1644 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 

This house, one of the larger in McCrorey Heights, was constructed about 1957 and occupied for decades by Raymond P. Rorie, Jr., and his wife Bernice G. Rorie. Both were professionals active in education and public health. Mrs. Rorie was a case worker with the county’s Department of Public Welfare. Mr. Rorie was a teacher who also served as a guidance counselor and eventually rose to lead Westerly Hills Elementary as its principal. In 1968 Mr. Rorie became the first African American appointed to the Mecklenburg County Board of Health.

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Raymond P. Rorie, Jr., was born about 1921 to Raymond and Susie Rorie and grew up in the small city of Monroe, North Carolina, just east of Charlotte. He graduated in the Class of 1942 from North Carolina A & T University, the Greensboro institution especially known for its engineering and other technical programs.

The United States had just entered World War II so young Raymond joined the military. Years later he acutely remembered the lack of respect that black soldiers and veterans received. “We were protecting our country when we didn’t have freedom ourselves,” the historian Dan Morrill quoted him as saying in the book Historic Charlotte.

When Rorie built this house, he taught at Carver College, Charlotte’s junior college for African Americans. It became part of newly formed Central Piedmont Community College in 1963. Mr. Rorie went on to become a high school guidance counselor and eventually a principal.

He made headlines in 1968 in an Associated Press story carried in newspapers across the region:

Mecklenburg Negro Seated CHARLOTTE (AP)-The first Negro member in the 53-year history of the Mecklenburg County Board of Health was seated Friday. He is Raymond P. Rorie, 47, a high school guidance counselor.” Daily Times-News (Burlington, NC), February 3,1968, p. 5.

Raymond Rorie’s younger brother, Marvin B. Rorie, Sr., built nearby in McCrorey Heights at 1601 Madison Avenue about 1964. Marvin Rorie was also a career educator, a teacher at West Charlotte High during the 1960s and later a guidance counselor at Myers Park High in the 1980s.

VanBuren-1644-c-web
VanBuren-1644-a-web

Architecture

A large Ranch style house, one-story tall in red brick. The main hip roofed block is enlivened by two connected hip-roofed wings that extend at the west side to hold a screen porch (now sheathed in clapboard) and a carport. Windows are grouped in bands, adding to the horizontality of the house, a Ranch style characteristic. The house commands a slight rise at the corner of Van Buren and Clifton avenues, with the front facing Van Buren and the side carport entered from Clifton.

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

No building permits found.

First appeared in city directory

1958 – Raymond P. Rorie & Bernice G.
He: Teacher, Carver College.
She: Case Worker, County Dept of Public Welfare.

1981 city directory – Raymond P. Rorie, Jr & Bernice G.

He: Principal Westerly Hills Elementary

She: no occupation listed

Resources

“Marvin Rorie in the 1940 Census.” On-line at: www.ancestry.com/1940-census/usa/North-Carolina/Marvin-Rorie_5bv3p1

“Marvin B. Rorie, Sr.,” on the FindAGrave.com website. On-line at: www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=117601760

“Mecklenburg Negro Seated,” Daily Times-News (Burlington, NC), February 3,1968. On-line at: www.newspapers.com/newspage/53030009/