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Theresa Earline Johnson Stewart (11.22.1922 – 1.26.2013) was a life-long Charlottean, an intensely involved Christian, and an inspiring educator “who felt there was nothing more worthwhile in the world than teaching first graders,” according to her obituary.
She grew up at 427 N. Myers Street in the First Ward community almost next door to Little Rock AME Zion Church (the red brick church building still stands today), where her family worshipped. She walked a few blocks north to Alexander Street School for elementary grades, then a few blocks south to Second Ward High School where she graduated in 1939. She attended Barber Scotia College in Concord for two years, then on to its sister school in Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith University, where she completed an elementary education degree in 1943.
She taught initially at Fairview Elementary School, whose students included residents in the new Fairview Homes, Charlotte’s first public housing project which had opened July 22, 1940. When Marie G. Davis Elementary was constructed off South Tryon Street she taught there for many years. She never gave up learning herself, attaining a MA degree in reading instruction in 1977. When she retired after thirty-six years, she immediately headed back to the classroom as a volunteer reading tutor at Title I (low income) schools, serving for a decade to age seventy-nine.
With her classroom career underway in 1945, she married Richard A. Stewart. Little is known about him beyond listings in the city directories. When the couple took out the permit to build this house in 1961, he was an “expediter” at Southern Knit Wear Mills at 622 E. 28th Street in what is now the NoDa district. Charlotte was the center of the nation’s textile manufacturing in that era, but the industry seldom hired African Americans except in the dirtiest, least-skilled positions. It is not clear what Stewart’s job involved, but it sounds as if he was one of the very rare African Americans above the menial level. Charlotte’s mills largely fell silent during the 1970s. In the 1981 city directory, Mr. Stewart was listed as employed by Sealtest Foods, a major dairy products distributor.
Mrs. Stewart joined First Baptist Church West with her husband. She served on the Deaconess Board and in the mission department. When the church launched its own Child Development Center, she became its third chairperson. Like most McCrorey Heights women, she was active in a number of social clubs including the Merry Makers, the Gayettes, and also the Charlotte chapter of Jacks and Jills, the enrichment organization for African American youngsters. She and Mr. Stewart raised three children in this house: Richard A. Stewart, Jr, and twin daughters Evonne and Evette.
An example of the Split-level design popular in the 1960s. Visitors enter a one-story west wing which holds the “public” spaces: living room and dining/kitchen area. The more “private” bedroom areas are in a two-story east wing, reached by a half-flight of stairs up or down. The exterior of the house is sheathed in brick, except for clapboard siding on the upper walls of the two-story wing. Note the prominent chimney and the large “picture” window in the living room.
Madison 1612 permit
Date issued: February 15, 1961
Owner: Richard A. and Theresa Stewart (address: 1328 Moretz Av)
Contractor: G. R. Hicklin
Estimated cost: $15,000
Other permit info: Build residence
Madison 1612 permit a
Date issued: June 19, 1970
Owner: Richard A. and Theresa Stewart
Contractor: Piedmont Pacific Lumber Corporation
Other permit info: Aluminum siding, guttering, shutters, louvers
First appeared in city directory
1964 – Richard A. Stewart & Theresa.
He: Expediter, Southern Knit Wear Mills at 622 E. 28th.
She: Teacher, Marie G. Davis School
1981 city directory – Richard A. Stewart & Theresa J.
He: Employed Sealtest Foods. She: No occupation listed