Claremont High School Historic District
The Claremont High School Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 with additional documentation added in 2009. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from copies of the original nomination documents. [†, ‡] Adaptation copyright © 2012, The Gombach Group.
The Claremont High School Historic District is one of the two most intact residential neighborhoods in Hickory today, and contains the homes of three generations of businessmen, professionals and educators many of whom played key roles in the city's development. It is a neighborhood which has been intimately associated with the educational and cultural goals of the city for over one hundred years, from the founding of the Claremont Female College through its replacement, the Claremont High School, to the once-vacant school's new tenant, the Catawba County Council for the Arts. By way of the Claremont High School Historic District's building stock — which contains significant examples of nearly every popular architectural style from the 1870's to the 1950's — one can trace the city's growth from a small town encircled by farmland in the 1870s-1880s through a period of expansion in the late 1890s and early 1900s when the growing population, supported by an ever-expanding manufacturing base, sought homes on large lots away from the increasing wagon traffic and noise of the commercial district; then to a time when these large lots were subdivided and the sons and daughters of earlier residents sought homes in close proximity to where they themselves grew up. The buildings making up the Claremont High School Historic District represent its primary period of significance from the 1870s into the early 1930s with compatible infill building dating from ca.1935 into the early 1950s.
The Claremont High School Historic District, located in northeast Hickory, is one of the two finest and relatively intact late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century residential neighborhoods in the city. Loosely centered on the Claremont High School building (formerly the site of Claremont College) and its extensive grounds, the pattern of its unplanned growth was dictated by the availability of building lots in the area partially enframed by working farms. Its eclectic building stock, among which are significant examples of the then current fashions in building design, reveals the pattern of Hickory's development from a small trading center to an urbanized manufacturing town.
Four periods of growth shaped the district's appearance. The first one spans a period of time between the construction of the first extant structure prior to 1875 to the erection of Claremont College in 1883 and the completion of a large Queen Anne style farmhouse in 1889. A second period of residential building activity commenced in 1895 and lasted until 1914. During that time the rapid population growth which accompanied the expanding manufacturing base contributed to the development of residential areas which were removed from the business district. Leading the way in this migration were prominent businessmen and professionals who had impressive new homes built in the district. This trend was further developed after World War I when (during the third period) the majority of the vacant lots were improved and larger residential lots were subdivided. A second generation of important and often well-to-do businessmen invested in new residences which reaffirmed the district's image as one of Hickory's finest residential areas. The city's own investment in the district at this time is evident in the erection of Claremont High School and the development of recreational facilities in Carolina Park. Finally, post World War II construction, although in some cases intrusive filled most of the remaining building lots.
Prior to the institutional and residential development of the area enclosed within the Claremont High School Historic District, a few individuals owned large tracts of what was then primarily vacant lots and farmland. The northern side of 5th Avenue and lands stretching to the north were purchased by Adolphus L. and John M. Shuford. Adolphus L. Shuford was one of the earliest settlers in Hickory, having moved into the village from the family farm prior to the Civil War. He operated a store, and flour mill for many years before establishing his farm known as Maple Grove in the mid 1870s. It was his intent to develop a large dairy farm although his death in 1885 precluded its accomplishment. In any case he was responsible for importing the first Jersey cattle to Catawba County. The farmhouse (542 Second Street NE) which was completed a few years before his death is an impressive expansion of a very small building which stood on the farm. His two-story Italianate house was built with a central hall, four large rooms in addition to usable attic space, and a two-tier front porch. His brother John Marshall Shuford came to Hickory much later and the land he bought bordered A.L.'s property to the west, although John apparently did not have a residence there.
The area which forms the eastern border of the Claremont High School Historic District was purchased by Harvey E. and David M. McComb after the family had moved to Hickory in 1874 from Mecklenburg County. Their tract extended from its border with the W.W. Lenoir lands on the south to Henry W. Robinson's land on the west, and adjoined A.L. Shuford's property farther north. Stretching to the northeast of what became the city limits, it was a part of land holdings which also included a tract north of the Shuford brothers. Both McComb brothers had been farmers in Mecklenburg County, and they established a large farm on these new lands. It is clear, however, that this was not their only source of income as they operated one of the first meat and grocery stores as well as one of the first dairies. On the other hand it is not unreasonable to speculate that a great deal of their merchandise may have come from their farm.
The house which the McCombs occupied in 1874 was just outside of the district boundaries; three houses reportedly existed there prior to the development of what is now the Claremont High School Historic District. One of these buildings, the Doll-Abernethy House (404 Third Avenue NE), is just within the boundaries of the district. Although substantially altered by two owners into its present Colonial Revival form, it is said to have been built prior to 1874 for a Professor Ingold on land given to him by W.W. Lenoir, a benefactor of Lenoir-Rhyne College. Isaiah Ingold was one of the first two instructors at Union Institute in Randolph County. Union became Trinity College and later Duke University. Documentary evidence of Ingold's educational activities in Hickory, however, has not been uncovered. An 1880 deed suggests by the price paid, that a small dwelling was on the site when Isaiah Ingold sold the property. If this is the case, then it represents the first, strictly residential construction in the Claremont High School Historic District and may, in fact, pre-date Maple Grove.
In terms of actual area, the largest portion of the Claremont High School Historic District was owned by Henry W. Robinson. Henry's father, Jesse Robinson, purchased a 360-acre tract of land at an auction in 1798 and it was passed to Henry when his father died. Those lands comprise the bulk of the original corporate limits of the Town of Hickory, including much of the Claremont High School Historic District. Jesse Robinson's use of this land is not entirely clear but Henry's ideas for it were. Between 1865 and 1870 he had the greatest portion surveyed and platted. The Claremont High School Historic District occupies the northeastern corner of the original plat, and it was one of a number of larger lots along the northern edge of his property. With the exception of the McComb brothers and the Shufords the vast majority of the lots which now comprise the district were held by Robinson. Whether Robinson had leased this area to farmers prior to or after the preparation of his plat is not clear. There are undocumented stories that a very small farm was in operation on a portion of the property, but there are no written or visual records to make any conclusions.
In the 1870s and 1880s the sparsely settled nature of the area which comprises the bounds of the district was similar to the other outlying portions of Hickory during that time. Although it had been incorporated as the Town of Hickory in 1873, and a one mile radius defined as its limits in 1879, settlement and commercial activity were clustered along the railroad tracks. The fringe areas inside the town limits were still primarily open land.
The position of the earliest roads in the district influenced greatly the direction and nature of its development. Henry W. Robinson's grid plan of streets had defined present-day 3rd and 2nd avenues, as well as North Center Street and 1st Street, and a portion of 2nd Street. In addition, by 1880 both 5th Avenue and 3rd Street had been surveyed. The extension of 2nd Street into the college's lot was probably not carried out until the 1913 survey of nine acres at the western edge of the property. On the other hand, a road did follow the present route of this street north of 5th Avenue as early as 1907. A deed made at this time referred to a "public road" leading to both Moores and Icards ferries on the Catawba River. An 1886 map of Catawba County shows such a road following North Center Street, 5th Avenue, and Route 127. Finally, W.W. Lenoir's 1868 survey of his lands bordering the district to the east included the eastern end of what is now 3rd Avenue leading to present 1st Avenue. This street like many in Lenoir's plat, was proposed to be ninety-nine feet wide.
The first development in the Claremont High School Historic District took place in 1883 when Claremont Female College moved to a large brick Second Empire style building constructed on a site of some twenty-two acres in what is now the center of the Claremont High School Historic District. The plans for establishing a college were drawn up by the consistory of the Corinth Reformed Church of Hickory (now the Corinth Evangelical and Reformed Church, United Church of Christ) during and after a meeting in April, 1880. At the time the members of the Reformed Church were concerned about the education of the young women in Hickory and more especially about their own daughters. The Reverend A.S. Vaughn, a former president of Catawba College in Newton, convinced the consistory that their modest plans to establish a small school should be expanded to found a school with broader goals and ideals to be patterned on Wellesley. Henry W. Robinson was approached by the trustees and asked to donate land for the college, as he had earlier done for a number of churches. He agreed, but placed two conditions on the gift: the first was that his son John W. Robinson's four daughters and two sons obtain free schooling while under the age of ten years and that "no person of color shall ever be admitted as a pupil in said Female College." A second deed issued in February of 1881 removed the conditions and a sum of $319.00 was paid for the property. The trustees of the new college included Adolphus L. and his brother Abel A. Shuford, J.G. Hall, A.L. Abernethy, R.W. McComb, and A.L. Link, among many others, all of whom were actively involved in the development of Hickory. The derivation of the name "Claremont Female College" is not clear. Interviews with some of Hickory's oldest residents do not shed any light on why the word "Claremont" was used. In any case, the first classes were held in the Corinth Reformed Church until the main building was completed in 1883.
The imposing, expensive, three-story brick structure had a mansard roof, pedimented dormer, one bell-cast roofed tower as well as second tower, and two large porches. Instruction in the classics, art and music could be obtained at the school. Unfortunately, just as the new facility was opened Vaughn left in despair, having been unable to attract the financial resources of northern philanthropists upon which he had put much faith. Left without any plans or program, the trustees enlisted the services of an ever-changing group of teachers to operate the school, a situation which continued for a number of years.
To the small town of Hickory in 1880 the establishment of the college, even though it was immediately beset with numerous problems, represented a significant step towards development. The college provided educational facilities, albeit only to those who could afford them, at a time when the public school system was in disarray. Through the hard work of the trustees a fine faculty was almost always assembled which, no doubt, appealed to a population that valued the educational and cultural benefits that radiated from their work.
Residential development in the area around Claremont Female College really began when David W. Shuler had an exquisite Queen Anne style house (310 North Center Street) built at the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and North Center Street in 1887. Shuler moved to Hickory from Oakwood County, Michigan, and established Hickory's first bank in 1886. One source states that Shuler also encouraged business associates from Michigan to locate near his home in Hickory, and that the area was known as "Michigan Hill." An 1890 newspaper account supports this reference by noting that H.C. Parke, from Detroit, Michigan, was preparing plans for a residence on "Michigan Hill" with the aid of an architect from Detroit. Shuler died in 1890, but according to one account his "campaign" in the city woke up "Old Man Enthusiasm...and we caught the spirit for a greater Hickory." If there was any question as to Shuler's impact on the cultural development of Hickory, there is none when judging his impact on its architectural legacy. Although some of the exterior ornamentation has been removed, his house remains, and may always have been, the finest example of the Queen Anne style in Hickory. An exterior which is composed of projecting and receding wall planes as well as various sheathing materials is complemented by an exuberant interior originally detailed by F.A. Grace, and artist and friend of Shuler's, which reveals an extensive use of ornament and wood molding. The house was later occupied by Marcellus E. Thornton and his wealthy wife Elizabeth Camp Thornton. Marcellus was actively involved in numerous undertakings including the establishment of an electric power company, and was a genuine "dandy" as recalled by many residents who remember him.
When Harvey E. McComb had a house built in 1889 on the farm which bordered 3rd Avenue (317 Third Avenue NE), it was a much more sedate example of the Queen Anne style than was Shuler's. Two stories in height and three bays wide, its prominent features include a pair of offset front gables, two small, attached porches, and an interior finished with standard nineteenth century molded windows and door surrounds with corner blocks, and wainscoting in the central hall.
Further development in the district did not take place until some years after Shuler and McComb moved into their new homes. The reason for this cannot be explained entirely, although there may be room for some speculation. In the first place the Shuford and McComb farms formed the boundaries of both the east and north sides. A large lot owned by Robinson and the college lots, which at that time extended to the edge of the Shuler lot formed the space in the middle. Robinson presumably owned the remaining lots. Neither the Shufords nor the McCombs seemed to have been interested in subdividing their property, leaving only Robinson's land available. He was certainly prepared to sell as his survey and map attests, but for some reason he was unable to, or if he did those people who purchased lots were not developing them. The slow growth of the area may also have been due to the simple fact that it was not needed. Original settlement in Hickory had been concentrated along the railroad tracks and/or adjacent to the business houses. It was only at the close of the century that the middle and upper class residential areas were deliberately, and necessarily extended northward away from the railroad. Whether proximity to the school was an important factor in the district's growth is difficult to discern. If it was, or became a stimulant, it is important to note that it took quite a few years to manifest itself in actual construction.
At the close of the nineteenth century a second period of development commenced in the Claremont High School Historic District, one which was to continue until 1914. Growth in the period was related to a number of factors which were changing the physical appearance of Hickory. In the first place the population had grown from approximately 2,500 people in 1900, to slightly more than 3,700 in 1910. Housing for this expanding population was constructed throughout the city limits including a great deal in the district. Much of the population increase can be attributed to both the growth and development of new industries, particularly hosiery and textile mills and furniture manufactories, in addition to the expansion of older well-established industries. Many of the businessmen and professionals associated with these companies bought lots in the district and had substantial and often very impressive homes built on them. While a number of the new dwellings constructed in the period were for recent immigrants to Hickory, two additional patterns are evident. The houses constructed just prior to and right after 1900 most emphatically represent the development of new fashionable residential areas away from those which had been closer to the railroad tracks and the business district. Although urban expansion would take place naturally, a number of Hickory's businessmen acquired large lots near the college which were removed from the wagon traffic and noise of the downtown area. Secondly, a considerable proportion of the new houses were built for the children of earlier residents. For example, four of A.L. Shuford's sons and daughters moved into houses erected on Shuford's estate bordering 5th Avenue. This pattern would be repeated in the later periods of growth.
The second stage of development in the district was set in motion when Kenneth C. Menzies, cashier at the Bank of Hickory, began to acquire lots across from the college in what is now the 200 block of 3rd Avenue. Between 1893 and 1897 Menzies purchased the entire block from its two owners John W. Robinson and D.H. Aiken. Although he resold each lot, Menzies repurchased the one on which he finally had his home built. One of the other lots, located at the eastern boundary of the block, was purchased by the Corinth Reformed Church in 1894, and in 1895 a Queen Anne style parsonage (264 Third Avenue NE) was built. Although some three city blocks from the church, which was located at the northwest corner of Trade Alley and 2nd Street, it apparently was built there because the minister, Rev. J.L. Murphy was at that time also the president of the college which was just across the street.
The lot which adjoined the parsonage was sold in 1897 to Shuford L. Whitener, four times mayor of Hickory, city alderman, and founder of one of the oldest general stores in the city. In December of that year he moved into what was probably a fairly large Queen Anne style house (250 Third Avenue NE) built on the lot. That it was not originally its present Colonial Revival appearance is inferred from the changes made to the neighboring and nearly identical Kenneth C. Menzies house (236 Third Avenue NE). Menzies had a Queen Anne style house built on his lot in 1897 or 1898, and then had it extensively remodeled in 1909 to reflect the latest architectural fashion. That Whitener's house predates the Menzies' house by one year or less is speculation, but is based on the comparison of setbacks to the older parsonage and mention made of it in a newspaper article.
After Whitener's house was constructed three houses were built for the Menzies family in rapid succession along 3rd Avenue. K.C. Menzies had his house constructed about 1897 or 1898 followed by his mother's house and his brother William's in 1902. Kenneth and other members of the family had moved to Hickory from Old Fort, North Carolina in 1880s, having earlier migrated from Canada. When Abel A. Shuford and J.D. Elliott founded the Bank of Hickory in 1890, soon after D.W. Shuler's bank failed, Kenneth C. Menzies became its cashier and later its president. His biography is long and he is outstanding as one of the most prominent men in the early growth and development of Hickory. Sometime soon after K.C. Menzies moved into his new home a dwelling was constructed for his mother, Mrs. William Bradford Menzies, Sr. on the adjoining lot (216 Third Avenue NE). After her husband's death in 1890 she came to Hickory and sometime after 1897 moved into the modest Queen Anne house.
Both Shuford Whitener's and Kenneth C. Menzies's decision to purchase land near the college was undoubtedly made for a number of reasons. One was certainly the availability of land at what was probably a reasonable price. A second probable reason was their desire to locate on large elevated lots away from the business district. This, no doubt, played a role in Shuler's decision to locate where he did. Furthermore, it is significant that they had their houses built facing Claremont College and not the wooded lot on 2nd Avenue which was eventually to become a city park. Although it may have been merely a decision to conform to the pattern established by the Reformed Church in the siting of their parsonage, it may also have reflected a desire to identify with the college and its role in the educational and cultural development of Hickory.
Development of the Menzies' parcel of land continued when K.C.'s older brother William B. Menzies had a large Queen Anne house (206 Third Avenue NE) built in 1902 at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 2nd Street. When he arrived in Hickory, William became associated with the Hickory Manufacturing Company, a producer of building supplies, and he eventually became its treasurer and general manager. He, like his brother, was associated with the local banks and on numerous boards. The house which he had built for his family was designed by an architect named Frye, perhaps one J. Frye who was practicing locally. With the completion of William's house, the three Menzies' homes on their large lots justly deserved the name "Menzies Hill" by which the area was commonly known.
Concurrent with the construction of William B. Menzies' house was the erection of another Queen Anne style residence (118 Third Avenue NE) directly to the west across 2nd Avenue. Judge William Ballard Councill purchased the large lot in 1901, two years after he had moved to Hickory. A map of Hickory was made in 1915 shows Councill's lot occupying nearly one-half of the entire block. William Councill was a prominent lawyer who had been elected to the district Superior Court in 1900 and served until 1910. The imposing residence which he built, the first house constructed in the southwestern portion of the district, is one of the two finest and most intact Queen Anne style houses left in Hickory today.
George W. Hall had purchased a lot adjoining the Harvey E. McComb house in 1906, an imposing Neo-Classical or "Southern Colonial" house (401 Third Avenue NE) was constructed on it soon after. Completed with a two-story pedimented portico set on Corinthian columns, a wraparound one-story porch on smaller columns, and numerous classical details it stands in stark contrast to the older McComb house (317 Third Avenue NE). George Hall was a very prominent businessman in Hickory. In 1901, at the age of twenty-eight, he established the Hickory Furniture Company which, at the time was a pioneering enterprise in the nascent furniture industry. Having removed himself from the business when it merged with the Hickory Chair Company in 1931 he later purchased the Newton Manufacturing Company which grew rapidly under his guidance.
Residential development in the Claremont High School Historic District, having been concentrated in the southern half prior to 1903, rapidly shifted to the northern section after this date. The first house built along 5th Avenue was probably the J.H. Patrick house (114 Fifth Avenue NE). Patrick came to Hickory in 1900 and established a grocery store with John L. Riddle (307 Second Street NE), but he did not have this modest Queen Anne style house built until about 1903. On land which had been part of the J.M. and A.L. Shuford estates, eight additional houses were constructed prior to 1910. The Fox-Ingold House (121 Fifth Avenue NE) at what is now the northwest corner of 5th Avenue and 2nd Street was probably the first building constructed on the north side of the avenue. In 1913 Frank Ingold, owner of Ingold's Hardware store, bought the house. Shortly after the Fox-Ingold house was built four Colonial Revival houses were constructed within a year of each other, each with the characteristic squarish forms as well as various classical features which included fanlights and sidelights, porticos, or denticulated cornices. Mrs. Elizabeth Rainey purchased a lot in 1903, located at the northeast corner of 5th Avenue and North Center Street, and a dwelling was built there soon after (1-3-5-7 Fifth Avenue NE). The Warlick-Waggoner House (15 Fifth Avenue NE) was constructed at about the same time. Sometime around 1904 Frank Clinard had a house (25 Fifth Avenue NE) built adjacent to the Warlick-Waggoner house. Clinard was involved in a number of enterprises including a tobacco warehouse and the Piedmont Wagon Company, and the house's subsequent, long-term owner, James L. Cilley, was associated with the First Security Trust Company and the First National Bank as secretary and cashier respectively.
The development of Adolphus L. Shuford's estate was undertaken by his children, four of whom moved into new houses during the period prior to 1910. Florence Shuford and her husband William Xenophon Reid had a large house (207 First Avenue NE) built at the northeast corner of 5th Avenue and 2nd Street on a lot purchased in 1907. Ella Shuford and her husband Thomas M. Johnston, a bookkeeper at the Hickory Grocery Company, also bought a lot in 1907 and erected a house (237 Fifth Avenue NE) that year. Located in the middle of the block their large Queen Anne house is a much more sedate example of the style than is Councill's house (118 Third Avenue NE).
Adrian Shuford, A.L.'s youngest son, had a small house (217 Fifth Avenue NE) built sometime after his sister Ella's, although he soon moved to Conover, North Carolina. The house was then occupied by Dr. Heald, a professor at Lenoir-Rhyne College. Finally, Walter J. Shuford had his exquisitely detailed bungalow (265 Fifth Avenue NE) built in 1909. Shuford was the owner and manager of the Catawba Seed Company; established the Hickory Milling Company; and was one of the founders of the Catawba Creamery, reportedly one of the largest such facilities in the South. His civic activities in the community ranged from the Boy Scouts to the Hickory Rotary Club.
An indication of municipal growth, as well as its development of recreational facilities for its citizens, can be seen in the city's 1904 purchase of Carolina Park. As early as the 1870s the park had been a favorite place for residents to gather, to partake of the mineral spring and its healing waters, and to enjoy the pavilion. At some point the spring dried up, apparently because a well dug on the other side of the railroad tracks tapped the water table. In 1904 the city bought the nearly 7-acre parcel from John W. Robinson's estate for $3,275.00 and in 1909 the Civic League took responsibility for developing it. Within a year nearly $1,100 had been raised and spent on improvements to the park which included removal of a number of trees, grading for walks and drives, digging a pond, filling unwanted holes, and planting shrubbery and grass.
While a fine residential neighborhood was developing around it, Claremont Female College was undergoing increasingly difficult management crises. Finally, in 1909 the trustees of the college turned the facility over to the Classis of the Reformed Church of North Carolina. Upon accepting the task of restoring the financial and managerial underpinnings of the college the Classis subsequently subdivided nine acres of land which formed the western boundary of the property with the hope of raising money. Thus a whole new tract of land became available for development in the area of Claremont College. If the subdivision of the college's nine acres made new development possible it did not guarantee that it would take place. By 1915 three of the eight lots had been sold, but only one house had been built. Mrs. H.C. Dixon and her children were residing in a house (317 Second Street NE) built in 1914 which was located on the middle lot of the three sold on 2nd Street.
Between 1910 and 1915 five other houses had been built in the Claremont High School Historic District. Sometime soon after he moved to Hickory in 1911, George L. Bailey, manager of the Hickory Chair Factory, had a large two-story Craftsman house (102 Third Avenue NE) constructed on a large lot which he purchased from Councill in 1911. On a lot adjacent to the Shuler house, Eubert Lyerly and his wife Josephine Bonniwell Lyerly moved into a house (336 North Center Street) which was built about 1912. Both husband and wife made significant contributions to Hickory's development. Eubert was president of Clay Printing Company and the first publisher of the Hickory Daily Record when it made its debut on September 11, 1915. Prior to that time he had organized the first ice and coal company in Hickory and had gone into business with J.D. Elliott and H.J. Holbrook in the Elliott Knitting Mills in 1910. Josephine became involved in establishing the Hickory Museum of Art and was an active member of numerous art and literary clubs in Hickory. Mrs. Lyerly was the daughter of George Bonniwell, a founder of the Piedmont Wagon Company.
In 1912 Herbert H. Miller, a ticket agent and later postmaster moved into his new house (26 Third Avenue NE) on a lot adjacent to George Bailey's. One of the first "square houses" in the district it employs both weatherboards and wood shingles on alternate stories in addition to a wraparound porch. Two more bungalows were constructed in the district at this time. Ernest Herman, a postal clerk, purchased a lot between Thomas Johnston's house (237 Fifth Avenue NE) and Dr. Heald's home (217 Fifth Avenue NE), and the large bungalow (227 Fifth Avenue NE) he built has characteristic features of the style. The second bungalow (122 Fifth Avenue NE) was built for H.N. Dyer across from the Fox-Ingold House (121 Fifth Avenue NE) and adjacent to J.H. Patrick's house (114 Fifth Avenue NE). Dyer came to Hickory from Roanoke, operated a business related to the manufacture and sale of furniture, but left sometime soon after 1915.
With the completion of the Dyer house about 1914 the period of building in the district which began with the Patrick and Rainey houses virtually stopped until 1918, and did not gain momentum again until the early 1920s. This building hiatus was a direct result of the United States' increasing involvement in W.W. I. Rechanneling of industrial output during the war, combined with the post war retooling and recession, placed a tight clamp on building activity in Hickory. As noted in a 1921 issue of the Hickory Daily Record, the city "stopped its splendid growth during the war to devote its time to serving country."
In 1916 the Reformed Church closed Claremont College, thereby ending a long period of hard work by the church to provide a needed educational and cultural facility for Hickory's young women. Although it never achieved Vaughn's dream of becoming a "Wellesley of the South," it certainly had an influence on the city's development. Claremont College's passing did not leave Hickory without an educational facility. In fact, it was the growth of the public school system after 1901 which, more than anything else, doomed the college. For example, by 1916 Hickory had built two graded schools. The closing of the college also ended a thirty-three year educational and cultural association with the neighborhood, one which would not be reaffirmed until some years later. When building finally resumed after 1918 the new construction was scattered throughout the district.
The third period of sustained development in the Claremont High School Historic District commenced in 1918 and lasted for the next twenty-two years. Those factors which contributed to the earlier growth of Hickory continued to propel the city's development at this time. A general non-farm economic boom following the war was felt in Hickory and throughout North Carolina as new businesses and industries were established. Furthermore, growth in the urban population from 5,076 persons in 1920 to 13,487 in 1940 created an increasing need for housing, consumer and service related businesses, as well as new educational and recreational facilities. Many of the people who established these businesses chose home sites in the district — even as outlying areas were being developed for residential sites — thereby reaffirming its position as one of the fashionable neighborhoods in Hickory. In addition, a renewed commitment to improving the city's amenities during this period also had a direct and lasting impact on the district with the construction of the Claremont High School and changes to Carolina Park.
A director of the First National Bank, John L. Riddle, who was also a prominent businessman and co-founder of the Hickory Grocery Company with J.H. Patrick (114 Fifth Avenue NE), had an impressive bungalow (307 Second Street NE) built in 1918 at the northwest corner of 3rd Avenue and 2nd Street. Another residence built about the same time is the Murphy-McFarland House (221 Third Street NE). Mrs. Essie Murphy purchased a lot behind the Reformed Church parsonage after her husband, Dr. J.L. Murphy, a minister of the church, died in 1917. Her daughter and son-in-law John T. McFarland, also occupied the Colonial Revival house at the same time. Soon after these two houses were constructed, the Thomas P. Pruitt bungalow (434 Third Street NE) was built at the southeast corner of 3rd Street and 5th Avenue. Pruitt was a businessman and lawyer. His wife Adelyn who still  resides in the house, is the daughter of David M. McComb, an early settler in Hickory, which explains in part why they were able to build on the edge of the McComb farm. Grover P. Fowler, a traveling salesman, bought a large bungalow, typical of those found throughout the district, which had been built about 1919 on 3rd Avenue.
Comparison of the two sets of Sanborn Insurance maps, which shows enough of the district to be useful, reveal that between 1919 and 1925 eleven additional buildings, which are still extant, had been added within the border of the Claremont High School Historic District. In many cases new housing was built on lots which had been subdivided as early as 1915, whereas in other areas new lots had been created from larger parcels. For example, three lots which Councill and Menzies had owned in 1915 at the southeast corner of 3rd Avenue and North Center Street had been improved by 1925, and the foundation for a fourth structure was completed. Likewise, dwellings were built for Brian Jones at 18 Third Avenue; O.C. Cloninger (105 Fifth Avenue NE) on one of the remaining lots of the J.M. Shuford estate along 5th Avenue; and Dr. Charles Hunsucker, (266 Fifth Avenue NE) a prominent physician and deacon in the Corinth Reformed Church.. The continued subdivision of larger lots is evident by the house built for Alonzo M. West (106 Third Avenue NE) in the space between George Bailey's house (102 Third Avenue NE) and Judge Councill's house (118 Third Avenue NE). West was the secretary and treasurer of the West-Deal Company, a men's clothing store.
Three new building lots had also been created when the Corinth Reformed Church subdivided their property along 3rd Street behind the parsonage, one of which had been purchased by Mrs. Joseph L. Murphy [Essie Murphy] (221 Third Street NE). Calvin R. Warlick bought one of these lots in 1923, and by 1925 his two story, Neo-Colonial Revival style house (213 Third Street NE) had been built on it. Warlick was an oil inspector for the State Highway Department. To the south of Warlick's house a large residence (205 Third Street NE) was built about 1924 for Milas M. Sigmond, who was a sales representative for the Coca Cola Bottling Company. Its two and one-half story brick veneer form dominates the northwest corner of 3rd Street and 2nd Avenue.
The construction of two multi-family residences in the district during this boom period brought a new element to what was previously an area of single family units. This probably reflected the growing need for such housing for new urban immigrants, further induced by the proximity and availability of these buildings sites to downtown. The Moss Apartments (10 Third Avenue NE) were built at the southeast corner of 3rd Avenue and North Center Street, and on a lot to the south a duplex (220 North Center Street).
A number of bungalows were built in the Claremont High School Historic District in the period between 1918 and 1925. Included among these is the David Bowman house (121 Fourth Avenue NE), a one story structure with a clipped, cross gable roof built in 1924. Bowman was a traveling salesman and lived in the house at least until 1942. On the lot adjacent to Cloninger's "square house" on 5th Avenue, Colin M. Yoder also had a large bungalow (111 Fifth Avenue NE) built.
Other buildings erected in the district during the period between 1919 and 1925 have Colonial Revival and modified bungalow forms. These include the Dr. Oma H. Hester house at 328 North Center Street with its wide German siding, end chimneys, and a center entrance with fanlights. Alonzo M. West's Colonial Revival style house, mentioned above is also a part of this group. A lot which adjoined T.M. Johnston's house at 237 Fifth Avenue was the site of a new home (245 Fifth Avenue NE) for Rusk G. Henry and his growing family. Henry was a construction supervisor and later the manager of Hickory Novelty Company and his wife, Adelaide, was Johnston's daughter. The superintendent of city schools, Ralston W. Carver, had a brick veneered house (258 Third Avenue NE) built about 1924 on a lot between the Shuford Whitener house (250 Third Avenue NE) and the former Corinth Reformed Church parsonage (264 Third Avenue NE).
When Dr. Carver chose to locate on Third Avenue it was a result of his desire to be across from the site of Claremont High School, Hickory's newest school then under construction. In the period between the closing of Claremont College and the opening of the new school both the city and the Corinth Reformed Church had maintained an interest in upgrading Hickory's educational facilities. The city needed a new school for its growing school age population even though it had erected two graded schools and expanded one of them since 1903. In 1919 the Corinth Reformed Church offered the old college site to the city if it would erect a school with a value of not less than $150,000. When a bond issue was passed for $250,000 in 1923 work commenced. C. Gadsen Sayre of Raleigh, North Carolina was commissioned to design the new school. Opened on October 9, 1925, the Neo-Classical Revival style facility had fourteen teachers and 400 students. The new school was an impressive addition to Hickory's building stock, and its location in this area of the city reestablished the educational and cultural associations which had long been part of the neighborhood.
During the 1920s and very early 1930s there was also a renewed effort on the part of the city and civic organizations to upgrade the parks. This program was visible in Carolina Park where a number of additions and improvements were made. The Hickory Post of the American Legion sponsored the construction of a swimming pool in 1921, and other groups had donated a lily pool, a children's wading pool, and playground equipment. In 1922 the city authorized the construction in the park of a large stone culvert to span a small stream which ran along the park's western edge. At the same time lights were to be installed, and permanent walkways were built to replace the existing dirt and gravel walks. During the depression WPA labor was used to keep Carolina Park maintained, and its efforts can still be seen in a number of concrete walkways which have been stamped with WPA seals. Nearly sold for commercial development in the late 1920's, the Women's Club led a campaign to preserve the park, and in 1931 the upper end was enclosed with shrubbery and flowers were planted throughout. In addition to these numerous undertakings George F. Ivey, a manufacturer in Hickory, began to develop a public arboretum in the park. By the time of his death in 1952 he had planted some 250 species of trees each labeled, and many of them imported from other countries.
Development of the Claremont High School Historic District after 1925 was constrained by the availability of building lots. The McComb family had developed a plan to subdivide its property which lay outside of the district boundary, but only gradually did they make lots available along 3rd Street. A period of nine years had passed since the Pruitt's bungalow had been constructed at the corner of 3rd Street and 5th Avenue before the Warner-McComb House (418 Third Street NE) was built next to it in 1928. Its Tudor Revival form is one of the finest in the Claremont High School Historic District. The house was built for a Mrs. Warner, a widow, and her two children. Mr. Warner had been superintendent of one of the local furniture factories, and they had previously lived near the railroad tracks.
As the construction of the Warner house demonstrates, the Claremont High School Historic District continued to attract businessmen and other professionals who were willing to invest their money in fine homes. This is also evident in a number of other houses which were built in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Two of K.C. Menzies' sons opted to locate along 2nd Avenue on lots behind their father. Phillip Menzies, secretary of Menzies Hosiery Mills, had a small Neo-Colonial Revival style house (241 Second Avenue NE) built around 1930. In 1931 Donald S. Menzies moved into a new home (223 Second Avenue NE) which was designed by a local architect, Q.E. Herman. Donald was the president of Menzies Hosiery Mills, and vice-president of the First Security Company.
Between 1927 and 1931 two small houses had been built for Frank L. Fox (127 Second Avenue NE) and J. Carl Wolfe (111 Second Avenue NE) on the north side of Second Avenue, representing a further subdivision of the original Councill lot. Both of the buildings were based on the current Tudor Revival styles. Fox was the manager of the Hickory office of Duke Power Company, and his house is the smallest Tudor Revival house in the district. J. Carl Wolfe was the founder of the Wolfe Drug Company. At about the same time that these two houses were built, Shuford L. Whitener's son James L. Whitener had a house (251 Second Avenue NE) built at the rear of his father's lot. James was engaged in the automobile and filling station business. Adjacent to Whitener's house, Ward Yoder, a piano tuner, bought the back part of Milas Sigmond's lot (205 Third Street NE) and had a small brick veneered Colonial Revival style house (257 Second Avenue NE) built around 1930.
Subdivision of the large lot on which the William Menzies house was located made way for the construction in 1938 of the Tudor Revival style Marshall R. Wagner house (217 Second Avenue NE) at the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street. Wagner operated a retail furniture store, and his house was the last and one of the finest of the Tudor Revival houses constructed in the district. The list of new residents who moved into the district at this time also includes Charlotte Cere Grothe, a music teacher; James C. Shuford, a businessman and son of Hickory pioneer Abel A. Shuford; David A. McComb, Jr., lawyer and son of an early merchant, David McComb; and Arthur H. Burgess, a certified public accountant.
Construction in the district since 1940 on what few lots remained has included a small W.W. II Colonial Revival style house for Luther G. Boliek (58), and an office (59) built in the 1950s for Dr. Hunsucker of the rear of his lot on 3rd Street. In addition, two intrusive buildings have been built: one (built before 1961) (226 Third Avenue NE) between the houses of K.C. Menzies and Mrs. William Menzies, Sr., and the second, a one story, two family apartment house (226/228 Fifth Avenue Court NE) built in the 1970s, between T.M. Johnston's home on 5th Avenue and Maple Grove. One structure, built in the 1930s and known as the nurses residence (109 Fourth Avenue NE), was moved into the district in the early 1970s. Originally located behind the Richard Baker Hospital it was moved to its present site when Glenn R. Frye Memorial Hospital (originally Richard Baker Hospital) began a building expansion program. In addition, the only church (311 Third Avenue NE) in the Claremont High School Historic District, and only the second institutional building, was constructed in 1951 by the First Methodist Church, the congregation's third church building in Hickory. Built on the site of the David M. McComb house its large L-shaped plan, imposing portico, and tall belfry and steeple dominate the intersection of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue. During this general period a number of unfortunate changes were made to Carolina Park including the widening of 2nd Street (N.C. 127) which removed the stone culvert; the wading pool and lily pool were filled in; the playground equipment was removed; and the swimming pool filled-in in the 1950s. At present it is a serene,well-maintained wooded lot with many of its unusual trees still in place and identified.
In 1972 the educational and cultural facility at the heart of the district once again was closed. Additions to the Claremont High School campus had been made in 1955, 1959, and 1963, but the ever-increasing suburban population forced the school board to reexamine the feasibility of expanding the facilities on this site. The original school building required substantial rehabilitation, and in 1972 the newer additions on the site were turned into an elementary school and the 1925 building was abandoned. At one point demolition was considered, but a plan to turn the school into an arts center was put forward in 1982 and work has begun on achieving this goal.
The residential area which developed around the Claremont Female College and later the Claremont High School was, from the start, characterized by the large homes built for businessmen and professionals. Prominent early residents include bankers (D.W. Shuler, K.C. Menzies), merchants and businessmen (A.L. Shuford, David and Harvey McComb, William B. Menzies), and a district Superior Court Judge (W.B. Councill). Later residents such as Frank Clinard, the Thorntons, Eubert and Josephine Lyerly, Walter J. Shuford, George W. Hall and Dr. Heald, were no less prominent, and each contributed to the growth and development of the city. When housing construction accelerated during the 1920s and 1930s, yet another generation of professionals turned to the district for their homes. Merchants such as Alonzo M. West and Marshall R. Wagner, lawyers like Thomas P. Pruitt and David McComb, Jr., Dr. Hunsucker and the Menzies brothers added their new homes to the area's collection of fine buildings. While the neighborhood continued to attract the middle and upper middle classes it also became home for other less prominent, but no less important, members of Hickory's growing population. Whether proximity to Claremont College had ever had an influence on the character of the neighborhood is uncertain simply because the financial and organizational problems which beset the school at its outset continued unabated. On the other hand, the area certainly benefitted from the cultural activities which were held there and later at Claremont High School. At present, the Claremont High School Historic District is still an attractive neighborhood for the city's businessmen, doctors, and other professionals who constitute the vast majority of its population. Furthermore, with the planned redevelopment of the Claremont High School into space for the Catawba County Council for the Arts, the cultural activities which have long been associated with the district will continue.
Claremont High School Historic District Boundary Increase
The Claremont High School Historic District Boundary Increase and Additional Documentation enlarges the original historic district, listed in 1986, situated around the 1925 Claremont High School, north of downtown Hickory, North Carolina, and it expands the period of significance from 1936 to 1959. The original district is composed of many large, well-appointed residences dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century with a period of significance of ca.1870 to 1935. The boundary increase contains a wide range of popular residential architectural styles from the early- and mid-twentieth century as the neighborhood was further developed to accommodate Hickory's rapidly growing population. A diversified manufacturing base attracted scores of new workers, professionals, and small business owners to the town, creating an unprecedented housing boom between the wars and in the post-World War II period. The neighborhood around Claremont High School and north of 5th Avenue was transformed during this period with new houses erected on vacant lots and large tracts subdivided for additional building sites. The expansion of the Claremont High School Historic District augments the earlier construction period of the original district by reflecting the continuity of development of the neighborhood through the mid-twentieth century.
The Claremont High School Historic District Boundary Increase and Additional Documentation meets National Register of Historic Places criterion for architecture. The boundary increase area of the locally-significant district, with a period of significance beginning ca.1900 and ending in 1959, contains a wide-ranging mix of architect-designed houses and nationally popular architectural styles common to twentieth century neighborhoods in North Carolina. A few resources in the boundary increase date to the early twentieth century, but the majority are residences constructed in the 1920s and 1930s. The significant number of houses in the boundary increase from the 1940s and 1950s demonstrate the ongoing development and popularity of the neighborhood at mid-century. Dwellings executed in the Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Period Cottage, Minimal Traditional, and Ranch styles predominate, with important examples of Dutch Colonial, Spanish, and Tudor Revival styles interspersed throughout the district. The Claremont High School Historic District Boundary Increase and Additional Documentation also meets criterion in the area of education. The original district was organized around Claremont High School, an imposing three-story Neoclassical Revival-style structure. Claremont High School was the third public school in the city's school system and continued the educational activities associated with the neighborhood and its predecessor, Claremont Female College. School additions in the 1950s and 1960s enabled the introduction new vocational training classes and accommodated a growing student population that reflected the overall growth of Hickory in the post-World War II era.
The Claremont High School Boundary Increase and Additional Documentation extends the period of significance for the original district from 1936 to 1959. Good examples of Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Period Cottage, and Minimal Traditional style houses in the original district that were previously outside the period of significance are now contributing resources within the district. The period of significance for the boundary increase area begins ca.1900, with the construction of the two-story Queen Anne-style house at 501 Third Avenue NE, and continues through 1959 to include the important collection of architectural resources within the neighborhood and a major addition to Claremont High School in 1959, which was constructed to alleviate student overcrowding at the school. The years after 1959 do not meet criteria consideration for exceptional significance.
Historical Background and Contexts
The Claremont High School Historic District Boundary Increase and Additional Documentation builds upon the architectural contexts of the original nomination and documents the building patterns occurring after World War I as vacant lots were improved and large lots were subdivided for residential construction.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Hickory witnessed a period of tremendous growth and expansion in its manufacturing sector with the opening of new plants for furniture, cotton, and textile production, and its growth and development easily outpaced the county's other incorporated towns: Conover, Maiden, and Newton, the county seat. Hickory benefitted from its proximity to transportation and water sources, and as a result the town enjoyed one of the most diversified industrial economies in the state. New industry brought new residents to Hickory, which saw its population double in the first two decades of the twentieth century — climbing from 2,535 people in 1900 to more than 5,000 in 1920.
"Historic Resources of Hickory" outlines significant house types and styles including twentieth century residential examples of Queen Anne, Craftsman Bungalows, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial Revival, and Tudor Revival style houses. Examples of these property types are found in both the Claremont High School Historic District and the boundary increase areas. The residential architecture of Hickory reflected the social changes occurring in the town as it evolved into the economic and cultural center of the county.
The Claremont High School Historic District nomination emphasizes the impressive collection of imposing dwellings sited on large lots that were built in the immediate vicinity of the Claremont Female College, prior to 1923 when it was demolished to make way for the three-story Neoclassical style Claremont High School, which was completed in 1925. The neighborhood, however, evokes a broader, more varied character in both its architectural styles and building lots. Certainly the oldest dwellings in the district typically occupy spacious lots, but home sites were becoming consistently smaller in the neighborhood as demand for housing increased in the early twentieth century, which is reflected in both the original district and the boundary increase areas.
The three earliest houses in the boundary increase areas date from the first two decades of the twentieth century and help to illustrate the gradual evolution of the nineteenth century residential area around the Claremont Female College to the twentieth century neighborhood that grew up around the Claremont High School and Baker Hospital (present day Frye Regional Medical Center). The house at 501 Third Avenue NE is a two-story, frame dwelling that has been altered but still retains its hip-roof form, one-story porch, projecting second-story center bay, Queen Anne type multi-light windows, and porte cochere. It sits on a deep lot that extends through to Fourth Avenue NE, typical of some of the larger house lots in the original district. The one-and-a-half story, side-gable, frame house at 530 N. Center Street dates to first decade of the twentieth century has also been altered somewhat but displays a blind front gable, hip-roof rear ell, and gabled dormer with a Palladian window. Built before 1919, the Warlick House at 102 Second Avenue NE is a one-and-a-half story bungalow with shed-roof dormers and a triangular purlin brackets. In the late 1930s or 1940s the house was covered with brick veneer and the front porch was enclosed to form additional living space with a central recessed entrance.
The ca.1920 Earl Smith House at 204 Third Street NE is a well-detailed one-story brick bungalow that occupies a relatively small corner lot at the intersection of 2nd Avenue NE and 3rd Street NE. The Smith House is one of approximately twenty-one resources dating from the 1920s in the expansion area, including numerous bungalows and Colonial Revival style houses. The distribution of these houses throughout the expansion area indicates that the neighborhood had begun to stretch beyond the group of houses clustered around the college/high school during the period of significance for the original district.
Among the number of charming Bungalows and Colonial Revival style dwellings erected in the boundary increase areas during the 1920s, the charming ca.1923 A.C. Henderson House at 544 First Street NW is a one-and-a-half story, Craftsman-influenced frame structure with a clipped gable roof, shingled gable dormers, exposed triangular purlin brackets and exposed rafter ends, and a tapering brick facade chimney. An eyebrow eave supported by paired brackets shelters the single-leaf arched entrance, which is flanked by sidelights. The ca.1926 James Gibson House at 616 N. Center Street is a one-and-a-half story brick bungalow with a clipped side-gable roof, clipped gable dormer, stucco in the gable ends, purlin brackets, and an engaged wraparound porch, which has been partially enclosed.
The Colonial Revival style is represented by several variations including the stylish ca.1925 Oscar T. Pitts House at 20 Sixth Avenue NE, a well appointed two-story, brick Dutch Colonial house with shingled shed dormers, green tile roof, one-story side wings, and twelve-over-one windows. The distinctive ca.1928 Walter Hipp House at 625 Second Street NE is a two-story, side-gable dwelling constructed of yellow brick that features brick end chimneys, flat-roof entrance portico supported on Tuscan columns, six-panel entry door framed by sidelights and a fanlight, and eyebrow eaves over second-story window groups. The 1927 Paul W. Bumbarger House at 548 N. Center Street exhibits a similar two-story, three-bay, side-gable form with brick end chimneys and central entry door framed by sidelights and a fanlight, but also features an offset one-bay side wing with a polygonal bay window. The ca.1924 Aiken House at 559 First Street NW is a rare Spanish Colonial Revival style residence in Hickory, with one other recorded example found in the Oakwood Historic District (National Register, 1986). The one-and-a-half story stuccoed dwelling features a tower block on the south side, projecting entry porch with arched openings, terra cotta tile roof, and terraced side porch. Immediately north of the Aiken House is a one-story, five-bay, side-gable Colonial Revival variant that represents the more modest scale and appointments of a number of houses in the boundary increase areas. The house, which was built in 1929 and was home to local architect Robert L. Clemmer during the 1950s, features wood shingle siding, six-over-six windows, and gable-front entry porch supported on Tuscan columns.
Prior to the 1920s, the developed portions of Hickory did not extend much beyond present-day 5th Avenue (originally Fifteenth Avenue), the northern boundary of the Claremont High School Historic District, with large semi-rural homesteads lying beyond the limits of Hickory's street network. Present-day North Center and 2nd streets (originally 12th and 10th streets, respectively) were extended north to 8th Avenue (originally 17th Avenue) by 1920. The area between present 5th and 8th avenues were platted during the 1920s to create new building lots. The J.H. Aiken estate comprised the area between North Center Street and 2nd Street NW, the western part of the boundary expansion. Much of the land between North Center Street and Second Street NE from 5th Avenue to 8th Avenue was platted as the Morningside subdivision, comprising the east portion of the boundary expansion. By 1931 the expansion area's street pattern north of 5th Avenue had reached much of its present appearance and clusters of new houses had been constructed on North Center and 2nd Street NE, as well as a few on 1st Street NW.
At the beginning of the 1930s and the onset of a nationwide economic depression, Hickory remained largely insulated from the harshest conditions experienced in some areas of the state and nation. The city's diversified economic base, especially its industrial sector, helped to keep residents employed and productive. Many manufacturing plants cut operating hours, but workers were able to keep their jobs. Federal relief agencies stepped in to provide additional jobs and public improvement projects that city leaders utilized to the benefit of the city as a whole. In 1931, the population of Hickory rose to more than 10,000 (due, in part, to the annexation of the towns of West Hickory and Highland), and before the end of the decade, it had grown to more than 14,000. For a variety of reasons Hickory was able to emerge from the Depression relatively quickly and poised for tremendous growth in the mid-twentieth century.
During the 1930s, the Claremont High School neighborhood saw a surprising number of new houses erected — approximately thirty-five scattered throughout the boundary expansion area. Several of the largest houses in the district were built in the late 1930s for prominent families, but a number of modest bungalows, Period Cottages, Colonial Revival, and Tudor Revival style residences demonstrates the range of Hickory's building activity at the time. The ca.1935 William and Mildred Howard House at 609 Second Street NE is a good example of a one-story, front-gable, brick bungalow with a wraparound porch, exposed rafter ends and compound purlin brackets, and six-over-one windows. The Ambrose Lucas House at 549 Second Street, built ca.1938, is a more substantial one-and-a-half story brick bungalow with a bold side-gable roof that curves forward to engage a full-width porch. The Charles and Elizabeth Henderson House at 26 Fifth Avenue NW, built ca.1930, and the ca.1935 Clyde and Bessie Poovey House at 23 Sixth Avenue NE are good examples of the Tudor Revival style. Both houses are one-and-a-half stories, brick, and feature stucco and half-timbering in their multiple gables and dormers. The ca.1935 Terry V. Crouch House at 728 N. Center Street is a compact two-story, brick Dutch Colonial house displaying a tall gambrel roof and recessed porch with arched openings. The David McComb Jr. House, located in the original district at 230 Third Street NE, is a restrained two-story, three-bay, brick Colonial Revival-style dwelling with corbelled brick quoins framing the elevation, single-leaf entry framed by sidelights and a transom, and six-over-six windows. Built in 1939, the McComb House falls within the extended period of significance and contributes to the architectural significance of the district.
Period Cottages gained in popularity and prominence during the 1930s, with twelve examples dating from that time in the boundary increase areas. They encompass a range of modest house types typically influenced by the Tudor Revival style and English cottages without a strong affinity for any particular style. The style first became popular in the 1920s and was disseminated through house plan catalogs well into the 1940s. Period Cottages typically present a combination of elements including one-and-a-half stories, medium to steeply pitched multi-gable roofs, asymmetrical plan, over-scaled or facade chimneys, and tall, narrow window groups, frequently casements. Stucco, half-timbering, and patterned brickwork are common decorative elements of Period Cottages. A group of three adjacent Period Cottages on 7th Avenue NE illustrate some of the differences. The house at 29 Seventh Avenue NE is the most plain of group, but features an engaged front-gable porch with arched openings and a curving roof line. The house at 23 Seventh Avenue prominently displays a facade gable bay containing the arched entry. The house at 107 Seventh Avenue NE is the most detailed of the group with a facade chimney, patterned brickwork, and a stucco and half-timbered front-gable porch. The Shuford-Bumgarner House, located in the original district at 123 Second Avenue NE, is a one-and-a-half story brick Period Cottage presenting a facade gable bay with an asymmetrical roof slope and arched opening. Built around 1935, the Shuford-Bumgarner House falls within the extended period of significance and contributes to the architectural significance of the district.
As a whole, Hickory recorded an increase in building permits issued each year from 1932 to 1937, and the town was served by several local architects and builders. The M.G. Crouch Lumber Company, Moss and Marlowe Building Company, and Henry C. Cline all reported significant building activity during 1937, and noted a ten percent increase in business volume from 1936. The three companies were responsible for the vast majority of construction work in Hickory during 1937. Local architects Robert L. Clemmer, Quince Edward and Fannie Herman, D.L. Sigmon, and Abee & Tashiro maintained architectural practices that provided designs for residential, commercial, and public buildings.
Marshall G. Crouch came to Hickory in 1904 and opened a grocery store in 1913. Crouch began building furniture and gradually became recognized as one of the foremost building contractors and suppliers of custom millwork in the area. In 1933, Crouch erected a 20,000 square foot millwork plant to complement his construction activities. Crouch was known primarily for building houses — more than 350 are documented — although the company also constructed churches and commercial buildings. He built a one-and-a-half story Colonial Revival style brick house for his family at 415 Third Avenue NE in 1937, and the Crouch Lumber Company was responsible for constructing or remodeling a substantial number of houses in the Claremont neighborhood. Crouch, who was serving on the Board of Alderman at the time, had to give up his seat representing Ward Five when he moved into his new house because it was in Ward Eight. After Crouch's death in 1944, the company was run by his son and daughter, who had both worked in the family business since the early 1930s.
Many of the houses built by the M. G. Crouch Lumber Company in the Claremont neighborhood were one- and two-story brick dwellings executed in the Colonial Revival and Minimal Traditional styles. The Crouch company erected architect-designed houses, as well as residences built from published plans from sources such as L.F. Garlinghouse, National Plan Service, and Southern Living. Examples of Crouch-built houses include the R.B. Belk House, a one-and-a-half story brick Period Cottage at 618 Second Street NE, and the Buren E. Scarborough House at 692 First Street NW, a large two-story, three-bay brick Colonial Revival style house with an attached 2-car garage. Both houses date from 1948 and were built from plans published by Garlinghouse, a nationally prominent producer of house plan catalogs based in Topeka, Kansas. The Earl W. Reese House at 705 Second Street NE, a one-and-a-half story brick Period Cottage from 1937, was built according to designs by Quince E. Herman. Nearby, Crouch built the ca.1950 James E. Webber House at 612 Second Street NE, which was designed by Mrs. Q.E. Herman, one of very few women practicing architecture in North Carolina in the mid-twentieth century. The Crouch Lumber Company built or remodeled at least twenty houses in the Claremont neighborhood, including the Charles Harvey House at 556 North Center Street, which Crouch built in the late 1940s and then remodeled in 1968 for the Charles Jeffers family.
Quince Edward Herman (1879-1950) established one of Hickory's first architectural practices and was the only resident architect from the early twentieth century until 1934, when Robert Clemmer opened his office in Hickory. In 1913, Q. E. Herman married Fannie Belle Winkler (1889-1962), a Caldwell County native who graduated from Davenport College in 1908, and the couple collaborated on many projects over the years. At first Mrs. Herman helped around the office and learned drafting techniques while also working as a stenographer. As the only architect in Hickory during the first part of the twentieth century, Q.E. Herman greatly influenced the town's architectural character during this period and produced numerous designs for houses, schools, and commercial buildings, including the two-story brick home of Dr. Charles Hunsucker built in 1921 in the Claremont district and the 1938 Harris Arcade (NR, 2008) erected in the downtown business district. Herman likely designed the two-story, side-gable Colonial Revival style stone house for Carroll Harris at 8 Seventh Avenue NE in 1939. Carroll Harris and his brother, George, hired Herman to design the arcade building, and the architect was one of the building's first tenants. Though she was never officially a licensed architect, Mrs. Herman began designing houses in the 1930s with her husband. At the time of his death in 1950, Mrs. Herman had gained enough experience and reputation to continue designing houses in Hickory. More than forty residences are attributed to her that were built by the M.G. Crouch Lumber Company, including the James Webber House at 612 Second Street NE and the ca.1948 Robert Gibbs House at 222 Fifth Avenue NE. Both houses are one-story, brick Minimal Traditional dwellings, but the Gibbs House displays a higher level of decoration with an engaged porch supported by Tuscan columns and a Chippendale-style entrance.
Although Mrs. Herman continued her practice through the 1950s, Robert L. Clemmer emerged in the 1930s and 1940s as one of the most prominent and influential architects in Hickory. A 1926 graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College, Clemmer opened his office in Hickory in 1934, when Q.E. Herman was the only other firm in town. Among his earliest commissions were a new headquarters for the Hickory Daily Record newspaper, which he designed in 1936. Clemmer then designed an imposing two-story, three-bay, late Colonial Revival style house for the Record's owner and publisher, Lester C. Gifford. Lester and Mildred Gifford moved to Hickory from Indiana in 1929, after purchasing the newspaper. The Giffords were ardent supporters of Hickory and actively involved in civic affairs. Situated on a three-acre wooded lot at 720 Second Street NE, their stately home featured a monumental portico, tile roof, and landscaped grounds that reflected the prosperity and potential of Hickory in the pre-World War II era.
Clemmer designed another stately house in the Claremont neighborhood in 1938 for Dr. Glenn R. Frye. Located at 539 North Center Street, the two-story, five-bay, Colonial Revival style Frye House was distinguished by its use of dark fieldstone imported from Spruce Pine, which gave the house the appearance of a Pennsylvania farmhouse. A talented surgeon, Frye received his medical training and internship in Philadelphia, where he was likely exposed to the eighteenth and nineteenth century stone houses of Pennsylvania that appear to have inspired the design of his own home. Frye owned and managed Baker Hospital, within walking distance of his house, from 1929 to 1969, and oversaw its growth and expansion. After his death, the hospital was renamed Frye Regional Medical Center in his honor.
The presence of Baker Hospital (now Frye Regional Medical Center) has also influenced development of the Claremont neighborhood. Originally named for Richard Baker, the hospital was established at the southeast corner of North Center Street and 5th Avenue NE (originally 12th Street and 15th Avenue, respectively) in the 1910s. A three-story block was constructed in front of the original 2-story structure by 1925, and Dr. Frye, who purchased the hospital in 1934, oversaw additions to the facility in 1938, 1940, 1944, 1955, and 1967. Following Dr. Frye's example, the hospital's location has attracted doctors to buy or build houses in the neighborhood, contributing to its mix of professional and working families. Expansion of the hospital has also had a negative impact on the neighborhood as historic houses have been demolished or moved to make room for parking and modern medical office buildings. The effect of these growing pains has been most pronounced on the west side of North Center Street and south of 5th Avenue.
The growth of Baker Hospital reflects the tremendous growth the city experienced in the mid-twentieth century, particularly in the post-World War II period. After the war ended and soldiers began returning home, the demand for housing increased right along with the city's population. According to historian Gary Freeze: "Housing was in as short supply as jobs were plentiful. With six months of victory [in World War II] more than 200 families had applied for help through the various local agencies. By the start of 1946, Hickory had put out contracts for the erection of 150 prefabricated houses. Herman-Sipe Construction Company was soon putting up a unit a day." The need for housing coupled with steadily increasing automobile ownership began to stretch the city outward for new residential development and subdivisions. Existing neighborhoods close to downtown and established business and manufacturing centers were also beginning to fill up as the once-large house lots were subdivided to create more building sites. At the end of the decade Herman-Sipe Construction and M.G. Crouch Lumber Company were reporting that they had all the work they could handle and building suppliers such as Fox Lumber, Elliott Building Company, and Cline Lumber claimed to be having trouble keeping up with the demand for materials.
Hickory gained recognition in the 1940s as the fastest growing city in North Carolina, and also earned the title of "Best Balanced City." The 1940 United States census indicated an eighty-three percent increase in population — the greatest gain in the state and ninth in the nation. Population growth mirrored increases in industrial production, with 180 plants manufacturing more than 100 different products. The number of hosiery mills had climbed from four plants in 1925 to more than forty in 1946, and provided a significant number of well-paying jobs. Three local banks and two strong building and loan associations contributed to a high percentage of home ownership, which rose above seventy-five percent.
Following World War II, residential architecture in Hickory followed national trends with families finding comfort in the traditional domestic imagery of Period Cottages and the Colonial Revival style or, more commonly, desiring new and modern stylistic and planning ideas. The Minimal Traditional style evolved in the late 1930s and became very popular in the post-war period. The first examples of the style in the Claremont neighborhood date from 1938, with approximately nineteen total houses built in the style through the 1950s within the district. The houses are typically one-story brick with a side-gable or hip roof and often include a front-facing gable and multi-pane picture window. The brick, one-story, side-gable, Everett J. Sox House at 560 Second Street NE was built around 1938 and features two front-facing gables with a recessed entrance bay sheathed with wood siding. The house at 526 First NW, built around 1952, is a one-story, side-gable, brick dwelling that features a projecting front-gable bay, corner porch with paired square posts, and a dentil cornice.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the simplified traditional forms of the Minimal Traditional style were succeeded by the Ranch house, whose low-pitched roof and open floor plan appealed to a modern lifestyle. The Ranch-style house originated in California in the 1930s, but as it was disseminated around the country it was adapted to provide functional one-level living with privacy for all family members at a relatively low cost. The Ranch style, with ten examples, was not as widely popular in the Claremont neighborhood as the Minimal Traditional style, but several good examples of the style exist within the district. The ca.1945 Robert Hall House at 535 Second Street NE was built by the M.G. Crouch Lumber Company according to plans acquired from the National Plan Service. The one-story, side-gable brick house is unembellished except for a soldier course water table but is enhanced by original two-over-two windows with horizontal muntins and a four-part diamond-pane picture window. The Hall House is thought to be one of the earliest Ranch houses in Hickory. The ca.1950 house at 541 First Street NE is a more typical example of the long, one-story brick Ranch house and includes an attached garage in the side wing. The Joseph W. Abernethy House at 12 Fifth Avenue NW, a one-story side-gable brick Ranch house that dates from around 1955, features a front-gable bay with weatherboards set diagonally in the gable ends. The general form and distinctive gable sheathing is echoed in other houses in the area, including 345 Second Street NE (outside the district boundary), that suggests a common design source or builder, or both. The one-story Ranch-style duplex at 226 Third Avenue NE in the original historic district dates to ca.1956 and features a simple rectangular plan, low hip roof, and separate entrances to the two apartments.
Hickory's unprecedented post-war growth reached its peak in the early 1960s. The city's population had nearly tripled between 1920 and 1950, and the number of manufacturing plants reached its highest number in 1961. Announcement of a new General Electric plant in 1955 anticipated substantial new construction work and an estimated 1,200 new jobs. Population growth also affected education in the city and county, which experienced a second period of consolidation in the late 1940s. Claremont High School, which had been built to accommodate 500 students, was overflowing by 1949 with a student population that topped 900, and no additions had been made to the building except for three finished rooms in the basement.
Claremont High School underwent a series of additions beginning in 1955 to increase capacity and offer additional educational programs. A new lunchroom and music room were constructed to the north of the school in 1955, along with a new shop and classrooms; this wing was enlarged again in 1963 with additional classrooms. Following World War II, principal Walter Cottrell had envisioned a new wing to accommodate an expanded vocational training program. In 1959 an addition was erected to the west of the school consisting of a three-story classroom block attached to a one-story library and business education wing. The 1959 additions, which featured brick end walls framing glass curtain walls with opaque lower panels and concrete spandrels. Designed in an a modernist-influenced style that became popular for institutional buildings in North Carolina, the school addition utilizes modern materials and construction techniques to create open facades of glass, deep overhangs, and open, light-filled interiors.
By 1964, Claremont High School's capacity reached 1,200, although student enrollment approached 1,300. The pressures of suburban population growth ultimately led the school board to shift its future investments away from the school facility, although the 1959 wing to the west served as Central Elementary School from 1972 to 1982. Avoiding demolition, the building evolved into a significant community preservation project with the local arts council obtaining a long-term lease on the property and renovating the 1925 school building for an arts and science center, which opened in 1986. The adaptive reuse of the Claremont High School continues the educational and cultural traditions that first drew homeowners to the neighborhood in the early twentieth century.
Urban renewal and continued redevelopment of downtown Hickory had a profound impact on the city. As suburban residential developments and shopping centers pulled residents away from the downtown neighborhoods, much of downtown's historic fabric was removed or drastically altered in the late twentieth century. The widening of NC Highway 127 (2nd Street NE) from two to five lanes in the 1990s wrought considerable change on the Claremont neighborhood. The road widening removed property from front yards and took two houses in the original district. Despite the obvious visual changes to the Second Street corridor, the widening project did not greatly impact the district boundary expansion areas or alter the historical associations that bind the neighborhood together.
"A Survey and Classified Directory of Hickory: North Carolina's Fastest Growing and Best Balanced City." Hickory, NC: Hickory of Chamber of Commerce, 1946.
Baldwin, Robert Morten, ed. Hickory, North Carolina ConSurvey Directory. Vols.1-4. Hickory, NC: Mullin-Kille of North Carolina and Hickory Daily Record, 1966, 1968, 1970, and 1972.
Bishir, Catherine W., and Lawrence S. Earley, eds. Early Twentieth-Century Suburbs In North Carolina. Raleigh, NC: Archaeology and Historic Preservation Section, Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1985.
Bishir, Catherine W., and Michael T. Southern. A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
Branson, Levi, ed. The North Carolina Business Directory. Raleigh, NC: Levi Branson with J.A. Jones, 1872.
"City Directories of Streets and Numbers." Report. Hickory, NC: Engineering Department, City of Hickory, June 1, 1951.
Fearnbach, Heather. "Kenworth Historic District Boundary Expansion" National Register Nomination, 2004, Survey and Planning Branch, Historic Preservation Section, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Raleigh.
Freeze, Gary R. The Catawbans: Crafters of a North Carolina County, 1747-1900. Newton, NC: Catawba County Historical Association, 1995.
________. The Catawbans, Volume Two: Pioneers In Progress. Ed. Sidney Halma. Newton, NC: Catawba County Historical Association, 2002.
Fulbright, Lucille M., ed. The Heritage of Catawba County, North Carolina. Volume 1. Newton, NC: Catawba County Genealogical Society, 1986.
Halma, Sidney, ed. Catawba County: An Architectural History. Newton, NC: Catawba County Historical Association and The Donning Company, 1991.
Hefner, R.L. Municipal Survey, City of Hickory, North Carolina: Six Year Period Ended June 30, 1938. Hickory, NC: n.p., 1938.
The Hickory Daily Record. Hickory, NC.
Historic Certification Consultants. Architectural Resources of Highland Park, Illinois: Northeast Survey Area, A Summary and Inventory. Report prepared for Highland Park Historic Preservation Commission, Highland Park, IL, 2002.
Hood, Davyd Foard. "Harris Arcade" National Register Nomination, 2007, Survey and Planning Branch, Historic Preservation Section, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Raleigh.
Hough, Evelyn E. "Hickory's Woman Architect." The State (March 6, 1937).
Keiser, Albert, Jr., and Angela May. From Tavern To Town, Revisited: An Architectural History of Hickory, North Carolina. Hickory, NC: Hickory Landmarks Society, 2004.
Kooiman, Barbara M. "Historic and Architectural Resources of Catawba County, North Carolina" Multiple Property Documentation Form, 1990, Survey and Planning Branch, Historic Preservation Section, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Raleigh.
Miller, Chas. W., ed. Miller's Hickory, N.C. City Directory. Vols. VI-XX. Asheville, NC: Southern Directory Company, 1938-1965.
Miller, Ernest H., ed. City Directory, Hickory, North Carolina. Vol. 1 (1909-1910). Asheville, NC: Piedmont Directory Co., Inc., 1910.
________. Miller's Hickory, N.C. City Directory. Vols. IV-V. Asheville, NC: Commercial Service Company, 1929 and 1931.
Mohney, Kirk F. "Claremont High School Historic District" National Register Nomination, 1986, Survey and Planning Branch, Historic Preservation Section, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Raleigh.
________. "Historic Resources of Hickory" Multiple Resource Area Nomination Form, 1985, Survey and Planning Branch, Historic Preservation Section, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Raleigh.
________. From Tavern To Town: The Architectural History of Hickory, North Carolina. Hickory, NC: City of Hickory Historic Properties Commission and Hickory Landmarks Society, 1988.
Preslar, Charles J., Jr., ed. A History of Catawba County. Newton, NC: Catawba County Historical Association, 1954.
Price, Dot R., and Lucille M. Fulbright, eds. The Heritage of Catawba County. Volume 2. Newton, NC: Catawba County Genealogical Society, 2006.
Seagle, B. F., Jr. "City's Growth A Steady One." The State (January 22, 1938).
Sharpe, Bill, ed. North Carolina: A Description By Counties. Raleigh, NC: Warren Publishing Company, 1948.
________. A New Geography of North Carolina. Vol. III. Raleigh, NC: Sharpe Publishing Company, 1961.
Whitener, C.L., ed. Hickory, North Carolina City Directory. Vol. II (1920-1921). Statesville, NC: Brady Printing Company, 1921.
† Kirk F. Mohney, Consultant to the City of Hickory, Claremont High School Historic District, Catawba County, NC, nomination document, 1984, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
‡ Clay Griffith, Acme Preservation Services, LLC, Claremont High School Historic District Boundary Increase and Additional Documentation, Catawba County, NC, nomination document, 2009, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.