1913 Oaklawn Avenue

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

Oaklawn Avenue became a favored suburban location for leading African American physicians and ministers starting in the 1920s-30s, with additional fine houses filling out the street during the 1950s -60s. AME Zion minister Rev. Samuel W. Hamilton lived here for three decades starting in 1926, becoming a regional leader in the denomination. His wife Helen worked as an office manager at the AME Zion Publishing House in downtown Charlotte during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Born about 1872, Samuel Hamilton was an active minister in the AME Zion religion, a national denomination that had particular strength in Charlotte. A native of Clear Creek, Tennessee, he came to North Carolina to attend Livingstone College in Salisbury, the main educational institution of the AME Zion denomination. By 1905 he headed Biddleville AME Zion adjacent to Biddle University (today Johnson C. Smith University), also known as Gethsemane AME Zion Church. At close of his career in the 1950s he pastored Moore’s Sanctuary AME Zion in the countryside west of the city (Morris Field Drive, today). During the early 1920s, local newspapers mentioned him speaking in Lincolnton, north of Charlotte, and also conducting a school census there.

During the time he resided at 1913 Oaklawn Avenue — some thirty years — he ascended to the upper leadership in the AME Zion denomination. By 1939 he was Presiding Elder for the church’s Salisbury District. In 1951 the city directory listed him as District Supervisor, AME Zion Church, and his wife as Helen, the Office Secretary at the AME Zion Publishing House, which edited, printed and distributed all the publications for the entire denomination.

Helen Hamilton had been born in Tennessee about 1907, making her about 35 years younger than her husband. Based on city directory evidence, it appears that Rev. Hamilton passed away in the mid 1950s and Helen remarried. From 1958 through at least the late 1960s, the home was occupied by Charles W. Clarkston and wife Helen. She worked as Office Secretary, Department of Church School Literature at the AME Zion Publishing House, while he was listed as a cleaner at the Johnston Building office tower on South Tryon Street.

Oaklawn-1913-a-web
Oaklawn-1913-b-web
Oaklawn-1913-c-web

Architecture

This appears to be one of the oldest houses in McCrorey Heights. It is a large two-story wood frame dwelling with a main gable-roofed block and a projecting two-story gabled from bay. That massing was popular in the Victorian era 1880s – 1910s. But this house has wooden brackets in the eaves and also double-hung windows with four slender vertical panes in the top sash and a single large pane in the lower sash — all details that were popular in the Arts & Crafts era of the 1910s – 1920s. So it is likely that this house was constructed in the mid 1920s, shortly before it first appeared in the city directory in 1926.

The broad porch that extends across the entire front of the dwelling was altered probably when permits were taken out for “remodeling” in 1958. The wooden columns that sat atop the brick porch piers were replaced with “wrought iron” units and the east end of the porch was enclosed to create an additional room. The original wooden siding was sheathed in asbestos shingles likely during the same remodeling.

Building permits

Oaklawn-1913-permit
Date issued: July 11, 1958
Owner: Helen and Charles Clarkston
Contractor: Century Const. Co.
Other permit info: remodel

Oaklawn-1913-permit-a
Date issued: August 8, 1964
Owner: Charles W. Clarkston
Contractor: Wells Const. Co.
Estimated cost: $700
Other permit info: remodel, stairway to upstairs

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

First appeared in city directory

1926 – (Double Oaks Av, Wash Hgts.) Rev. Samuel W. Hamilton & Emma C. No other info listed.

1939 – Rev. Samuel W. Hamilton & Helen E.

He: Presiding Elder, Salisbury District, AME Zion Church. She: no occupation listed.

1951 – Rev. Samuel W. Hamilton & Helen H.

He: District Supervisor, AME Zion Church. She: Office Secretary, AME Zion Publishing House.

1955 – Hamilton still listed.

1959 – Charles W. Clarkston & Helen H.

He: Cleaner, Johnston Building.  She: no occupation listed.

1969 – Charles W. Clarkston & Helen E.

He: retired.  She: Office Secretary, Department of Church School Literature [at AME Zion Publishing House?]

1981 – Gertrude D. Washington (renter). Retired.

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

Resources

“Helen Hamilton in the 1940 Census,” Archives.com website. On-Line at ” http://www.archives.com/1940-census/helen-hamilton-nc-96038182

“History” page, Moore’s Sanctuary AME Zion website.  On-line at: http://mooressanctuaryamezion.org/history/.

“Negro Methodists Meet at Lincolnton,” Lincoln County News, November 15, 1912. On-line at: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/65467623/.

“Samuel W. Hamilton in the 1940 Census,” Archives.com website. On-line at: http://www.archives.com/1940-census/samuel-hamilton-nc-96038181

“School Closing: Closing Exercises April 22 – 25,” The Sun, April 22, 1920. On-line at: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/66583886/

“Services at Grace A.M.E. Zion Church,” Charlotte News, May 13, 1905. On-line at: https://www.newspapers.com/image/58568295.

“Statement: Annual Report of Public School Fund,” Lincoln County News, July 13, 1922. On-line at: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/66362685/

“Rev. Samuel Hamilton,” Charlotte Observer, December 27, 1955.