not constitute a trend, the agricultural output of Flenniken and Kerr is very likely typical of the kind of farm production of their part of the Sharon Township. It is certainly consistent with the kind of agricultural production common, not only in Mecklenburg County, but in most areas of the Piedmont, during the later half of the nineteenth century.
10 Obituary, Joseph Erwin Moore, Charlotte Observer, March 25, 1987, p. 6A.