O’Dell Robinson took out the permit to construct this house in 1952, hiring prolific black contractor Mangie McQueen. Robinson served for many years as a top executive with Charlotte’s black McCrorey YMCA. His spouse Bertha Robinson taught at West Charlotte High and later at Double Oaks School.
In 2017 O’Dell W. Robinson ranks as the longest resident of McCrorey Heights. He recalls the day when he was a recent graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and President H.L . McCrorey walked him over from campus to look at this land, not yet laid out in streets and lots. McCrorey connected him with Mechanics & Farmer’s Bank, the black-owned institution across Beatties Ford Road from campus, which helped him take out a mortgage. Robinson secured a building permit on September 18, 1952, and had contractor Mangie McQueen begin work — one of the first houses in this part of the neighborhood.
Rev. McCrorey saw a bright future for the energetic young man. Robinson had recently signed on as second-in-command at the McCrorey YMCA, just opened in a big modern building on Caldwell Street in the black Brooklyn neighborhood. He directed physical education at first, and by the 1960s rose to become the top administrator: Office Secretary in the lingo of the Y.
O’Dell’s bride Bertha Brown Robinson (12.26.1923 – 3.20.2007) had been born in the rural community of Brown’s Summit north of Greensboro, North Carolina. She came to Charlotte as a youngster with her family and graduated from West Charlotte High where she played basketball and coached. She earned a B.S. degree from JCSU, then became one of a number of McCrorey Heights educators who went on to graduate work in New York City, getting a Masters at New York University. She became a teacher in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, eventually retiring as an assistant principal.
Mrs. O’Dell was an active community volunteer, especially at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. She belonged to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and enjoyed frequent social card-playing gatherings as a member of the American Bridge Association.
The O’Dells raised two children in this house: son O’Dell W. Robinson, Jr. and daughter Joli D. Robinson.
Ranch style, one-story in red brick. The original gable-roofed section holds the front entrance and the prominent front chimney with stone trim. In 1961 the original owner hired Charlotte’s noted African American architect Harvey Gantt to add the transverse gable section at the west side of the house, which holds a dining room and kitchen. The house occupies a corner lot facing Patton Avenue at the intersection of Fairfield Street.
Date issued: September 18, 1952
Owner: Odell & Bertha Robinson
Contractor: Mangie McQueen
Other permit info: to build 1800 Patton Ave.
Date issued: September 13, 1971
Owner: Odell W. Robinson
Contractor: Boyles Const. Company
Estimated cost: $18,875
Other permit info: res. addition
[Robinson tells Tom Hanchett that this addition was designed by architect Harvey Gantt. It included an expanded living room and dining room – the area with the gable facing the street.]
Building permit files, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
First appeared in city directory
1953 – O’Dell Robinson & Bertha.
He: Physical Director, YMCA. She: Teacher, West Char High.
1961 – He was Office Secretary, YMCA, HL McCrorey branch.
She: Teacher Double Oaks School
[In 2016, O’Dell Robinson is one of McCrorey Heights’ longest residents. He remembers President H. L. McCrorey walking him over to see the land]
City directory collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.