1716 Patton Avenue

Built about 1954 for Rev. Cordell H. Kennedy, pastor of the Grier Heights Presbyterian Church, and his wife Ruth E. Kennedy, who taught at the Alexander Street School.

The Kennedys raised son Cordell Kennedy, Jr., in this house. During the late 1960s he served as a statewide coordinator for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

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Rev. Cordell Kennedy (died April 1, 1970) came to Charlotte in 1949 from Rogersville, Tennessee. In 1955 he was installed as pastor at Grier Heights Presbyterian Church, the largest church in the big African American neighborhood of Grier Heights on Charlotte’s east side. He took a leadership role in the regional governing body of the black Presbyterian Church, serving as Moderator of the Catawba Synod in 1964. Rev. Kennedy passed away in 1970 at the age of 56.

Ruth Ezell Kennedy (9.29.1910 – 2.16.1994) was a life-long Charlottean. After graduating from Winston Salem Teachers College (now Winston Salem State University), she joined the Charlotte school system in 1934. Like her husband she was an active Presbyterian — as were many residents in this neighborhood developed by Presbyterian minister and college president H.L. McCrorey. At Seventh Street Presbyterian Church downtown (now First United Presbyterian) she served in many volunteer roles including as Deacon and Elder. She and her husband raised one son, Cordell H. Kennedy, Jr.

In the mid 1960s, soon after graduating from West Charlotte High, Cordell Kennedy, Jr., went to work for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., had set up the organization to carry out voter education and coordinate other Civil Rights work. In 1965 the Charlotte Observer listed young Cordell Kennedy as a “SCLC field worker” when he was arrested in Plymouth, North Carolina, while picketing for year-round voter registration. A 1966 “Voter Education Project” proposal drafted by SCLC official Hosea Williams showed Kennedy as “assistant to the state field secretary” for North Carolina. In 1968 Kennedy was in Hillsborough, North Carolina, helping organize student demonstrators. Rev. King fell to an assassin’s bullet that spring; a year later Cordell Kennedy, Jr., served as coordinator and spokesperson for a planned march from Asheville to Raleigh commemorating the anniversary of King’s death.


One-story Ranch style house in red brick. Gable roof with a prominent chimney at the west side. There are two large front “picture” windows. The house has metal sun-awnings over the front windows plus a similar metal awning supported by “wrought iron” columns that shades the front porch — likely added by the original owners in the 1960s.

Building permit

Date issued: February 11, 1953
Owner: C. H. Kennedy
Contractor: Bob Allen Agency
Other permit info: to build residence

Building permit files, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.


Kennedy, Ruth_Ezell, funeral program in the collection of McCrorey Heights resident Audwin L. Ross, 1804 Van Buren Avenue, Charlotte.

First appeared in city directory

1955 – Rev. Cardell (Cordell) H. Kennedy & Ruth E.
He: Chaplain, USA. She: Teacher, Alexander Street School

1961 – Rev. Cordell H. Kennedy: Pastor Grier Hghts Presby.
Mrs Ruth Kennedy: Teacher, Alexander Street School

City directory collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.


“March Plans Are Revealed,” Statesville Record & Landmark, March 11, 1969.  On-line at: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/3660478/

Hosea L. Williams, “Proposal for March 12, 1966 – June 15, 1966 to Voter Education Project,” Department of Voter Registration and Political Education, Southern Christian Leadership Conference.” On-line at http://www.crmvet.org/docs/66_sclc_vep.pdf

“Church Will Install New Pastor Today,” Charlotte Observer, October 2, 1955.

“Howard Fuller Enters Hillsborough Protest,” Charlotte Observer, May 18, 1968.

“Mrs. King May Lead March,” Charlotte Observer, March 11, 1969.

“Presbyterian Church has Centennial,” Charlotte Observer, December 14, 1964.

“Reverend Kennedy, Presbyterian Minister,” Charlotte Observer, April 3, 1970.

“Twenty Pickets Arrested in Plymouth,” Charlotte Observer, October 31, 1965.

“Two Ministers Given Licenses,” Charlotte Observer, May 7, 1949.