Today, for the Doorscursion I thought I would show my little hometown, now, that it is Spring! Lot’s of daffodils at the Withers Green Cottage! It was home to Professor Frank Ernest Callum by the mid 1920’s, but built by the Withers family….
This is the Icicle Cottage……..It is one of the best preserved and charming Victorian cottages anywhere…….Built by John Eli Brattain around 1883, notice the “gingerbread” trim on this home, we refer to them as icicles. Mr Brattain was a woodworker by trade and the trim was cut by hand. No two pieces of the trim are the same…
On Main Street, there are oodles of old homes. The Stirewelt Home was built in 1871 by Valentine Stirewalt, who served as manager of Steward’s Hall, the official boarding house for the first students at the college. In 1872, Stirewalt gave up his position and built his home on a lot near campus where the college held their commencement exercises in earlier times. According to Mrs Currie, “Mr Stirewalt, hewed out the doors from solid oak planks.” His son Bynum and daughter Sallie, and the early widowed, Mrs James Paisley, lived nearly all their lives in this home. Sallie played the church organ and and Bynum sang in the choir!
More cottages along Main Street……we only have two (big) main streets in our town, all the other streets are in neighborhoods and most are dead ended………
Professor William Vinson came to our town to teach mathematics at the college. He married Miss Lily Helper, one of H.P. Helpers’ large family of daughters. They settled into the antebellum Blake Home, on the curve of Main Street . After teaching for fourteen years he died and Lily moved out of the home because it was owned by the college. She built the “Vinson Home” for herself and her two children. Her daughter, Miss Maude, became a teacher of French, mathematics and Latin at the high school where she was described as, “rather more than plump, her hair long since escaped from whatever contrivance of hair pins held it together at the start of the day, her dress always green or maroon, whitened with chalk dust as the day wore on. She was energetic, good humored and outspoken, setting academic and moral standards.” I would have loved to have known Miss Maude!
The next two cottages are next door to each other. Notice the similarities? The Caldwell Home was built in 1903 by John F Caldwel. By 1911, Mr Caldwell was asking the town for lights and sidewalks along “Eastern Heights,” the name he had given to his property, that originally consisted of four cottages on the other main road.
By 1917, the Caldwell’s son, Roy and his wife, one of the Sample sisters, moved into the house next door.
In the Spring of 1835, a small group of Presbyterian churchmen got together in the home of William Lee Davidson, a North Carolina militia general during the American Revolutionary War. The men wanted to build a college, but the designated property had to meet strict requirements. It had to be land between two thriving big cities, Charlotte and Statesville and, “remarkably healthful, being free from malaria and other causes of sickness.” It would be established for the education of young men for the gospel ministry, as well as planned for a self supporting manual labor institution; meaning all the students at that time were obligated to work in the fields three hours a day in the Manual Labor Program…….. Davidson College, as it was known, was the town’s backbone.
The college was here first and the town was built around the college. The original name of the town was Davidson College! Most of the property here was owned by the college, but eventually they decided to dispose of some of the land opposite the campus, by selling lots for houses. They offered a 99 year lease and a great deal of control over the behavior of it’s tenants. Anyone leasing a lot “could not vend, barter, traffic, give or deal in any way in ardent spirits, gin, porter, ale or any kind of intoxicating liquor.” Many of those lots were bought by the professors to build their homes on and in later years as the college grew, the larger homes were turned into boarding houses for the students……
The students raised most of the money to build the private meeting halls. Their social life was centered at The Philanthropic Literary Society Hall, and the Eumenean Literary Society Hall. My, try repeating that a few times! Most of the students belonged to one or the other with a passionate loyalty. Now, most of the campus buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Davidson College is a Liberal Arts College today…….no more working the fields!
In 1837, there were three small dormitories to accommodate the students. Each narrow building had four separate rooms with each room opening to the outside. They were called; “The Rows,” Oak and Elm.
Here is a sample of some of the doors in our two block shopping area on Main Street. Two of the favorites are………..The Bicycle Shop……..
and the Book Shop……….
Our little town is still the small town (11,000) built on the properties of the Davidson College. Most of the original houses are owned by professors at the college even now. There are still strict rules to live here. We have no fast food or drive thru establishments……Last year we did get a wine bar….but there are no liquor stores to be had…….we are all mom and pop shops on the two block long Main Street. The folks here do a lot of walking, and bicycling and we have over 23 book clubs at last count! And the new neighborhoods have to represent the look of the town……..no modern building or houses here! We also have the original name of the home or the current owner’s name on the front of our houses!
I hope you have enjoyed my Doorscursion and history today! I have a lot more stories and photos of my town, so if you are interested in this sort of thing, let me know, and I will write more posts about it!
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PS I am away on travels this week (YEAH) so this post has been pre-scheduled. I will not be able to read or comment on your thoughts for a few days, but I will get to them when I get back!