Survey and Research Report
On The D. A. Tompkins
Company Machine Shop
1. Name and location of the property. The property known as the Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop is located at 1900 South Boulevard in Charlotte, North Carolina. UTM Coordinates: 17 512812E 3896233N
2. Name, address, and telephone number of the property. Arthur Greene, Nineteen Hundred South Boulevard Associates, L.L.C., 125 Cottage Place, Charlotte, North Carolina 28207. The telephone number is: (704) 332-5777.
3. Representative photographs of the property. This report contains interior and exterior photographs of the property.
4. Maps depicting the location of the property. This report contains a map depicting the location of the property.
5. Current deed book references to the property. The most recent deed book reference to the former Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop is listed in Mecklenburg County Deed Book 10437, Page 639. The tax parcel number of the property is 121-015-02.
6. A brief historical description of the property. This report contains a historical sketch of the property prepared by Frances P. Alexander.
7. A brief architectural description of the property. This report contains an architectural description of the property prepared by Frances P. Alexander.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets criteria for designation set forth in N.C.G.S. 160A-400.5.
a. Special significance in terms of history, architecture, and cultural importance.
The commission judges that the property known as the former Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop does possess special significance in terms of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The commission bases its judgement on the following considerations: 1) the Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop is one of the few surviving properties in Charlotte that is associated with prominent industrialist and indefatigable civic booster, Daniel Augustus Tompkins (1852-1914); 2) the Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop is an important example of the textile-related industries established in Charlotte, and the surrounding North Carolina Piedmont, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the city emerged as the hub of the burgeoning Southern textile industry; and 3) the Tompkins Company, a maker of textile machinery, supplies, and equipment, was one of many allied manufacturing firms established to serve the needs of the rapidly multiplying cotton mills. By the early twentieth century, Charlotte had become the leading producer of textile machinery in the Southeast, with the Tompkins Company dominating the field.
The property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and portions of the nomination are included in this report.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling, and association.
The commission contends that the architectural description by Frances P. Alexander demonstrates that the former Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop meets this criterion.
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal. The current Ad Valorem tax appraisal for the improvements is $788,820.00. The Ad Valorem tax appraisal is $506,030.00. The total Ad Valorem tax appraisal for the parcel is $1,294,850.00.
Date of preparation of this report.
17 December 2001
Frances P. Alexander
Mattson, Alexander and Associates, Inc.
2228 Winter Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28205
Section 6-Historical Description
Statement of Significance
for the Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop
1900 South Boulevard, Charlotte, N.C.
Statement of Significance
Constructed in 1904 and 1905, the Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop was nominated to the National Register under Criterion A for industry and under Criterion B in the area of industry for its associations with founder and owner, Daniel A. Tompkins. Under Criterion A, the Daniel A. Tompkins Company Machine Shop is an important example of the textile-related industries established in Charlotte, and the surrounding North Carolina Piedmont, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the city emerged as a leading center of cotton production. Makers of textile machinery, supplies, and equipment, the D.A. Tompkins Company was one of many allied manufacturing firms established to serve the needs of the rapidly multiplying cotton mills. By the early twentieth century, Charlotte had become the leading producer of textile machinery in the Southeast, with the D.A. Tompkins Company dominating the field.
The company machine shop also exemplifies the early industrialization of Charlotte, which emerged as the hub of the burgeoning Southern textile industry. With its mills and auxiliary industries, Charlotte epitomized the New South City. By the early twentieth century, Charlotte boasted not only cotton mills but also a true urban infrastructure that included banks, department stores, the Southern Power Company (later Duke Power Company), and other manufacturing and warehousing concerns. Located in Dilworth, Charlotte’s first streetcar suburb, the D.A. Tompkins Company Machine Shop was among the earliest factories built in the Dilworth industrial district. This once-thriving manufacturing zone developed along the Southern Railway corridor and South Boulevard, and in the early years of the twentieth century was the principal industrial corridor in the city.
The property also has significance under Criterion B in the area of industry for its associations with founder and company owner, Daniel A. Tompkins (1852-1914), an industrialist of national reputation, New South promoter, newspaper owner, author, and educational proponent. A tireless booster of Charlotte’s, and the South’s, manufacturing potential, Tompkins’s importance in the formation of modern Charlotte would be hard to overestimate. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Tompkins was one of the principal builders of modern Charlotte, playing a pivotal role in transforming Charlotte from a small market town into the leading center of textile production in the United States. Trained as a mechanical engineer, Tompkins began his career in Charlotte as a manufacturer’s representative for the Westinghouse Company, but in 1887, Tompkins, along with two partners, organized the D.A. Tompkins Company to manufacture the textile machinery and equipment needed by the expanding cotton industry and such associated industries as fertilizer works and cotton seed oil processing plants. At the same time, Tompkins designed, built, and often financed the construction of cotton mills throughout the South, creating a ready market for his machines and equipment. The D.A. Tompkins Company became the leading manufacturer of textile machinery in the Southeast. Soon after the turn of the century, Tompkins acquired the Fairmont Machine Works of Philadelphia, which gave Tompkins control of a number of patents and patterns for producing specialized looms, mill equipment, and machinery. The acquisition provided new avenues of growth for the company, but also created a need for larger manufacturing facilities. In 1901, the D.A. Tompkins Company purchased a site in the new suburb of Dilworth, and between 1902 and 1905, built the foundry and machine shop complex, which was known as the Dilworth Shops of the D.A. Tompkins Company. Tompkins delegated much of the daily operation of his company, freeing himself to consult on industrial construction projects and to write works on cotton mill and mill housing construction, many of which became standard texts on the subject. As part of his crusade for progressivism in the South, in 1892, Tompkins acquired the nearly bankrupt Charlotte Chronicle, hired editor, J.P. Caldwell, and the two established the Charlotte Daily Observer as the major daily newspaper in the region and an instrument for Tompkins’s New South doctrine. Furthermore, Daniel Tompkins promoted technical education and helped to establish schools of textile education at N.C. State University, the University of South Carolina, and the University of Mississippi. Tompkins’s prominence was national. President William McKinley named Tompkins to the National Industrial Commission, and President Grover Cleveland insisted that Tompkins be made a director of Equitable Life in 1905 to keep the insurance company out of bankruptcy. Tompkins died in 1914, leaving Charlotte a very different place from when he arrived. In the early 1880s, Charlotte was still a small town struggling to recover from war and reconstruction, but within a few years of his death, Charlotte had emerged as the largest city in the two Carolinas. Despite Tompkins’s importance to the history of Charlotte, few landmarks remain as testaments to his prominence. The former machine shop is the sole survivor of the D.A. Tompkins Company manufacturing facilities.
Historical Background and Industry Context
Built in 1904 and 1905 in the Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, the Daniel A. Tompkins Company Machine Shop is significant as a tangible reminder of the flourishing textile industry that transformed Charlotte, and the surrounding Piedmont region, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. With the development of the cotton industry, allied manufacturing firms, like the Tompkins machine shop, were established to serve the needs of the rapidly multiplying cotton mills, and as Charlotte became the principal center of textile machinery production in the Southeast, the D.A. Tompkins Company dominated the market (Arthur 1992: 15; Glass 1992: 57).
The Tompkins machine shop stands as one of the symbols of Charlotte’s position as the hub of the booming Piedmont textile industry. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Charlotte was transformed from a small market town to a premier cotton manufacturing center, and by the 1920s, Charlotte had become the largest city in the two Carolinas. After the Civil War and Reconstruction, local and regional leaders, led by the indomitable Daniel A. Tompkins, pushed for what became known as the New South. The movement touted the benefits of industrialization, good transportation, education, and urban growth as a way of fostering regional self-sufficiency and prosperity and ending the dependency and hardships associated with Southern agriculture (Lefler and Newsome 1954: 474-489). Tompkins and other New South missionaries promoted the construction of cotton mills as the manufacturing complement to the cotton farms which defined the region, and as historian, C. Vann Woodward, asserted, “The mill was the symbol of the New South, its origins, and its promise of salvation” (Woodward 1951: 31). Charlotte embraced the new industrialization enthusiastically, and by 1906, city boosters bragged that “within the radius of 100 miles of Charlotte, there are more than 300 cotton mills, containing over one-half of the looms and spindles in the South” (Hanchett 1985: 70; Lefler and Newsome 1954: 474-489). By the 1920s, the Southern Piedmont had surpassed New England as the leading textile center in the world, and Charlotte had emerged as its center (Mitchell and Mitchell 1930). As the capital of this textile mini-state, the population of Charlotte soared from roughly 7,000 citizens in 1880 to over 82,000 by 1929, the largest urban population in the Carolinas (Sixteenth Census 1940).
By the early twentieth century, the city had developed a diversified industrial base, one created not only by the dynamic textile economy but also by Charlotte’s good rail system, expanding work force, and plentiful and inexpensive power. In the 1920s, the city could boast that its 141 factories manufactured eighty-one different products (Hanchett 1993: 202). This broadening manufacturing economy was fostered, in part, by the nature of textile production, which had been largely automated by the second half of the nineteenth century, and the need for machinery, equipment, and supplies spurred the establishment of industries to serve the vast new cotton economy. In addition, the textile industry fostered a number of industries that specifically processed cotton by-products, and this array of allied manufacturers helped to increase and diversify the manufacturing base of the region. Machine shops, pump and elevator manufacturers, iron works, engineering firms, mattress factories, fertilizer plants, and cotton oil processors were just some of the industrial operations that followed in the wake of the textile boom.
Indeed, so many of these auxiliary manufacturers had operations in Charlotte that the city became not only the center of the textile industry but also the leading producer of textile mill machinery and equipment in the South (Glass 1992: 57). By the first decade of the twentieth century, the Daniel A. Tompkins Company was one of twelve mill machinery and equipment manufacturers with operations in Charlotte, but of these factories, only the Tompkins machine shop remains (Charlotte City Directory 1907). The Textile Mill Supply Company (N.R. 1999), built later in 1922, also survives in its original location on South Mint Street.
The Daniel A. Tompkins Company Machine Shop is also important as one of the finest and earliest factories built in Dilworth, Charlotte’s first streetcar suburb. The machine shop was constructed in 1904 and 1905 as the principal manufacturing building for a complex known as the Dilworth Shops of the D.A. Tompkins Company. The company manufactured textile machinery and equipment primarily, but also supplied machinery for cotton seed oil processing plants, waterworks, and saw mills. The Tompkins Company was flourishing by the 1890s, and the Dilworth machine shop was built as part of an expansion campaign undertaken by the Tompkins Company soon after their acquisition of the Fairmont Machine Works of Philadelphia. The strategic purchase gave Tompkins a number of patents and patterns for specialized textile equipment including duck looms, drop-box looms, dobbins, elevators, shafting pulleys and hangers, and dye house machinery. Illustrating the southward shift of the textile industry and its related sectors, the purchase allowed Tompkins to boast that his company then had the largest and best line of textile machine patterns in the South (Charlotte Daily Observer 5 February 1905: 3). The increase in, and diversification of, his business forced Tompkins to expand his manufacturing operations away from its original downtown location, and in 1901, the company purchased a large site in Dilworth.
The Charlotte Daily Observer, a newspaper owned by Tompkins, reported the land purchase,
The D.A. Tompkins Company will, during the coming year, build an
extensive plant at Dilworth for the manufacture of cotton mill machinery
and supplies, and cotton seed oil machinery… The building of the new
machinery plant at Dilworth will be the biggest thing that has
occurred in the history of that town. The new plant will adjoin the lands
of the Atherton Mill, and with its shops, offices, and tenements,
will add immensely to the life and prosperity of that already thriving
community. More than that, it will mean the location of a depot and
post office at that place. The new station will probably be called Atherton
(Charlotte Daily Observer 27 December 1900, quoted in Huffman 1987).
Dilworth had been established in 1891, south of the center city, by another of Charlotte’s leading businessmen of the era, Edward Dilworth Latta (1851-1925). Also a South Carolina native, the Princeton-educated Latta came to Charlotte in the mid-1870s and achieved considerable success as a merchant and manufacturer before forming a construction company in 1890. The Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company (known locally at the 4 Cs) had
been established to transform a 422 acre parcel south of the center city into a suburban development. The plan called for a grid system of streets, wide boulevards, served by streetcars and reserved for grand dwellings, a recreation park and boating lake, and a factory district along the north-south Southern Railway and South Boulevard, one of the principal boulevards within the new suburb. As the Charlotte Daily Observer noted, “It does
one good to go out to Dilworth and see the signs of prosperity and progress. The factories draw the people. Dilworth is beginning to be not only a social but an industrial center” (Charlotte Daily Observer 31 January 1896).
Daniel A. Tompkins had been intimately involved in the development of Dilworth. In 1892 and 1893, Tompkins had built a model cotton mill called the Atherton (renovated in the early 1990s) along the Southern Railway corridor with a nearby mill village. Sales in Dilworth initially had been slow, but the construction of Atherton Mill spurred both residential and industrial development. With the expansion of the cotton industry, the South Boulevard corridor quickly developed into Charlotte’s first outlying industrial zone and that part of Dilworth was given the moniker of the “Manchester of Charlotte”. By the turn of the century, the area contained the Atherton Cotton Mill (which at the time abutted the Tompkins foundry property), Charlotte Trouser Company, Southern Card Clothing Company, Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, a sash cord plant, Charlotte Shuttle Block Factory, Mecklenburg Flour, Meal, and Feed Mills, and the Park Elevator Company, makers of pumps, heaters, and elevators (Morrill 1980, Morrill 1985: 302-304; Hanchett 1986; Sanborn Map Company, 1896.
Tompkins’s 1901 purchase in Dilworth flanked both sides of South Boulevard, and the following year, construction on the new machine works began with the erection of a foundry building (now demolished). Late in 1904, construction on the machine shop began, and in November of that year, the Charlotte Daily Observer announced details of the plans:
The D.A. Tompkins Company has begun the erection in Dilworth of a new machine shop, which will be 75 feet wide, 150 feet long, and two stories high. His shop will be located immediately next to the foundry now being operated by the company in Dilworth, and will be ready for occupancy about January 1st. This extension of shop facilities is made necessary (by the increased) business of the company. The company is now building an extended list of cotton mill and cotton oil machinery. Much of the new machinery that the company is now building is heavy work, and in locating the new shops near the foundry, drayage will be saved. This extension of machine shop facilities necessarily means more castings and more machine shop work, which in turn means an increase in population that is most valuable to a city. The Atherton-Dilworth section is picking up very considerably. Since the starting up of the Atherton mill, there has been more life in that section and business will continue to grow better as new manufacturing interests, such as the Tompkins Company’s new waste mill and batt mill extension are put into operation. The company will continue to operate its city shop, the Dilworth shop being an increase of capacity, necessary to take care of extending business (Charlotte Daily Observer 8 November 1902, quoted in Huffman 1987).
The original complex consisted of three detached, brick buildings: the large machine shop building, a foundry, and a boiler house. A small, frame tool shed stood south of the foundry, and coal sheds were sited along the rail line at the rear of the property. The foundry building, which stood south of the machine shop, was enlarged between 1905 and 1911, but demolished sometime after 1929, while the boiler house was made contiguous with the machine shop when the shop building was extended to the rear between 1905 and 1911. Before 1911, a raised, concrete freight platform was also added across the rear to facilitate loading the trains. The two story machine shop building housed machine manufacturing on the first floor, a warehouse on the second, and the rear addition was used as the pattern shop. A small office section was added across the front (South Boulevard) elevation between 1911 and 1929. With the exception of the foundry demolition, the complex has not had significant additions or demolitions since 1929 (Sanborn Maps 1905, 1911, 1929).
D.A. Tompkins died in 1914, and in 1917, the company which bore his name was dissolved, and within a few years, company properties were sold by the heirs of various investors. The D.A. Tompkins Company Machine Shop was purchased by the American Machine and Manufacturing Company, but by 1929, the property had been subdivided, and the foundry building had been sold to the Soule-Hoffman Ornamental Iron Company, and the Tompkins machine shop was being used as a loft building by various manufacturers. In recent years, the machine shop has housed the Piedmont Sewing Machine and Supply Company, but the building is currently undergoing rehabilitation for commercial and office use.
Daniel Augustus Tompkins (1852-1914)
The D.A. Tompkins Company Machine Shop has significance in the area of industry for its association with owner and founder, Daniel A. Tompkins. A South Carolina native, Daniel Augustus Tompkins had moved to Charlotte in 1882 as a manufacturer’s representative for the Westinghouse Corporation, after receiving a degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic University in Troy, New York. When Tompkins arrived in Charlotte, Reconstruction was only recently over, and the town, which had survived the war with its rail system largely intact, proved fertile ground for the New South ethos. Espousing industrialization and urbanization as a way out of the poverty and boom and bust cycles of agriculture, Tompkins became one of the leading proponents of the New South movement, setting out to prove that the South could manufacture products as well as any other region of the country. He believed that producing textiles as well as raising cotton would stabilize and benefit the regional economy, and with his zeal and vision almost single-handedly transformed Charlotte, and the surrounding Piedmont, into a major manufacturing center. By the 1920s, the city had become the leading producer of textiles in the world (Powell 1952).
Tompkins had been born in 1852 on a plantation in Edgefield County, South Carolina, where he gathered a practical knowledge of blacksmithing and carpentry. After attending the University of South Carolina, his professors encouraged him to study at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, from which he was graduated in 1873. With a degree in mechanical engineering, Tompkins found employment at the Bethlehem Iron Works in Philadelphia where he rose to the position of head draftsman and then assistant to the head machinist. After working on a special project installing American machinery in a factory in Westphalia, Germany, Tompkins returned to the United States, moving to Missouri where he spent two years in construction. Despite personal success, Tompkins was concerned by the South’s transformation from relative self-sufficiency during the antebellum period to postwar indebtedness, and in his own words, Tompkins became a “missionary of cotton”, making himself a indefatigable proponent of a new South built on industrialization, skilled labor, reliable transportation, and education (Lawrence 1939).
Tompkins came to Charlotte in 1882, one year after the first textile plant, the Charlotte Cotton Mills, had opened, and he set himself up in business as an engineer, machinist, and contractor. He soon acquired a franchise for selling Westinghouse engines throughout the cotton states, and by 1884, Tompkins also had begun promoting the construction of cotton mills, illustrating for audiences the value added to cotton through manufacturing. Part of his promotion was financial, and Tompkins devised an installment plan so that localities could borrow the capital needed to build a cotton mill and pay the funds back incrementally. Tompkins’s energy in promoting textile mill construction was prodigious. He was responsible for constructing mills from Maryland to Texas, including more than 350 in Georgia and the two Carolinas, often raising the capital, supervising construction, manufacturing the machinery, installing equipment, and hiring superintendents. (Huffman 1987: 1).
In 1887, Tompkins, along with partners R.M. Miller, Sr., a local gold mine owner and capitalist, and R.M. Miller, Jr., organized the D.A. Tompkins Company, consulting and contracting engineers and dealers in machinery. With offices at 36 South College Street, the Tompkins Company furnished machinery and supplies to cotton, oil, and fertilizer industries as well as to power plants, saw mills, and waterworks (Charlotte City Directory, 1899-1900). The Tompkins Company soon dominated the field, and Charlotte became the leading market for textile machinery in the Southeast. Two years after formation of the company, Tompkins built his second, third, and fourth cotton mills ( the Alpha, the Ada, and the Victor) in town, and became one of the principals in the newly formed Charlotte Supply Company, which became another supplier of textile machinery and equipment throughout the Piedmont textile belt (Huffman 19897: 1).
Starting out as the South’s pioneer machinery agent, Tompkins quickly developed into an astute businessman as well as a visionary. While he designed, built, and financed cotton mills and cotton seed oil processing plants, the D.A. Tompkins Company produced the machines, tools, and other equipment needed by these mills and processing plants. Because of his New South campaigning and his business success, the National Association of Manufacturers heralded Tompkins as “the foremost citizen of the South” (Arthur 1992: 14). In addition to his work in machine manufacturing and mill construction, Tompkins is also credited with transforming cotton seed oil, then considered industrial waste, into an economically viable product. After forming his own Southern Cotton Oil Company, Tompkins eventually built more than 200 processing plants (Lawrence 1939).
An excellent promoter, Tompkins saw the need for Charlotte to garner good publicity, and in 1892, he purchased a nearly defunct Charlotte Chronicle, hired J.P. Caldwell as editor, and the two established the Charlotte Observer as the major daily newspaper in the region. As he said himself, “The one thing I wanted a newspaper for was to help preach the doctrine of industrial development” (Arthur 1992: 15). Together, Tompkins and Caldwell made the Charlotte Observer a liberal, nonpartisan voice for progressivism, and the two later published the Greenville (S.C.) News.
Tompkins sold portions of his companies and ventures to other shareholders, thereby freeing himself from daily operations. With company operations largely delegated to others, Tompkins was free to consult on industrial construction projects and to write textbooks on cotton mill development, many of which became standard references on the topic. Among his publications were Cotton Mill: Commercial Features, published in 1899, several works on the construction of mills and mill housing, as well as a history of Charlotte. As part of his commitment to industrialization and progressive ideals, Tompkins became a tireless proponent of education, devoting much energy to formation of schools of textile at North Carolina State University (where he served as trustee for nineteen years), Clemson University, and the University of Mississippi.
In his late fifties, Tompkins suffered a stroke and retired from his prodigious work to Montreat, North Carolina where he kept a summer home. D.A. Tompkins died in 1914 at age sixty-two.
Section 7 – Architectural Description
Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop
1900 South Boulevard
Constructed in 1904 and 1905, the Daniel A. Tompkins Company Machine Shop is located at 1900 South Boulevard in the Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina. The building occupies a rectangular lot of 1.426 acres, in the middle of a block bounded on the east by South Boulevard, on the west by the former Southern Railway corridor and Camden Road, to the south by East Tremont Avenue, and to the north by East Boulevard. This former industrial building was part of a linear industrial zone that developed between the 1890s and the 1960s along the Southern Railway spine as the manufacturing area of Dilworth, Charlotte’s first streetcar suburb. The east side of South Boulevard is lined with small-scale commercial buildings dating from the late nineteenth century to the present, beyond which are the residential streets of Dilworth. The west side of the Southern rail corridor also emerged as a manufacturing district by the early twentieth century, and Wilmore, a residential neighborhood begun in the 1920s, lies to the west and north. Industrial, warehousing, and commercial properties still line South Boulevard and nearby side streets, and many have been rehabilitated into offices, stores, and restaurants. The former Tompkins Machine Shop building has undergone certified rehabilitation according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
The Daniel A. Tompkins Machine Shop is a two story, brick factory building with a rectangular plan. A small, one story ell (which incorporates a portion of the original boiler house) projected from the south elevation, but this ell, much of which was modern construction, has been removed. The original Tompkins Company complex consisted of the large machine shop building and detached foundry and boiler house buildings to the rear. By 1911, the machine shop had been extended to the rear, and a hyphen had been added, which connected the once detached boiler house to the south elevation of the machine shop building. An office section was added across the front (east) elevation along South Boulevard between 1911 and 1929, and during the same period, a concrete freight platform was built across the rear, for easy rail access. The City of Charlotte required the removal of the loading dock in connection with the construction of the light rail and trolley corridor to the rear. Since 1929, a truck loading dock, covered by a metal shed roof, has been added to the rear of the side (north) elevation.
The two story office section has a brick exterior that was stuccoed probably before World War II, a stepped parapet, modern metal sash windows, and a single leaf door. The long north and south elevations of the brick factory building have corbelled cornices, and the walls have an arcaded effect created by brick pilasters. These elevations have segmental arched window openings on the first floor and flat arched openings on the second. The windows, which had all been brick infilled, now have metal sash windows. Two loading bays on the north and south elevations that had been infilled prior to renovation have been made into pedestrian entrances with double leaf, metal sash doors and sheltered by simple, arched canopies that supported by brick piers. There is a raised basement in the rear section of the building, and because of the slight slope of the lot, the segmental arched basement windows are visible at the back of the building. The rear elevation is constructed of hollow, terra cotta tile blocks and capped by a stepped parapet. As part of the rehabilitation, the concrete block infilled windows were replaced with the simple, metal sash windows found throughout the building. As noted above, the construction of the light rail and trolley corridor behind the building has necessitated the removal of the concrete freight dock. The flat roof of the building is punctuated by both flat and gable roofed monitors, as well as corrugated metal penthouses that once sheltered the freight elevator machinery.
The small ell that projected from the rear of the south elevation included a portion of the original boiler house, the hyphen built to connect the boiler house and the machine shop, and an L-shaped storage area or dock added to the east elevation. Much of the original boiler house was constructed of brick and hollow tile, but with the postwar addition for loading and storage and what appears to be fire damage in the older boiler house, the ell prior to rehabilitation was primarily modern concrete block replacement. As part of the certified rehabilitation, the largely modern ell was removed.
The Tompkins machine shop interior is typical of turn of the century factory design. Behind the front office are two large, open rooms, which provided flexible production areas. The front production area was originally used for machine manufacturing, the rear space was the pattern shop, and the second story, also divided into two rooms, was used as a warehouse.
The two story office section in front has a roughly twelve foot tall first story and a shorter second story, approximately eight feet in height. The first floor had been remodeled in recent years (prior to rehabilitation) with added partition walls, wood panel and sheetrock walls, and dropped acoustic tile ceilings. Much of the original fabric underneath the modern materials has been uncovered during rehabilitation, and the original beaded board ceiling, stuccoed walls, and hardwood floors are now visible. The second floor has sheetrock walls and its original beaded board ceiling.
The tall machine manufacturing area on the first floor behind the original office has the heavy timber piers associated with mill construction, but the framing was reinforced with steel piers and I-beam girders to carry the heavy loads of upper storage areas. The machine production room has the tall space needed for heavy machine production, and the open room is broken only by the thick wooden piers or steel poles. A brick fire wall, with a sliding fire door (which remains intact), separates the front manufacturing room from the rear pattern shop. The hardwood floors, timber and steel structural system, and the tongue in groove ceiling are all intact. The exterior walls have been covered in sheetrock, and all added offices have been formed with removable partition walls.
Added between 1905 and 1911, the rear first floor pattern shop was constructed only with a steel I-beam and girder system, eliminating the mill construction found in the front room. The shop has the same tall, open work space as the machine shop with hardwood floors, tongue in groove ceiling, exposed steel frame, and exposed brick walls. The loading bays along the north and south walls have been made into pedestrian doorways, as noted above, and the loading bays along the rear elevation have been made into windows.
The second floor has the same two open rooms as the first floor, separated by a sliding fire door. The rooms have hardwood floors, tongue in groove ceiling, and exposed brick walls. The roof monitors and equipment pent houses, which had been covered prior to rehabilitation, have now been uncovered and repaired as part of the certified rehabilitation.
The 1.426 acre parcel on which the Daniel A. Tompkins Company, Machine Shop sits contains only one resource, the machine shop building. The U.T.M. coordinates for the property are: Northing 3896200 and Easting 512960.
Arthur, Billy. “Builder of a New South,” The State (February 1992): 14-15.
Bradbury, Tom. Dilworth, The First 100 Years. Charlotte: Dilworth Community Development Association, 1992.
Charlotte Daily Observer, 31 January 1896.
Hanchett, Thomas W. Sorting Out the New South City: Charlotte and Its Neighborhoods: Ph.D. Dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1993.
Huffman, William H. A Historical Sketch of the Tompkins Machine Shop. Prepared for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, August 1987.
Jacobs, William Plumer. The Pioneer. Clinton, S.C.: Jacobs and Company, Printers, 1935.
Lawrence, R.C. “Here in Carolina,” Charlotte Observer, August 13, 1939.
Lefler, Hugh and Albert and Newsome. The History of a Southern State: North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1954.
Mattson, Alexander and Associates, Inc. (Former) Parks-Cramer Company Complex. Nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, 1993.
Miller’s Official Charlotte, North Carolina City Directory. Asheville: E.H. Miller, 1884-1885, 1899-1900, 1902, 1903, 1907, 1919.
Mitchell, Broadus and George Sinclair Mitchell. The Industrial Revolution in the South. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1930.
Morrill, Dan L. “Edward Dilworth Latta and the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company (1890-1925): Builders of a New South City.” North Carolina Historical Review 62 (July 1985): 293-316.
Powell, William S. “Tompkins Put N.C. On Industrial Path,” Charlotte Observer, 1952. On file in the Carolina Room, Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
Sanborn Map Company. Charlotte, North Carolina. New York: Sanborn Fire Insurance Company, 1905, 1911, 1929.
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940: Population, Vol. 1.