1716 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 in 1957 for Joe Bogle, one of several brickmasons who constructed homes for their own families in McCrorey Heights, and his wife Emma Bogle, a teacher at West Charlotte High School. Subsequent longtime owners were Baxter Smoot and his wife Mary Smoot, both educators in the public schools.

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Little is known about Joe and Emma Bogle beyond their listing in the city directory. Brick masonry was a high calling among African Americans into the mid twentieth century. In slavery times, highly skilled black artisans handled nearly all construction work, including manufacturing bricks and designing and constructing buildings.  In Charlotte after the Civil War, African American contractor William Houser owned the city’s principle brick making facility and his protege William W. Smith designed numerous buildings for white and black clients. A brick mason could enjoy a prosperous income. Several were able to move their families into the new McCrorey Heights suburb during the 1950s including Shade Payne at 1801 Washington Avenue and James G. Conner at 1615 Oaklawn Avenue.

By the early 1980s, city directories listed Baxter and Mary Smoot at this address on Van Buren Avenue. Baxter Cheshire Smoot (1.12.1927 – 12.12.1988) grew up in Mocksville, N.C., the courthouse town for Davie County about an hour northeast of Charlotte. After high school he enlisted in the Army and went off to fight in World War II. Following discharge in 1947 he moved to Charlotte and in 1949 enrolled at Johnson C. Smith University.

His Presbyterian faith probably helped pull him to that Presbyterian college. He had been active in Mocksville’s Second Presbyterian church in his youth. In Charlotte he joined Memorial Presbyterian where he sang in the choir and eventually served as a Deacon and an Elder.

Mr. Smoot graduated from Johnson C. Smith with an education degree in 1953 and would do graduate work at Columbia University in New York City. But as soon as his JCSU diploma was in hand, he began teaching at Alexander Street School on the edge of First Ward. He would go on to work at Charlotte’s Thomasboro, Oaklawn and Enderly Park schools before a disability forced early retirement. Like nearly all of his neighbors he enjoyed social civic activity. He was a lifelong fraternity brother in Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and a proud member of Charlotte’s NAACP chapter even in the years when that simple act could bring reprisals from whites.

Mary Steele Smoot (5.16.1927 – 1.14.2001) likely met her future husband at Johnson C. Smith. She had grown up in Concord, NC, an hour east of Charlotte and came to the Queen City to enroll at JCSU. Like her husband she earned an education degree then did graduate work in New York City, in her case at New York University. She started teaching at Biddleville Elementary on the edge of McCrorey Heights, then went on to Billingsville Elementary and Derita Elementary before retiring in 1988.

The couple married on August 3, 1958 and soon after moved into this almost-new home at 1716 Van Buren Avenue. Mrs. Smoot had been raised in the United Church of Christ but now joined Memorial Presbyterian where she played piano, sang in the choir, served on the Deacon Board and taught Vacation Bible School. She and her husband raised a daughter in this house: Sabra Renee Smoot.

VanBuren-1716-b-web

Architecture

Ranch style house, one-story tall in red brick. Its massing is somewhat similar to 1712 VanBuren next door:  deeper and more compact than many Ranch houses. The low hip roof — including a projecting front hipped wing — and the grouped windows give it a strong sense of horizontality, a characteristic of the Ranch style. As with 1712 next door, this house has no porch but rather a minimal stoop at the front door.

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 permit

no permits found

First listed in city directory

1957 (listed as 1710, becomes 1716 in 1958) – Joe Bogle & Emma.
He: Bricklayer.
She: Teacher, West Charlotte High School

1982 city directory — Baxter C. Smoot

Resources

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

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