1801 Washington Avenue

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

Built 1952-55 by one of Charlotte’s leading brick masons, Shade Payne, as the home for himself, wife Margaret Payne, and family.

African Americans historically led the brick masonry trade, dating back to slavery times when most skilled artisans in the South were African American. Black brick workers were often among the most prosperous community leaders in many Southern cities through the mid twentieth century. “Shade was a skilled brick mason and a licensed building contractor,” noted his funeral program. “It was his extreme joy to show others samples of his masonry in and around the City of Charlotte. He excelled in laying and placing exquisite corners and other structural brick masonry. His proudest contributions were his work on the CharlotteTown Mall [demolished 2006] and his skillful signature on fireplaces and walkways throughout many exclusive Charlotte neighborhoods.”

Shade Thomas Payne (6.7.1920 -12.26.2006) grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Alta Vista. He served in the Army 1942 -45 during World War II. Marriage to a Charlotte girl in 1946, Margaret Annette Maxwell, brought him to the Queen City. He joined Brooklyn Presbyterian Church (later merged with First United Presbyterian Church), where he became a deacon. Many residents of McCrorey Heights had connections to Brooklyn/First United Presbyterian and that is likely how he came to purchase of a lot in the stylish suburban neighborhood. City directory evidence suggests that it took him several years to complete the house. The directories listed it “under construction” in 1952, 53, 54, and 55, before the family moved in sometime in 1956.

Margaret Maxwell Payne (7.3.1923 – 12.15.2003) grew up in Brooklyn Presbyterian Church, which her parents had helped found. She studied at Barber-Scotia College and Johnson C. Smith University where she graduated with degree in elementary education in 1943. She later earned a Masters in Education at NC A&T University in Greensboro. She started teaching music, language arts and social studies at Plato Price School on Charlotte’s western edge. When Plato Price closed in the desegregation era, she moved to Cochrane Junior High, retiring after thirty-five years of service in education. She used her musical training in her church, starting as a pianist-organist at Brooklyn Presbyterian at age thirteen, and also took life-long pleasure in friendships in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, where she led a Delta Ensemble choral group. Her brother Charles B. Maxwell, Jr., lived less than a block away, across the street at 1712 Washington Avenue.

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Architecture

A substantial Cottage style dwelling in red brick and stone. The steep, complicated roofscape includes a main gable, a projecting front gabled wing and gabled dormer, a shed-roof over the front door, a rear wing with a clipped-gable roof, and a one-story hip-roofed bay at the west side of the house. There are substantial exterior chimneys at the west side and rear of the house.

The dwelling sits atop a slight rise on a prominent corner lot, located across Fairfield Street from the JCSU Presidents House (1723 Washington Avenue). The front of the Payne house faces Washington Avenue. At the rear, a free-standing two-car garage, red brick under a gable roof, faces Fairfield Street. It likely held Shade Payne’s work vehicles and tools. Payne took out the permit to build the garage in 1956.

The house features beautiful brick and stonework by its first owner, Shade L. Payne, a brickmason. African Americans historically led the brick masonry trade, dating back to slavery times when most skilled artisans in the South were African American.  Black brickmasons were often among the most prosperous community leaders in many Southern cities through the mid twentieth century.

Building permit

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Date issued: April 23, 1956
Owner: Shade L. Payne
Contractor: Shade L. Payne
Estimated cost:
Other permit info: 2-car garage addition at rear of house.

First appeared in city directory

1952 & 53 & 55 – under construction. 1956 – Shade Payne & Margaret M. He: Bricklayer. She: Teacher, Sterling High.

1982 city directory: still listed at this address.

Resources

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