1908 Patton 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 1958 for educators Lorenzo E. Poe and Dorothy Brewer Poe. Lorenzo Poe came to Mecklenburg County about 1937 to be the first principal of what is now the Ada Jenkins School in the town of Davidson, just north of Charlotte. He later served nineteen years as principal of Sterling High in Pineville, just south of Charlotte — its last leader prior to closing as part of Charlotte’s school integration. His wife Dorothy Brewer Poe also taught in the public schools.

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Born in Huntsville, Alabama, Lorenzo Eugene Poe (8.5.1908 – 8.8.1997) believed deeply in the power of education. He journeyed away to Tennessee to earn a B.S. in Science at Knoxville College, then completed requirements at North Carolina Central University for a Master of Science degree, and along the way took graduate courses to earn a principal’s certificate. He taught high school science in Camden, Alabama, Martinsville, Virginia, and Reidsville, North Carolina, then about 1937 joined the Mecklenburg County school system.

He lived first in Davidson, 25 miles north of Charlotte, where he became the first principal of the new Davidson Colored School (later called Ada Jenkins School, today an official Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmark), which had just been built with federal New Deal funding from the Public Works Administration. It offered grades one through eleven; county schools seldom had twelfth grade. The Landmark Commission’s designation report notes that in 1937, “Mr. Lorenzo Poe, who was also the principal, made $689.90 a year, and … taught General Science, Biology, English, Arithmetic, Algebra, Literature, and Civics.” The salary was skimpy, even for that time. The 1940 Census found him boarding with a family in Davidson — a common practice for teachers in that era.

When the school became elementary-only in the 1946 – 47 school year, Principal Poe transferred to another similar institution where he could still teach science and other upper-level courses. Sterling School in Pineville, N.C. was about a 15 mile commute south. He led the school for nineteen years. At the end of his career he became Assistant Principal at Olympic High in Charlotte for two years before retiring in 1972. “He demonstrated a unique gentleness and kindness,” his obituary would recall, “as he gave encouragement and inspiration to countless young people who remembered his counsel and magnetic personality.”

Lorenzo Poe married Dorothy Brewer about 1937, evidently enduring several years apart as he boarded in Davidson while starting his work as principal. Dorothy Brewer Poe (1.13.1919 – 12.25.1984) came from Pageland, S.C., fifty miles southeast of Charlotte. Her father, Joseph Cephus Brewer, owned considerable farmland (not renting, as most African Americans did), helped build Wesley Chapel Methodist church and ran a store at what is now the crossroads of Brewer and Wesley Chapel Roads. “Education was always stressed within the family,” descendant Arthelia Brewer recalled. “[P]rovisions were made for the children to obtain schooling outside the town of Pageland. The children rotated to school during the year, which left someone at home at all times to tend the fields and harvest the crops. Many of Joe and Emma’s children later became educators.” Indeed, Dorothy became an educator, teaching at the rural J.H. Gunn School east of Charlotte when she and Lorenzo moved to McCrorey Heights.

Before coming to McCrorey Heights, the Poe family lived in Charlotte First Ward at 229 N. Myers Street, near Little Rock AME Zion Church. They moved into their modern ranch house on Patton Avenue in 1958 in the midst of Principal Poe’s career at Sterling.

They raised one son here, Ronald (9.21.1948 – 11.18.2004), and had busy social lives despite their considerable daily commutes. Lorenzo, known as “Ren,” counted among his memberships the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP. Said Mr. Poe’s obituary, “The devoted couple’s residence, 1908 Patton Avenue, radiated their genuine warmth as gracious hosts to their many friends.”

A note about addresses: City directories first showed “1908 Patton” in 1953 with Hubert Norris as resident. It seems likely that the Norris house was renumbered from 1908 to 1904 in 1958-59 when Lorenzo Poe moved into this new house.

Patton-1908-c-web
Patton-1908-b-web

Architecture

Ranch. Red brick, one-story with low hip roofs. A modernistic ornamental metal column supports the inset front porch. Prominent side chimney.

Building permits

Patton-1908-permit

(Likely for a different house, possibly 1900 or 1926 Patton)

Date issued: January 7, 1952
Owner: Miss M. A. Blake
Contractor: Thomas & Rem? Bldg. Co.
Other permit info: to build residence

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

First appeared in city directory

1959 – Lorenzo E. Poe & Dorothy B.
He: Principal, Sterling High School. She: Teacher, Gunn High School.

1981 – still here, retired.

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

obituary

Poe, Lorenzo, Funeral program in the History Room, First United Presbyterian Church, Charlotte.

Resources

Brewer, Arthelia, “Joseph Cephus Brewer (October 9, 1968 – January 21, 1941)” webpage. On-line at: http://robertandemilinebrewer.net/joseph.htm

Gray, Stewart, “Davidson Colored School / Ada Jenkins School: Survey & Research Report” (Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, 2006). On-line at:  http://www.cmhpf.org/S&Rs%20Alphabetical%20Order/surveys&rAdaJenkins.htm

“Poe, Dorothy Brewer,” webpage on the Find A Grave website, on-line at: http://forums.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=140894756

“Poe, Lorenzo E,” obituary webpage on the Find A Grave website, on-line at: http://forums.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=140894773

Poe, Lorenzo, funeral program in the History Room, First United Presbyterian Church, Charlotte.

“Poe, Ronald Eugene,” obituary webpage on the Find A Grave website, on-line at: http://forums.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=140893748

The Hawk, the 1962 Yearbook of Sterling School, is on-line at:  https://archive.org/stream/hawk19621962ster#page/n7/mode/2up