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The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places in partnership with the Uptown Shelby Association, Historic Shelby Foundation, North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), proudly invite you to explore Shelby, North Carolina. Located in the southwest corner of the state, 40 miles west of Charlotte and 70 miles east of Asheville, Shelby is best known as the home base of a powerful, political organization, known as the Shelby Dynasty, that controlled North Carolina state government for more than a quarter of the 20th century. Shelby is within the North Carolina Piedmont belt (part of an upland plateau extending from Virginia to Alabama) at the center of Cleveland County. Established as the county seat in 1843, Shelby grew from a charming hamlet, to a thriving town. Today, the city has a population of approximately 20,000 people and covers 14 square miles. This travel itinerary highlights 29 historic places listed in the National Register of Historic Places in Shelby and its surrounding towns that reflect Shelby's history as an agricultural, industrial, cultural and political center.
Shelby derived its name from Colonel Issac Shelby, an American officer in the Revolutionary War, and hero of the famous battle fought at nearby King's Mountain. To the west lies the Blue Ridge; to the north the South Mountains and South Mountain State Park; and to the east the low King's Mountain Range, Kings Mountain and Crowder's Mountain State Parks and Kings Mountain National Military Park (NPS) Shelby's picturesque architecture is representative of many a small town in North Carolina and its streets bear the names of Revolutionary heroes such as Washington, Lafayette, Marion, Warren, DeKalb, Sumter, Morgan and Graham. Many distinguished figures have come from Shelby: Governor O. Max Gardner (1923-1933) who also became Undersecretary of the Treasury and Ambassador to Great Britain; Governor Clyde R. Hoey (1937-1941), also a U.S. Senator; Congressman and Federal Judge E.Y. Webb; 1924 Pulitzer Prize winner Hatcher Hughes; and authors W.J. Cash and Tom Dixon, Jr. Also from Cleveland County were famous boxer, Floyd Patterson; 1970s disco singer, Alicia Bridges; and movie producer, Earl Owensby. In 1970, Shelby was named an "All American City" and in 1980 it was named one of the original five National Main Street communities by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Today Shelby's Uptown boasts wide, tree-lined streets where pedestrians and shoppers can stroll and enjoy the many specialty shops and restaurants.
The Shelby, North Carolina, travel itinerary offers several ways to discover the places that reflect the town's history. Each highlighted site features a brief description of the place's historic significance, color photographs, and public accessibility information. At the bottom of each page the visitor will find a navigation bar containing links to three essays that explain more about the History of Shelby, the Shelby Dynasty and Preservation in Shelby. These essays provide historic background, or "contexts," for the places included in the itinerary. In the Learn More section, the itinerary links to regional and local web sites that provide visitors with further information regarding cultural events, special activities, and lodging and dining possibilities. The itinerary can be viewed online, or printed out if you plan to visit Shelby in person.
Created through a partnership between the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, Uptown Shelby Association, Historic Shelby Foundation, North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office and NCSHPO, Shelby, North Carolina, is the latest example of a new and exciting cooperative project. As part of the Department of the Interior's strategy to promote public awareness of history and encourage tourists to visit historic places throughout the nation, the National Register of Historic Places is cooperating with communities, regions, and Heritage Areas throughout the United States to create online travel itineraries. Using places nominated by State, Federal and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the itineraries help potential visitors plan their next trip by highlighting the amazing diversity of this country's historic places and supplying accessibility information for each featured site. Shelby, North Carolina, is the 31st National Register travel itinerary successfully created through such partnerships. Additional itineraries will debut online in the future. The National Register of Historic Places hopes you enjoy this virtual travel itinerary of Shelby, North Carolina. If you have any comments or questions, please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments or questions" located at the bottom of each page.
Much of the following was taken from the National Register nomination of the Central Shelby Historic District prepared by Genevieve and Timothy Keller
The area Shelby, North Carolina would later occupy was familiar to the Cherokees and other American Indians of the Southern Appalachian region when the first European explorers arrived in western North Carolina. This occurred in May, 1540, when the Spanish expedition of roughly 600 soldiers led by Hernando de Soto (1500-1542) came up from Florida, where they had arrived from Cuba the previous year, and visited the Cherokee town named Xulla in western North Carolina before crossing the mountains into eastern Tennessee. The Spanish did not stay, but the Cherokees, an Iroquoian-speaking people, would later have to deal with the French, British and Americans in closer proximity. The presence of the Cherokee proved troublesome to the newly arrived English colonists, as many Cherokees staged attacks against the English during the French and Indian War, even defeating an invading British Army in 1760 and forcing the surrender of Fort Loudon in eastern Tennessee. The Cherokee presence did not prevent the arrival of European settlers, however.
During the 1750s European settlers first arrived in the region that would later become Shelby, which was then part of Ansonia County, North Carolina's westernmost county. Originally settlers from Pennsylvania, of Scotch-Irish and German origins, settled the region, making their way south through Virginia and North Carolina along the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road. Virginia natives also followed this route, and intermarriage between the Pennsylvania immigrants and migrating Virginians produced nearly half of the influential families of Shelby--the Blantons, Gardners, Webbs, Roysters, Youngs, Hamricks, Wrays, Suttles, and McBrayers.
The town of Shelby, named for Isaac Shelby, the Revolutionary War hero of the battle of nearby Kings Mountain, was officially incorporated by an Act of the Legislature in 1843 as a circular town extending one-quarter mile in each direction from the public square. Although Shelby's early growth and development can be attributed solely to its designation as county seat, the town grew little during ante-bellum years. Poor roads, a lack of bridges over major creeks and rivers, and the absence of rail connections hindered the development of trade and industry in Shelby before the Civil War. Contemporary accounts described Shelby at the time of the Civil War as "just a wide place in the road, mostly woods and all frame buildings," with the exception of the brick courthouse. The religious denominations of ante-bellum Shelby paralleled the predominate religions in the rest of the State. The fact that James Love, an influential landowner who offered 147 acres of land for the county seat, designated lots for the use of the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal congregations indicates that there were members of all four denominations in Cleveland County at its formation in 1841. Only the Methodist congregation built its church opposite the public square as Love had intended. The Baptists, who declined an offer of land from the county and, instead, purchased a lot on North Lafayette Street, became the largest and most influential denomination as the nineteenth century progressed.
The Civil War interrupted the life of Shelby and Cleveland County with many of the local men serving in the Confederate forces. Union General George Stoneman's army from Tennessee, a force of 6,000, entered western North Carolina in the spring of 1865, ravaging property, food and supplies in the Shelby vicinity. Cleveland County resident James Carson Elliott in the Southern Soldier Boy: A Thousand Shots for the Confederacy, wrote of Stoneman's men "marauding the country in quest of horses and provisions." There was little physical damage, however, to individual residences or town property and the intact town of Shelby escaped the task of physically rebuilding. Shortly after Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, in 1865, Federal troops moved into Shelby and occupied the Courthouse Square, the very visible and central location that had always been at the heart of the town. The Reconstruction period following the war brought tremendous social and political changes in the Shelby community.
Branson's North Carolina Business Directory for 1869 shows that Shelby, in the years immediately following the Civil War, had changed little from the rural county seat economy that it had been throughout the ante-bellum period. Its major businesses were the types that supported the community's day-to-day life--carpenters, wheelwrights, silversmiths, gunsmiths, blacksmiths, grocers, druggists, butchers, and tailors all operated businesses in Shelby in 1869. Manufacturers were also locally oriented: flour mills were plentiful and other essential trades for the town included builder Mike Rudisuill's planing mill, a boot and shoemaker, two cabinet makers, a saddler, and a harness maker. Four attorneys practiced law in the courthouse town; at least six physicians practiced medicine; and one man operated a male academy. Toward the end of Reconstruction, Shelby began to make industrial progress with the assistance of Northern investors and industrialists. In 1872, J.J. Babington of Pittsburg and Massachusetts inventor M.S. Wothington formed the Carolina Sewing Machine Company at the old Shelby Foundry on North Lafayette Street. Most sources agree that the Democratic victory of Zebulon Baird Vance in the Vance-Settle campaign for governor and the recall of Federal troops in 1877, marked the end of political and military Reconstruction in North Carolina (Vance had served previously as governor during the Civil War). In Shelby, these events were preceded by the introduction of rail service by the Carolina Central Railroad in 1874. In the same year, Shelby's first banking institution, the Cleveland Savings Bank was organized. During the 1880s, Shelby's economy was based on the agricultural production of Cleveland County's farmers whose principal crops were corn, wheat, oats, cotton, potatoes, rye, sorghum cane, tobacco, and vegetables.
Civic pride grew in Shelby, and by 1897 the Masonic lodge, the YMCA, the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen of the World, and the United Camp of Confederate Veterans were flourishing organizations within Shelby. In 1894, the women of South Washington Street organized a literary club, which held its organizational meeting at the Ryburn residence. This club is believed to be the state's first literary society for women. T.S. Gold's 1905 Glimpses of Shelby provides an enlightening view of the town after 1900 as a community "blessed with conservative but thrifty people, happy homes and firesides, and good schools, and churches."
Beginning in the 1880s, Shelby saw the rise of the political movement known as the "Shelby Dynasty" which influenced not only Shelby, but the State of North Carolina and the Nation for more than half a century. Within Shelby, the dramatic population increase between 1920 and 1930 caused an unprecedented building boom. Clyde Hoey's Methodist Church built a new church opposite the Courthouse Square. In 1924 the Masons moved to the impressive and imposing Egyptian Revival lodge building they constructed on South Washington Street. Marion Street expanded west and large lots were divided to accommodate newer homes. Some of the old houses--simple frame structures such as the McFee house where author Thomas Dixon was born-were moved to the rear of their lots and more modern houses built to the front. This practice was especially prevalent on Washington and Marion streets.
Cleveland County became an important cotton producer relatively late, and during the 1920s production of cotton in Cleveland County rose from 8,000 to 80,000 bales a year. Cotton production peaked in 1948 with Cleveland County producing 83,549 bales, making it North Carolina's premier cotton county. By 1947, Shelby had fulfilled the promise of its nineteenth-century label of a thriving town. With the mills paying among the highest wages in the South, Shelby remained a comfortable town with successful shops on its Courthouse Square and well-maintained homes throughout the town. In the 1950s, droughts, insect infestations, and government acreage controls resulted in the decline of cotton as Cleveland County's primary crop.
By 1975, Cleveland County was producing only 1,934 bales of cotton as compared to the more than 83,000 bales of its peak year of 1948. The decline in cotton was accompanied by a shift away from textile manufacturing in the city as competition from foreign exporters combined with Shelby's inability to compete with larger, more modern mills. Shelby, today, is still a courthouse town; its economy is based on diversified industry and cash grain farming as well as on general merchandising. The Courthouse Square is still tree-lined and continues to dominate the downtown that has been named a "Main Street" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Shelby stands as a remarkable town for the contributions it made to the literary, industrial and political life of North Carolina and the United States.
Shelby was home to several political leaders in the first half of the 20th century--a group of powerful men that became known as the "Shelby Dynasty." These men wielded power through the local, State and Federal governments. The most notable men of Shelby's political leadership were brothers James and Edwin Yates Webb, O. Max Gardner and Clyde R. Hoey. James L. Webb began his career in government as a state Senator. Starting in 1882, Webb served as District Solicitor, and then in 1894 was appointed as a Superior Court Judge. E.Y. Webb, James's younger brother, served in the State General Assembly and then moved to Washington, D.C. were he served as Congressman for North Carolina's Ninth District for 26 years. He rose to Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and his legislative efforts included helping draft the constitutional amendment for prohibition, introducing the bill to charter the Boy Scouts of America, promoting regulations for food and drugs and co-authoring an antitrust bill. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson appointed E.Y. Webb as a Federal Judge. He served in that capacity for 28 years.
O. Max Gardner served as lieutenant governor for a term in the 1910s and then ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1920. Gardner was not swayed and was elected governor of North Carolina in 1928. After serving one term, Gardner turned to practicing law, including corporate law in New York and Washington, D.C. Gardner then went on to serve as U.S. Senator, Under Secretary of the Treasury and Ambassador to England. Unfortunately, Ambassador Gardner passed away before he left for England to assume that post.
Clyde Hoey began his political career as a representative for the North Carolina General Assembly. He than worked as Assistant District Attorney for the Federal Court. Hoey followed E.Y. Webb as Congressmen for the Ninth District. After serving in Congress, Hoey was elected governor. During his term as governor, starting in 1936, Hoey reduced state debt by $26 million, put $4 million toward school textbooks, funded a secondary road system and promoted industrial expansion. Following the footsteps of Governor Gardner before him, Hoey served as U.S. Senator after finishing his work in the governor's office.
While Odus M. Mull did not hold the major public offices that others did, he was an influential figure in state politics, and considered a member of the Shelby Dynasty. He served six terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives--one as speaker of the North Carolina House--and he was Chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee for six years.The Shelby Dynasty wielded power on every level, from local to national politics, and the legacy of these leaders still thrives today. The former homes and office buildings of the Dynasty members still define the built environment of Uptown Shelby. In nearby Boiling Springs, Gardner-Webb University bears the names of Dynasty members. Furthermore, legislation and rulings by members of the Shelby Dynasty helped mold the state and national policies that have shaped life in Shelby today.
For more than 20 years, the work of the Uptown Shelby Association and the Historic Shelby Foundation have enhanced the quality of life in Shelby. The Historic Shelby Foundation (HSF) was established in 1982 to protect and preserve the architectural and historical integrity that best defines Shelby and Cleveland County. HSF is a non-profit organization that promotes historic preservation as an investment in Shelby and North Carolina. Since 1982, HSF has been highly involved with many preservation projects: nomination of properties to the National Register of Historic Places including the Central Shelby Historic District and East Marion/Belvedere Park Historic District, holding an Annual Christmas Soiree--highlighting significant preservation persons and projects, and working with Preservation North Carolina to preserve two of the State's most notable architectural masterpieces--the Spanish Revival style El Nido and the Second Empire Banker's House. In addition the HSF helps advertise Shelby's historic properties that are for sale. In the spring of 2003, HSF began a revolving fund with the intent of purchasing threatened historic properties, stabilizing the buildings, establishing protective covenants and then reselling the property. The first property purchased through the revolving fund was the former Catholic Rectory on Graham Street.
Along with the Historic Shelby Foundation, the city of Shelby benefits from the work of the Uptown Shelby Association (USA), a National Main Street Program. USA was established in 1980 as one of the first Main Street programs in North Carolina and the country. Since then, USA has coordinated efforts for downtown revitalization in Shelby. Uptown Shelby promotes and enhances the quality of life and commerce in the Uptown Shelby Business District through a variety of activities, including business recruitment and retention, promotion, organization, design oversight and events coordination including an award wining "Alive After 5" concert series during the spring and summer. As part of its efforts, the USA encourages and assists with historic preservation in order to retain the classic, small-town feel of Uptown Shelby.
The Central Shelby Historic District encompasses the historic civic, commercial and residential core of Shelby. The architectural centerpiece of the district is the Cleveland County Courthouse, and the public square surrounding it. Shelby's initial town limits included all land within a quarter mile from the center of the courthouse, the first of which was built in 1845. At that time, Shelby was a tiny hamlet clustered around the square. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Shelby's central business district developed around this square and residential neighborhoods for Shelby's leading industrialists, merchants and professionals developed to the south and west. Influential North Carolina Democratic politicians, known as the "Shelby Dynasty," lived and worked in this historic section of Shelby, including Governor O. Max Gardner, Governor Clyde R. Hoey, James L. Webb, E.Y. Webb and others who held State and local offices. The Blankton-Eskridge House is typical of those found in the Central Shelby Historic District Photo courtesy of Uptown Shelby Association
As the county seat of a major cotton producing county, Shelby experienced commercial and industrial growth stimulated by the county's agricultural production and prosperity, with the greatest amount of growth occurring after 1900. This growth over time is reflected in the range of architectural styles found in the historic district. The central business district includes many turn-of-the-century brick commercial buildings, with traces of their original detailing, as well as many notable edifices such as the Masonic Temple and the Rogers' Theater Block dating from the 1920s and 1930s when Shelby saw its greatest commercial growth. The wide tree-lined streets of the residential neighborhoods include fine examples of the Greek Revival, Second Empire, Gothic, Colonial Revival and Bungalow architecture. Most of the commercial and institutional buildings in the district constructed after the 1930s were designed by local architect V.W. Breeze, who worked primarily in the Georgian Revival and Moderne styles, such as his designs for Shelby City Hall and the former Shelby High School. Few buildings in the district were completed after World War II. Today, the well-preserved buildings of the Central Shelby Historic District reflect the popular architectural tastes and pragmatic economics of four generations of Shelby's leading families.
The Central Shelby Historic District extends west and south from Courthouse Square along W. Marion and S. Washington sts., roughly bounded at the north by Marietta, at the south by E. Elm St., and on the west by N. Thompson St.; the district also includes several blocks along W. Warren St. southwest of the courthouse. Refer to the Central Shelby Historic District Map for the exact boundaries of the district. The focal point of the district, the Cleveland County Courthouse, now the Cleveland County Historical Museum, is open to the public as are many of the commercial buildings during normal business hours.
Governor Clyde R. Hoey and his wife built this Colonial Revival stuccoed prefabricated house in 1920. Lumber and skilled labor were in short supply in the years following World War I. Answering the demand for housing at this time, prefabricated houses ordered from catalogs such as Sears, Roebuck and Company became very popular. Pre-cut lumber in the house kits made skilled carpentry unnecessary and solved the problem of lumber shortages. Distinctive features of the house include its hipped roof, projecting end bays and the entry with a balcony portico, side lights and semicircular fanlight above the door. The grounds of the house include a pergola, fountain and fish pool.
Clyde R. Hoey, born in 1877, had a gift for public speaking and was described as a dignified prosecutor who wore a swallowtail coat. Although he was a political ally of his brother-in-law O. Max Gardner, Hoey and Gardner were often rivals in Judge James L. Webb's courtroom early in their careers. Hoey entered politics as a young man and became a key member of the Shelby Dynasty. He was just 21 years old when he was first elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives. Hoey was reelected two years later in 1900 and was elevated to the State senate in 1902. He was appointed in 1919 to fill E.Y. Webb's unexpired Congressional term when Webb was named a Federal Judge. Hoey's term as Congressman from 1919 to 1921 coincided with Gardner's term as North Carolina's lieutenant governor from 1917 to 1921. Hoey was elected as governor of North Carolina in 1937, for which he served one term, and then served as a U.S. Senator from 1944 to 1954. Hoey spent many of his last years in Washington, but returned to his Marion Street residence frequently and lived here until his death in 1954.
Governor Clyde R. Hoey House is located at 602 W. Marion St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. It is a private residence, not open to the public.
The Gibbs House, also known as El Nido (Spanish for "the Nest") is an extremely rare example of a Spanish Mission/California style bungalow in North Carolina. The house was designed by California architect Aurelia Swanson in 1921 for physician Emmett Wyattman Gibbs (1873-1952), his wife Maude Sams Gibbs (1888-1969) and their daughter Evelyn Ray Gibbs (1914-). Both Emmett and Maude came from small mountain towns in western North Carolina, but met in Raleigh where both attended college. Emmett graduated from the University of North Carolina Medical Department in 1907 and Maude graduated from the Baptist University for Women in 1906 where she studied Phonograph and Typewriting in the School of Business. The couple lived in Asheville and Mooresboro before moving to Shelby around 1918 with their young daughter. Dr. Gibbs had an office for his medical practice in downtown Shelby and worked up to his dying day. Their daughter Evelyn attended Shelby High School and then Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina, where she majored in English. Miss Gibbs sang as a young woman, but after an allergy adversely effected her voice, she turned to painting lessons. Miss Gibbs never married and has always called El Nido her home.
Maude had always wished to go to California. Not able to do so, she instead requested that her home in Shelby be designed in the architectural styles then popular in California. Maude was inspired by some California-based magazines she subscribed to. The resulting home and its southwestern influenced landscape complete with cactus and other exotic plantings turned El Nido into a local curiosity. The low, one-story house has a varied projecting roofline, with a two-story tower and wide porches. The home is composed of two parts--the main house and the attached garage with the guestroom above. The walls are hollow tile, covered on the exterior with stucco embedded with crushed pink granite and other minerals. El Nido retains many of its original sculptured gutters and roof tiles, the latter of which resemble ceramic but are made of pressed tin. The living and dining rooms feature floors of handmade tiles imported from Mexico.
Very few changes have occurred to the original house, and it still retains all the original hardware, windows, doors and furniture. After World War II the house underwent alterations when Dr. Gibbs health required the remodeling of the kitchen into a first-floor office for him, and the addition of a new kitchen to the rear of the house. Some roof work has been undertaken and with this came some gutter replacements. In 1997 a group of volunteer restoration architects met at El Nido to give guidance about the property and its needs. A grant from the Dover Foundation was used to make substantial repairs to the main roof. Preservation North Carolina, a nonprofit organization, will receive the property and other assets of El Nido by bequest upon the death of Evelyn Ray Gibbs, at which time it is hoped the house will become a museum.
El Nido is located at 520 West Warren St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. It is a private residence and not open to the public.
The Junius T. Gardner House is an example of the traditional 19th-century house built in the towns and farms of the North Carolina Piedmont. The house was built sometime in the early 1880s, and appears on a map of Shelby from 1886. The Gardner House is one of the three oldest homes on West Marion Street, along with the houses at 409 and 514 West Marion Street. Although some Shelby residents constructed fashionable, high-style residences during the 19th century, houses like the Gardner House were far more prevalent. The Gardner House is a one-and-a-half-story frame cottage, with an asymmetrical L-shaped form. This type of house appeared in the North Carolina Piedmont in the 1880s, replacing an earlier vernacular form that was a full two stories high and symmetrical. The Gardner House, with its irregular massing, also exhibits the eclecticism of ornamental details applied to these vernacular houses--borrowing elements from the Italianate, Gothic Revival and Queen Anne styles.
Junius T. Gardner was a long-time Mayor of Shelby and the older brother of O. Max Gardner. An 1897 special edition of the Cleveland Star described Gardner, then in his sixth term as mayor, as one of the most popular citizens of Shelby and one of the finest political managers in the State. He was a respected merchant and commander of the Cleveland Guards. Like many other middle-class merchants, Gardner lived near uptown Shelby in a modest but ornamented cottage. The house was originally built on a large lot and was the focus of several dependencies--kitchen, storage sheds, servants' quarters, stables, carriage houses, barns and outhouses, none of which remain today. The turn of the 20th century marked the end of the predominance of these vernacular frame dwellings, which were replaced with new houses based on the Colonial Revival or Bungalow styles.
The Junius T. Gardner House is located at 513 W. Marion St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. It is a private residence, not open to the public.
Shelby High School was built in 1937 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration, a Depression-era Federal relief program. Designed by the local firm of V.W. Breeze, the building served as the Shelby High School for almost 25 years. Breeze studied engineering at North Carolina State University and practiced architecture in Asheville before coming to Shelby. He worked primarily in the Georgian Revival and Moderne styles and designed most of the significant commercial and institutional buildings in Shelby from the 1930s through World War II.
Breeze's design for Shelby High School blended classical and modern elements. The horizontal two-story school with concrete basement contains large classrooms on all three levels demarcated on the exterior by banks of large windows. Like many schools designed during this period, the building is symmetrically composed with a principal central projecting block with recessed entry flanked by fluted pilasters. A concrete panel above the entrance is inscribed with the initials SHS. The location of the school on West Marion Street was desirable to families and stimulated a building boom on this street.
The former Shelby High School is located at 400 W. Marion St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. Now the Shelby Middle School, visitors must check in with the school office. Call 704-482-6331 for further information.
The Kouris Warehouse was built in the early 1930s as a wholesale fruit and vegetable market with a refrigerated basement. It reflects a time when Shelby's economy was based on the agricultural production of Cleveland County's farmers. The two-story brick warehouse with Colonial Revival details may have been designed by the local architectural firm of V.W. Breeze, who designed many commercial and institutional buildings in Shelby during this period including Shelby City Hall and Shelby High School. The essentially utilitarian design of the Kouris Warehouse is broken up by large 12 over 12 sash windows with 6 light transoms. Accent blocks are used to define the corners of the windows and the decorative soldier-course lintels above the windows. A plate glass window with a transom demarcates an office at the southeast corner of the building. Produce and other goods were brought into the building through the freight doors on the east side of the building that face the railroad tracks.
By the 1950s, the warehouse was being used by Morgan & Company, a wholesaler and retailer of feed, seed, insecticides and fertilizer. In1980, the building was opened as a Farmers Market owned and managed by the City of Shelby.The Farmers Market has since moved to 111 South Washington Street. In 2011 the warehouse was purchased for development into luxury apartments.
The Kouris Warehouse is located at 200 W. Warren St. in the Central Shelby Historic District.
During the second decade of the 20th century, Shelbians constructed or remodeled several notable commercial and institutional buildings, including the First Baptist Church. Shelby's Baptists first organized a church with 25 members on June 19, 1847. The church declined an offer of land from the county and instead paid $300 for the 130 foot square plot of land on North Lafayette Street on which the present sanctuary stands today. A white frame church was constructed shortly thereafter, the first at this site. The Baptists became the largest and most influential denomination in Shelby as the 19th century progressed. Reverend James Webb, of Shelby's influential Webb family, was a leading Baptist minister of the time and became the first pastor. Shelby's early families--the Loves, Blantons, Webbs and Garders--were all members of the congregation. In 1889, a brick church replaced the originial building. However, the congregation quickly became dissatisfied with its poor construction. In April 1904, an additional lot was purchased and the first of several additions were added.
The 1911 Gothic Revival church, with several later Art Deco additions, is the third Baptist church at this site, and was designed by the Charlotte, North Carolina, architectural firm of Wheeler and Stern. It is considered the most elaborate church in Shelby. The use of yellow brick for the church was a major departure from the red brick prevalent since the 1880s for most of Shelby's commercial and industrial buildings. Its Tiffany stained glass windows were bought for $1,300 from George Hardy Payned of Petterson, New Jersey. The church's three steeples rising from finial-topped towers are prominent architectural features of the building. A parsonage was constructed at 405 West Marion Street in 1924 and sold in 1968. On Easter Sunday, March 31, 1929, the educational building on Lafayette Street was dedicated. The Webb Chapel and adjoining educational buildings were dedicated on October 25, 1953.
The First Baptist Church is located at 120 N. Lafayette St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. Church services are held Sundays at 11:00am and 6:00pm, and Sunday school begins at 9:45am. Call 704-482-3467 for further information.
This three-story building, first built in the 1890s, has long served as a hotel and the home of the First National Bank, the oldest financial institution in Cleveland County. H. Dekalb Lee was one of several initial directors of the Cleveland Savings Bank, incorporated by the General Assembly and established in Shelby in 1875. Lee, together with two of the other original directors of Cleveland Savings Bank, Burwell Blanton and S.J. Green, bought out the other directors' holdings and established a new banking partnership--H.D. Lee and Company--in the late 1870s. In 1895, Blanton and his sons Charles and George, purchased H.D. Lee and Company and changed the firm's name to B. Blanton & Company, until they obtained a federal charter and changed the name again to First National Bank in June of 1903.
The bank offices were located in the Warren Street corner of the building, then called the Blanton Building. The building also contained the finest of Shelby's four hotels--the Central Hotel--the lobby of which opened on the north end of the building, and the upper floors contain the hotel rooms. On August 28, 1928, the eve of the Depression, the hotel caught fire, killing three people and causing substantial damage. The bank temporarily relocated to a building on West Warren Street where a cave-in caused by the excavation of an adjacent building tragically killed six more people. By 1929, the Blanton Building was repaired and remodeled with a simple corbeled cornice and stuccoed, and the hotel reopened as the Hotel Charles. First National Bank returned to the building, where it is still located today. The Blanton family has had a long relationship with First National Bank. Burwell Blanton's son, Charles C. Blanton, became president of the bank in the 1930s. When Charles was elected Chairman of the Board in 1947, his nephew, George H. Blanton Jr. became president at age 32 and later Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1979. He was succeeded as president by Edgar Blanton Hamilton, the fourth generation to hold that position. Adelade Craver is the current Chief Executive Officer. First National Bank was the winner of Preservation North Carolina's J. Stanley Lowe Business Award in 2000--the highest statewide preservation award for businesses.
The First National Bank is located a 106 S. Lafayette St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. It is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday-Thursday and 9:00am to 6:00pm Fridays.
The centerpiece of Shelby is the Cleveland County Courthouse, with its imposing character and park-like setting. This Neo-Classical Revival courthouse was designed by H.L. Lewman and built by Fall City Construction Company in 1907 at the cost of $75,000. It is rectangular in plan with boldly projecting end bays topped by ribbed domes and a dramatic three-stage cupola. Tetrastyle Corinthian porticoes front the center recesses, sheltering the four main entrances to the building. The building's imposing scale, ornamentation, advancing and receding planes, domes and cupola are characteristic of the Beaux-Arts period of the Neo-Classical movement.
The North Carolina General Assembly created Cleveland County from parts of Rutherford and Lincoln counties in 1841. Before the first courthouse was built, court was held on the second floor of Williams Weather's home southwest of Shelby. Courthouse Square became the site of the county government once the first courthouse, a log building, was erected here in 1842. Shortly thereafter, in 1844, a committee was appointed to draft plans for a formal courthouse. This committee's plans were rejected and a new committee was formed. Finally, a contract of $6,409 was awarded to George Smith, who posted a bond of $12,938 for the "faithful performance" of constructing a red brick courthouse, completed in 1874. This courthouse was then replaced by the dramatic limestone building standing on Courthouse Square today. In front of the courthouse, facing Lafayette Street, is the Statue for the Confederate Heroes of Cleveland County dedicated on November 21, 1906. In 1974, the county court moved to the law enforcement center and in 1976 this building became home to the Cleveland County Historical Museum.
The Cleveland County Courthouse is located on the square in Uptown Shelby, bounded by Lafayette, Main , Washington and Warren sts. in the Central Shelby Historic District. The courthouse is now the home of the Cleveland County Historical Museum, open from 10:00am to 4:00pm Tuesday-Friday, closed during lunch. Call 704-482-8186 for further information.
The Rogers Theatre Block has been a center of cultural, social and political activity for Shelby and Cleveland County since its construction in the late 1930s. Named for its original owner, Robert Hamer Rogers, the theater first opened in 1936 showing Love on the Run starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. Built in sections through the early 1940s, the theater's grey limestone façade exhibits Art Deco details and is the only example of this popular 20th-century architectural style in Shelby. The Rogers Theatre was designed by noted architect Charles C. Benson of Wilson, North Carolina. Considered one of North Carolina's finest historic theaters, the Rogers is owned by its founder's son and anchors one end of Shelby's main street.
The theater has been little altered, still retaining its original marquee and a signage mast above which reads "theatre" that was an early addition to the theater. The 1,000-seat theater was constructed with a working vaudeville stage, as this type of traveling entertainment was still very popular in the western part of North Carolina at the time of its construction. Between movies, live acts took the stage. The Rogers Theatre held live performances and showed films well into the 1980s. In the mid-1980s famous North Carolina movie producer Early Owensby used the building to showcase many of his productions. In 1999 the Rogers Theatre Consortium formed to lead the effort to restore the building and to bring back an important film and performing arts center. The National Trust for Historic Preservation singled out the Rogers Theatre in 2001 when it was included on its "11 Most Endangered Properties" list, as one of the country's threatened independent movie theaters, and designated the theater as an official project of the "Save America's Treasures" program.
The Rogers Theatre Block is located at 213-221 E. Marion St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. The theater is currently undergoing a restoration and is only open for special events.
Central United Methodist Church was built in 1924, as the third church of this congregation. The congregation is one of Shelby's oldest, it began meeting in 1845 in a one-room wooden building on the corner of East Warren and South Dekalb streets. The congregation moved to a second site on the corner of Washington and Marion streets in 1874. In 1923 the congregation voted to build a new and larger church. The brick Gothic Revival Church church was designed by Charlotte architect J.M. McMichael, and built by John P. Little & Son.
The building materials of the church are striking--red, olive and grey brick accented with stone banding and trim. Other distinguishing features of the church include its buttressed and crenelated towers, rounded arched window, stained glass windows, and inset crosses. The first sermon was delivered in the new church on January 11, 1925. Clyde R. Hoey taught Sunday School here in the 1930s to a class of 300 men, before he became governor of North Carolina. By 1967 the congregation felt the need to build a new education building, for which construction began in 1970. In the late 1980s a $1.5 million renovation project for the church was undertaken.
Central United Methodist Church is located at 200 E. Marion Street in the Central Shelby Historic District. The church welcomes visitors to its service at 11:00am on Sundays. For further information, contact the church at 704-487-6336 or its website at http://www.cumcshelby.com/
The Cleveland County Arts Center was the original Shelby Post Office, built from 1916 to 1917. This two-story brick Classical Revival building has a symmetrical seven bay façade. It was designed by architect James A. Whetmore and cost $65,000 to build. The post office opened for business on December 11, 1917. Just a few years later, more space was needed and an annex was built in the 1920s. The post office annex was also the office of Judge Webb, a member of the "Shelby Dynasty."
The post office closed in 1967 after which the building became the home of the Cleveland County Arts Council. The Arts Council creates opportunities for community members to participate in and enjoy art, offers a grant program to help fund arts organizations, runs an arts in education program reaching more than 5,000 students with in-school performances alone and holds art exhibitions showcasing talented artists in the county and region.
The Shelby Post Office is located at 115. S. Washington St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. Now the Cleveland County Arts Council, it is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday-Friday. The building can be used by arts groups and artists or rented for public and private events. Call 704-484-2787 or visit the Council's website at http://www.ccartscouncil.org for further information.
Situated across from the Courthouse Square, the Royster Building is one of the finest and best- preserved early 20th-century buildings in Shelby's central business district. The two-story yellow brick, Colonial Revival commercial building was designed for Dr. Stephen S. Royster in 1910 by noted architect J.M. McMichael. A native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, McMichael had moved to Charlotte sometime after 1900 and began practicing throughout North Carolina. The symmetrical eight-bay façade with a pedimented central block is the only major existing example of a Colonial Revival style commercial building in Shelby.
The 1940s remodeling of Loy's Men Shop in the eastern portion of the building is the best example of a Moderne storefront with carrera glass and period commercial signage.
The Royster Building is located at 10-16 E. Warren St. in the Central Shelby Historic District and today houses several fine retail shops, including Emily's on the Square, open 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday-Thursday, 9:00am to 6:00pm Fridays.
The Masonic Temple Building in Shelby was built by the Cleveland Lodge of the Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons of North Carolina in 1925. Like many fraternal orders, the Cleveland Lodge drew much of its membership from the community's business, political and social elite, and several prominent North Carolinians were members, including Governors O. Max Gardner (1929-1933) and Clyde R. Hoey (1937-1941). The four-story buff colored brick building is also significant as North Carolina's most sophisticated version of Egyptian Revival architecture. Massive concrete lintels at first-story height, robust pillars with lotus motif capitals at the building's principal entrance and a richly ornamented cornice frieze are all characteristic of this style's exotic ornament.
On September 16, 1858, Augustus W. Burton, M.S. Hopson, Ancil I. Hardin, Thomas Williams, M.C. Roberts, John F. Aydlette and E. Jennings petitioned the Grand Lodge in Raleigh for permission to organize a Masonic lodge in Shelby. Permission was granted and the lodge was chartered on December 7, 1858. A 1904 fire destroyed most of the early records of the lodge, but the charter survived. The lodge met in a variety of places prior to the 1920s, when a movement arose to build a permanent meeting facility. In December 1922, a search committee was appointed to locate a suitable site. The contract was given to the Charlotte, North Carolina, firm of J.P. Little and Son. The cornerstone of the building was laid in September 1924 and the building was completed by the following spring at a cost of around $100,000. The first meeting was held in the new Masonic Temple May 29, 1925. At the time of its construction, the four-story temple was the tallest building in Shelby and contained the town's first electric passenger elevator. The fourth floor served as the lodge headquarters while the other floors housed a number of tenants over the years, including the J.C. Penney Company, Piggly-Wiggly Grocery and the Cleveland County Health Department. The Cleveland Lodge suffered during the economic difficulties of the 1930s. Membership dropped and the lodge became delinquent in its payments on the Temple. A major fund raising effort in 1938 succeeded in raising the necessary money and the loan was refinanced and paid off in 1955. Although membership increased, the Temple was sold in the 1980s to the Historic Preservation Fund of North Carolina, Inc., which in turn sold it to a private group of developers who renovated the building into mixed-use offices and residential apartments.
The Masonic Building is located at 203 S. Washington St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. Today it is a mixed-use development. The first and second floors are open during regular business hours. Occasional tours of the upstairs can be arranged through the Uptown Shelby Association at 704-484-3100.
Shelby City Hall was constructed in 1939 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration, a Depression-era Federal relief program. Local architects, Fred Van Wageningen and L. Pegram Holland, of the firm of V.W. Breeze, designed this Georgian Revival 15,700-square-foot building. Breeze studied engineering at North Carolina State University and practiced architecture in Asheville before coming to Shelby. He worked primarily in the Georgian Revival and Moderne styles and his firm designed most of the significant commercial and institutional buildings in Shelby from the 1930s through World War II.
Built in three sections, the two-story center section set at an angle to the corner of East Graham and South Washington streets housed the city offices. Hyphens connected the central section to two one-story wings. The public library was originally located in the wing to the south, while the police and fire departments were housed in the west wing. Distinguishing features of the building include the octagonal cupola with arched openings and dome, and the scrolled pediment with central urn above the main entrance. Interior elements including marble floors, brass handrail, intricate wooden detail ceiling moldings and trim all reflect the status Shelby enjoyed in this period. In the late 1990s, City Hall underwent a major rehabilitation, using energy efficient expertise of the Rebuild America program.
City Hall is located at 300 S. Washington St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. Still functioning as City Hall, the building is open Monday-Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm. Call 704-484-6801.
The Fanning-Washburn House is a restrained example of the Colonial Revival residences popular in Shelby and throughout the county in the early 20th century. The main block of the house is symmetrical with a side porch located on the north side. Both the front and side porches feature a trio of fluted Doric columns at each corner, while pairs of identical columns flank the entry to the front porch. Balustrades along the porch roofs create a feeling of verticality. The symmetry of the house is reinforced by the paired windows of the central dormer rising above the central bay of the South Washington Street façade. Although predominately Colonial Revival, the house reflects the early influence in Shelby of the popular Bungalow style, with its four-over-one windows, overhanging tile roof and its low, wide porches.
The house was built in 1915 for Walter Fanning, a local merchant. Later George Washburn, a prominent Shelby physician, bought the house in the 1930s and resided in it for most of the 20th century. During the time Washburn lived here, he established the State Theater, at 318 S. Washington Street, one of the two leading Shelby movie houses in the 1940s and 50s (the other being Rogers Theatre). After a period of vacancy the house was adapted and restored for a medical practice in 1982 by Dr. Frank Hannah, with funding assistance from the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentive Program.
The Fanning-Washburn House is located at 313 S. Washington St. in
the Central Shelby Historic District. It now houses
the Silver Teapot, a shop that serves lunch and sells gourmet coffee,
tea, desserts and gifts. The shop is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm Monday-Friday;
and 7:00pm to 10:00pm Friday and Saturday; lunch served 11:00am to 2:00pm
Monday-Friday. Call 704-484-2699 for further information.
The Fulenwider-Ebeltoft House is one of the few surviving ante-bellum buildings in Shelby. The two-story white frame house is one of three surviving mid-19th-century dwellings in Shelby that combines elements of the Piedmont vernacular, typical of traditional architecture of this region, with popular practices of the contemporary Greek Revival style. The strict bilateral symmetry and the low hipped roof are characteristic Greek Revival features of the house. However, a long porch on the principal façade, the entrance on the long side of the house and the paired interior central chimneys are all vernacular Piedmont characteristics. The prominent twin brick chimneys are handsomely detailed with brick corbelling.
Although Swiss pioneer Eli Fulenwider of the well-known ironworks family built the house in the early 1850s, the house is better known as the Ebeltoft House. T.W. Ebeltoft, who retired from the Baptist ministry and operated a confectionery and bookstore in uptown Shelby, later sold the house to Judge James L. Webb. Judge Webb served in the State Senate and then spent 32 years as a court official, first as district solicitor and later as a Superior Court Judge. Governor O. Max Gardner, one of the Shelby Dynasty, also lived in the house for a short period after he married the Judge's daughter Faye. Both the Webbs and Gardners moved to Webbly in 1911.
The Fulenwider-Ebeltoft House is located at 323 S. Washington St. in the Central Shelby Historic District and today houses a software business, open during normal business hours.
The E.Y. Webb House is an example of the Colonial Revival residences
popular in Shelby and throughout the county in the early 20th century.
The house was built from 1911 to 1916 for Edwin Yates Webb, a member
of the Shelby Dynasty. Featured in the 1916 edition of the Cleveland
Star Biographical and Trade Edition, the two-and-one-half-story
frame residence has a tall-hipped roof accented by a dormer window with
a Palladian motif. The house also incorporates some Queen Anne elements--notably
its projecting bays and high profile rooflines.
E.Y. Webb was born in 1875. Both he and his brother James L. Webb lived on prestigious Washington Street and were attorneys practicing law out of the Cleveland County Courthouse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their grandfather had been the first pastor at the First Baptist Church. E.Y. Webb served in the North Carolina General Assembly and as a United States congressman (1903-1919) during which time he introduced a bill chartering the Boy Scouts of America, pioneered legislation governing purer food and drugs and helped draft the 18th Amendment, which established the era of Prohibition. Shortly after he built his house, Webb became a Federal judge of North Carolina's western district court in 1919. He continued to serve on this court, and live here on Washington Street, until his death in 1954. His widow, Alice Pender Taylor Webb, lived in the house until she died on March 28, 1993.
The E.Y. Webb House is located at 331 S. Washington St. in the Central Shelby Historic District. It is now a real estate office, open during normal business hours.
Webbley, more commonly known today as the O. Max Gardner House, was the home of one of North Carolina's most prominent 20th-century public leaders. A key figure of the State's famous "Shelby Dynasty," Oliver Max Gardner enjoyed a distinguished career that included service as State senator, lieutenant governor and governor from 1929 to 1933. The two-story house facing south Washington Street--the original core of the current house--was built sometime between 1852 and 1855 by attorney Augustus W. Burton. Shortly thereafter, the house was sold and for the next 48 years, changed hands rather rapidly, with one exception. On April 1, 1869, Mrs. Adelaide W. McAfee purchased the property at a sheriff's sale and lived there for nearly 20 years. In 1905, J.A. Anthony, a prominent Shelby attorney bought the home and, by that point, a much reduced lot. Anthony and his wife, Ollie Gardner Anthony, initiated a Colonial Revival renovation in 1907 which totally changed the appearance of the house.
Anthony's brother-in-law and law partner was Oliver Maxwell Gardner. Gardner married Faye Webb, a member of the politically influential Webb family. In 1911, Judge James L. Webb, Faye's father, bought the enlarged house from J.A. Anthony. The Webbs and the Gardners (including two of Max and Faye's three children) moved into the home which quickly acquired the name Webbley. Gardner had spent much of his life on a farm and took pride in that lifestyle. He kept several cows at Webbly to instill the same work ethic in his sons, Ralph and James. While the boys herded the cows to pasture on the other side of town and brought them back at night for milking daily, they were embarrassed by this type of labor and were known to take the cattle through alleyways to prevent discovery of their work. O. Max Gardner's first step in his climb to political fame came in 1910 when he was elected to the State Senate. After holding many other offices, he was elected Democratic governor of North Carolina in 1928. In light of the spectacular defeat of the national Democratic ticket that year, Gardner's victory was a testament to his superb political organization and personal popularity. As the state's chief executive during the first years of the Depression, he was credited with initiating programs that helped many small farmers weather the difficult times. He later served under President Franklin Roosevelt as chairman of the Advisory Board of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, and under President Harry Truman as Undersecretary of the Treasury. He was appointed ambassador to the Court of St. James, but did not live to fulfill that appointment. Much of the last 25 years of his life were spent in Washington, D.C., but Gardner always considered Webbley his home. After Gardner's death, Faye returned to Webbly to live with her sister, Madge Webb Riley. The two inherited the house as the only surviving children of Judge James L. Webb. Madge died in the early 1950s leaving Faye as sole owner of the estate. She lived at Webbley until her death in January 1969. Of her three sons, only Ralph survived and lived in the house.
Webbley is not only reflective of United States politics, but of the entertainment culture as well. Webbley was the base for Thomas Dixon's 1905 novel The Clansman, and according to Ralph Gardner, also the setting for a segment in D.W. Griffith's 1915 cinema classic The Birth of a Nation, based on this novel. In May of 1993, O. Max Gardner III and his wife, Victoria Harwell Gardner, turned the home into a bed and breakfast with a political theme. The Inn at Webbly was one of the nation's finest inns, but closed in 1998 due to an illness in the family which made operation of the inn difficult.
Webbly is located at 403 S. Washington St. in the Central
Shelby Historic District. Although the Gardner family continues
to live in the house today, it is open to the public Monday-Friday,
9:00am to 5:00pm. Call 704-487-0616 for further information.
The Joseph Suttle House is one of the best known ante-bellum residences surviving in Cleveland County, and reflects the growing prosperity of the planter class of ante-bellum society in the western Piedmont of North Carolina. The two-story Federal style dwelling features massive gable-end chimneys, good quality Federal interior woodwork and an ornamental late 19th-century porch--all characteristic of the development of the vernacular Federal architecture style in this region. The Joseph Suttle House, known locally as Twin Chimneys, was built southwest of Shelby sometime between 1820 and 1847, probably for Minor W. Smith. The Smiths moved to the Shelby area around 1817 from Wilmington, North Carolina. In 1853, after Minor Smith and his wife Jane died, the property was sold by the court to one of his heirs, Thomas F. Elliot. Elliot kept the property for a short time and sold it to Joseph Suttle in November of 1854 for $1,500--the same price he had paid.
Suttle was one of the area's most prominent advocates of Missionary Baptism and was also active in the effort to prohibit liquor. In 1846 he married Elvira Blanton, daughter of Charles Blanton the first Sheriff of Cleveland County. The 1860 census shows that he improved 100 of his 540 acres and his real estate was valued at $4,400. He grew large amounts of Indian corn, sweet potatoes, wheat and oats, along with a substantial production of butter. Joseph Suttle had four children and when he died on May 26, 1861, he willed the property to his wife with a provision that two-thirds of the property should "be sold and equally distributed among my children at each coming to the age of 21 years and that the remaining third be given to my wife." In 1883 the widow and heirs sold the property (532 5/8 acres) to J.F. Ledbetter for $5,320.62. Ledbetter sold the property to W.P. Shuford in 1891 and Shuford sold the property to William McSwain in 1902. McSwain kept the land until 1906 when he sold it to Joe W. Wesson. By that time the property had been reduced to 128 acres. Wesson owned the house and tract of land until 1943 when he sold it to J.L. Suttle, Jr. and M.A. Spangler. Suttle, a great-grandson of Joseph Suttle, obtained full title to the property in 1951. He passed away in 2000 but his family continues to own the property, which includes the cemetery with the graves of Minor Smith, his wife Jane and Joseph Suttle.
The Joseph Suttle House is located at Twin Chimneys Rd. It is a private residence and not open to the public.
The Banker's House, a landmark of uptown Shelby, is among the State's
finest examples of the Second Empire style. The large, well-preserved
house of yellow stuccoed brick is notable for its handsome proportions,
deceptively asymmetrical plan and consistent use of rich ornament--especially
around its main entrance, along the cornice and the floral patterns
of colored slate tile of the mansard roof. It is one of a few Second
Empire houses in North Carolina distinguished by a central tower. Similarities
to the Heck-Andres House in Raleigh and the Cabarus County Courthouse
suggest that the Banker's house may be the work of architect G.S.H.
Applegate, a New Jersey native who came to North Carolina in 1869 and
throughout his career, designed buildings across the State.
Since its construction from 1874 to 1875, the home has been consistently owned by prominent members of Shelby's banking profession. Built for Jesse Jenkins, founder of the first bank in Shelby, the house was sold at public auction in July 1879 to T.D. Lattimore after Jenkins had financial trouble. Lattimore later transferred ownership of the house to Sarah Lee, wife of banker H. Dekalb Lee. Lee was one of several initial directors of the Cleveland Savings Bank, a rival to Jenkins's bank incorporated by the General Assembly and established in Shelby in 1875. Lee, together with two of the other original directors of Cleveland Savings Bank, Burwell Blanton and S.J. Green, bought out the other directors' holdings and established a new banking partnership--H.D. Lee and Company--in the late 1870s. In early 1888, the Lee family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, and rented the Banker's House until 1894, when the house was purchase for $3,500 by Pattie Burwell, wife of Blanton Burwell. In 1895, Blanton and his sons, Charles and George purchased H.D. Lee and Company and changed the firm's name to B. Blanton & Company, until they obtained a Federal charter and changed the name again to First National Bank in 1903. In October 1907, the Blantons sold the home to their eldest son Charles, who became a prominent Shelby business leader during the early years of the 20th century. In May 1941, Charles Blanton sold the home to his nephew, George H. Blanton, Jr., who became president of the First National Bank in 1947 and resided in the Bankers' House throughout his entire career as a banker. In the summer of 1994 George and his wife Nancy Blanton signed an agreement and protective covenants with Preservation North Carolina management indicating that they could continue to live in the house as long as they wanted to, with PNC ultimately receiving ownership of the house. George Blanton, Jr. passed away January 10, 2001.
The Banker's House is located at 319 North Lafayette St. Preservation North Carolina currently manages the building. It is still a private residence and not open to the public.
Built in 1884 for a prominent young physician of Shelby, the Dr. Victor McBrayer House is one of the most important late 19th-century buildings of Shelby and a good example of a "working farm" with a full complement of outbuildings. The house was built at a time when Shelby was undergoing a period of significant growth. It is an important example of the eclecticism and elaborate architectural tastes of the middle class during the late19th century. Decorative details are drawn from the Gothic, Italianate Revival and Queen Anne styles. In addition to the complex massing of the 3,240 square-foot house, a variety of sawwork enhances the house with attic dormers faced with unusual fish-scale pattern louvers, gable ends of the house finished with board and batten sheathing scalloped on the lower end and a wrap-around porch supported by chamfered and molded posts connecting moulded handrails and turned balusters. Hardly anything is known about the builder or contractor, but the quality of workmanship is impressive.
Victor McBrayer was born in 1853 in Mooresboro, North Carolina, and attended medical school in New York, graduating in 1875. On April 28, 1880, he married Esther Suttle at the bride's home in Shelby. By this time, 26-year-old McBrayer was one of Cleveland County's few practicing physicians. McBrayer purchased the land the house sits on from the Suttles, and had his impressive home built shortly thereafter. McBrayer died in September of 1897 after which Ester McBrayer was given a life estate, with the property reverting to their five children, Alma, Pollen, Willis, Elizabeth and George upon her death. Esther McBrayer died on August 20, 1932. In 1950, Willis McBrayer and Pollen McBrayer Mull sold their interest to their remaining siblings, Alma McBrayer Webb and Elizabeth McBrayer Owen. The property was left solely to Elizabeth after Alma's death in the early 1960s.
On the 100th anniversary of the home's construction, Elizabeth granted protective covenants for the house to the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina because of its architectural significance. After Elizabeth died at the age of 90 in 1987, the house was used by the Junior Charity League as a Designer House. Later, the home was purchased by Dr. Frank Hannah and turned into Hannah's Ambulatory Eye Surgery Center during which the house was renovated with a minor addition on the back for an operating room. In 2000, Kurtis and Dana Ledford purchased the house which had grown to 4,000 square-feet, with four original outbuildings--an outhouse, pack house, potato house and milk house. The larger rooms had been divided into smaller ones, from the period when the house was a doctor's office, and the kitchen had been removed. The Ledford's are now restoring the house to its Victorian appearance.
Dr. Victor McBrayer House is located at 507 North Morgan St. It is a private residence, not normally open to the public. Occasional tours can be arranged through the Uptown Shelby Association at 704-484-3100.
The East Marion--Belvedere Park Historic District was one of Shelby's earliest suburban neighborhoods developed east of town from 1921 through the 1950s. It was also the most successful neighborhood in Shelby to follow the new suburban ideas of the City Beautiful Movement. At the turn of the 20th century, in reaction to the industrial revolution, the City Beautiful Movement advocated for the creation of parklike settings within cities. In response, suburban neighborhoods were developed across the country with small parks, large lots, tree-lined medians and a curvilinear street pattern which followed the natural topography of the land--a dramatic departure from the traditional grid patterns of earlier neighborhoods like the Central Shelby Historic District. These types of neighborhoods were common in towns throughout the southeast, and the Nation, as growing populations required development of neighborhoods beyond the central city core, and new modes of transportation enabled people to live further out. Shelby's greatest period of population growth was during the 1920s, just as the popularity of the automobile increased the demand for good roads. East Marion Street heading east from downtown Shelby was paved in 1921, and lots along the street were laid out for new subdivisions.
That same year, William B. Lineberger, a Shelby banker and businessman, hired Leigh Colyer, a professional landscape architect from Charlotte, North Carolina, to design a subdivision for him out of 45 acres of farm land he had purchased south of East Marion Street. In keeping with the tenets of the City Beautiful movement, Colyer's design for Belvedere Park included a curvilinear layout, with tree-lined streets, and a central median down Belvedere Avenue. A portion of Colyer's 1921 plat for the neighborhood included small lots along Chestnut Street, only 30 to 50 feet wide, intended for investment rental housing. The majority of the lots were 100 to 125 feet wide, facing wide boulevards, and generally sold for $2,000. These lots were reserved for prominent Shelby residents who built owner-occupied houses. Building restrictions were placed on the lots to ensure that buyers would erect houses in at least two years that cost no less than $5,000 and were set back at least 50 feet from the sidewalk.
Lineberger built his own home in the neighborhood at 804 Hawthorne Road to entice others to build. Occupations of residents within Belvedere Park and along East Marion Street included small business owners, managers and employees, mechanics, mill owners, workers and supervisors, clergy, theater owners, physicians, attorneys, bankers and government workers. The houses built in the district were typical of the building styles of the day. Of the 123 buildings within the district that contribute to its architectural history, the most predominant style in the district is the Bungalow. Other styles in the district include small hip-roof or gable-roof cottages, Four-Square and Cape Cod, and several Classical Revival styles including Colonial, Dutch and Tudor. After Lineberger's death in 1936, the remaining undeveloped lots on the east side of the neighborhood became part of his estate, and his heirs did not sell them until the late 1940s and early 1950s. In this later developed section, good examples of Ranch and Modern houses can be found.
The East Marion--Belvedere Park Historic District, approximately one-half mile east of downtown Shelby, is roughly bounded by Cline and Chestnut sts. to the west, East Marion St. to the north, Edgemont Ave. to the east and Belvedere Ave. and Elizabeth Rd. to the south. The houses in the district are private and not open to the public.
George Elzie Sperling (1871-1953) was a highly successful cotton farmer and businessman in Cleveland County. In 1927 he had this unusually elaborate farmhouse built for himself and his family. The imposing two-story yellow brick Neoclassical Revival style farmhouse is rare for rural Cleveland County, as most farmhouses were simple frame buildings with more elaborate residences such as this built primarily in the town of Shelby. The skill of Augustus Branton, brickmason and master carpenter hired by Sperling, is evident throughout the house. Architectural elements of particular note include the larger framing timbers milled at Sperling's own saw mill, hand-crafted dentils on the first floor and the monumental wooden portico typical of the Neoclassical Revival style.
Sperling, a life-long resident of Cleveland County, was born on his parents farm. Sperling married Mary Jane Justice (1878-1977) on May 28, 1899. The couple lived for a short time in a small frame house across the highway from the present-day house, as they were awaiting completion of a their first home in 1909, a two-story frame farmhouse that was eventually demolished to make way for their 1927 brick home. During the early 20th century, Sperling began purchasing parcels of land located around present-day Highway 18, eventually accumulating more than 1000 acres. The main crop of the Sperling farm was cotton, the predominant crop in Cleveland County from the late 19th century through the 1940s, at which time cotton was destroyed by the boll weevil. Sperling also established a general store, corn and saw mills, cotton gin and blacksmith shop, and the area became known as Sperling's Crossroads. The operations served travelers along the highway as well as residents in nearby Shelby and Fallston. Several early 20th-century outbuildings survive on the farm, clustered to the rear or west of the house, that were support structures for the family farm complex. Built from 1909 to 1951, these buildings include a barn, corn crib, hog pen, granary, two-story gambrel roof mule barn, smokehouse, generator house and tack house. The Sperlings had nine children, two sons and seven daughters, and the farm remained a working family farm until after George's death in 1953. Daughter Madge Roberta (1909-1996) married M. Lloyd Ray Little and they lived in the home with her parents until after their deaths. Ray Little outlived his wife, and continued to live here until 1997, and shortly thereafter the house was sold out of the family. It is now being rehabilitated for use as offices.
The George Sperling House and Outbuildings are located at 1219 Fallston Rd on the outskirts of Shelby . They are not open to the public.
The Joshua Beam House, one of the most prominent ante-bellum residences in Cleveland County, is an imposing two-story building sited on a 150-acre tract of pasture and woodland northeast of Shelby. The house features a two-story pedimented portico, pedimented gable ends and simple but consistent Greek Revival interior woodwork--all characteristic of the development of the vernacular Greek Revival architecture style in this region. The home reflects the growing prosperity of the planter and business class of the western Piedmont of North Carolina in the decades before the Civil War. It was constructed sometime between 1841 and 1845 for Joshua Beam (1800-1869), a successful planter, slave owner and businessman who established an iron manufacturing operation on his property and was involved in numerous other business and mining interests.
Beam did not depend upon a cash crop for his livelihood. He was also one of the first justices of the peace and he played a significant role in the drive to create Cleveland County. A.R. Beam, a nephew of Joshua, lived with his uncle for some years before and after the Civil War and left an excellent description of Joshua's personality and a glimpse of entertainment enjoyed by some of the Beams 17 children. After Beam's death in 1869, his second wife, Susan Heavner Beam, remained in the house until her death in 1902. Throughout the first half of the 20th century the property went into slow decline while occupied by a series of tenants until acquired in 1947 by Roy W. Morris and his wife, Matilda Lattimore Morris, great-granddaughter of Joshua Beam. The Morris family refurbished the house, and it remained occupied by Roy Morris's second wife and widow, Beatrice Nye Suttle Morris, until her death.
The Joshua Beam house is located at New Prospect Church Rd. It is a private residence and not open to the public.
The James Heyward Hull House is an excellent 1907 Neoclassical Revival style dwelling in Shelby, one of several built at the turn of the century by some of Shelby's most prominent residents. The large two-story house was originally built in 1874 in the Italinante style for Methodist minister Hilary T. Hudson (1823-1892). As Cleveland County's population continued to grow during the latter half of the 19th century, many churches representing several different faiths were established. Hudson, known as a charismatic speaker, teacher, and author was assigned to Shelby from 1874-1884(with one year in 1880 at Rockingham) and remained in Shelby until his death. During his time in Shelby, Dr. Hudson was appointed as a Presiding Elder of the Methodist Western North Carolina Conference. He began to write as a columnist for the Raleigh Christian Advocate as well as serving as Associate Editor, Corresponding Editor, and Editor. Mrs. Mary T. Hudson (formerly Mary T. Lee of Mecklenburg County) retained ownership of the house until she sold it in 1906 to John W. Hopper. Hopper in turn sold the house to M.F. Hull during the same year, and M.F. Hull sold the property to his son James Heyward Hull on April 6, 1907.
James Heyward Hull, a cotton broker, transformed the house into a Neoclassical Revival style residence by adding a monumental portico, flanking wings, an ornate hip roof, and completely renovating the interior. Hull, a native of Catawba County, had several business interests in Shelby and had worked for J.J. McMurphy & Company in Shelby, and also worked as a Southern sales agent for the Bowers Snuff and Tobacco Company of Trenton, New Jersey. Additionally, Mr. Hull was a partner in L.M. Hull & Company, a large mercantile firm based out of Washington, Georgia, an owner of the Cherryville Manufacturing Company, and vice-president of the Gaston Manufacturing Company. Shortly after purchasing the house, Hull married Loula Abernathy of Lincoln County, North Carolina in May 1907. In a bankruptcy proceeding in 1932, Hull deeded the house to his son James H. Hull, Jr. and daughter Mary Hull Daniel, but he and Loula continued to live in a portion of the house until their deaths.
On October 26, 1938, James H. Hull, Jr. deeded his half interest in the house to his sister Mary Hull Daniel. It was the Daniel family that made additional renovations to the house in the 1940s. The James Heyward Hull House, facing west, is a two-story, square-in-plan main block with a central hall and triple-pile floor plan. The most prominent feature of the house is the monumental semi-elliptical neoclassical portico featuring fluted Corinthian columns and pilasters and a full entablature including a dentilated cornice with modillions. The James Heyward Hull House was part of the development of a principal neighborhood for Shelby's industrialists, merchants, and professionals during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Marion, Washington, and North Lafayette streets directly west, south, and north, respectively, of the central business district remain well-preserved.
Set on a one-acre lot on the east side of North Lafayette Street in Shelby, the James Heyward Hull House stands to the north of the Central Shelby Historic District. The James Heyward Hull Louse is located at 710 North Lafayette Street. It is a private residence and not open to the public.
The Irvin-Hamrick Log House is a small dwelling of half-dovetail notch construction, a type of building which once housed thousands of small farmers in the Piedmont and western North Carolina. It is a rare surviving example of the type of house most North Carolinians lived in during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and one of the very few that has seen consistent maintenance and for which there is a genuine hope of continued preservation. The small rectangular gable roof house is built of hewn logs joined with half-dovetail notches, the dominant corner-timbering method in western North Carolina for many generations. Weatherboards cover the logs in several sections and the entire house may have been clad in weatherboards at some time. One fireplace warmed the two interior rooms, and a small enclosed stair lead to an unfinished attic. James Irvin, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, probably built the house sometime after his purchase of 200 acres along Beauerdam Creek in 1794. Irvin married Rebecca Hardin of Lincoln County, and the couple raised 10 children in the tiny house--five boys and five girls, providing for them through land deals and working farms. After Irvin's death in 1845, the house and land passed to his children, who sold the property to Cameron Street Hamrick in 1850.
Hamrick and his wife, Elmire Bridges, raised six sons in the house. Hamrick was a disciplinarian who believed that his sons should remain in the home until 21 years of age, and consequently, the family added the present frame rear addition sometime after the Civil War. All of the Hamrick's sons raised large families and their descendants remain in great numbers in Cleveland County and neighboring areas of the western Piedmont of North and South Carolina. The house has never left Hamrick family ownership. In 1951 it was acquired by the Cameron Street Hamrick Memorial Association, a family organization dedicated to the preservation of the homestead and the maintenance of the adjacent family cemetery.
The Irvin-Hamrick Log House is located at Beaver Dam Church Rd. The annual Cameron Street Hamrick Reunion is held at the house each year, the 4th Sunday of August. It is open by special appointment for school groups, churches, clubs, civic groups, etc. Contact 704-484-5034 or 704-484-1731 for further information.
E.B. Hamrick Hall, located at the geographic center of Gardner-Webb University, is a typical institutional building with simple Colonial Revival details. It is the oldest building on campus, and unusual among the primarily post-World War II Colonial Revival buildings of the school. Gardner-Webb University, once characterized by Governor O. Max Gardner as the school that "refused to die," was founded in 1905 as Boiling Springs High School. The school had only 272 students when the hall was completed in 1925. Originally called the Memorial Building, the hall was intended as a memorial to the soldiers and sailors from the Kings Mountain and Sandy Run Baptist associations who served in World War I, especially three former students of the school who were killed during the war. As high school enrollment decreased because of the competition from public high school, the denominational school became a junior college in 1928.
The school was plagued by financial problems throughout its early days, particularly in the Great Depression, but survived, largely through the generosity of patrons like Elijah Bly Hamrick. The hall was partially gutted by fire in 1937, but was rebuilt and renamed for Hamrick, a Boiling Springs businessman who gave generously to the school on a number of occasions and served on the school's Board of Trustees for more than four decades. In 1942 it became Gardner-Webb Junior College, and in 1971 it became a four-year college. Today it is a thriving member of the State's family of Baptist educational institutions, and Hamrick Hall is one of the school's most actively used buildings. The building currently houses the School of Business. To many Gardner-Webb alumni, students and faculty the building symbolizes the years of struggle for the small school and the sacrifices made by its many supporters who enabled the school to survive and eventually prosper.
E. B. Hamrick Hall is located on the Gardner-Webb University campus in Boiling Springs, NC. Visit the school's website for further information.
The John Lattimore House is typical of the substantial but unpretentious dwellings of average ante-bellum planters in the western North Carolina Piedmont. The original section is a log dwelling of traditional form dating from the early 19th century, and was expanded with frame additions in the 1820s or 1830s to meet the increasing demands of a growing family and rising prosperity. Throughout its existence the house has remained in the ownership of a single family, the Lattimores, one of local prominence and success. John Lattimore (1745-1821) purchased the land on which the house now stands for 200 pounds in 1787, and then transferred this tract to his son Daniel Lattimore (1775-1833) in 1798 for the same price. During Daniel Lattimore's ownership, the earliest portion of the house was constructed. Records show that this building did not serve as the residence of Daniel Lattimore but that the house was standing by 1824. On October 1, 1824, Daniel sold 210 acres of his 355-acre home tract to his son John for $500.
John Lattimore (1801-1877), the wealthiest of the owners, occupied the home for approximately half a century and gave his name to the house. Known to the family as Big John, he may have lived in the house before his marriage to Isabella Carson on June 8, 1830. Over the next 20 years, at least 11 children were born and as the family grew, so did the house. Since most of his children were born in the 1830s it is reasonable to assume that most of the additions were made during that time. The growth of his family and enlargement of his dwelling coincided with John Lattimore's rise to prosperity. By general standards of North Carolina in the ante-bellum era, Lattimore had elevated himself to the lower echelons of the planter class, but for the area in which he lived, he was considered a moderately wealthy and socially prominent resident. His principal income came from grain production. The outbreak of the Civil War disrupted operation of the Lattimore farm as it did many others in North Carolina. It is believed that all nine of Big John's sons were involved in Confederate service, two of whom died during the war. The Civil War stripped John Lattimore of a large portion of his wealth and much of his labor force. Sections of land were sold to pay off debts. He saved his homeplace by selling it and 206 acres to his son John L. Lattimore on March 22, 1870. The house then passed down to John's son Samuel C. Lattimore, who then bequeathed the property to his wife, Mary Elliott. She then sold it to her nephew John L. Lattimore in 1946. He lived in the home for several years but moved out in 1950. He still holds legal title to the property, but transferred the right of ownership to his son, John B. Lattimore. The John Lattimore House has stood vacant for many years, but the family has taken measures to stabilize it as one of the least altered 19th-century houses in the region.
The John Lattimore House is located at Five Points Rd. northwest of Polkville. It is not open to the public.
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National Scenic Byways Program This website, maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, includes information on state and nationally designated byway routes throughout America based on their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities. Visit the America’s Byways Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway website for more ideas.
Bishir, Catherine W. North Carolina Architecture. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
Bishir, Catherine W. and Micheal T. Southern. A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
Bishir, Catherine W. and Lawrence S. Earley, eds. Early Twentieth-Century Suburbs in North Carolina: Essays on History, Architecture and Planning. Raleigh: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1985.
Eades, Brian R. and J. Daniel Pezzoni, ed. Architectural Perspectives of Cleveland County, North Carolina. Shelby, North Carolina: Cleveland County Historic Preservation Taskforce, 2004.
Lane, Mills. Architecture of the Old South: North Carolina. Savannah, Georgia: Beehive Press, 1997.
Larimore, Denise and Jennifer Kibby. Central Shelby Historic District Walking Tour Brochure. Shelby, North Carolina: Historic Shelby Foundation and Uptown Shelby Association, 1992.
Marler, James D. Coordinator. The Heritage of Cleveland County Vol. 1-1982. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Hunter Publishing Company, 1982.
Patterson, U.L. "Rusty" and Barry E. Hambright. Images of America: Shelby and Cleveland County North Carolina. Arcadia Publishing: Great Britain, 2002.
Shelby, North Carolina, was produced by the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places in partnership with the Uptown Shelby Association, Historic Shelby Foundation, North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO). It was created under the direction of Carol D. Shull, Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, Patrick W. Andrus, Heritage Tourism Program Manager, and Beth L. Savage, Publications Managing Editor. Shelby, North Carolina, is based on information in the files of the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks collections. These materials are kept at 1201 Eye St., NW, Washington, D.C., and are open to the public from 9:00am to 12:00pm, Monday through Thursday.
Adam Lovelady and Ted Alexander with the Uptown Shelby Association
conceptualized and compiled materials for the itinerary. National Register
web production team members included Jeff Joeckel, who designed the
itinerary, Rustin Quaide, and Shannon Bell (all of NCSHPO). Maps were
designed by Rustin Quaide. Property descriptions were written by Adam
Lovelady and edited by Shannon Bell. Essays were written by Rustin Quaide
(History of Shelby) and Adam Lovelady (Shelby Dynasty
and Preservation in Shelby).
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