Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

Carter Hall

1. Name and location of the property: The property known as Carter Hall is located on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University at 100 Beatties Ford Rd., Charlotte, NC 28216.

2. Name, addresses, and telephone of the present owners and occupants of the property:
The present owner and occupant of the property is:

Johnson C. Smith University, Inc.
100 Beatties Ford Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28216

Telephone: 372-2370

3. Representative photographs of the property: Representative photographs of the structure are included in his report.

4. A map depicting the location of the property: This report contains two maps. A tax line map depicts the location of the campus of Johnson C. Smith University. The second map depicts the location of Carter Hall on the campus.


5. Current Deed Book Reference of the property: The land which comprises the campus of Johnson C. Smith University is listed in the Mecklenburg County Registry Deed Book 208, page 201.

6. A brief historical sketch of the property:

The history of Carter Hall is intimately bound up with the history of Johnson C. Smith University. Johnson C. Smith University was founded by two white ministers (Rev. S. C. Alexander and Rev. W. L. Miller) under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church. It was known as the Henry J. Biddle Memorial Institute in honor of Major Henry J. Biddle, a Union soldier who was killed in action during the Civil War. During its formative years Mrs. Mary D. Biddle, the wife of Major Biddle, gave considerable financial support to the institution.

The school was originally housed in a small church located near the present location of Fourth and Davidson Streets. A few years after its feeble beginning, the institution purchased the old Confederate Navy Building located on East Trade St., below where the Civic Center now stands. This building was to be moved to another location on Seventh Street, somewhere between College and Caldwell Streets. Colonel William R. Myers discouraged the ministers about moving to that site and offered them property where the school now stands. The gift of eight acres by this outstanding Charlotte citizen was the nucleus of the present site.

In 1883 the name of the institution was changed to Biddle University. In 1921 because of the many generous gifts which she had made to the institution in honor of her husband, Mrs. Jane M. Smith was notified by the Board of Trustees that the name of the institution had been changed to Johnson C. Smith University.

The first president of the institution was Rev. Stephen Mattoon. For nearly two and a half decades the presidents and most of the faculty members were white. In 1891 the institution had its first black president, Rev. Daniel J. Sanders. Since that time all of its presidents and the majority of the faculty have been black.

Carter Hall was constructed in 1895. It is the oldest dormitory on the campus. Situated on the northeastern corner of the University Quadrangle, Carter Hall possesses an overall Gothic Revival flavor, especially highlighted by circular pavilions at each corner. Also noteworthy is the structure’s wooden cupola. Much of the labor for this 15, 758 square foot building was done by students under the supervision of the Industrial Department of the University. The exterior of the building, except for a modern protrusion on the eastern facade, is original. The interior, however, is completely unoriginal. The original interior was torn out, and an entirely new building was constructed within the old walls.

7. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the criteria set forth in N.C.G.S 160A-399.4:


a. Historical and cultural significance: The Survey and Committee of the Commission has examined this structure and has judged to be of architectural significance. The Survey Committee stated that Carter Hall has the following significant details:


  • 1. Brick jack arch with header course above arch and corbeled drip edges.
  • 2. Nine over nine wood sash windows.
  • 3. Wood cornice at eaves.
  • 4. Circular pavilions at each corner with slate roof.
  • 5. Wooden cupolaThe fact that the structure has been judged to be of architectural significance, coupled with the fact that it is the oldest dormitory on the campus of the only black institution of higher education in Mecklenburg County, suggests that Carter Hall meets this criterion.b. Suitability for preservation and restoration: The building is in excellent repair. As stated above, it is currently a dormitory for Johnson C. Smith University. The building is therefore highly suited for preservation.c. Educational value: The educational value of the building is somewhat substantial. It is the oldest structure in the city and county which possesses a cupola and circular pavilions. Certainly, its educational value would be enhanced if the original interior had not been destroyed. One should remember, however, that Carter Hall is a symbol of the rich heritage of Johnson C. Smith University and of the local black community.

    d. Cost of acquisition, restoration, maintenance, or repair: The Commission has no intention of acquiring this property. The cost of acquisition would be high. The building is in excellent repair. The maintenance costs are currently carried by Johnson C. Smith University.

    e. Possibilities for adaptive or alternative use of the property: This structure is suited only for housing a substantial number of people. The Commission assumes that the University will continue to use as a dormitory.

    f. Appraised value: Attached to this report is a real estate appraisal card which reveals that the land and property itself is appraised at $201,520.00. Again, the Commission has no intention of acquiring this property. And the University is not required to pay taxes on this property.

    g. The administrative and financial responsibility of any person or organization willing to underwrite all or a portion of such costs: It is assumed that Johnson C. Smith University shall continue to operate the property.

8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the criteria established for inclusion in the National Register: The Commission believes that Carter Hall, because of its association with Johnson C. Smith University, does qualify for the National Register on the grounds of Criterion A – properties “that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.”

9. Documentation of why and in what ways the property is of historical importance to Charlotte and/or Mecklenburg County: Carter Hall is significant to what was accomplished by a newly-liberated people in an atmosphere that has been described as “hostile.” This structure was built under trying circumstances and by people who had very meager financial resources. It is the oldest dormitory of the first and only private institution of higher learning open to black people in the immediate and surrounding communities. The exterior of the structure possesses considerable architectural significance for the local community.