1704 Madison Avenue

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

Longtime home of Mildred Y. Gilliard, Program Director for the regionally significant Phyllis Wheatley YWCA in Charlotte.

In 1956 Thomas E. Gilliard, Jr. took out a building permit to have Mangie McQueen construct this residence. McQueen, a McCrorey Heights neighbor, was perhaps the city’s busiest African American contractor. When Mr. Gilliard and his wife Mildred were first listed at this address in the city directory in 1957, he worked as a porter at Charlotte’s largest bank, American Trust, a predecessor of today’s mammoth Bank of America. Most businesses in the first half of the twentieth century employed “porters,” men (usually African American) who ran errands, delivered parcels and messages, stoked the furnace, and handled dozens of other chores as needed.

Mildred Y. Gilliard helped lead one of Charlotte’s most important African American institutions. She served as Program Director at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA. Founded in 1916 and named for an African American poet, the Phyllis Wheatley Y was among the first in the nation established by and for African Americans. Mary Jackson McCrorey, wife of JCSU president H.L. McCrorey, created the institution as part of a national movement that aimed to assist young adults as they moved from the countryside to America’s rapidly industrializing cities. Today we may think of the YMCA or YWCA simply as a place to exercise, but in the beginning the facilities provided many types of services including classes, housing and meals. Only two earlier black YMCAs existed in the South, in Baltimore and Norfolk, when Mrs. McCrorey succeeded in partnering with Ida McDonald Hook, head of the white YWCA and wife of leading architect C.C. Hook, to launch the Phyllis Wheatley facility.

The Wheatley YWCA remained active until 1964 when it merged with the city’s white YWCA as part of the Civil Rights Movement campaign for racial integration.

Madison-1704-a-web
Madison-1704-b-web

Architecture

Cottage style house in red brick. The steep gable roof hides a second story and there is a prominent side chimney, both Cottage style characteristics. Note the wide three-part picture window in the living room.

Building permits

Madison 1704 permit b
Date issued: February 21, 1956, May 23, 1956
Owner: Mangie McQueen
Contractor: Geo. D. Sanford
Estimated cost:
Other permit info: Wiring permits, likely for original construction of house.

Madison 1704 permit a
Date issued: May 11, 1959
Owner: Thomas E. Gillard
Contractor: Mangie McQueen
Estimated cost:
Other permit info: remodel

Madison-1703-permit-d
Date issued: December 6, 1956
Owner: Thomas Gillard
Contractor: Mangie McQueen
Estimated cost:
Other permit info: Build 1-family residence

First appeared in city directory

1957 – Thomas E. Gilliard, Jr. & Mildred Y.
He: Porter, American Trust Bank.
She Program Director, YWCA.
(Also Mrs. Alice W. Gilliard, teacher, at this address)

1981 city directory — still listed, retired.

Resources

Gilmore, Glenda, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896 – 1920 (UNC Press, 1996), pp. 177-178, 192-195.

“History” page of the YWCA Central Carolinas website. On-line at: http://www.ywcacentralcarolinas.org/site/c.7nJIJSPpEdKUE/b.9200269/k.C634/history.htm

“Mr.s Mary J. McCrorey,” The Crisis, November 1943.  On-line at: https://books.google.com/books?id=GFsEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA338&lpg=PA338&dq=Mrs.+H.L.+McCrorey&source=bl&ots=33aVIYzbT-&sig=OpuKmYpNx1paSkbPZTktC9-DnUI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjVsPGTievWAhXB4yYKHWxMAbgQ6AEISzAI#v=onepage&q=Mrs.%20H.L.%20McCrorey&f=false