Eastover Elementary School
Survey And Research Report
On Eastover Elementary School
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as Eastover Elementary School is located at 500 Cherokee Road in Charlotte, N.C.
2. Name, address, and telephone number of contact for the current owners of the property:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools/Board of Education
3. Representative photographs of the property: This report contains representative photographs of the property.
4. A map depicting the location of the property: This report contains a map depicting the location of the property. The UTM coordinates of the property are 17 516263.0 E 17 3894857.1 N.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The most recent deed to this property is recorded in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 1379 at Page 80.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr. Dan L. Morrill.
7. A brief architectural and physical description of the property: This report contains a brief architectural and physical description of the property prepared by Stewart Gray.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the criteria for designation set forth in N.C.G.S 160A-400.5.
a. Special significance in terms of its history, architecture and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that Eastover Elementary School possesses special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on the following considerations:
1) Eastover Elementary School, erected in 1935, was designed by M. R. Marsh Architects, a design firm of local significance in the first half of the twentieth century.
2) Eastover Elementary School is important in the history of Eastover, a neighborhood of special cultural significance in Charlotte.
3) Eastover Elementary School is a well-preserved local example of Colonial Revival style institutional architecture and demonstrates great sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood streetscape.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling and/or association: The Commission contends that the architectural and physical description prepared by Stewart Gray demonstrates that Eastover Elementary School House meets this criterion.
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: The Commission is aware that designation would allow the owners to apply for an automatic deferral of 50% of the Ad Valorem taxes on all or any portion of the property which becomes a “historic landmark.” The appraised value of the property is $8,888,300. The Tax Parcel Numbers of the property are 15510236 and 15509401. The property is exempted from the payment of property taxes.
10. Amount of Property Proposed for historic landmark designation. The exterior of the school building and the the entire land associated with the school, being tax parcel numbers 15510236 and 15509401.
Date of Preparation of this Report: January 18, 2011
A Brief History Of Eastover Elementary School
Dr. Dan L. Morrill
Eastover Elementary School opened in 1935 to serve the Eastover neighborhood and adjoining white residential districts in Charlotte, N.C., including Colonial Heights and nearby portions of Myers Park and Elizabeth. The building of Eastover was part of a spate of school construction that occurred in the 1930s in Charlotte and across the United States because of the influx of Federal money provided by work relief programs during the Great Depression.1 The Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Civil Works Administration, both established in 1933, distributed money to local communities to construct a variety of public projects, including schools. In January 1934, Charlotte Mayor Arthur E. Wearn announced that funds had been granted to Charlotte to enable the City to undertake several projects, including the construction of Eastover Elementary School.2
Mayor Arthur E. Wearn (1933-1935)
The architect of record of Eastover Elementary School was M. R. Marsh. M. R. “Steve” Marsh (1901-1977), a native of Jacksonville, Fla., came to Charlotte in 1916 as chief draftsman for the architectural firm headed by James Mackson McMichael (1870-1944). In 1922 Marsh opened his own architectural and engineering company in Charlotte and continued to head the firm until his retirement in 1964.3 The principal designer of the school was James A. Stenhouse, a native of St. Louis, Mo., resident of Charlotte from early childhood, and graduate of the School of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology who joined Marsh’s firm upon graduation. 4 Stenhouse would have a long and distinguished career in Charlotte. Remembered mostly for his design of churches, including Westminister Presbyterian Church in Eastover, Stenhouse would become a founding partner of J. N. Pease Associates in 1938, a design and engineering firm of regional significance which is still in business.5 A charter member of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, now Historic Landmarks Commission, Stenhouse was also a leader in the historic preservation movement in Mecklenburg County in the mid and later twentieth century and was instrumental in establishing the Mecklenburg Historical Association.
Like most public schools erected in Charlotte in the 1920s and 1930s, Eastover Elementary School was traditional in design. Stenhouse fashioned the original section of Lawyers Road Elementary School, later named Midwood Elementary School, on Central Avenue to be almost identical to Eastover in design.6 One also sees revivalist architecture in such schools as the Morgan School, built for African Americans n the Cherry Neighborhood, and the Myers Park Elementary School on Ratcliffe Ave. in Myers Park.7 Dr. Thomas Hanchett, resident historian at the Levine Museum of the New South, contends that traditionalist architecture, especially Colonial Revivalism, reflected the conservation values increasingly espoused by Charlotte’s business elite in the 1920s and 1930s. Hanchett writes:
Charlotte’s early New South leaders had experimented freely with the newest styles, Victorian variations in the 1890s, the Rectilinear, Bungaloid, Colonial Revival, and Tudor Revival styles of the 1900s through early 20s. By the late 20s, however, the Colonial Revival was adopted as the single acceptable architectural motif, with Tudor Revival variations being the only alternative. While this was part of a nationwide return to historical motifs in architecture, it seems to have been particularly rigid in Charlotte. Endless blocks of Myers Park, Eastover, and the new streets of Dilworth were developed in the 1920s with variations on the two-story brick Colonial box.8
Eastover, the first totally automobile, bus, or truck-dependent affluent suburb in Charlotte, eschewed by legal means experimentation in architecture. Developed by by the E. C. Griffith Company, its original section laid out by landscape architect Earle Sumner Draper, and opening in 1927, Eastover operated under deed restrictions that stipulated that “no residence of Spanish Architecture or design shall be erected upon said lots of land.”9 One can assume that Edward Colville Griffith did not appreciate the appearance of the Reynolds-Gourmajenko House just outside the neighborhood.10
Eastover School has flourished over the years. Not surprisingly, several additions have been made to the original building. In 1941 major changes occurred, including the construction of an auditorium, a basement kitchen and cafeteria, and the addition of five classrooms on the north side of the property. Five more classrooms were erected to the rear of the original building in 1949. That same year the Charlotte Board of Education purchased property across Cherokee Road for use as a playground. An 8-classroom building, no longer extant, was constructed in 1955 at the western edge of the school site. In 1972 a Media Center and Physical Education facility was erected on the south side of the auditorium.11 Finally, a major makeover of the building occurred in 2004-2005. The 1955 classroom building was demolished and replaced with a larger structure, and the interior of the building was gutted and totally modernized. Shook Kelley Architects demonstrated great sensitivity to retaining the ambience of Eastover Elementary School, however.12
| 1. Dr. Thomas W. Hanchett, The Eastover Neighborhood, Charlotte’s Elite Automobile Suburb (http://www.cmhpf.org/kids/neighborhoods/Eastover.html). Hereinafter cited as Eastover.2. Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Survey and Research Report On The American Legion Memorial Stadium (1936), 2003. (http://landmarkscommission.org/Surveys&rmemorialstadium.htm).
3. Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Survey and Research Report on the Builders Building , 2004. (http://landmarkscommission.org/surveys&rbuildersbuilding.htm).
4. Mary Lynn Morrill, Eastover Elementary School, Charlotte, N.C., nd. (http://www.cmhpf.org/eastover%20elementary%20school%20history.htm). Hereinafter cited as Eastover School History. At a ceremony held on November 10, 1982, James Stenhouse, who was in attendance, told Mary Lynn Morrill that he was the principal designer of the building. James Stenhouse died on November 28, 1996, at the age of 86 (Death Records of Mecklenburg County). For notice of his death also see http://gtalumni.org/Publications/techtopics/sum97/obits.html. The online manuscript Eastover School History presents many interesting facts about the school. In 1935, the year the school opened, teachers included Miss Mary Moore, Miss Daphne Ranson (also the principal and secretary), Miss Crawford, Miss George, Miss Gregory and Miss Kennedy. Women teachers could not be married in 1935. By 1940 married teachers were employed. In 1940 Mrs. Willie Choate Hampton, Mrs. Gray, and Mrs. Pharr were on the teaching staff. Teachers were never allowed to wear dress pants to work – only dresses and skirts were permitted. The first P.T.A. President was Mrs. F. O. Clarkson. Known P.T.A. presidents included Mrs. Edgar Gammon (1936), Mrs. Frank Thies (1937), Mrs. Raymond Thompson (1938, 1939), Mrs. G. F. Cooper (1940-42), Mrs. Kenneth Bridges (1942-43), Mrs. A.L. Roberts (1944-46), Mrs. Philo Caldwell (1946-48), Mrs. W. L. Buice, Jr. (1948-49), Mrs. Sutherland Brown (1956-1957), Mrs. J. A. Crowell (1959-1960), Mrs. Rennie Cuthbertson (1974-1975), Mrs. Dan Morrill (1975-1976). In November 1935 the P.T.A. decided to collect clothing for a rummage sale. Thus began the Outgrown Clothing Sale which was held for nearly 50 years. Beginning in 1936 the P.T.A. sponsored a Children’s Artist Series and a Shakespearean Story. The first project eventually became the Children’s Symphony Concerts and the latter, with the help of the A.A.U.W. and the Junior League, became the Children’s Little Theater. The school still holds a large “Fall Fun Day” which was first held by the P.T.A. in the fall of 1976 to raise money to buy classroom supplies. On March 30, 1948, a “Living Memorial” was announced by P.T.A. President Mrs. Philo Caldwell: “In the event of a death of a teacher, pupil or parent associated with the school, a tree, a shrub, a book, a plaque or some such article will be purchased by the P.T.A. and presented to the school in his/her memory. The amount to be spent in each case is to be approximately ten dollars.” In 1951 Peggy Tuttle, daughter of Jerry Tuttle, a beautiful, smart, six year old little girl with long golden hair (according to her teacher, Annie Sanders) left school one Friday and was dead with polio by Monday. A bronze plaque was placed by Peggy,s classmates outside on the ground under her first grade classroom window.
5. Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Charlotte Observer Building, 1972,” n.d. (http://landmarkscommission.org/uptownsurveycharlotteobserverhistory.htm).
6. Dr. Thomas W. Hanchett, Plaza Midwood, 1984.