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Wadesboro Downtown Historic District

Wadesboro Town, Anson County, NC

The Wadesboro Downtown Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]

The Wadesboro Downtown Historic District is significant in the contexts of community development, commerce, and architecture. The District's period of significance begins in 1783, the year Wadesboro was founded and the approximate date of the Boggan-Hammond House at 206 East Wade Street (National Register 1972) located in the district. It extends to 1948, the National Register fifty-year criterion. During these years, Wadesboro took shape as the county seat of Anson County and a thriving trading and textile-manufacturing community.

The town's banner decades of development were during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. In 1874, the Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherford Railroad skirted the north side of town, linking Wadesboro by rail to both the port of Wilmington and to an emerging national network of rail lines by way of Charlotte. By 1885, the north-south Cheraw and Salisbury Railroad was completed to Wadesboro, and in 1911, the Winston-Salem Southbound reached town. With better transportation and improved access to markets came manufacturing along the rail corridors, significant population growth, and vigorous commercial activity around the courthouse square. Between 1880 and 1900, the population of the town jumped from 800 to 1,500 residents, and then soared to 4,500 inhabitants by 1910. By the mid-twentieth century, downtown Wadesboro contained rows of handsome commercial buildings, a stylish United States Post Office (NR 1986), substantial red-brick churches at the periphery, and the imposing Neo-Classical Revival Anson County Courthouse near the center.

The Wadesboro Downtown Historic District encompasses the central business district. This well-preserved area epitomizes the growth and prosperity of small towns and cities throughout the North Carolina Piedmont in the years around 1900. In its substantially intact assortment of general merchandise and agricultural supply stores, drugstores, furniture stores, law offices, churches, and civic buildings, as well as its former hotel, Coca-Cola bottling plant, and movie theater, downtown Wadesboro clearly reflects the role of the region's principal county seats during this period. The Wadesboro Downtown Historic District also features well-preserved examples of civic, religious, commercial, and domestic architecture that illustrate distinctive high-style works, the use of local building materials, and nationally popular trends in design. The Wadesboro Downtown Historic District comprises 107 resources, including 105 buildings, one structure (D.A.R. Memorial Gazebo), and one object (Confederate Memorial Monument). Eighty-five of the resources are contributing and twenty-two are noncontributing.

Early Settlement to the Civil War

The county seat of Wadesboro was founded in 1783 near the center of Anson County. Created in 1750, Anson County was one of a series of large Piedmont counties formed in the mid-eighteenth century in response to the great migration of mostly Scotch-Irish and German settlers into the Carolina backcountry. By the mid-1750s, it was reported that Anson County and newly created Orange and Rowan counties contained "at least three thousand people, for the most part Irish Protestants and Germans," and that they were "dayley [sic] increasing" (Lefler and Newsome 1973: 80). About 1755, the North Carolina legislature sited the first county courthouse along the north bank of the Pee Dee River northeast of present-day Wadesboro, in a community known as Mount Pleasant (Medley 1976: 18, 178). However, following the county's substantial reduction in size with the creation of Mecklenburg County in 1763 and then Richmond and Montgomery counties in 1779, Anson's residents called for a more centralized county seat. The new seat of government was propitiously located where the north-south stage route from Salisbury, North Carolina, to Cheraw, South Carolina, crossed the east-west road leading from Mask's Ferry at the Pee Dee River to Camden, South Carolina (Medley 1976: 65).

Wadesboro was founded by brothers-in-law Captain Patrick Boggan and Colonel Thomas Wade, Anson County planters and political and military leaders. Patrick Boggan had been a central figure in the Regulator Movement, which arose in the backcountry during the late 1760s and 1770s to protest the abuse of power and unfair taxation by royal officials. Thomas Wade had been a leader of American forces in Anson County during the Revolution, and served in the North Carolina General Assembly after the war. Boggan purchased seventy acres of land around the crossroads (today the central business district), which he then gave to Colonel Wade to form New Town, chartered in 1783 by the Hillsborough Assembly (Medley 1976: 64-65). Following Wade's death in 1787 the name of the county seat was changed to Wadesborough. In 1868, the spelling was changed to Wadesboro (N.C. Division of Archives and History 1972; Medley 1976: 66; Wadesboro, North Carolina 1987: 4; "Anson County History" 1995-1996).

Boggan remained in town, and his seven daughters married, it is said, he had a house constructed for each couple. Boggan is believed to have erected the existing one-story, hall-parlor dwelling at 210 East Wade Street for his daughter Eleanor and her husband, William Hammond, soon after the founding of Wadesboro. In 1839, the house was purchased by Alexander Little, a Wadesboro lawyer and later a superior court judge. A two-story wing built on the west side of the smaller dwelling is believed to have been built for Little (N.C. Division of Archives and History 1972).

The original Wadesboro plat consisted of half-acre lots, with a grid of streets named in honor of leading Revolutionary generals, governors, and patriot officers: General Nathanael Greene, Colonel Thomas Wade, General George Washington, General Daniel Morgan, Governor Richard Caswell, Governor Alexander Martin, and General Griffith Rutherford. The town charter reserved lots sixteen through forty-six for the courthouse and other public buildings, and provided guidelines for the construction of safe and substantial dwellings. Houses were required to be built not less than sixteen feet wide and twenty feet deep, and to have chimneys of brick or stone. New property owners were also required to begin construction within two years of the deed transfer or forfeit the land (Medley 1976: 64-65).

During the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, Wadesboro developed at a slow but steady pace as a county seat and crossroads trading center. In common with the Piedmont as a whole, the absence of reliable, navigable rivers through the county limited economic development and urban growth. However, by the antebellum decades, cotton was an important cash crop in this area, and a small but influential planter class had emerged on fertile lands near the Pee Dee River. The extent of slave ownership is indicated in the 1850 census, which recorded 6,832 slaves and 6,556 whites in Anson County. County planters and other landowners shipped cotton, livestock, and other crop surpluses overland to the river port of Fayetteville, North Carolina, at the headwaters of the Cape Fear, or to Cheraw, South Carolina, on the Pee Dee River (Medley 1976: 86).

A series of new county courthouses — each one larger and more stylish than its predecessor — reflected the town's development before the Civil War. The first courthouse (one of five to be erected in Wadesboro), was a simple log building constructed in 1787 at the southeast corner of East Wade and South Greene streets. In 1820, it was replaced on the site by a decorative red-brick courthouse, which is said to have featured a white dome and a ballroom on the second floor. In 1854, a third and bigger courthouse, also of brick, arose across the street at the northeast corner of East Wade and North Greene, on the present courthouse square (Wadesboro, North Carolina 1987: 26).

Antebellum Wadesboro included the standard assortment of lawyers, physicians, inn keepers and tavern operators, merchants, and skilled craftsmen typical of rural county seats. Among the inns of this period was the two-story frame dwelling that survives at 100-104 West Martin Street. Operated as Burns Inn by the late-nineteenth century, it was probably established in the 1840s by a member of the Boggan family. (In 1924, the building became the Leavitt Funeral Home, the first funeral home in Anson County. The building is currently [1999] vacant.) Perhaps reflecting the wealth of the local planter class, antebellum Wadesboro also boasted a pair of silversmiths, Charles Clark and Franklin Turner. The firm of Clark and Turner operated in both Fayetteville and Wadesboro between 1820 and 1823. The principal industrial enterprise before the 1850s was a small tannery located on Washington Street. By 1850, Wadesboro boasted its owned newspaper, the North Carolina Argus, which was joined by a competitor, the Pee Dee Star, several years later (Sanborn Map Company 1885; Medley 1976: 86-90; Anson County Heritage 1995: 370).

During the decade before the Civil War, Wadesboro benefited from the plank road movement that swept North Carolina. In the 1850s more than 500 miles of plank roads were planned across the state to improve overland transportation to the state's key market towns as well as encourage interstate travel. Among the projects completed was the north-south plank road that roughly follows present-day U.S. Route 52, extending from Salisbury, North Carolina, through Wadesboro, to the South Carolina line where it joined the Cheraw Plank Road (Lefler and Newsome 1973: 382).

The improvement in overland travel spurred business activities in the town. The Bank of Wadesboro was established in the 1850s with capital of $200,000, and commerce began to flourish. General merchant, Joseph P. Smith, is believed to have erected the town's first brick commercial building in this decade (Medley 1976: 102). Advertisements in both local newspapers promoted a host of dry goods stores, drugstores, cotton gins, and carriage manufacturers. Merchant Nelson P. Liles advertised that the ship, Wateree, had just arrived in Cheraw from Charleston, South Carolina, and that a wagon load of supplies would soon be replenishing his shelves in Wadesboro. "I am receiving a large stock of Winter Goods," Liles announced in the Argus in 1850, "which will be sold very low. Come on all of you who want bargains." Attorneys P.H. Winston and E. Nelme, and physicians Drs. J.N. Ingram, Walter Jones, and Edmund Fontaine Ashe offered professional services in offices near the courthouse square (Medley 1976: 101-103).

By the eve of the Civil War, the town also contained Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopal churches, and a Masonic lodge (Kilwining Lodge No. 64), which had been chartered in 1813, and then rechartered with a growing membership in 1851 (Medley 1976: 204-208). Although Scotch-Irish Presbyterians had formed the first church in the county in 1753, they would not organize a congregation in Wadesboro until 1873 (Medley 1976: 195-197).

During the war, Union forces under the command of General Judson Kilpatrick paid a memorable visit to Anson County on March 3, 1865. Kilpatrick's cavalry, a part of Sherman's Army marching north from Savannah to Goldsboro, North Carolina, encamped near the South Carolina border and looted the county seat and several surrounding plantations (Bruney 1992: 32-34). On March 4, 1865, the rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Wadesboro noted in the church records, "This day a portion of General Kilpatrick's command was sent to sack our village, which they did and robbed the church of the few dollars on hand" (Medley 1976: 119).

Post-Civil War Period to the Present

The economic hardships in the region following the Civil War were magnified in Wadesboro by a great fire that swept the center of town on April 2, 1868. This conflagration destroyed the courthouse and approximately thirty other buildings — many of them wooden stores that helped fuel the blaze as it swept across the square. The rebuilding of Wadesboro began immediately. A new brick courthouse (the town's fourth) with a flamboyant center tower arose that same year, while brick commercial buildings also began to appear on the adjacent blocks to replace the earlier wooden structures (Torchlight on the Pee Dee 1987).

As the decades ensued, Wadesboro's economic recovery and physical expansion were triggered by the coming of the railroads. In 1874, the Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherford Railroad (the Seaboard Air Line in 1892) skirted the north side of town, linking Wadesboro by rail to both the port of Wilmington and to an emerging national network of rail lines by way of Charlotte. By 1885, the north-south Cheraw and Salisbury Railroad was completed to Wadesboro, and in 1911, the Winston-Salem Southbound reached town (Lefler and Newsome 1973: 586; Medley 1976: 130).

With better transportation and improved access to far-flung markets came manufacturing along the rail corridors, significant population growth, and vigorous commercial activity around the courthouse square. Rail transportation also encouraged cash-crop agriculture in the surrounding countryside, which increased Wadesboro's traditional role as a cotton market and trading center. Between 1880 and 1900, the population of the town jumped from 800 to 1,500 residents, and then soared to 4,500 inhabitants by 1910 (U.S. Census 1870, 1880, 1910). Three major textile mills opened in Wadesboro during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries: the Wadesboro (or Singleton) Silk Manufacturing Company (1888); the Wadesboro Cotton Mill Company (1890); and the Hargrave and Leake Manufacturing Company (1901). Among the other turn-of-the century industries to occupy large parcels at the outskirts of town were three saw and planing mills, a brickyard, a bottling works, and a cotton seed oil company (Bureau of Labor Statistics 1902: 196-197; Medley 1976: 137, 147).

Industrial growth in and around Wadesboro was given a major boost in 1912, when the Blewett Falls hydro-electric plant was completed on the Pee Dee River. All three of Wadesboro's textile mills, for example, were converted from steam and electric power, and capacities at each plant expanded through the 1910s. Overall, by the mid-1920s, the Blewett Falls plant was serving some thirty communities, including Wadesboro (Medley 1976: 174-175).

Within the central business district, the emergence of new stores and professional offices in modern brick buildings announced the prosperity of the early twentieth century. The 1902 North Carolina Year Book for Wadesboro listed fifteen general merchants, three book dealers, three butchers, two druggists, three furniture dealers, two millenaries, five confectionery dealers, three boot and shoe shops, nine retail grocers, two tailors, a jeweler, an opera house, a bank, five saloons, and two hotels. The Klondike Hotel occupied a stylish two-story, brick commercial block that still occupies the southwest corner of Rutherford and Wade streets. Embellished with decorative brickwork and featuring small iron balconies along the upper floor of the east elevation, this building at 100 South Rutherford Street remains substantially intact. The business district also contained a pair of building contractors (including W.T. Brasington, who also advertised as an "architect"), eight lawyers, seven physicians, and two dentists (N.C. Year Book 1902: 65-69).

The larger general merchants, who profited from brokering cotton and selling a range of agricultural equipment amidst an expanding farm economy, occupied some of the more prominent commercial buildings in town. The H.W. Little Company, one of the town's leading general merchandise stores, had begun operation in 1894 in a plain, frame store. In 1906, the business reopened on South Greene Street in a fancy new two-story, red-brick building capped by heavy bracketed cornice with a center pediment and turned balusters (Sanborn Map Company 1908; Medley 1976: 134-135). Also in 1906, a business competitor, Wadesboro Drygoods Company, was established in a two-story brick building on South Greene Street. When that store burned in 1922, the business moved to a new location on North Greene Street (Medley 1976: 147). In 1912, Joe Marshall Liles, Sr. and silent partner J.F. Allen founded Liles Company in a brick building on West Wade Street (Sanborn; Medley 1976: 146- 147).

By the 1910s, the central business district had nearly reached its present size, roughly bounded by Martin Street on the north, Morgan Street on the south, Rutherford Street on the west, and Washington Street on the east. Contiguous rows of brick commercial buildings, one-story and two-stories high, lined Rutherford, Greene, and Wade streets within several blocks of the courthouse square (Sanborn Map Company 1908, 1914; Wadesboro, N.C.: A Pictorial Tribute 1987: 9-11). The principal banks, general merchandise stores, and drugstores occupied convenient locations near the heart of the district, while wagon makers, liveries, and other enterprises demanding large buildings and tracts of land defined the periphery. The 100 block of West Wade Street (one block off the courthouse square) boasted the National Hotel and two banks on the south side, and a solid brick row of retail stores on the north side. The Bank of Wadesboro stood near the center of the 100 block of South Greene Street, across from Little Hardware (109 S. Greene Street). The entire corner of East Wade and South Greene streets was devoted to Fox & Lyon Pharmacy, nicknamed "Zoo Pharmacy" as a play on the names of its two partners, L.G. Fox and R.P. Lyon (Medley 1976: 145; Sanborn; N.C. Year Book 1915: 93-95). In 1912, Parson's Drugs, which pharmacist Fred Parsons had established in 1875, moved into a new two-story brick building across the street from Fox & Lyon, (Sanborn Map Company 1914; Anson County Heritage 1995: 385).

Concurrently, at the southwest edge of the Wadesboro Downtown Historic District, a wagon and carriage maker occupied a sizable two-story brick structure at the corner of West Morgan and South Rutherford streets. This spacious building, eleven bays wide, was later owned by the Allen Furniture Company. Commodious wooden liveries also stood on sizable parcels at the southeast periphery (100 block of South Washington Street) and the northwest corner of the business district (West Martin Street at Salisbury Street).

In 1912, the present (fifth) courthouse was completed on the center of the courthouse square. Designed by the Charlotte architectural firm of Wheeler and Stern, it is an imposing example of Neo-Classical Revival architecture. The two-and-a-half-story, tan brick building features an abundance of classical ornament, including a full-height pedimented Doric portico on the main facade. Wheeler and Stern also prepared plans for a new jail on the courthouse square which was also built in 1912. A formidable two-story building that echoed the courthouse in its tan brick construction and limestone trim, this jail was razed in the 1980s to make way for the present correctional facility on the site.

While new governmental and commercial buildings arose in the business district, larger and more stylish religious buildings appeared at the fringes of downtown. Reflecting a typical small-town pattern of land use, these main churches were established on large corner lots where commercial blocks gave way to tree-lined residential neighborhoods. In 1891, members of the First United Methodist Church commissioned a new brick Gothic Revival church at the south edge of the commercial district, at the southeast corner of South Greene and Morgan streets. It was razed and replaced by the present house of worship on the same site in 1961. In 1905, members of the First Presbyterian Church commissioned the present brick Gothic Revival edifice across the street from the Methodist church. At the east edge of the business district, at the southwest corner of East Wade Street and Brent Street, the cornerstone for Calvary Episcopal Church (308 E. Wade Street) was laid in 1892. This brick, Gothic Revival building is surrounded by a handsome brownstone wall erected in 1920 to commemorate the church's centennial. A Parish House was also added in the 1920s, creating a small courtyard formed by the two buildings and stone wall. Across the street to the north, the Classical Revival First Baptist Church (309 Lee Avenue) was finished in 1928 (Medley 1976: 196-211, 223; Torchlight on the Pee Dee 1949).

While Protestant denominations held sway in Wadesboro, as they did throughout the region, in 1946, a handsome Gothic Revival Catholic church was completed in town. Erected at the edge of business district like the other principal churches, Sacred Heart Church was primarily the gift of the Horne family of Wadesboro. Sarah Divine Horne was the daughter of John F. and Augusta Divine of Wilmington, North Carolina. John F. Divine was the first general superintendent of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the Divines were devout members of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Wilmington. In Wadesboro, Catholic mass was originally celebrated at the homes of the Hornes and their neighbor, the Farrellys. Hugh Farrelly had come to Anson County from Ireland, and he and his wife, Margaret, raised ten children in town. The congregation commissioned Charlotte architect James Malcolm to design the church and the later parish hall (1954). Over the years, resident priests have served the Sacred Heart Parish and shared duties at the Catholic church in Monroe, North Carolina (Medley 1976: 208-211).

Commercial construction downtown stagnated during the Depression, but in 1932-33, the federal government invested in a large United States Post Office (105-111 Martin Street; National Register 1986) adjacent to the courthouse. Representing the upsurge in federally funded public works programs that occurred nationwide in the 1930s, the two-story brick and limestone post office was designed to be a companion to the courthouse, reflecting the latter edifice in its grand scale and dignified Classical Revival style. The 1986 National Register Nomination for the post office declares, "Certainly the post office, and the county courthouse it was designed to match, were the two most prominent buildings downtown when they were constructed and continue to be a significant complex" (Black 1986).

In contrast to the rise of imposing governmental buildings and churches, the early decades of the twentieth century also witnessed the proliferation of workaday gasoline stations and sales and service enterprises geared to the motor car. Typical of small-town commercial districts nationwide by the 1930s and 1940s, auto-related businesses arose throughout the downtown area (Sanborn Map Company 1930, 1952). Directly north of the courthouse, the block that held the post office also included the enormous parking lot of a used automobile sales business. By mid-century auto sales lots also occupied sections of the 100 blocks of West Martin Street, South Washington Street, and South Greene Street, while large parking lots for downtown shoppers were located on South Rutherford and West Martin streets. At the northeast corner of South Washington and East Morgan streets, a frame livery was replaced by a two-story, brick Chevrolet dealership around World War I. This building is currently a video movie rental establishment (Sanborn Map Company 1952).

By the early 1950s, small gasoline stations dotted no less than a dozen corner lots around the edges of the business district. Most were functional box-and-canopy buildings erected in the 1920s and 1930s. One of these stations (now [1999] vacant) survives on Salisbury Street, at the northwest corner of the historic district. However, a few gas stations displayed stylish designs as a marketing strategy to boost sales. In 1936, The Pee Dee Oil Company erected the brick Colonial Revival service station at the corner of East Wade and South Washington streets. Later a bus station, this building is now occupied by municipal offices (124-126 E. Wade Street).

By the 1950s, despite the encroachment of parking lots and corner filling stations, blocks of storefronts continued to characterize the heart of the business district. Some merchants modernized ground-floor shopfronts with eye-catching structural glass veneers or large, recessed display windows. But for the most part, intact early twentieth-century commercial facades lined Green, Rutherford, and Wade streets in the downtown area, and occupied portions of Washington Street and Morgan Street south of the courthouse square (Sanborn Map Company 1952). In addition, large white-frame residences, including the historic Boggan-Hammond House, stood on tree-shaded lots along the 200 block of East Wade Street, leading away from downtown to the stylish Baptist and Episcopal churches at the east end of the block.

Today, the physical character of downtown Wadesboro, as it evolved into the mid-twentieth century, remains well preserved. The architectural fabric and scale of Rutherford Street, the north side of the 100 block of West Wade Street, and both sides of the 100 block of South Greene Street are especially intact. Such notable properties as the Anson County Courthouse, the United States Post Office, Little Hardware, Parson's Pharmacy, and the Ansonia Theater distinguish individual blocks throughout the commercial core. Moreover, handsome rows of commercial buildings, such as 100-108 South Rutherford Street (the former Klondike Hotel), and 106-112 South Greene Street neatly illustrate the emergence of successful hotels, retail stores, and professional offices during Wadesboro's years of growth and prosperity in the early part of the twentieth century.

The principal modern intrusions in the Wadesboro Downtown Historic District include ambitious construction projects in recent decades by banking and civic institutions. Of note, the 1970s BB&T bank building and parking lot dominate the south side of the 100 block of West Wade Street, replacing a row of brick commercial buildings that included the two-story National Hotel into the 1930s. The 1980s Hampton S. Allen Library fills a portion of the west side of the 100 block South Greene Street. Also in the 1980s, the large Law Enforcement Building replaced the 1912 jail on the courthouse square (Black 1986).

Architectural Context

The Downtown Wadesboro Historic District clearly illustrates the market towns in Piedmont North Carolina during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the county seat, Wadesboro developed as a small trading center for rural Anson County, but with the construction of textile mills after 1890, Wadesboro grew with the new industrial economy. The majority of contributing architectural resources reflect national styles popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Wadesboro emerged as an important market and manufacturing town. Encompassing 107 resources, the Wadesboro Downtown Historic District is characterized by rows of commercial buildings, the county courthouse, a post office, two inns or hotels, the public library, two groupings of residences, and several churches, all located on the grid system of streets which define the original plat. The Downtown Wadesboro Historic District boasts a particularly intact and large collection of brick commercial buildings, dating from ca.1892 through ca.1940. The historic district also includes several rare survivals, notably a 1780s frame dwelling, a vernacular Greek Revival inn dating to 1846, a ca.1930 movie theatre, and an early twentieth century hotel.

With the development of textile manufacturing after 1890, Wadesboro underwent rapid growth, and the contributing resources of the Wadesboro Downtown Historic District reflect this period of industrial prosperity. Nationally popular styles for commercial, church, governmental, and domestic buildings are well represented within the historic district while only a few traditional house types remain. The earliest surviving building in central Wadesboro is the Boggan-Hammond House at 206 East Wade Street. Built in the 1780s by Wadesboro founder, Patrick Boggan, for his daughter, the one-story, frame house has a side-gable roof, symmetrical three-bay facade, substantial end chimneys, and nine-over-nine windows. In the early nineteenth century, a two-story brick house (Alexander Little Wing) was attached to the gable end of the Boggan-Hammond House. About 1972, the Boggan-Hammond House was relocated on its lot and attached to the rear of the Little Wing by an open porch. Later, the Boggan-Hammond House was moved again so that it now stands behind the Little Wing.

Located on the northwest corner of Greene and Martin streets, diagonally opposite from the current courthouse, the Burns Inn (100-104 W. Martin Street) is another rare survivor from the pre-Civil War era. This frame, vernacular Greek Revival building features a two-story, single-pile form, but its facade is punctuated by multiple bays. The inn retains its low hip roof, weatherboard siding, several two-paneled doors, and a hip-roofed porch supported by box piers. The hotel has two-over-two and four-over-four windows which date to a late-nineteenth century remodeling.

As the trading center for the county, the blocks within the Wadesboro Downtown Historic. District were already developed for commercial, governmental, and institutional use by 1892 when the first Sanborn Fire Insurance Company map was produced for the county seat. Although the business district has undergone subsequent construction and redevelopment, downtown Wadesboro contains a particularly intact collection of substantial brick commercial buildings dating from the 1890s to World War I. By the twentieth century, many of these buildings housed increasingly specialized functions, with stores occupying the first floors and professional offices on the second floors. Rutherford, Wade, and Greene streets encompass contiguous two-story, brick commercial blocks with restrained ornamentation that reflected nationally popular styles. Most of the commercial buildings follow what is known as the standard commercial design, a narrow, rectangular form, one to three stories in height with a flat roof and large, storefront windows on the ground level. To these standardized forms were added either simple Romanesque Revival detailing, with foundations and trim of local brownstone, or classical elements. Both the east and west sides of the 100 Block of North Rutherford Street include examples of stores with round arched windows and corbeled cornices, hallmarks of the Romanesque Revival style. One particularly intact example of classical detailing is found at 103 East Wade Street which features a denticulated cornice, symmetrical facade, and tall nine-over-nine windows with keystones and pediments. As with many commercial areas, some buildings now have remodeled storefronts, and several buildings in the business district had the metal or enamel paneling added to the storefronts around 1940. The most conspicuous example is the Belk Department Store at 112 North Greene Street which had metal paneling applied to the facade to give a sleek, modern appearance.

In addition to these rows of store and office buildings, downtown Wadesboro also contains several specialized commercial buildings. One of the largest stores in Wadesboro is the 1906 H.W. Little and Company Building (109 S. Greene Street), which houses a hardware retailer. This two-and-one-half story, yellow-brick building is highly embellished with classical detailing expressed in the decorative balustraded parapet, projecting denticulated cornice, segmental arched windows, and molded cornice. The Anson Real Estate Company Building at 121-125 East Wade Street also displays classical styling in its use of a stepped parapet with concrete coping, projecting cornice, and a concrete hood capping the first floor display windows. The Ansonia Theatre at 112 South Rutherford Street is a particularly rare survival from the interwar era. Downtown movie theaters were once ubiquitous in small towns across America, but have become increasingly rare with changes in movie marketing. Although somewhat altered, the Arsonia retains its arcaded facade, molded cornice, and parapet. Nearby is the Klondike Hotel (100 S. Rutherford Street), at the corner of Rutherford and Wade streets. This two-story, red-brick building, which has a canted entrance oriented to the corner, displays exuberant, eclectic detailing, including a pedimented parapet, brownstone trim above the windows, and arcaded window bays with rusticated pilasters. Unlike any other commercial building in downtown Wadesboro is the (former) Leak's Hardware Company Building (116 W. Wade Street). This gray and green stuccoed building is a rare and sophisticated example of streamlined Art Deco architecture. The building has a flat, stuccoed exterior broken by stylized, fluted pilasters, steel sash and glass block windows, and geometric decorative detailing executed in the contrasting green stucco.

The most architecturally sophisticated buildings within the business district are the two governmental buildings, the Anson County Courthouse and the U.S. Post Office, both of which owe their designs to the Beaux Arts movement of the early twentieth century. Designed between 1912 and 1914 by the Charlotte architectural firm of Wheeler and Stem, the courthouse is a monumental example of Neo-Classical Revival architecture with a tall central block, with a bold, Doric portico, flanked by wings fronted by pedimented porticoes. Although smaller, the post office, which sits across Martin Street from the courthouse, has the same tan brick exterior, symmetrical facade, fanlighted windows, and classical pilasters, parapet and cornice executed in contrasting concrete.

The Wadesboro Downtown Historic District includes several churches, which date from the 1890s through the early twentieth century when growing congregations sparked building campaigns. These churches were often larger, brick edifices than their frame predecessors, and were more fully expressive of current architectural styles. The Gothic Revival became a favorite design choice for the new churches. Designed by English architect, John E. Hill, in 1893, Calvary Episcopal Church is a sophisticated example of the Gothic Revival in its English country form. The dark brick edifice has brownstone trim, a steeply pitched, slate roof, pyramidal roofed entry tower, buttresses, articulated transepts and apse, and pointed arch windows. Classical Revival designs were also popular for church architecture, and the 1928 First Baptist Church, which sits opposite the Episcopal church, is a monumental example of the style executed in red brick with contrasting white trim. The church has a front gable form with pedimented portico supported by Ionic columns. The church also features an entablature, a denticulated cornice, molded box eaves, water table, and tall, round-arched, stained glass windows capped by keystones. On the north elevation is a side entrance tower mounted by a cupola, delicate balustrade, and molded cornice and entablature.

Along tree-shaded East Wade Street and on South Rutherford Street are groupings of substantial residences dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, reflecting the eclectic designs of the early twentieth century. At 209 East Wade Street is the large, frame Queen Anne dwelling (ca.1880) known as the Parson-Ross House. The house features such hallmarks of the style as irregular massing, decorative shingling under the gables, an expansive porch, and a variety of window styles. At 300 East Wade Street, Julius Wyatt built a substantial, red-brick bungalow with Colonial Revival detailing displayed around the fanlighted entrance.

In summary, the Wadesboro Downtown Historic District contains a good collection of commercial buildings, institutional buildings such as churches and a public library, as well as the governmental buildings found in such county seats. Although there has been demolition and infill, the Wadesboro Downtown Historic District remains cohesive with some notable rare survivals. The historic district has undergone some of the alterations common to all commercial areas, particularly remodeled storefronts or applied metal paneling. Despite these modifications, the Wadesboro Downtown Historic District exemplifies a cohesive business district of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


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N.C. Division of Archives and History. "National Register Nomination for the Boggan-Hammond House and Alexander Little Wing (Wadesboro, North Carolina)." 1972. Raleigh, N.C.: N.C. Division of Archives and History.

The North Carolina Year Book. Raleigh, N.C.: The News and Observer, 1902, 1915.

"Overall Economic Development Program, Anson County Progress Report." 1972. Typewritten manuscript on file at the Anson County Public Library, Wadesboro, N.C.

Sanborn Insurance Company. Maps, Wadesboro series, 1885, 1892, 1897, 1902, 1908, 1914, 1930.

Sharpe, Bill. A New Geography of North Carolina, vol. 3. Raleigh, N.C.: Sharpe Publishing Company, 1961.

________. "To Stay...and to Prosper." The State. September 20, 1961: 8-10, 21.

"Torchlight on the Pee Dee, 1779-1949." Anson County Bicentennial Program, Wadesboro, N.C., 1949.

Wadesboro, North Carolina: A Pictorial Tribute. Wadesboro, N.C.: Anson County Historical Society, 1987.

‡ Richard L Mattson and Frances P. Alexander, Mattson, Alexander and Associates, Inc., Wadesboro Downtown Historic District, Anson County, N.C., nomination document, 1998, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Greene Street North • Greene Street South • Lee Avenue • Martin Street East • Martin Street West • Morgan Street East • Morgan Street West • Route 109 • Route 742 • Rutherford Street North • Rutherford Street South • Wade Street East • Wade Street West • Washington Street South