1913 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 1964-65 by Romeo Alexander, well-known as the proprietor of Razades Restaurant on Statesville Avenue and an active investor in real estate.

Romeo Alexander was the second member of his family to construct a home for himself in McCrorey Heights. Eldest brother Talmadge Alexander had built at 1712 Patton Avenue in 1957-58. The eight Alexander siblings were well known in Charlotte: Talmadge, Cyrus, Jr., Warren, Willie, Bernice, Rosenmond and especially Oren and Romeo. Oren operated a bail bond agency for decades and made philanthropic gifts to many causes, while Romeo was known for his restaurant and real estate interests.

Razades Restaurant was one of the surprisingly few restaurants owned and run by African Americans in Charlotte. City directories in the early 20th century showed African Americans operating a handful of small “eating houses” in the center city near the cotton-selling district and in the black neighborhood of Brooklyn. But despite that fact that African Americans did most of the cooking for whites as well for their own families in the South before the Civil Rights era, few black entrepreneurs were able tap into the capital required for a full-scale restaurant. Razades represented a large step up from the earlier eating houses. It was on suburban Statesville Avenue, in its own custom-built building, a stylish, modern design in brick and glass block that looked like something that “Rat Pack” bon vivants Frank Sinatra and Sammie Davis, Jr., might visit.

Youngsters loved to hang out at Razades. An ad in the 1960 edition of the Wapiti yearbook of black York Road High School beckoned: “Charlotte’s Largest and Most Modernized Air Conditioned Restaurant, 1615 Statesville Avenue. ‘Food at it’s Best,’ Breakfast at any time. Try Our Special. Romeo Alexander, Prop.” Alexander also advertised his previous establishment in the 1951 Carver College annual: “THE OAKLAWN TAVERN, Good Home Cooked Food, Ballantine On Tap. Romeo Alexander, Proprietor. Phone 5-9361. 1131 Oaklawn Ave.”

Romeo Alexander used his capital and financial acumen in service of the community. In 1953, he was among the “colonels” co-leading the fund drive that built West Charlotte High School’s athletic field. He served as treasurer with Rameses Temple 51, Charlotte’s highly active chapter of the Masonic group the Shriners. A chapter history recalled: “During the time when we first moved into our newly attained building, money was tight H.P.P. Romeo Alexander was our Treasure, and it was times that we didn’t have the funds to pay bills, Noble Alexander would paid money out of his pocket in order to keep out creditors off out backs.” In the 2000s, at the urging of community leader Thereasea Elder, he funded the Romeo Alexander Scholarship to help with college costs for young descendants of families from the Greenville neighborhood, an African American area near Razades Restaurant that was largely wiped out by interstate highway construction and “urban renewal” in the late 1960s.

Romeo Alexander’s wife Frances G. Alexander was listed in the 1965 city directory when the couple moved into this house as “nurse, Mercy Hospital.” Mercy was among the historically white hospitals in Charlotte that began to desegregate in 1963-64 prompted in part by the legislation that became the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It is likely that Mrs. Alexander was one of the first black nurses at Mercy Hospital.

The couple’s son Wayne C. Alexander (10.8.1950 – 12.20.1989), a high school student when the family moved to Patton Avenue, graduated from UNC Chapel Hill Law School in 1975. He worked in the Charlotte City Attorney’s Office, became an Assistant United States Attorney, and later as a lawyer in private practice he numbered Civil Rights activist Dr. Reginald Hawkins among his clients. Wayne Alexander married Viola Taylor in 1978. After his death in 1989 she remarried, becoming Vi Lyles. In 2017  Vi Lyles won election as Charlotte’s first African American female Mayor.

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Architecture

A split-level design in brown brick on a large corner lot. In the split-level format, visitors enter into a one-story part of the house, then go either up or down a half flight of stairs into a two-story part of the house. This is the most stylish of the handful of split-level examples that were built in McCrorey Heights.

The dwelling features Colonial Revival touches including a pedimented front gable with an octagonal vent set in wooden clapboards, raised quoins in the brickwork at the corners of the house, a large exterior chimney on the east wide of the dwelling, and double-hung wooden sash windows with multiple small panes. A front porch extends across the one-story entrance wing, supported by slender wooden Doric columns set on a low brick wall.

There is a rear enclosed porch, which is almost certainly a renovation, and there is also a detached metal carport for which the original owner took out a permit in 1971.

Building permits

Patton-1913-permit
Date issued: March 30, 1964
Owner: Romeo Alexander
Contractor: Hopkins & Hopkins Const. Co.
Estimated cost: $14,000
Other permit info: residence

Patton-1913-permit-a
Date issued: October 17, 1971
Owner: Romeo Alexander
Contractor: Squires Const. Co.
Estimated cost: $600
Other permit info: 20 x 20 carport

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

First appeared in city directory

1965.  Romeo Alexander, salesman, and wife Frances G, nurse at Mercy Hospital.

A later directory, for 1968, shows at this address Romeo Alexander, proprietor of Racker Cue Lounge, and wife Francis G, nurse at Mercy Hospital.

Another later directory, 1981, shows at this address Romeo Alexander, proprietor of Alexander Rental, and wife Frances G.

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

Resources

The Buck, 1951, yearbook of Carver College. On-line at: https://archive.org/stream/buck19501951carv/buck19501951carv_djvu.txt

Carolina Times, August 29, 1953. On-line at: http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn83045120/1953-08-29/ed-1/seq-5/ocr/

Frazier, Stanley R. and Janice Frazier, T.D.’s Truths (privately published by ExLibris Corporation, 2013), p. 88.

Rameses Temple 51 history.  On-line at: http://www.angelfire.com/nc/ramesestemple51/Default.html

“Resolution and Memorial in Honor of Wayne C. Alexander,” Mecklenburg County Bar, 1990. On-line at: http://www.meckbar.org/newsevents/Alexander,WayneC._2.5.1990.pdf

Wapiti, 1960, yearbook of York Road High School. On-line at: On-line at: https://archive.org/stream/wapiti19601960york/wapiti19601960york_djvu.txt