1622 Van Buren Avenue

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

Built 1955 – 56 for dentist Dr. J. Dwight Martin and his wife Ruby Barr Martin, a teacher and college administrator who had worked on Wall Street before coming to Charlotte. Dr. Martin was a relative of early JCSU professor James D. Martin, for whom Martin Street on the southern border of campus is named. Other Martin kin in McCrorey Heights included:

  • Prof. Martin’s daughter Bernice Martin Richardson Bullock at 1611 Patton Avenue.
  • Beulah’s daughter Catherine and her husband Dr. Reginald Hawkins at 1703 Madison Avenue.
  • Beulah’s daughter Emily, widow of Rev. Cecil Ivory, at 1631 Van Buren Avenue (house moved to Hyde Park when land was taken for construction of Brookshire Freeway).

About dentist J. Dwight Martin, little is known. His wife Ruby Barr Martin ( ____ – 12.9.1959) was born in Columbia, South Carolina. She made her way to New York City where she took business classes and worked for Domnick & Domnick, a long-time leading brokerage on Wall Street that still exists today.

“On August 14, 1920, she became the bride of J. Dwight Martin and in later years they moved to Charlotte,” said her funeral program. He set up his dentist office in the bustling Brooklyn neighborhood at 417 1/2 E. Second Street, upstairs in the building that had been constructed for the Afro American Mutual Insurance Company. She enrolled at Johnson C. Smith University, graduating summa cum laude in the class of 1948.

When the couple moved into this house in the mid-1950s, Mrs. Martin listed her profession as “teacher” in the city directory, but Johnson C. Smith yearbooks in the 1950s listed her as “assistant bookkeeper” at the University — a profession in keeping with her early employment on Wall Street. Her funeral program indicated that she also worked in administration at Barber Scotia College, JCSU’s junior-college “sister institution” in Concord, North Carolina.

Mrs. Martin’s civic involvement included membership in The Links, the national social group for upscale African American women. She also was active in Kappa Alpha Kappa Sorority and in the women’s auxiliary of the black Charlotte Medical Society.

The Martins moved into this house as Mrs. Martin neared retirement. She passed away only three years later in 1959.

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In the 1950s – 1960s, dentists seem to have been some of the most architecturally progressive members of Charlotte’s African American leadership. Dr. Martin’s neighbor and kinsman Dr. Reginald Hawkins’ house at 1703 Madison Avenue is also a notable example of Modernistic Ranch style design. Fellow dentist Dr. Spurgeon Webber, Jr., went on to commission an architect-designed house in the Hyde Park neighborhood further out Beatties Ford Road.

VanBuren-1622-c-web
VanBuren-1622-b-web

Architecture

Ranch style house, one-story tall in red brick. Its Modernistic architectural details make it one of the most sophisticated designs in McCrorey Heights.  It sits at a slight angle on a rise above the intersection of Creek Street and Van Buren Avenue. There is a main hip-roofed block and a smaller hip-roofed east side wing, both sheathed in extra-long “Roman” bricks, plus a projecting front hip-roofed wing sheathed in stone. There is a prominent chimney, an architectural sign of a welcoming hearth within. Front windows are unusually large, extending from floor to ceiling. A two-vehicle metal carport makes an “L” at the rear, facing Creek Street.

Note that dwellings exist only on this north side of Van Buren Avenue. Houses on the south side were demolished or moved about 1968 to allow construction of the Northwest (Brookshire) Freeway. Today the Freeway’s tree-covered embankment rises above the Avenue.

Building permits

VanBuren-1622-permit
Date issued: October 7, 1955
Owner: Dr. & Mrs. J.D. Martin
Contractor: Ross Supply Co
Estimated Cost:
Other permit info: Build residence

First appeared in city directory

1957 – J. Dwight Martin & Ruby B.
He: Dentist at 417 1/2 E 2nd.
She: Teacher.

1982 city directory — Mrs. Erma L. Martin

Resources

Golden Bull yearbook, JCSU, 1948. On-line at: https://archive.org/stream/goldenbull1948john/goldenbull1948john_djvu.txt

Golden Bull yearbook, JCSU, 1950. On-line at:https://archive.org/stream/goldenbull1950john/goldenbull1950john_djvu.txt

Hawkins, Catherine, with Lorena Hawkins and Darnell Ivory, oral history interview by Tom Hanchett, October 17, 2017, transcript in Hanchett’s possession.

Martin, Ruby, funeral program in the Obituary Project notebooks, African American Genealogy Interest Group collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Martin_Ruby