East Sanford Historic District
The East Sanford Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The East Sanford Historic District is located just east of Sanford's historic downtown district (National Register 1985). Unlike Sanford's Hawkins Avenue and Rosemount-McIver Park historic districts (NR 2000 and 1997, respectively), which illustrate a more affluent approach to domestic architectural styles, the East Sanford Historic District is a large neighborhood dominated by a more toned-down version of many of the same and later styles. Most of its 127 primary resources reflect what could be called the common man's approach to domestic architecture. Architectural types and styles represented in the East Sanford Historic District's houses, school, and two churches include vernacular one-story, single-pile or L-shaped houses with side gables, side and front gables, or triple-A gable roofs; two-story I-houses with the same roof forms; and simple examples of the Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Period Cottage, and Minimal Traditional styles. Within the East Sanford Historic District is the East Sanford Graded School, designed by prolific statewide public school architect C.G. Sayre and built by contractor Joe W. Stout, as well as various one- and two-story houses erected by prominent local builders John B. Matthews Jr. and Robert T. Walker.
The period of significance for the East Sanford Historic District covers the years from 1894, the date in which the Queen Anne-style influenced Isaac H. Lutterloh House, located at 216 McIver Street, is believed to have been built, to 1960, when East Sanford was still a vibrant neighborhood. Resources dating from after 1960 are not of exceptional significance. Additional historical information specific to the East Sanford Historic District and its resources, particularly those dating from 1942 to 1960, follows.
Historical Background and Architecture Context
As the construction of residential buildings began to expand outward from Sanford's commercial core in the late nineteenth century, groundwork was laid for intentional expansion to the east. The 1871 map of Sanford indicates that some large lots had been laid out along Charlotte Avenue and McIver Street. However, it was not until the 1890s that major surveying efforts were undertaken in the East Sanford area. In 1894, Lee County surveyor Francis Deaton laid out into town lots around ninety acres belonging to Mrs. John B. Matthews. According to The Sanford Express, "Some of these are very desirable lots to build on and are beautifully situated." The northernmost section of the East Sanford Historic District is on part of this surveyed land (Sanford Express, May 3, 1894). In 1899, Deaton surveyed and laid out into streets, blocks, and lots a much larger area owned by A.P. McPherson that included most of the land now within the East Sanford Historic District (Pezzoni, 258). As shown on the "Map of the South Eastern Portion of Sanford, N.C. and the Adjacent Lands," this expansive area went from McIver Street south to Newberne Avenue and east to beyond Tenth Street. With these surveys, the stage was set for substantial residential development in the East Sanford area.
The lack of Sanborn maps for the area prior to 1915 and the lack of city directories prior to 1950 make the dating of the earliest houses in the East Sanford Historic District difficult. However, the Sanborn maps for 1915, 1925, 1930, and 1938 do give a picture of the overall nature of the district's development by indicating which buildings had been erected before 1915, in the intervals between the dates of the different Sanborn maps, and after 1938. The city directories are able to expand what is known of the East Sanford Historic District's development by indicating which buildings were constructed between 1938 and 1950, which ones were built in the 1950s, and which ones were built after 1960.
One third of the East Sanford Historic District's 127 primary buildings had been erected by 1915, with the oldest known house, the one-story Isaac H. Lutterloh House at 216 McIver Street, dating from 1894. It was followed in 1898 by the two-story John B. Matthews Jr. House (John B. Matthews, builder) at 300 Charlotte Avenue and, shortly thereafter, by the Deaton-Makepeace House (Robert T. Walker, builder) at 304 Oakwood Avenue. These three houses provide a glimpse of what was happening during the earliest years of development in the East Sanford neighborhood. Only twelve two-story houses stand in the East Sanford Historic District, and ten of those were built before 1915, suggesting that East Sanford started out as a neighborhood of some affluence in Sanford. Owners of these East Sanford houses were prominent in the community: Francis Deaton was a civil engineer and the county surveyor who had surveyed and laid out most of the district for development. John B. Matthews Jr. was a local builder who was described in 1897 as "a first-class contractor and workman" (Pezzoni, 157). His family owned ninety acres of the land that was developed for the neighborhood. Tom Gunn, whose two-story house was built at 401 South Third Street in 1912, owned the nearby Gunn Veneer and Lumber Company. At the same time, Isaac Lutterlow, who was not only a physician, but also served as Sanford's postmaster and as a federal commissioner, had a one-story house. In fact, one-story houses were built right along with the more impressive two-story houses from the beginning. For whatever reason, construction of the larger houses in the neighborhood became rare after 1915, and the one- and one-and-a-half-story houses, most of them relatively simple expressions of their time, came to dominate the East Sanford landscape. Unlike the Hawkins Avenue Historic District (NR 2000), which evolved in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as Sanford's most fashionable residential area, and the Rosemount-McIver Park Historic District (NR 1997), a combination of two neighborhoods (Rosemount, which began to develop after 1900, and McIver Park, which was established in 1923) that eventually supplanted the earlier neighborhood to become Sanford's most prominent address, the East Sanford neighborhood became known as primarily a middle-class and workingman's neighborhood (National Register nomination, Hawkins Avenue Historic District; National Register nomination, Rosemount-McIver Park Historic District).
The Sanborn maps also reveal a somewhat peculiar aspect of the development of the East Sanford Historic District. There is no clear geographic progression of construction within the district. True, the pre-1915 houses were built largely from Maple Avenue northward and a cluster of houses dating from 1915 to 1925 were built at the south end of the district. Yet, it is clear that houses and other buildings from pre-1915 through the 1950s were erected in a scattered fashion throughout the district. Most of these filled previously vacant lots, not lots where earlier houses had stood. This would seem to suggest that over more than half a century, the streets of East Sanford continued to be a popular place for those of the middle and working classes to reside. Certainly, the neighborhood was close to an abundance of industrial and light-industrial sites — such as the Seaboard Milling Company (NR 2002), Fitts-Crabtree Manufacturing Company, Sanford Buggy Company, Sanford Sash and Blind Factory, Sanford Cotton Mill, Sanford Clothing Factory, Moffit Iron Works, Sanford Ice and Coal, Sugg Brothers Machine Shop, and Gunn Veneer and Lumber Company — that could provide employment for many workers (Sanborn maps; Map of South Eastern Portion of Sanford, N.C.).
Sanborn maps also give a sense of the changing rate of growth within the East Sanford Historic District. As has been stated, one third of the district's buildings pre-date 1915, so this was certainly an active period of construction. Building activity continued at a steady pace until the mid-1920s, by which time an additional twenty-seven percent of the district's buildings had been erected. From the mid-1920s to the end of the 1930s, construction slowed dramatically, accounting for only eight percent of the district's buildings. A flourish of construction came in the 1940s and 1950s, especially in the post-World War II years; thirty percent of the East Sanford Historic District's buildings date from those two decades. At the end of the 1950s, however, construction largely came to a halt, and only four buildings were erected after 1960.
The East Sanford Historic District's buildings reflect this pace of development by displaying, usually in a simple manner, architectural styles popular from the 1890s through the mid-twentieth century. Some of the oldest houses are vernacular in character and consist largely of one-story frame structures with an L-shaped plan with either front and side gables or a combined hipped and gabled roof, or one-story, single-pile dwellings, many with the popular triple-A gable roof. Good examples of the L-shaped houses are those at 203, 207, and 209 Charlotte Avenue and 400 McIver Street, all of which were built ca.1905. The houses at 316, 404, 406, and 408 McIver Street are examples of one-story dwellings with triple-A gable roofs. Most of these were built ca.1910. The house at 306 McIver Street is a good example of a two story dwelling with a triple-A gable roof. Unlike the others, it was not built until ca.1920.
Some of these vernacular houses reflect the influence of the late Victorian Queen Anne style in having porches and/or gables decorated with turned and/or sawnwork ornamentation. The house at 203 Charlotte Avenue has fanciful sawnwork detailing in both its front and side gables. The ca.1894 Isaac H. Lutterloh House at 216 McIver Street has diamond-shaped wood shingles in its gable ends, decorative louvered vents, and a cornice frieze with applied roundels above a sawnwork fleur-de-lis band. The ca.1905 house at 214 Charlotte Avenue (John B. Matthews Jr., builder) is an excellent example of a two-story, L-shaped, vernacular house dressed up with Queen Anne-inspired features, including shallow bay windows, fanciful sawnwork gable ends, and a porch enlivened with turned posts, sawnwork brackets, and a spindle frieze.
Several East Sanford Historic District houses from the first decade of the twentieth century show a common transition from the Queen Anne style to the Colonial Revival style. Both the two-story, ca.1900 Deaton-Makepeace House at 304 Oakwood Avenue and the ca.1905 Jones House at 301 Maple Avenue are strongly Queen Anne-style in their use of irregular massing. The Deaton-Makepeace House also has Queen Anne-inspired sawnwork ornamentation in its gable ends. However, both houses also show a definite influence of the Colonial Revival style in their porches with Tuscan columns. In addition, the Jones House has classical cornice returns. The ca.1905 Mawyer House at 309 Maple Avenue is a good one-story example of this stylistic approach. With its steep hipped roof with intersecting, ornamented gables, it is what is often referred to as a Queen Anne cottage. However, the Tuscan columns of its wraparound porch clearly reflect the influence of the Colonial Revival style.
Other houses are more solidly reflective of the Colonial Revival style. Three of particular interest are the nearly identical two-story frame houses at 223 McIver Street, 305 Maple Avenue, and 307 Maple Avenue. Believed to have been built ca. 1905, each has a Foursquare form, a hipped roof, a two-bay facade, and a classical one-story wraparound porch. The houses differ in that the one at 223 McIver Street has Tuscan columns, the one at 305 Maple Avenue has paneled posts with Composite capitals, and the one at 307 Maple Avenue has columns with Composite capitals. The ca.1910 two-story McNeill House at 224 Maple Avenue has a steep hipped roof with a front hipped dormer and a wraparound porch with classical posts and a gabled entrance bay. The one-and-a-half-story house at 500 South Third Street, built ca.1920, is striking with its Colonial Revival-style gambrel roof. Until the 1990s, a nearly identical house stood at 313 Oakwood Avenue.
The years between 1915 and 1930 saw the construction of numerous Craftsman-style bungalows in the district. Scattered throughout, many are individually sited, while others are in groups of two to four houses. The ca.1920 house at 221 Charlotte Avenue is an example of a rambling bungalow with multiple front and side gables and shed roofs. Like this house, there are others that have relatively complex forms. However, most bungalows in the East Sanford Historic District are more basic — often with a front-gable roof and an engaged porch, a side-gable roof with an engaged porch, or a hipped roof with an engaged porch. Good groups of ca.1920 Craftsman Bungalows include the houses at 416, 418, and 420 McIver Street and at 507, 509, 511, and 515 South Third Street. The Bungalows at 107 and 109 South Third Street date from the late 1920s. The 1915 to 1930 period also witnessed the apparent remodeling of many earlier porches using Craftsman style porch posts.
Several very simple Period Cottage-style houses were built in the East Sanford Historic District during the late 1930s and early 1940s. These picturesque houses are asymmetrical in form and exhibit, on a modest scale, some influence from the Tudor Revival style. Although it has been altered since 1990, the 1938 brick Field House at 217 McIver Street retains its steeply gabled entrance bay with a north-side slope that swoops down nearly to the ground and an adjacent front chimney — both signature features of the style. The William B. Parker House, built ca.1940 at 308 Maple Avenue, is a frame dwelling accented with a brick facade chimney and a round-arched front entrance with a brick surround that extends eastward to connect with the chimney. These features, along with a steep gable roof, give the house its Period Cottage style.
The 1940s and 1950s brought a resurgence in house building in the district, especially after 1946, when wartime restrictions on construction activities were lifted locally. A multitude of small houses were built both in "Victory Villages" and scattered, individually, throughout neighborhoods where there was space to build (Pezzoni, 139). A good number of these houses were built in the East Sanford neighborhood. They were simple, boxy, one- or one-and-a-half story dwellings with a side-gable roof and often a small front gable. Many included a front entrance porch or stoop and/or a side porch. Of frame or brick construction, the houses were stylistically stripped down, although they often exhibited a hint of the Colonial Revival style through the round-arched soffit of a front stoop roof, for example. Because of their defining simplicity and minimal, but frequent, use of visual references to America's architectural past, these houses came to be called Minimal Traditional (Phillips, Downtown Wilkesboro Historic District National Register nomination). Dating from the late 1940s, the Thomas L. Rollins House at 230 Charlotte Avenue and the Herbert Oldham House at 405 McIver Street are good frame examples of the Minimal Traditional style in the district. Good brick examples include the 1940s Floyd Spivey House at 110 South Third Street and the early 1950s E. Eugene Lanier House at 216 Charlotte Avenue.
Several non-domestic resources suggest the overall good health of the East Sanford neighborhood during the first half of the twentieth century. The first of these was the Central Carolina Hospital, which was located just outside the district boundary at the northeast corner of Maple Avenue and South Fourth Street. Initially a two-story frame house of Queen Anne-style form and Colonial Revival-style detailing, it was built ca.1906 by contractor Robert T. Walker for the residence of a Mr. A. Cameron. However, when Cameron's plans changed, he sold the house to the Central Carolina Hospital Company. Operating from 1906 to 1931, when the Lee County Hospital opened, the Central Carolina Hospital was Sanford's first. For a quarter century, it was known as one of the state's leading hospitals. A nursing school within the hospital trained approximately eighty nurses during its twenty-five year history (Sanford Herald, Centennial Edition, April 30, 1974). The house at 307 Maple Avenue was first used as the nurses' dormitory. Sanborn maps show that around 1920, a large, two-story frame addition was built to the rear of the hospital. After the hospital closed in 1931, the addition was detached and converted to an individual residence — 215 South Fourth Street (Sanborn maps, 1915, 1925, 1930, 1938). Although the hospital building was demolished in 1960, leaving a vacant lot, both the frame addition and the nurses' dormitory survive as part of the East Sanford Historic District.
Sanford's steady growth during the early years of the twentieth century necessitated the construction of a second school to relieve the overcrowding at the Sanford Graded School on Carthage Street. A tract at the west end of the developing East Sanford neighborhood — now 219 Maple Avenue — was selected as the site for the town's third public school, originally known as the East Sanford Graded School (or Sanford Graded School No. 2 and later McIver School). Christopher Gadsden Sayre (1876-1933), arguably the leading public school architect of his day in North Carolina, was commissioned to design the school. Contractor, Joe W. Stout, built it at a cost of $20,000. Originally, the elementary grades were on the first floor and the high school grades occupied the second floor. After the high school classes were moved to what was then Sanford Middle School, this building became solely an elementary school, at one time housing 500 to 600 students (Wells and Bishir; Pezzoni, 286; Sanford Express, November 24, 1916; Sanford Herald, December 15, 1970).
The large, two-story brick school anchors the west end of the East Sanford Historic District. Except for the corrugated metal panels that now protect the windows, the structure appears largely intact. The classically designed building has projecting center and end pavilions. Paneled concrete spandrels divide the first and second floors, and a distinctive band of alternating brick and concrete panels surrounds the building between the second-story windows and the parapeted cornice. Decorative concrete panels with a central cartouche accent the central, entrance pavilion. The entrance itself has a Tudor Revival-influenced brick and concrete surround. Brick stair wings were added to either end of the building in 1923, and a one-story brick gymnasium/cafeteria was built and connected to the east end by a brick hyphen in the mid-twentieth century.
Another sign of the desirability and continued health of the neighborhood is the long-term presence near the center of the East Sanford Historic District of the Sanford Congregational Church at 328 McIver Street. In 1903, very early in the neighborhood's development, the congregation was organized, and the following year, it built a typical frame church of the period at its present location. The first church had front and side gables and a corner tower. As the congregation grew, so did the need for additional space, so in 1923 the church was remodeled and raised to provide a basement. A fire the following year nearly destroyed the building, but it was quickly rebuilt. Attesting to the health of the church at this location, a multi-phase building campaign was undertaken from the late 1940s through the mid-1950s. In 1949 the church was brick veneered and completely remodeled to its present Colonial Revival-style appearance with quoined corners, herringbone brick panels, and a projecting entrance bay that rises to the base of a central belfry and steeple. At the same time, a large education wing was built to the rear of the sanctuary. Not content to stop there, the congregation built a new parsonage just west of the church. Like the church, the one-and-a-half-story brick-veneered parsonage was designed in the Colonial Revival style, with a symmetrical five-bay facade and a steep, side-gable roof with gabled dormers along the front. As it continued to prosper, the congregation built a fellowship hall behind the church in 1956. The long, low, one-story, brick-veneered building with a side gable roof reflects the influence of the Ranch style that became popular in the 1950s across America ("Through the Years").
One of the most historically distinctive resources in the East Sanford Historic District is Temple Park, which occupies an entire city block bounded by South Seventh Street, South Eighth Street, McIver Street, and Maple Avenue. It anchors the east end of the district. It was the home of the Sanford Spinners baseball team that played primarily in the 1940s. However, the block evidently was used as a ballpark well before then, because the 1925 Sanborn map not only labels it as "Base Ball Park" but also indicates that a fifteen-foot grandstand stood along the north edge of the block. Nevertheless, the block must not have been used as a baseball field for very long after that. Both the 1930 and the 1938 Sanborn maps show nothing on this block and local historian Bill Freeman remembers that it was a meadow and pasture before around 1940 and that circuses were held on the site (Freeman Interview).
Temple Park was named for Will Temple, a local baseball star who played in the New York Giants organization. In 1939, the WPA built a frame grandstand at Temple Park that curved around nearly one half of the field, had rows of bleachers, a canopy supported by wood posts, and restrooms beneath the stands. In 1939-1940 the Sanford Spinners team was part of the semiprofessional Tobacco State League. In 1941-1942 the team was a part of the Class D professional Bi-State League that included teams from North Carolina and Virginia. The best years for the team came after World War II, when the Spinners, then part of the Class D professional Tobacco State League, played from 1946 until 1951, when the team disbanded. Fifteen cities, all from North Carolina, played in this league. The Spinners won the league championship in 1946, 1947, and 1948 (Herald, Centennial Edition, April 30, 1974; Sanford Spinners Baseball Club). Although the grandstand was demolished in the 1960s and there is no longer a professional baseball team in Sanford, the county-operated Temple Park continues to be a sports facility with a pair of ball fields.
Today, East Sanford remains a vibrant neighborhood. With its ballpark, churches, former school, and multitude of houses of different architectural styles dating from the 1890s to the mid-twentieth century, it provides an important testament to a half-century of Sanford's growth.
Black, Allison, and Mary Ellen Bowen. National Register nomination for Downtown Sanford Historic District, Sanford, North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1985.
Deaton, Francis. Map of the South Eastern Portion of Sanford, N.C. and the Adjacent Lands. December 1899. Lee County Plat Book 2, pp.255-262.
Deaton, Francis, and W.F. Cooke. Map of Sanford, N.C. with Plan Extending to Jonesboro. December 1928. Lee County Plat Book 2, pp.289-291.
Freeman, Bill (local historian). Interview with Author. Sanford, North Carolina, February 10, 2010.
Haire, Jimmy, and W.W. Seymour Jr. on behalf of the Railroad House Historical Association, Inc. Images of America: Sanford and Lee County. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.
Little, M. Ruth, Michelle Kullen, and Barbara Childress Kelly. National Register nomination for Hawkins Avenue Historic District, Sanford, North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 2000.
Map of Sanford and Adjacent Lands, 1871. Lee County Plat Book 2, p. 299.
Pezzoni, J. Daniel. The History and Architecture of Lee County, North Carolina. Sanford, N.C.: Railroad House Historical Association, Inc. 1995.
________. National Register nomination for Rosemount-McIver Historic District, Sanford, North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1997.
Phillips, Laura A. W. National Register nomination for Downtown Wilkesboro Historic District, Wilkesboro, North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 2009.
Sanborn Map Company. Maps for Sanford, North Carolina. 1915, 1925, 1930, 1938.
The Sanford Express. May 3, 1894; November 24, 1916.
Sanford City Directories, 1950-1965.
Sanford Herald. December 15, 1970; Centennial Edition, April 30, 1974.
"Sanford Spinners Baseball Club: Sanford Spinners History." http://my.opera.com/sanfordspinnersbb/blog/sanford-spinners-history. Accessed February 1, 2010.
"Through the Years, 1903-1978." Congregational Christian United Church of Christ, Sanford, North Carolina, 1978. Copy in Survey and Planning Branch files, State Historic Preservation Office, Raleigh.
Wells, John E. and Catherine W. Bishir. "Christopher Gadsden Sayre." North Carolina Architects and Builders: A Biographical Dictionary. North Carolina State University Libraries and North Carolina State University Libraries Digital Scholarship and Publishing Center. http://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu/people/P000086. Accessed May 25, 2010.
† Laura A. W. Phillips, Architectural Historian, Consultant to the City of Sanford, East Sanford Historic District, Lee County, NC, nomination document, 2010, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.