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West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District

Burlington City, Alamance County, NC

The West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]

The West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District is the principal intact residential neighborhood representing the urban growth and development which occurred in Burlington between 1890 and 1930, transforming it from a sleepy, pre-industrial community dependent on the railroad, to a prosperous city whose economy, though based on the textile industry, was beginning to undergo diversification, Originating as farmland owned by several of the families who sold land to the North Carolina Railroad Company for Company Shops, the area began to evolve as a residential neighborhood in the 1880s as the community's business and civic leaders sought home sites outside of the city center and away from the textile mills. At the same time, many of the town's churches located in the east end of the district and just beyond. Earlier, it had become the home of Spencer Thomas, a prominent black minister and tinsmith who owned a sizable tract here. For five decades, Burlington's foremost merchants, businessmen and industrialists chose the West Davis Street-Fountain Place District as the location of their fashionable houses which present a thorough and varied catalogue of the period's predominant residential types and styles.

The development of the area that comprises the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District may be traced back to its earliest known use as farmland. Since its initial settlement in the eighteenth century, the region that was designated as Alamance County in 1849, had been occupied primarily by subsistence farmers and a few small communities that arose around gristmills. The site two miles northwest of Graham chosen in 1854 by the North Carolina Railroad Company for its maintenance and repair shops was typical of the county, divided into tracts of a couple to a few hundred acres owned by a few families, most of them related to each other.[1]

The railroad purchased 631.75 acres for Company Shops from the Tarpley, Trollinger, Gant, Roney, Fonville, Scott, and Sellars families,[2] many of whose holdings undoubtedly extended beyond the new industrial settlement's boundaries. The names of most of these families remain well known in Burlington today, and many are honored in the names of streets and houses in the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District, the east boundary of which runs approximately with the westernmost edge of the North Carolina Railroad Company tract.[3] Although ownership of land throughout the district prior to the incorporation of Company Shops in 1866 has not been researched, it is known that one tract was named by H. Tarpley (perhaps Henry Tarpley who sold land to the railroad). On the 1866 survey of Company Shops by John S. Turrentine, H. Tarpley's house is shown on the east side of the small creek running through the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District, approximately at present-day 609 West Front Street.[4] Although the triple-A roof on a one-story, one-room deep form became popular in the 1850s in North Carolina, the decoration of the example of the type located today at 609 West Front Street dates from the 1880s; thus, the structure may be Tarpley's house, remodeled, or a later replacement thereof. In the early 1900s, the cross street two lots to the east of 609 West Front Street was named for Tarpley.

It appears that throughout the 1850s and 1860s, the area in which the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District is situated remained strictly rural in character, as did most of neighboring Company Shops. Naturally, the settlement expanded outward from its initial focus on the railroad line between Church Street and Mendenhall Street (today's Broad Street). Charles F. Fisher, president of the North Carolina Railroad Company, planned for the company to provide housing for all of its employees. He was successful for several years directing construction of houses for laborers and administrators along the railroad tracks. This development all but ceased during the Civil War, in which Fisher was killed, and throughout the rest of the 1860s when the railroad struggled to overcome financial difficulties.[5] In spite of the economy, however, Company Shops continued to grow. In 1866, the request by the railroad company and its community's residents to incorporate Company Shops as a town was approved. The boundaries of the new municipality were specified as one-and-one-half miles square, with its center at the Railroad Hotel (facing the tracts between Main and Church streets).[6] Now, Company Shops extended well beyond its original 631.75-acre tract to include much of the present West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District.

Faced with both the need to provide for the welfare of its employees and the lack of funds for further building of the town, the North Carolina Railroad Company had found it necessary in 1863 to authorize the division of its holdings into streets and lots and the subsequent sale of building lots. The sale of home sites did not get underway until 1869, and even then for several years sales were slow.[7] It is likely that in the intervening period, and until the 1870s when sales of company land became brisk, those desiring to build sought available lots just beyond the railroad's acreage. According to local tradition, around 1870 James W. Teague, a railroad employee, built the small one-story frame house, later extensively remodeled as a bungalow, at 409 West Davis Street, certainly one of the earliest incidents of residential (as opposed to farm-related) development within the boundaries of the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District.

The increasingly brisk sale of lots by the North Carolina Railroad Company throughout the 1870s and into the 1880s reflects steady development that appears to have extended westward beyond the original industrial tract. In his book on Company Shops, Durward Stokes includes this observation of the community made by a journalist in 1877: "It is no longer a cluster of officers' quarters and workmen's abodes grouped around the central Shops; but Company Shops is a beautiful town of eight or nine hundred inhabitants, extending more than a mile on each side of the railroad, and nearly as wide in the other direction, containing buildings not only substantially but tastefully and handsomely constructed, and, as ground was comparatively cheap, each house has the advantage of convenient isolation; and, surrounded with beautiful trees and luxuriant shrubbery, and blessed with its nice gray soil, forms as pretty a picture of urban life as could well be imagined."[8]

The decline in population suffered by Company Shops in the mid-1880s, when activities at the railroad maintenance and repair shops diminished and finally were moved to Spencer, North Carolina, was relatively brief. The burgeoning local textile industry created scores of new jobs and area farmers supported the expanding cotton and tobacco markets. As these markets and the textile industry grew and the importance of rail transportation ascended accordingly, the focus of the town's physical development upon the railroad line remained constant.[9] West of downtown, just to the north of the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District, some of the new industrial leaders built elaborate Queen Anne style houses along what is now West Webb Avenue, facing the railroad tracks. These included the large house built in the 400 block of West Webb Avenue by James H. Holt, founder of Glencoe and Carolina Cotton Mills nearby on the Haw River; although his main house has been razed, the brick kitchen remains standing in the rear lot of Macedonia Lutheran Church.[10]

In recognition of the local economy's new base, in 1887 residents voted to rename the town Burlington.[11] The new name heralded the beginning of the era of growth and prosperity prompted by the establishment in town of several cotton mills and continuing to around 1930. It is in the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District that this era is most extensively and emphatically represented today. The structures erected here reflect the development in Burlington of a distinct middle class composed of financiers, industrialists, merchants, and professionals. By the early twentieth century, this rising middle class was diversifying a population that during the late nineteenth century was largely polarized between industrialists and laborers. Many of the people who built in the district came to Burlington between 1880 and 1920 to seek their fortunes where a booming textile industry was creating a tremendous need for goods and services. A few were descendants of early area landowners and the settlers of Company Shops. Others saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the hosiery industry, opening numerous mills between 1905 and 1925. All built houses reflecting their positions in the community, their growing affluence, and their awareness of the major architectural trends sweeping the nation.

Development of the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District, as compared to the foregoing occasional construction, really began around 1890. Those moving away from the downtown area to the large tree-shaded lots in the suburbs west of the town limits along West Davis and West Front streets constructed houses embellished with the popular Queen Anne turned-and-sawn ornament that ranged from traditional dwelling types to full-blown examples of the style. Significantly, the Queen Anne achieved its fullest expression in the neighborhood in the house built for Walter L. Holt, and later occupied by his brother, James H. Holt, Jr., in the 400 block of West Davis Street. The two brothers learned the textile industry from their father, working to become leading industrialists in Burlington as the directors of Windsor, Lakeside and Elmira Cotton Mills. (The house was destroyed in the 1950s to make room for the Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church.) In contrast, the house built on the same street several blocks to the west in 1890 for Moses Jackson Hunt, a Methodist minister, is a simple two-story, one-room deep form with ornament appearing only at the porch (916 West Davis Street). Dan Hall, a rural mail carrier, built a similar vernacular house a few blocks down at 617-619 West Front Street in 1897. Joseph and Christian Isley, owners of a general store on South Main Street that eventually evolved into one of Burlington's department stores, also elected to reside a good distance away from the center of town where they built large, full-blown Queen Anne style houses (810 and 906 West Davis Street), mirror images of each other, in 1893.[12] The Isley brothers' houses occupy lots that originally were unusually large, even for this suburban area, extending several hundred yards south to provide ample acreage for growing the produce sold in their store.[13] Thomas L. Sellars, an executive of Burlington's first department store, B.A. Sellars & Son founded in 1876 by his father, Dr. B.A. Sellars, also settled in the neighborhood in the early 1890s.

Thomas Sellars built his house at 504 West Front Street, at the east end of the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District. Many of the early builders chose lots in this immediate area convenient to their places of work, yet still removed from the business district. One of the very first to contribute to the development of this end of the district was W.W. Lasley, who moved into the James W. Teague House (409 West Davis Street) in the late 1870s and lived there until around 1890 when he built his house (415 West Davis Street) with a short tower and fanciful wraparound porch two doors away. Lasley became one of Burlington's leading businessmen, operating a store for many years with his brother, Dr. J.W. Lasley, and later helping to organize First National Bank, which he served as president for a number of years.[14] In 1892, Robert Morrow became the first of several professional men to build his house in the district when he constructed the large Queen Anne Morrow-Barnwell House (426 West Front Street). Dr. Morrow, who set up his dental practice in Burlington in 1890, was among the several doctors and dentists who moved to Company Shops/Burlington between the 1860s and the 1890s, joining the two physicians who already resided here when the railroad arrived.[15] Like several of these men, Morrow became prominent in local civic and business affairs, in addition to maintaining a dental practice; by the 1900s he was vice president of Alamance Insurance and Real Estate Co. and Carolina Engineering Co. Another doctor who built a house in the neighborhood in the 1890s was T.W. Patterson, M.D., whose 1894 house (715 West Front Street) covered with a profusion of millwork is one of Burlington's most intact Queen Anne structures.

At the turn of the century, two more Burlington physicians built fashionable houses that augmented the stylishness of the neighborhood: Dr. Thomas S. Faucette's late Queen Anne house (703 West Front Street) introduced Tudor elements to the district, while Dr. J.W. Page's house (507 West Davis Street) was among the most exuberant of the town's Neoclassical Revival style houses. Across the street, Finley L. Williamson built an equally elaborate, complementary Neoclassical Revival style house, also on a very large tract. (The house was destroyed in 1951 to provide a site for the First Presbyterian Church.) A grandson of textile pioneer Edwin H. Holt, Williamson was president of three firms: F.L. Williamson Company, wholesale grocers; Williamson Manufacturing Company, producers of cotton goods; and Home Insurance and Investment Company. By this time, many other leading businessmen also were selecting the West Davis Street-Fountain Place District as their home. They included furniture store and funeral parlor owner Levi Burke, music company owner C.B. Ellis, wholesale grocer L.E. Atwater, and bankers J.W. Murray and A.L. Davis. Their distinctive late Queen Anne and early Colonial Revival style houses rendered the district the premier residential neighborhood of Burlington.

It is interesting that one of the few early physical reflections of accomplishments by blacks in Burlington is found in the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District, characterized as an enclave of prosperous white businessmen. One of the earliest known residents of the neighborhood was Spencer Thomas, a black tinsmith and minister who lived at 630 Peele Street.[16] Born a slave in Wake County in 1840, Thomas came to Company Shops in the 1850s as an apprentice to an employee of the North Carolina Railroad Company. According to his obituary, Thomas "was raised from the ordinary duties to positions of skilled and more distinguished labor; to-wit, that of tinner, brass worker, and coppersmith, positions seldom enjoyed by Negro craftsmen."[17] Thomas learned to read and write well enough "to attend to his own business affairs and to preach the gospel."[18] In the 1870s or 1880s, Thomas was ordained as a minister by the Rowan Baptist Association, and around 1890, he led the formation of the High Point Educational and Missionary Baptist Association. For more than twenty years, Thomas was pastor of Burlington's First Baptist Church on Apple Street; he also preached at Baptist churches in Graham, Gibsonville, Locust Grove and Elm Grove for more than forty years. When his work for the railway began to interfere with his ministerial duties in the 1890s, Thomas resigned to open his own business, S. Thomas & Sons.[19] The 1909 city directory lists them as "tin and sheet metal workers" and makers of "galvanized iron cornices, etc." who also specialized in heating ventilating. It is believed that after Thomas' death in 1912, his two sons, Samuel and William, educated and trained by their father, continued to operate the firm for several years.

Upon emancipation at the close of the Civil War, Thomas bought a tract of land at the south edge of the district, bordering on West Davis Street.[20] It is not known if Thomas was the first to purchase property in this area, or if blacks already were settled in the vicinity. The earliest surviving city directory for Burlington, published in 1909, indicates that blacks lived nearby along Fifth and High streets, a trend that continued for several decades hence. Apparently Thomas' parcel was quite sizable, large enough for him to build his own house and later subdivide it into building lots for each of his five children.[21] The 1918 Sanborn maps of Burlington, the first series to include a portion of the West Davis Street-Fountain Place District, depicts Thomas' house, then numbered 607 Peele Street, and small houses (no longer standing) just to the west, probably his children's houses listed in the 1909-1910 Burlington City Directory with West Davis Street addresses. Although the latter houses did not front West Davis Street, the maps indicate that the Thomas tract extended to that thoroughfare and it is probable that Thomas and his heirs sold the lots at West Davis Street to the white businessmen who proceeded to build houses thereon.

Heterogeneity was injected into the district's early development through building types as well as the varied backgrounds of its inhabitants. At the east end of the district, by the turn of the century, five congregations built churches, two within the present boundaries and three just beyond to the east. All of these congregations formerly shared the Union Church, nearby on the north side of the railroad tracks. In 1869, the North Carolina Railroad Company had set aside land at the present intersection of Fisher and Trade streets on which a building was erected to serve as a community church and school.[22] As Burlington grew, so did the members of the Protestant denominations using the church, and within a few years individual congregations were moving to their own quarters.

The first group to leave were the Lutherans, who had organized as Macedonia Lutheran Church in 1869 at a brush arbor at the present site of the Elmira Cotton Mills. In 1879, under the leadership of the Reverend Whitson Kimball, they purchased their present site at 421 West Front Street in the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District where they had contractor John Dempsy build a small frame church. A cemetery was set aside on the church lot, in which a few bodies were interred. They were later moved to Pine Hill Cemetery upon its establishment shortly after Company Shops became Burlington. In 1894, the congregation built a parsonage (no longer standing) next to the church, and in 1895 they had the church turned to face West Front Street where it was renovated and enlarged with a vestibule and a bell tower. In 1909 the frame church building was replaced with a larger brick sanctuary erected by John A. Bryan and L.C. Christman. Macedonia Lutheran Church continued to be a primary effective religious force in the community, its steady growth necessitating still larger facilities. In 1925, contractors Worth Bryan and Luther A. Sharpe built the present Neo-Gothic Revival style Sunday School Building and in 1939 the church acquired the property to the north, formerly occupied by the James H. Holt, Sr. House, that extends all the way to West Webb Avenue. In the 1950s, the Educational Building was appended to the Sunday School Building, and the 1907 sanctuary was razed to make room for a much larger, modern one.[23]

More than twenty years passed after the Lutherans settled on West Front Street before another church located within the district. In the meantime, however, several other congregations left Union Church to build nearby. In 1888, Front Street Methodist Church built a small rectangular brick church at the east corner of Front and Fisher streets, just outside the east boundary of the district. In 1912, their first building was superseded by a large elegant structure in yellow brick, which burned and was replaced by the present red brick building in the 1950s. The same year the Lutherans left Union Church, the Presbyterians established a local congregation, but eleven years passed before they moved to their own building. In 1890, they bought a lot on the corner of Front and Church streets, one block east of the district, where they erected a modest brick Gothic Revival style church, greatly expanded in 1909 with a new sanctuary and bell tower capped by a steeple (no longer standing). In 1891, the First Christian Church began their first sanctuary one block to the south, at the corner of Davis and Church streets.[24]

Finally, the Burlington congregation of the First Reformed United Church of Christ, the membership of which had been unstable since its establishment in 1889, was secure enough to purchase a building lot at the corner of West Front Street and Tarpley within the district (513 West Front Street). In 1901 they completed a brick church with a slate roof, which was enlarged in 1909 with classrooms to meet the needs of the growing congregation. Around 1917 the church built a parsonage on Tarpley Street at the north edge of its property. The congregation continued to expand, and in 1925 they approved construction of a new sanctuary and a classroom building. Immediately, however, they could afford only to erect the classroom building, and it was not until 1940 that the handsome Romanesque Revival style sanctuary was begun.[25] Twelve years later, the First Presbyterian Church moved into the district and began its extensive facilities at the former site of the Finley L. Williamson House at 508 West Davis Street. The Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church recently had built a small sanctuary in the next block to the east, on the grounds of the Walter L. Holt House which served as the church's rectory. (This block is not included in the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District due to the subsequent razing of the house and construction of modern buildings unsympathetic to the neighborhood's physical character.)

From the early 1900s until well into the 1930s, residential development of the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District continued at a steady pace. As Burlington's middle class grew and prospered, its attraction to this neighborhood outside of but convenient to the town's center remained strong. The houses that businessmen and professionals constructed here reflect the urban growth and development that occurred throughout Burlington and the state as a whole in the first four decades of this century as a catalogue of the period's popular styles and types. In contrast to those working in the district in the nineteenth century, several of the builders and contractors who helped shape the district after 1900 are remembered. It was during this period, also, that construction shifted from strictly private to some planned development.

Mention of a selection of the early twentieth century newcomers to the district and the houses they built conveys the texture of the area's development. During the 1900s and 1910s, the houses ranged from transitional late Queen Anne/early Colonial Revival dwellings to Foursquares and Bungalows. Brothers Edward L. and Cicero Holt, president and secretary-treasurer, respectively, of Burlington Hardware Company built large, rambling houses next to each other at 603 and 607 West Davis Street in the 1900s. Edward L. Holt's house (607 West Davis Street) was constructed by Lewis Christman and J.J. May, who also helped build Macedonia Lutheran Church's sanctuary about the same time. Nearby, around 1912, E.L. Morgan, a tobacco warehouseman, built a substantial early Colonial Revival style house with a widow's walk (702 West Davis Street).

Representatives of all sorts of occupations and professions selected Foursquares and Bungalows for their homes, as exhibited by the dozens of examples built throughout the district beginning in the 1910s. One of Burlington's first Bungalows was built in 1916 at 727 West Davis Street by W. Manley Baker, an official of the F.L. Williamson Company. His example was followed by numerous others in the 1920s and 1930s on all three of the district's major thoroughfares as well as one of the cross streets. One of the earliest Foursquares in the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District was built for jeweler Thomas J. Rouse (406 West Front Street) by Dave Fitch, a local contractor. Fitch was active throughout Burlington for a few decades and probably built several other examples of the popular house types in the district. During the 1920s, Alamance County Registrar of Deeds Jesse Tingen and hosiery manufacturer D. Ernest Sellers built Foursquares at 724 West Front Street and 804 West Davis Street, respectively.

Undoubtedly, typical of the fashionable early twentieth century neighborhood, the designs of many of these popular house types were influenced by home-oriented magazine features and advertising. The D. Eugene May House at 611 West Davis Street, a Period House built in 1924 according to a design found in House Beautiful, exemplifies this trend. Fountain Place, in particular, illustrates the pervasive popularity of these sources, with its significant concentration of "Period Houses" built during the 1920s and 1930s. Another external influence on the physical character of the district was Sears, Roebuck and Company. Contractor C.K. Harvey of Franklin County, North Carolina, used that retailer's forms to cast the concrete blocks with which he built the McAdams House at 709 West Front Street. Considering the large number of popular house types here, further research may reveal Sears catalogues as the sources of plans, specifications and even the actual materials. It also is likely that the contractors of many of the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District's early twentieth century houses were neighborhood residents. A few contractors lived in the district, including J.T. Love and brothers John W. and James H. Long; John W. Long built one of the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District's most distinctive structures, the stone fortress-like Pollard-Neese House at 728 West Davis Street.

Although at least one area of the growing city had been the object of development by a local financial firm employing the talents of outside design consultants,[26] Fountain Place was the city's first successful, planned subdivision aimed at a middle-class clientele. In late 1919, Alamance Insurance and Real Estate Company acquired two acres of land from the Isley family,[27] operators of a general store on Main Street. This land, standing south of West Davis Street at its intersection with Trollinger Street, and meeting Kime Street at its southern terminus, was divided into deep, narrow lots fronting a broad thoroughfare adorned with grassy medians, a fountain at the center, and newly planted sycamore trees. Walter E. Sharpe, a principal in the company, had four "model homes" built just after 1920. Erected in different styles typical of the period, two of the houses (Dr. John B. Walker House, 616 Fountain Place and D. Burton May House, 627 Fountain Place) faced the entrance to Fountain Place behind the large stone pillars at West Davis Street, while the other two (Oscar S. Chandler House, 602 Fountain Place and Charles V. Sharpe House, 605 Fountain Place) flanked the fountain.[28] Deeds to lots on Fountain Place included covenants which restricted construction to residences costing at least $5,000.00. They also insured that the street would be paved and that water and sewerage would be provided to the homes built there.[29] The area quickly attracted industrialists (such as J. Spencer Love of Burlington Mills fame), leading merchants, and professionals. Many of these men, such as R. Homer Andrews (601 Fountain Place), W.W. Sellars (513 Fountain Place), Dr. Raymond Troxler (517 Fountain Place), James Atwater (518 Fountain Place), and Thomas D. Cooper (623 Fountain Place) were leaders in the city's development from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Until about 1920, construction in the West Davis Street-Fountain Place District was private, usually the result of an individual property owner commissioning a contractor to build his house, rather than planned development of multiple lots. By this time, the majority of the lots in the district were occupied, with the remaining undeveloped tracts scattered along West Davis Street and West Front Street and concentrated on the cross streets and the west end of West Davis Street. During the next fifteen years, by around 1940, the small lots of the cross streets would be developed, primarily with sparsely detailed but handsome bungalows, many of which appear to have been speculative sale or rental ventures occupied by merchants and tradesmen. Occasionally on West Davis Street, where the lots are larger, an individual would purchase more than one lot to create a single, larger than average tract for added buffer around his house or to re-divide into building lots for family members.

In the mid-1920s, industrialist Edwin C. Holt, grandson of the founder of the Holt textile dynasty, bought lots in the 1000 block of West Davis Street at the west end of the district. In 1925, he built an elegant house best described as "Classical Mediterranean" for his daughter and son-in-law, the W.T. Cheathams (1007 West Davis Street), and next door he built an imposing Georgian Revival style residence for himself (1011 West Davis Street). Across the street, also in the mid-1920s, Roger Gant built another substantial Georgian Revival style house (1016 West Davis Street) and Allen Gant erected a meticulously detailed and well articulated Tudor Revival style house (1022 West Davis Street), both on very large, adjoining tracts. The Gant brothers were the sons of John Q. Gant, another early local textile leader who founded Altamahaw Cotton Mills in 1880 and Glen Raven Mills early in this century.

All of these full-blown period revival style houses, together with the bungalows and "Period Houses" of Fountain Place, reflect most emphatically — and most appropriately in terms of their owners — the massive 1920s building campaign across Burlington that was prompted by tremendous growth in the textile industry. Their "high style" character symbolizes the confidence and affluence of the 1920s, as well as local awareness of major architectural trends.

By the late 1920s, most of the 1000 block of West Davis Street had been developed, clearly indicating that the city's future growth, particularly in upper middle class residential construction, would continue in a westerly direction. In 1928, the second planned development associated with the district evolved when the Alamance Insurance and Real Estate Company ran newspaper advertisements for lots in Brookwood, a new subdivision along West Davis Street which incorporated the 1000 block at its east end.[30] Already almost completely developed, this block set the tone for the type and quality of houses governed to a certain extent by restrictive covenants, to be built in Brookwood, which extends several blocks west of East Willowbrook Drive where construction generally dates from the 1930s and later. The vice president of Alamance Insurance and Real Estate, Dr. Robert Morrow, and its secretary-treasurer, Walter E. Sharpe, both lived in the West Davis Street-Fountain Place District. Sharpe was the first known owner of the rambling early Tudor Revival style Sharpe-Somers House, later owned by Claude G. Somers, another important local real estate developer who was one of the principal backers of the Westerwood subdivision launched in the late 1920s.[31] The West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District was the origin of much of Burlington's significant residential development of the 1920s and 1930s — physically, conceptually as an environmental prototype, and as the home of the businessmen who planned them.

Since the 1930s, when houses were erected upon almost all of its remaining lots, the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District has remained fairly stable. The most significant development was the removal of Finley L. Williamson's house for the First Presbyterian Church, an important structure that contributes to the character of the district. Although in its east half several houses have been destroyed, usually to make room for new construction, and some have been divided into apartments, overall the West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District today retains its original character as the home of many of Burlington's leading tradesmen, merchants and administrators.


  1. Durward T. Stokes, Company Shops: The Town Built by a Railroad (Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, Publisher, 1981), pp.8-9.
  2. Ibid., p. 10.
  3. Alamance County Register of Deeds, Plat Book 12, Page 64.
  4. First survey of the town of Company Shops, 17 March 1866, in Records of the North Carolina Railroad Company, Box 55, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, reproduced in Stokes, p.73.
  5. Stokes, pp. 71-72.
  6. Ibid., p. 74.
  7. Ibid., pp. 71-72.
  8. Ibid., p. 92.
  9. Ibid., p. 126.
  10. Inventory field notes by principal investigator Allison Harris, based upon interviews and survey of city directories and Sanborn maps.
  11. Stokes, pp. 127-128.
  12. Inventory field notes by Allison Harris. Unless otherwise noted, all subsequent information on district residents and building dates is based upon these notes, and upon survey of city directories by Claudia P. Roberts.
  13. Sanborn Map Company, "Burlington, N.C.," 1924 series, in the North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As will be seen later, part of this land was sold in 1919 to Alamance Insurance and Real Estate Co. which developed the area under the name Fountain Place.
  14. Notes by Allison Harris; and Stokes, p. 85.
  15. Stokes, p. 89.
  16. Burlington, Graham and Haw River, N.C. Directory, Vol.I, 1909-1910 (Burlington, N.C.: Piedmont Directory Co., Inc.), Sanborn Map Co., 1918 series.
  17. Rev. S.G. Walker, Thomas Memorials (Burlington, N.C.: Southern Christian Printing Co., n.d.), p.5.
  18. Ibid., p. 6.
  19. Ibid., pp. 7, 10-12.
  20. Ibid., p. 9.
  21. Ibid., p. 10.
  22. Stokes, p. 102.
  23. Eva Christman Clemmer, "History of Macedonia Lutheran Church," pp. 2-7.
  24. W.T. Lasley, "Union Church: Cradle of Religion, Education," The City-County Newspaper, week ending 2 April 1977, p.8A; and Sanborn Map Co.
  25. "History of the First Reformed Church," 1962, pp. 1-4.
  26. In 1913, the Piedmont Development Company (probably an arm of Piedmont Trust Company) and the North State Real Estate Company recorded a plat (ACRD plat Book 1, pp.22ff) for Piedmont Estates. This working class development flanking the new streetcar line in northeast Burlington was designed with broad, tree-lined streets by Holme Blair and Brent S. Dranes, landscape engineers from Charlotte.
  27. ACRD Deed Book 67, pp. 122 and 457.
  28. Allison Harris interview with R. Homer Andrews, Burlington, North Carolina, 10 December 1982.
  29. ACRD Deed Book 76, p. 72.
  30. Advertisement, Burlington Daily Times, 3 March 1928, p. 4.
  31. Advertisement, Burlington Daily Times, 8 June 1929, p. 6.

‡ Claudia P. Roberts, Consultant, City of Burlington, West Davis Street-Fountain Place Historic District, Alamance County, NC, nomination document, 1983, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Davis Street West • Fisher Street South • Fountain Place • Front Street West • Peele Street • Tarpley Street • Trollinger Street