Built 1957-58 for Talmadge and Rosetta G. Alexander. He was a “curbman” at the Plantation Grill, a popular drive-in restaurant on Charlotte’s west side, located where West Morehead Street joins Wilkerson Boulevard. Mrs. Alexander’s work is not known.
In the early days of drive-in restaurants, some eateries employed curbmen who took your order and brought it on a tray for you to eat in your car. Today the BBQ King restaurant a few blocks further out on Wilkerson Boulevard still offers that service. A good curbman developed a following among customers, earning substantial tips. Talmadge Alexander must have been one of those when he took out the permit to build this house in 1957, employing his neighbor Mangie McQueen, one of the city’s busiest black contractors, to handle the construction.
Plantation Grill was a hang-out for white high school students. It was especially favored, somewhat ironically, by youngsters from Harding High — the school that Dorothy Counts briefly integrated in 1957. Alumni from that era shared memories of Plantation Grill in a class history:
“One of the advertisers in the 1954 Acorn was the Plantation Grill located on West Morehead Street. The ad read, ‘The Place for High School Students to Meet’. How true! In 1954 after a boy obtained a driver’s license, his primary goal since puberty, his first destination was the Plantation. It was a magical place where for $1.00 you got a hamburger, no onions please, with fries and a milkshake, including a generous tip for the curb hop, delivered right to your window. You could share the fries and shake then snuggle with your special one while listening to Dean Martin sing ‘That’s Amore.’”
The students who tipped Alexander had little idea of his life beyond the restaurant. Talmadge Alexander (7.14.1920 – 4.2.2006) had been born in Mecklenburg County and graduated from Second Ward High School. He served as a sergeant in the Army during World War II. In addition to his duties at the Plantation Grill, he also worked for the Post Office for 25 years. “He was a faithful member of Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church for 53 years,” reported his obituary in the Charlotte Observer, “serving as Treasurer for approximately 12 years.”
Alexander was eldest of eight siblings who were well known in Charlotte: Talmadge, Cyrus, Jr., Warren, Willie, Bernice, Rosenmond and especially Oren and Romeo. Oren operated a bail bond agency for decades and made philanthropic gifts to many causes. Romeo became the popular proprietor of Razades Restaurant on Statesville Avenue and came to own considerable real estate. Romeo Alexander eventually built a house of his own in McCrorey Heights in 1964 a block up the street from Talmadge at 1913 Patton Avenue.
Talmadge Alexander died at home at 1712 Patton Avenue at age 85 in 2006 and was buried in Beatties Memorial Gardens, the large rural cemetery located out Beatties Ford Road a short drive from McCrorey Heights. Talmadge’s brother Romeo Alexander and five McCrorey Heights neighbors founded Beatties Memorial Gardens in 1971.
One-story Cottage style dwelling in red brick. The Cottage style featured steeper roofs and more compact massing than the long, low Ranch style that was also popular in this era. This house has main gable roof plus a prominent projecting front gable that contains the front door. Windows appear to have been replaced with white aluminum-frame units. There is an east wing whose front is sheathed in white aluminum siding, likely an enclosure of an original porch. A one-story freestanding garage of stuccoed masonry with a gable roof can be seen at the rear of the property.
Date issued: January 25, 1957
Owner: Talmadge & Rosetta Alexander
Contractor: Mangie McQueen
Other permit info: Build residence
[Permit lists house number as 1708. However, its owner matches this house, and there is another permit also house number 1708 that better matches the current actual 1708.
Also, the date on this permit could be read as 1951. The permit number 4088 is not consistent with that date. 1957 seems more likely.]
Building permit files, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
First appeared in city directory
1959 – Talmadge Alexander & Rosetta G.
He: Curbman, Plantation Grill 2426 W Morehead.
She: No occupation listed.
City directory collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Sam Smith, “The History of Harding High,” On-line at: http://www.harding1957.com/History-of-Harding-High-School.htm
Vermelle Diamond Ely, Grace Hoey Drain and Amy Rogers, Black America Series: Charlotte, North Carolina (Charleston, DC: Arcadia, 2001), p. 85.