1611 Washington Avenue

This is a draft, now being reviewed by members of the McCrorey Heights Neighborhood Association. Please share comments with Tom@HistorySouth.org 

Built 1959-60 for first occupants Austin Simons and wife Julia E. [or H.?] Simons.

In a neighborhood where nearly all residents worked in the professions, Mr. and Mrs. Simons were unusual in holding jobs that were much more typical of African Americans in the mid 20th century. Austin Simons was listed in the city directory as a “porter” at Harry & Bryant Funeral Home, one of the city’s long-time white funeral agencies. Many businesses employed a porter as a sort of “jack of all trades” to stoke the furnace, deliver or pick up items and run other errands. Harry & Bryant celebrated its eighty-fourth anniversary by placing an advertisement in the Charlotte Observer on December 19, 1966 with photos of its staff; Mr. Simons was the second-longest-serving, at thirty-three years.

Julie E. Simons was listed in the 1961 city directory as working at Harry & Bryant as a maid (though she was not pictured in the 1966 advertisement). The job of maid was perhaps the most prevalent employment then among African American women — but a rarity in McCrorey Heights.

The couple must have been hard workers to build this suburban house. They remained here for over twenty years. A later city directory chosen at random, for 1981, shows them still here and listed as “retired” with daughter Elizabeth R. Simons, a student, living with them.

Washington-1611-a-web

Architecture

Ranch style house. One-story, red brick, with a hip roof. The roof extends out from the main block of the house to the west to form a one-vehicle carport with “wrought iron” columns.

Building permits

Washington-1611-permit
Date issued: April 9, 1959
Owner: Austin Simmons
Contractor: Fred C. Shu
Estimated cost:
Other permit info: Build residence

Washington-1611-permit-a
Date issued: May 6, 1959
Owner: Fred Shu
Contractor: Standard Plumbing Co.
Estimated cost:
Other permit info: Plumbing, likely for original construction of the house.

First appeared in city directory

1961 Austin Simons & Julia E.
He: Porter, She: Maid, both at Harry & Bryant Funeral.

1981 city directory – Simons still listed

Resources

Building permit files, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

City directory collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.