The Pee Dee Avenue Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998 with additional information submitted in 2006. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from copies of the original nomination documents. [&dagger,&Dagger]
The Pee Dee Avenue Historic District, comprising sixty-five residential buildings, Albemarle Cemetery, and Christ Episcopal Church, survives to the present as Albemarle's principal residential avenue and the location of the city's largest, most intact neighborhood of historic residences. This group of mostly brick (forty-five), frame (nineteen) houses (and rental units), and one stone house spans the entire continuum of historic residential architecture in the Stanly County seat, excepting only the older Isaiah Wilson Snuggs House and Marks House (National Register, 1995), and reflects the spectrum of domestic architecture during its period of significance from ca.1891 to 1947. Lining both sides of Pee Dee Avenue for nearly its entire length, the Pee Dee Avenue Historic District's cohesive streetscape includes late-nineteenth century and turn-of-the-century two-story Queen Anne style houses, Bungalows, a large and imposing collection of Colonial Revival and Georgian Revival style houses, and an important group of interwar-era period cottages. Twelve of these buildings, including his own impressive bungalow cottage, are known to have been built by Albemarle's principal interwar period builder, David Augustus Holbrook (1879-1960), and probably twice that number (or more) were actually built by him and his company in the 1920s and 1930s. Other contractor builders represented in the Pee Dee Avenue Historic District are Locke A. Moody, Martin Harris, J.D. Harwood and Son, and the prominent Stanly County stonemasons, Wagoner and Sons.
Albemarle Cemetery became the city's public cemetery in 1885, and it remained Albemarle's only civic cemetery until the opening of Fairview Cemetery, located off the east end of Pee Dee Avenue. Many of the early influential residents of Albemarle and Pee Dee Avenue were buried within its small rectangular grounds from the 1890s to 1947. The enduring status of the avenue as the city's most distinguished residential address was confirmed by the construction of Christ Episcopal Church here in 1939-1940; it is the city's only major early-twentieth-century church that is not located on or near Second Street in central Albemarle.
The Pee Dee Avenue Historic District satisfies criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places because of its local significance in the areas of architecture and community planning and development. The linear district comprises the city's largest most intact neighborhood of historic residences, many of which are important buildings in their own right and it includes the home of David Augustus Holbrook of whom the Stanly News and Press noted in 1940 that "no man has done more for the residential sections of Albemarle." The Albemarle Cemetery also supports the Pee Dee Avenue Historic District's significance in the area of community planning and development having become the city's first public cemetery in 1885; it contains the graves of many of the town's leaders and most influential citizens as well as many residents of Pee Dee Avenue who were interred here from the last decade of the nineteenth century through the first half of the twentieth century.
Historical Background, Architecture, and Community Planning and Development
While the period of significance for the Pee Dee Avenue Historic District does not begin until ca.1891, when the Brown-Parker House (427 Pee Dee Avenue), the oldest surviving intact house is believed to have been built, the history of this area as a place of residence can be traced to the mid-nineteenth century. Then the avenue was the principal road leading east out of the newly-founded county seat, and it was called Swift Island Road; that name derived from its destination, the Swift Island ford on the Pee Dee River whose name would later be shared with the avenue. In 1841 the Pee Dee River was named as the dividing line between old Montgomery County and Stanly County which was formed out of its western lands that year and named for Revolutionary patriot John Stanly. In 1841 the heirs of Nehemiah Hearne (1780-1826) donated a fifty-acre tract as the site of the new county seat. A town comprising seventy-two lots was laid out in a grid plan in 1842. First, Second, Third, and Fourth Streets were the four north/south streets; North Main, and South Streets were the three streets which carried on an east/west axis. Fourth Street was the eastern boundary of the new town. It is unclear at this distance whether Main Street was laid out to generally align with the existing Swift Island Road in 1842 or whether the road simply departed on a northeasterly course from the junction of Main Street with Fourth Street. (Present-day East Main Street, east of Fourth Street, was not laid out until the turn of the century.)
The first known resident in the Pee Dee Avenue Historic District is believed to have been Daniel Freeman (1795-1877), a major land owner and real estate speculator in Albemarle, a farmer, and a storekeeper. In 1842 Mr. Freeman purchased fifteen of the town's seventy-two lots. In 1847 he purchased lot #5 on which the "Marks House" was built and he owned that lot until 1860. During those years the small one-story transitional Federal/Greek Revival house that later came to be known as the Marks House was probably occupied by his son Archibald C. Freeman (1821-1894) who was also a member of the North Carolina Senate during that period. According to local tradition Daniel Freeman erected a large two-story house about 1850 as the seat of a farm he owned on Swift Island Road; it is said to have also been the home of Archibald C. Freeman. It occupied the site of the present-day Wade F. Denning House (1035 Pee Dee Avenue). The Freeman House stood here until being moved, sometime between 1937 and 1941, within the block and to the north where it was renovated, expanded, and continues to stand to the present at 946 Montgomery Avenue.
The lands of the Freeman farm apparently extended as far south as the slightly elevated site of the Albemarle Cemetery (700 Pee Dee Avenue). Although the first grave in the cemetery is said to date to 1862, the first important series of burials here were of members of the Freeman family. Fannie Freeman (1847-1865), a daughter of Archibald Freeman, was buried here in 1865, and two years later Freeman's wife Nancy Freeman (1823-1867) was interred. Daniel Freeman, himself, was buried here in 1877 and two years later both his wife Martha (1795-1879) and his grandson Dr. Henry Daniel Freeman (1849-1879) would be interred here. In 1885 Archibald C. Freeman and W.H. Hearne jointly conveyed a two-acre tract for the Albemarle Cemetery on the south side of Swift Island Road. During the years from 1850 to 1885 Albemarle grew very slowly and as late as 1890, the population of the county seat stood at only 248 persons.
Pee Dee Avenue and Albemarle in the Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Centuries
Just before Archibald Freeman's death in 1894, two other prominent members of Albemarle's business and professional community erected houses on substantial holdings near the west end of Pee Dee Avenue. These houses marked the beginning of the road/avenue as an important residential location. James Milton Brown (1851-1923), an attorney, and his wife, Martha Cornelia Anderson (1866-1935), erected a large, handsome and fashionable Queen Anne style frame house (427 Pee Dee Avenue) which they occupied until their deaths. Across the street, and a block to the east, Ira B. Miller (1860-1924) and his wife, M. Ida Fisher (1857-1927), also built a large two-story Queen Anne style frame house (506 Pee Dee Avenue) which they, too, occupied until their deaths. The one-story frame house (1012 Pee Dee Avenue) that John Snotherly (1847-1926) built probably also dates to about this time.
The construction of these three houses, and others which followed within a decade or so, into the early years of the twentieth century, reflected the extraordinary changes beginning to occur in Albemarle. For the first fifty years of its existence from 1842 to 1891, the county seat was little more than a small village trading center focused on the Stanly County court house and the few business houses which stood along Second and Main Streets. It had barely grown beyond the boundaries of the town laid out on the former Hearne lands in 1842. A single event in 1891 would change the character of the town forever. In 1891 the Southern Railroad extended a line, known as the Yadkin Railroad, from Salisbury southeast to Norwood, a small place on the Yadkin River just before it emptied into the Pee Dee River. The Yadkin Railroad followed a southeasterly course out of Salisbury, along the old road whose course survives today as US 52, and passed through Albemarle on its way to Norwood in the southeast corner of Stanly County.
This railroad line proved to be the catalyst for the industrialization and fast growth of Albemarle. Sensing an extraordinary opportunity, textile magnate James William Cannon (1852-1921), who owned mills in nearby Concord, the seat of Cabarrus County, joined forces with a local Stanly County businessman, Irenus Polycarp Efird, to form the Efird Manufacturing Company. In 1897 the partners opened the first mill on the west side of Depot Street and the path of the Yadkin Railroad, about one block west of the old town limit at First Street. The Efird Manufacturing Company prospered and quickly added other brick mills to its complex.
The availability of railroad transportation was one advantage which spurred the success of the Efird mills; however, the abundant supply of cotton produced locally and in the surrounding region, together with a good labor pool ready to leave Piedmont farms for a house and a weekly wage guaranteed the success of the venture. Barely two years passed until Mr. Cannon established a second mill on adjoining property to the north of the Efird complex. The Wiscassett Mills Company opened its first plant in 1899 and it too prospered. The steady expansion of these mills, related facilities, their mill villages as well as managerial housing, can be traced on the Albemarle maps produced by the Sanborn Map Company from 1902 to 1929. Their immediate success and steady growth can also be seen in the increase of the town's population, the expansion of its mercantile operations, and the rise of a professional and managerial class that was associated with the operation of the mills and the related businesses, banks, law offices, and other concerns which were quickly established to service the mills, and the construction of many new houses. The city's population of 248 persons in 1890 grew to 400 by 1895. Within the five years to 1900 it tripled to 1,382 citizens, and by 1910 the city population grew by more than 700 to 2,116 citizens. Like substantial increases would occur to 1940 when the 4,060 people were living in Albemarle.
The success of the mills occasioned an unprecedented building boom in Albemarle. Mr. Cannon, of course, remained in Concord where his house still stands on North Union Street. I.P. Efird appears to have lived in relatively modest circumstances given his new and great wealth; however, his offspring chose to build substantial houses. John Solomon Efird (1857-1927), apparently the principal heir of his father's business ability, erected a large Classical Revival style brick house designed by Charlotte architect Louis Humbert Asbury in 1911 on West Main Street. This elevated area, overlooking the Efird and Wiscassett mills in the low ground along the railroad, eventually became an enclave including five other Efird family houses. Wiscassett Mills soon developed a hosiery mill complex in the area to the north of central Albemarle on property bounded by North Second and North Fourth Streets, Montgomery and Cannon Avenues. Housing for managers, supervisors, and other executive personnel was soon built in the area around Cannon Memorial Park and on North First and North Second Streets while housing for workers was built to the north of the nineteenth century mills.
The steady expansion of the Efird and Wiscassett Mills, the development of the Lillian Mills in 1905 at the foot of Pee Dee Avenue, and the increase of related businesses can also be seen in the development of Pee Dee Avenue during its period of significance. Although none of the major mill owners ever lived within the district, members of its managerial staff did, together with attorneys who worked for the mills and their owners, and other businessmen whose concerns prospered with the mills. Another spur to home building in the opening years of the century was the organization of the Albemarle Building and Loan Association in 1902 and the Home Builders' Association in 1911. John Solomon Efird was president of the Albemarle Building and Loan Association. Two of its seven directors, I.B. Miller (506 Pee Dee Avenue) and R.A. Crowell (1124 Pee Dee Avenue), lived on Pee Dee Avenue, as did the company's attorney Robert Lee Smith, Sr. (1005 Pee Dee Avenue). James McKnight Morrow (1864-1941), the founding president of the Home Builders' Association, erected a house at 1044 Pee Dee Avenue where he lived until his death, all the while remaining president of the financial institution. In a 1957 advertisement, the Albemarle Savings and Loan Association (the successor company) published a photograph of Mr. Morrow's house and noted that its first loan had been made to Mr. Morrow in 1902 to build the house. Arthur P. Harris was elected the second secretary of the company in 1915 and served as secretary as late as 1940; he too built a house at 807 Pee Dee Avenue. The two-story frame Crowell, Smith, and Harris Houses were all probably built within a year or two of each other at the turn of the century. The Smith House (1005 Pee Dee Avenue) is a large fashionable Queen Anne style two-story house, while Mr. Harris's house is more conservative and reflects aspects of both the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles; both survive intact to the present. Rufus A. Crowell's house was a more conventional two-story, three-bay side-gable roof house with a one-story rear shed; it was raised to a full two stories and remodeled in the Colonial Revival style in 1947 by D.A. Holbrook for Mr. Crowell's son. Individually and as a group, the houses built by Mr. Smith, Mr. Harris, and earlier by Mr. Brown, are the finest surviving Queen Anne style houses in Albemarle.
Contractors and Builders in Albemarle and on Pee Dee Avenue
The expansion of the Efird, Wiscassett, and Lillian Mills and the parallel building boom in residential and commercial construction enabled several important builders and their contracting companies to prosper in the opening decades of the century. The first of these was Locke Anderson Moody (1862-1938), a native of Albemarle. How and when he entered the building profession is yet to be confirmed; however, his earliest known building is the house (427 Pee Dee Avenue) he built for James Milton Brown about 1891. Two years later, in 1893, he completed the new brick Stanly County Court House, and in 1907-1908 he erected the Opera House/Starnes Jewelers Building (NR, 1995). The last known important building he erected in Albemarle was the John Solomon Efird House on West Main Street; however, he was the likely builder of the new houses erected on Pee Dee Avenue by Messrs. Smith and Harris. Mr. Moody left Albemarle in the mid-1910s for Washington, D.C., where he continued in the building profession. His wife Louise (1866-1896) is buried in the Albemarle Cemetery; however, he is probably buried in Washington or its suburbs. The circumstances of his departure from Albemarle are uncertain; the fact that Wiscassett Mills awarded a major construction project in Albemarle in 1913 — within a year or two of his completion of the imposing Efird house — to David Augustus Holbrook, a Salisbury contractor, was probably both discouraging and influential. David Augustus Holbrook (1873-1960), Albemarle's most prominent builder from 1913 to the end of the period of significance (1947) and beyond, was born in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. In the late 1890s or early 1900s, he left Cabarrus County for Salisbury where he was employed by contractor Charles Propst and eventually became a superintendent of construction. He is said to have overseen the erection of the Grubb Building in Salisbury which remains the tallest building in the Rowan County seat. D.A. Holbrook is also said to have worked briefly with Leonidas Sloan Bradshaw (1884-1951), another prominent Salisbury contractor. According to local accounts, Holbrook came to Albemarle in 1913 to build additional mill village housing for Wiscassett Mills employees. This new "bungalow village" was immediately north of the Wiscassett hosiery mills and in the area generally bounded by North Third and North Fifth Streets on the west and east, respectively, and Cannon and Yadkin Avenues on the south and north; many of these modest bungalows survive to the present. D.A. Holbrook formed his own construction company in the 1910s in Albemarle and operated it as a wholly owned concern until 1950 when he formed a partnership, D.A. Holbrook & Sons Company, with his sons, Caldwell Augustus Holbrook and John Cavin Holbrook, who carried on the building company after his death in 1960. In its "60th Anniversary Edition" on 16 August 1940 the Stanly News and Press carried an account of Mr. Holbrook's work and a photograph of the contractor.
Albemarle citizens readily agree that no man has done more for the residential section of Albemarle than D.A. Holbrooks, above, prominent Albemarle contractor and real estate owner. Coming to Albemarle more than 20 years ago, he early displayed a faith in the town's future, and since that time he has built dozens of homes and a number of apartment buildings. He has taken lots that were unattractive, put homes on them, and made them beauty spots. He has built imposing homes on good lots, and sold or rented to people who wanted them. He has done the same with more modest homes. Frequently a man who wants a home discusses his plans with Mr. Holbrooks, and if the prospective home owner has some doubts about it, Mr. Holbrooks will tell him, "Well, I'll build it. If you like it, take it. If you don't, I'll keep it myself, or sell it to someone else."
It is entirely fitting today to pay tribute to this man who can be rightly characterized as "Albemarle's home builder."
The first houses known to have been built by Mr. Holbrook date from the late 1920s and early 1930s; this group includes his own house (521 Pee Dee Avenue). In 1936-1937 he erected a French Manorial style brick house (1023 Pee Dee Avenue) for Dr. Victor L. Bigler. At the end of the 1930s he erected a duplex (516-518 Pee Dee Avenue) for his daughter Kate Holbrook Boyett and in 1940 he completed the construction of Christ Church (428 Pee Dee Avenue). His last known projects in the district were the Colonial Revival style remodeling of the Crowell House (1124 Pee Dee Avenue) for Reginald Alexander Crowell in 1947, and the construction of the Edward Porcher Brunson House (804 Pee Dee Avenue).
At present less is known of the work of contractors Martin Harris and J.D. Harwood and Son. Mr. Harris built the Carlton House (603 Pee Dee Avenue) in 1936-1937 and a decade later, in 1947, he erected an imposing late Colonial Revival style house (915 Pee Dee Avenue) designed by Gerald Ehringer for William Thomas Huckabee, Jr. The firm of J.D. Harwood and Son built the Smith Cottage (1005 Pee Dee Avenue), the finest of the district's period cottages. Other houses in the Pee Dee Avenue Historic District are surely the work of these builders and contractors; however, the associations have not been confirmed.
Residential Building on Pee Dee Avenue in the 1920s
Relatively few surviving houses are known to have been erected on Pee Dee Avenue in the 1910s; however, the 1920s ushered in a boom period in house construction on the avenue that appears to have lasted into the early 1930s. Financial prosperity was one cause for new home building on Pee Dee Avenue. Another was the deaths of James Milton Brown in 1923, Ira B. Miller in 1924, and Mrs. Miller in 1927 which resulted in the division of their large acreages in the later 1920s/early 1930s into additional house lots at the western end of Pee Dee Avenue. That said, however, the earliest of the important houses erected on Pee Dee Avenue in the 1920s and 1930s is a group of six brick/brick veneer houses erected in the center of the district where, ca.1926, W. Paul Ivey also remodeled John Snotherly's turn-of-the-century frame house into an attractive Bungalow (1012 Pee Dee Avenue) with low gable roofs, bracketed eaves, and banked windows. All seven of these houses were completed by 1929. Near the west end of Pee Dee Avenue, four additional houses were also completed by 1929.
Four of the six brick houses built in the center of the district by 1929 are Colonial Revival or Georgian Revival style houses and they are the contemporaries of the handsome house Charlotte architect Louis Humbert Asbury designed for Dr. Julius Clay Hall. The Hall House, built on North Second Street, and the James U. Loftin House (750 Pee Dee Avenue) are arguably the most impressive Georgian Revival style houses in Albemarle. With a symmetrical five-bay facade, Flemish-bond elevations, a beautifully detailed entrance-bay porch, and other well-crafted woodwork, the Loftin House is a fully-realized Georgian Revival style house with a commanding presence on Pee Dee Avenue. Immediately next door, to the west, John B. Harris, who had grown up in the house (807 Pee Dee Avenue) on the hill to the northeast, built an attractive one-story Colonial Revival style house (754 Pee Dee Avenue) with free classical detailing. A certain freedom and idiosyncrasy prevails on two other Colonial Revival style houses in this immediate area; the Roy E. Brooks House (808 Pee Dee Avenue) has a boldly-scaled modillion-block cornice enlivening its eaves while, across the street, the Almond-Snyder House (907 Pee Dee Avenue) has a curiously asymmetrical facade and brick elevations enriched with granite. Crossing back to the south side of Pee Dee Avenue, at its intersection with North Tenth Street are two more mid-1920s houses; both were built by employees of Wiscasset Mills who moved from mill-owned housing to their own houses on Pee Dee Avenue. The first built, in 1925, was erected for Frank Bernard Patterson (918 Pee Dee Avenue), who worked in supervisory and financial positions with Wiscassett Mills. Two doors to the east, at 1004 Pee Dee Avenue, W. Alma Smith, a supervisor, built an attractive one-story house (1004 Pee Dee Avenue) with arch-headed porch and porte cochere openings and large banked windows. An important part of the Pee Dee Avenue streetscape, in the bend of the avenue at the foot of North Tenth Street, it originally had a grey tile roof like the one which remains on its contemporary garage.
The four contemporary houses at the near east end of Pee Dee Avenue and the district are smaller in scale, and yet they are more than "infill" in a streetscape of substantial houses. The Colonial Revival style brick bungalow at 1051 Pee Dee Avenue, with its handsomely detailed front block, is an antecedent of the period cottages that would be erected along the length of the avenue between 1929 and 1936. Dwight L. Crowell's one-story Colonial Revival house (1106 Pee Dee Avenue) is large yet conventional in its detailing with the usual entrance-bay porch. The Almond-Strother House (1141 Pee Dee Avenue) with its good Tuscan column porch, gable-front form, and bracketed eaves, applies the Colonial Revival style to the Bungalow form. The gable-front Bungalow at 1126 Pee Dee is one of the few houses in the Pee Dee Avenue Historic District that were probably built for rental purposes and it retains a surprisingly high degree of integrity to the present. At the west end of the avenue, the decade of the 1920s came to a close with a Bungalow erected at 529 Pee Dee Avenue and the extensive remodeling of Ira B. Miller's Queen Anne style frame house (506 Pee Dee Avenue). Louis Humbert Asbury's plans for the Colonial Revival style refurbishment are dated 28 May 1929, and William Titus Efird probably undertook the work soon thereafter.
Building on Pee Dee Avenue in the Boom Years, 1929-1939
While the construction of these eleven aforementioned new houses, the building of the Morton-Wilhelm Bungalow (729 Pee Dee Avenue) in 1927, and the remodeling of two earlier frame houses in the 1920s represented the continuing development of Pee Dee Avenue, the building boom which occurred between 1929 and 1939 secured for another generation its reputation as the city's premiere residential avenue. During that decade a total of twenty-one houses were erected along the length of Pee Dee Avenue; the construction of Christ Church was begun in 1939 and completed in 1940. Twenty of the twenty-one houses were either brick or brick veneer; the Sweatte-Kluttz Cottage (1121 Pee Dee Avenue) is built of native stone and Christ Church was built of stone quarried in nearby Davidson County. These twenty-one houses represent nearly one-third of the sixty-five residential buildings which stand in the district and they form an equally proportionate part of the district's architectural character. The decade between 1929 and 1939 was the heyday of the period cottage on Pee Dee Avenue; ten of the twenty-one houses built during these years were period cottages, and many in this group were built by D.A. Holbrook. Five of the twenty houses are the Colonial Revival style. The French Manorial style brick house (1023 Pee Dee Avenue) of Dr. Bigler was built in 1936-1937, and a block to the east Claude B. Sweatte erected his stone cottage (1121 Pee Dee Avenue). The four other houses of this decade (505, 526, 603, and 607 Pee Dee Avenue) do not easily fit into convenient stylistic parameters; displaying elements of the Bungalow form, the Colonial Revival, and the period cottage, however, they are clearly of the 1930s.
Although there are individual period cottages erected by D.A. Holbrook and other contractors on other streets in Albemarle, no other neighborhood or streetscape has such a dense concentration of well-built and handsomely finished examples. Nor, frankly, is there as cohesive or powerful an impression as these cottages make here. Part of this impact owes to their number and the fact that many retain the original red tile roofs which compliment their brick elevations. Another aspect of their presence on Pee Dee Avenue derives from their location; four of them (439, 501, 511, and 531 Pee Dee Avenue) are located in a group of seven contiguous closely-built houses in the 400 and 500 blocks of the avenue, six of which are known to have been built by D.A. Holbrook. The others beautifully punctuate the length of Pee Dee Avenue. The Smith Cottage (1005 Pee Dee Avenue) is the most imposing and visible of the group standing in isolation in the northeast corner of Pee Dee Avenue and North Tenth Street at the point where the avenue bends to the east. The facade, at the end of its lush boxwood-lined walk, has a series of arch-headed openings on the first story, with a rusticated stone doorway and leaded/diamond pane windows, paired gable-front ells, and paired gable louvers inset in the roof. The Crowell-Efird-Fagan House (924 Pee Dee Avenue) across the avenue has unusual white stucco gable-fronts as a field for brick rustication.
The period cottages built by D.A. Holbrook near the west end of the district, all virtually within site of each other, reflect the variety and imagination which are so characteristic of the period cottage style and Holbrook's best work. Bands of brickwork, soldier courses, the occasional tile well-placed on a gable, the characteristic combination of overlapping multiple gables and arches, the persistence of the facade chimney, tile-covered terraces merging with porches, and other ornamental features are combined to produce houses of great charm and originality. James Milton Brown, Jr., who grew up in a Queen Anne style frame house (427 Pee Dee Avenue) built his own cottage (439 Pee Dee Avenue) in the east side yard of his childhood home; it stands in the same relationship as does the Smith Cottage in the former west side yard of the Robert Lee Smith family house (1005 Pee Dee Avenue) Mr. Holbrook's own house (521 Pee Dee Avenue) is a somewhat overgrown version of the period cottage, and its tapestry brick elevations are enlivened with decorative brickwork and other features that both brought pleasure to his eye and served as an advertisement of his skills as a contractor. The placement of three-fold garage doors on his porte-cochere is a unique instance in the district, and, oddly enough, they seem to portend increasing visibility of the automobile in domestic design and like features on Ranch houses of the 1950s. In 1939 he erected a duplex cottage (516-518 Pee Dee Avenue) for his daughter Kate Holbrook Boyett across Pee Dee Avenue and capped its dark brick elevations with his characteristic terra cotta tile roof.
The picturesque appearance of Pee Dee Avenue Historic District's period cottages remains a counterpoint to the more ordered, mostly symmetrical elevations of the era's Colonial and Georgian Revival brick houses; however, age, materials, and a shared level of detailing make them very companionable neighbors. Robert Kiser Patterson had D.A. Holbrook build a one-story Colonial Revival style brick house at 441 Pee Dee Avenue between two contemporary period cottages. A few doors to the east, W. Berly Beaver erected a three-bay Colonial Revival style brick house (515 Pee Dee Avenue) between the house (511 Pee Dee Avenue) that Holbrook erected for Carl Helms and Holbrook's own house (521 Pee Dee Avenue). The one-and-a-half-story brick Colonial Revival style house at 617 Pee Dee Avenue, probably also built by Mr. Holbrook and long occupied by his son and partner, Caldwell Augustus Holbrook, stands beside the cottage of Lane Ode Parker (621 Pee Dee Avenue). Some four blocks eastward, Arthur K. Winget, a president of Efird Manufacturing Company, built a more formal five-bay Georgian Revival house (1045 Pee Dee Avenue) which he flanked with one-story porch and sunroom wings. In the next block eastward, Dr. William T. Shaver (1105 Pee Dee Avenue) also repeated the five-bay form first seen on the Loftin House and the arch-enframed entrance seen on Mr. Winget's house.
While the period cottages injected a spirited originality in the Pee Dee Avenue streetscape, three final buildings of the 1930s added yet more variety — and richness — to its appearance and fabric. In 1936-1937 D.A. Holbrook erected a French Manorial style brick house (1023 Pee Dee Avenue) for Dr. Victor L. Bigler according to plans which the doctor is said to have drawn himself. In 1935 Claude B. Sweatte had erected his stone cottage (1121 Pee Dee Avenue) between the dark red brick period cottage built for Croson B. Miller (1111 Pee Dee Avenue) and a somewhat less elaborate cottage, with a sweeping front gable, built for Craig J. Smith (1131 Pee Dee Avenue). In 1939-1940 at the opposite east end of the district, D.A. Holbrook and the Wagoner family stonemasons erected a Late Gothic stone church for the congregation of Christ Church. By 1940 W. Kayser Terrill was also living in his small one-story brick house (625 Pee Dee Avenue).
Pee Dee Avenue in the 1940s
The hammers of carpenters and builders virtually fell silent on Pee Dee Avenue in the 1940s when compared with the pace of construction in the late 1920s and 1930s. Although the city's population grew by over 500 people between 1930 (3,493) and 1940 (4,060), Pee Dee Avenue was nearly built-up and there was relatively little construction in the district. Five buildings were added in the years up to and including 1947, the end of the period of significance, and all five reflected building styles that were well-established on the avenue. John T. Cox and Boyce G. Koontz erected red brick one-story houses that represent the end of the period cottage style in the district. The Cox House (701 Pee Dee Avenue), believed to have been built in 1941-1942, has an arcaded porch with trios of arch-headed openings facing both Pee Dee Avenue west onto North Seventh Street. The Koontz House (1137 Pee Dee Avenue) also has a gable-front entrance bay, an asymmetrical principal facade gable, the usual facade chimney, and an offset corner porch.
Three important Colonial Revival style houses appeared on Pee Dee Avenue in 1947 including the Georgian style house Louis Humbert Asbury designed for Dr. Edward Porcher Brunson (804 Pee Dee Avenue), a founder of the Stanly County hospital. Members of the Huckabee family were engaged on two important projects in 1947 that comprise the last contributing buildings in the district. William Thomas Huckabee, Jr., a second generation Albemarle lumberman, engaged Gerald Ehringer to design a Colonial Revival style frame house (915 Pee Dee Avenue whose appearance is dominated by a full-facade two-story Mount Vernon-style portico. The appearance of this house may well have been influenced by the "Mount Vernon type home" which Malcolm M. Palmer built in 1940 in the city's first residential subdivision, Forest Hills, which opened in 1939; Mr. Palmer was an investor in the Forest Hills development company. Mr. Huckabee's house was erected by contractor Martin Harris on the site of a one-story turn-of-the-century frame house occupied by the Almond family that was lost or pulled down by 1941. Whether Huckabee's house inspired his sister Alice and her husband, Reginald Alexander Crowell, to undertake renovations to Mr. Crowell's boyhood home (1124 Pee Dee Avenue), or their decision was independent is not now known. Whatever the case, Mr. and Mrs. Crowell hired D.A. Holbrook to remodel the house; he raised the rear block to two stories and covered the entire house with a broad side-gable roof that engaged a two-story full-facade portico.
The District After 1947
In the years from 1947 to 1955, seven additional houses were built on Pee Dee Avenue. Two of the seven were fairly conventional Ranch houses; however, the other five are substantial Colonial Revival style houses, all built between 1947 and 1951, whose design, materials, and finish are sympathetic with the earlier historic houses along the avenue. Dr. Brunson's house (804 Pee Dee Avenue), a three-bay Flemish bond house whose appearance suggests an earlier construction date, was built between two 1920s Colonial Revival style houses. Henry P. Efird built a similar two-story three-bay Colonial Revival style house (1101 Pee Dee Avenue) beside the earlier more distinguished Georgian house of Dr. and Mrs. Shaver. Fred T. Lisk built a gable-front brick house with Tuscan column porches (1135 Pee Dee Avenue). George A. Hughes erected a two-story brick duplex (743 Pee Dee Avenue) in the northeast corner of Pee Dee and North Eighth Street; its off-center entrance is flanked by inset arcaded corner porches. The largest and most prepossessing of these houses was built for Wade F. Denning, an executive with Wiscassett Mills; the two-story L-plan brick house also boasts a two-story portico. It replaced the Freeman House on this site, the earliest known residence on the old Swift Island Road that became Pee Dee Avenue which, in turn, became and has remained the most distinguished residential avenue in Albemarle. Meanwhile, between 1937 and 1941, the Freeman House was moved to a lot on Montgomery Avenue ( 946 Montgomery Avenue) and fitted with its own two-story portico by Lewis Kluttz Edwards whose father had bought the house in 1906, a few months after her birth. She occupied it until her death in 1966.
Pee Dee Avenue, ca.1891 to 1947: A Postscript on the Albemarle's Most Distinguished Residential Avenue
In its "60th Anniversary Edition" on 16 August 1940 the Stanly News and Press celebrated the history of the newspaper, the community, Stanly County, its people, businesses, churches, and industries, and other aspects of community life in a series of illustrated articles. While the tone of many of the accounts is boosterish or self-congratulatory in nature, many of them provide reflective views of local history and the tenor of the times that now, a half-century later, are proving unusually insightful. One short article, "Home-Ownership Spirit Prevails in This County," contains paragraphs that capture the essence of Pee Dee Avenue and the context of its significance. The article was illustrated with an oblique Pee Dee Avenue streetscape which included the Winget (1045 Pee Dee Avenue), Miller (1111 Pee Dee Avenue), and Sweatte-Kluttz (1121 Pee Dee Avenue) Houses.
The development of the home ownership spirit in Albemarle and Stanly county has not been a sudden, over-night one, but it has been sound development which has come about for a number of reasons. First of all, the independent spirit of the citizenship of this county would naturally find expression in the ownership of a home — man's castle in which he is the ruler. That spirit has been shown many times, even in recent years, in varied ways, and there are evidences that it will continue to be shown in the years ahead.
In the next place, Albemarle has two building and loan associations, founded early in this century, which have constantly preached home-ownership to the citizens of the county. They have spent thousands of dollars in newspaper advertising, encouraging people to buy shares, and set out towards the definite goal of home ownership.
In more recent years, the building material dealers have been carrying on campaigns of their own, encouraging home ownership, and the results of their efforts have been very gratifying.
The fact that one man owns a home encourages his neighbor to strive to own his home, and so the home ownership spirit spreads from one family to another. A father who owns his home invariably is never satisfied until his sons and daughters own their homes, and in this way the spirit of home-ownership is handed down from one generation to another.
Many sections of Albemarle are developing rapidly as residential sections. Homes of all types are being built, and the fact that tastes differ results in a variety of types and models which gives the various communities pleasing appearances.
Pee Dee Avenue was never planned as a residential community, but when prominent Albemarle citizens including James Milton Brown (427 Pee Dee Avenue), Ira B. Miller (506 Pee Dee Avenue), Arthur P. Harris (807 Pee Dee Avenue), the Reverend U.F. Hathcock (the house burned in 1996 and the ruins were demolished), Robert Lee Smith (1005 Pee Dee Avenue), Rufus A. Crowell (1124 Pee Dee Avenue), and James McKnight Morrow (1044 Pee Dee Avenue) all built houses on the avenue in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, they established a precedent which became a pattern in the succeeding decades. Not only did their sons and sons-in-law — James Milton Brown, Jr., William Titus Efird, John B. Harris, Robert Lee Smith, Jr., and Reginald Alexander Crowell — chose to build and reside on Pee Dee Avenue, but so too did other leading citizens of the county seat; Robert Kiser Patterson (441 Pee Dee Avenue), W. Berley Beaver (515 Pee Dee Avenue), David Augustus Holbrook (521 Pee Dee Avenue), Lane Ode Parker (621 Pee Dee Avenue), T.D. Almond (907 Pee Dee Avenue), Arthur K. Winget (1045 Pee Dee Avenue), Dr. William T. Shaver (1105 Pee Dee Avenue), Croson B. Miller (1111 Pee Dee Avenue), James U. Loftin (750 Pee Dee Avenue), Roy E. Brooks (808 Pee Dee Avenue), and Frank Bernard Patterson (918 Pee Dee Avenue). These men all built substantial fashionable houses on Pee Dee Avenue that long sheltered their family life. William Thomas Huckabee, Jr. (915 Pee Dee Avenue), Dr. Victor L. Bigler (1023 Pee Dee Avenue), Wade F. Denning (1035 Pee Dee Avenue), and others added imposing houses in the 1930s and 1940s. This important series of houses, dating from ca.1891 to 1947 (and beyond, but outside the period of significance) reflect a continuum of historic residential architecture that is seen nowhere else in Albemarle. By preference and natural development Pee Dee Avenue became the city's principal residential avenue and it remains so to the present.
In the half century, since the end of the period of significance in 1947, Pee Dee Avenue has held its prestige as a desirable address and the neighborhood has remained stable. Relatively little construction has occurred in the district since 1947, and most of the important post-World War II-era buildings continued the earlier patterns of building. The increasing use of automobiles and the addition of a second or third automobile per household resulted in the addition of garages and car sheds to supplement existing facilities. Most of these have been traditional in form and materials and in no way intrude on the historic character of the district. Changing social patterns have also occasioned the construction of duplexes and apartment buildings. These buildings do not project an intrusive character into the district as much as they simply lack the distinction, quality of finish, and character of the great body of houses erected in the period of significance. Probably the most significant change in the district has been the deaths of so many of the original owners and builders of houses on Pee Dee Avenue during the past two decades. However, their demise has been accompanied by a steady interest in the avenue by a new generation of young couples and professional people who are succeeding them as proud owners of houses on the city's most distinguished residential avenue.
Additional Documentation 2006
The Pee Dee Avenue Historic District is a residential neighborhood that was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. At the time of the original nomination, there were six houses and two outbuildings within the district that were not contributing as they were constructed after the period of significance, which was 1891-1947. Houses constructed in the Colonial Revival style — one of the significant architectural styles within the district — continued to be built until 1952. The period of significance for the Pee Dee Avenue Historic District is expanded to 1952 to include this continued use of the Colonial Revival style.
The structures within the expanded period of significance represent a continuation of a strong pattern of design on Pee Dee Avenue and, as such, contribute to the integrity and significance of this National Register district. Two of the outbuildings in the expanded period of significance are also built in traditional materials of red brick veneer and weatherboard and are compatible with the architecture of the Pee Dee Avenue Historic District.
Albemarle Cemetery, gravestone inscriptions by Davyd Foard Hood, 7 November 1996, 13 July 1997.
Albemarle City Directory. Charleston, South Carolina: Baldwin Directory Company, 1937, 1940, 1947.
Albemarle City Directory. Richmond: Hill Directory Company, 1951, 1960, 1965, 1971, 1975, 1981.
Albemarle City Directory. Richmond: R.L. Polk & Company, 1985, 1992. "Albemarle, Stanly County, North Carolina, Map." New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1902, 1908, 1913, 1922, 1929, updates in 1936 and 1941.
Dodenhoff, Donna. Stanly County: The Architectural Legacy of a Rural North Carolina County. Albemarle, North Carolina: Albemarle-Stanly County Historic Preservation Commission, 1992.
Fairview Cemetery, gravestone inscriptions, by Davyd Foard Hood, 13 July 1997.
Foglia, Virginia Stone, editor. Albemarle, Stanly County Centennial. N.p.: n.p. 1957.
Hood, Davyd Foard. National Register Nomination Form for the Opera House/Starnes Jewelers Building, Albemarle, North Carolina. 1995.
Hood, Davyd Foard. National Register Nomination Form for the Isaiah Wilson Snuggs House and the Marks House, Albemarle, North Carolina, 1995.
Kruse, Juanita. Christ Church: One Hundred Years. Albemarle, North Carolina: Christ Church, 1990.
Patterson, Frank Bernard, Jr., and Patterson, Margaret Elizabeth. Interview by Davyd Foard Hood, 12 July 1997.
Stanly County Deeds, Office of the Register of Deeds, Stanly County Court House, Albemarle, North Carolina.
Stanly News and Press, "60th Anniversary Edition," 16 August 1940.
Stanly News and Press, "Milestones of Progress" Edition, 14 April 1972.
‡ Davyd Foard Hood, Pee Dee Avenue Historic District, Stanly County, North Carolona, nomination document, 1997, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
‡ Jeffrey J. Crow, North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, North Carolinia Department of Cultural Resources, Pee Dee Avenue Historic District Additional Documentation, Stanly County, North Carolina, nomination document, 2006, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Pee Dee Avenue