In 1956 Thomas E. Gilliard, Jr., porter at American Trust Bank, took out a building permit to have Mangie McQueen, perhaps the city’s top African American contractor, construct this residence. Mr. Gilliard’s wife Mildred Y. Gilliard helped lead one of Charlotte’s most important African American institutions. She served as Program Director at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA. Founded in 1916 and named for an African American poet, the Charlotte’s YWCA was among the earliest in the nation established by and for African Americans.
In 1956 contractor E.O. Clarkson took out the building permit to construct this house and by 1959 the residence appeared in the city directory occupied by Mrs. Bennie C. Lee, a librarian. It was rare in suburban America during the 1950s for a single woman to purchase her own home, but in McCrorey Heights there were more than a dozen women who attained that goal.
Samuel Woodard filed the permit to construct this house in 1954 and moved in about 1956. He worked as a Boy Scout executive and managed the large Brookhill Village low-income apartment complex. As the Civil Rights movement began to open civic leadership positions to African Americans, Woodard served on the board of Charlotte’s Community Development agency and also on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. His wife Elsie Woodard taught English for three decades at Johnson C. Smith University.
Built 1953-54 for Robert Person, Jr., a counselor at Mecklenburg County Juvenile Court and his wife Dorothy H. Person, an assistant librarian with the Charlotte Public Library system. In the late 1960s, Mr. Person took charge of the Charlotte Area Fund which managed local grants under the various anti-poverty programs. In the 1970s he directed the Charlotte office of the Manpower Program, a federal initiative to train and employ jobless youth.
Edwin M. Barrett, a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, took out the permit to build this house in 1952. He was a career employee in the U.S. Railway Mail Service. His wife Miriam Sampson Barrett was a nurse at Charlotte Memorial Hospital when the couple moved into this house, then worked for a decade as a teacher in Sumter, South Carolina.
Built in 1956-57 and first occupied by William C. Covington, who lived there for nearly six decades. Covington was a Civil Rights pioneer, one of Charlotte’s first African American policemen. His wife Johnsie Jackson Covington was a longtime educator in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.
Built 1952 – 53 by Walter W. Twitty, Charlotte representative of the black-owned North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company, and his wife Samella, a longtime teacher in Charlotte’s public schools. Mr. Twitty ranked among the city’s most important black economic leaders. He worked to open opportunities in the wider society during the Civil Rights era, including taking part in one of the South’s earliest sit-ins in 1954 which desegregated Charlotte’s airport.
Built about 1956 for Rowe R. “Jack” Motley and his wife Alma Moreland Motley. Rowe “Jack” Motley became the first African American to win election to County Commission in Mecklenburg County (1974) and went on to serve in the N.C. Legislature. Wife Alma taught in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools for thirty years and with her husband raised five children here.
Built 1953-54 for Dr. Edwin Thompkins and his wife Roberta. Dr. Thompkins was a JCSU professor known for his academic attainments — he became the University’s Dean of Theology in 1960 — and for his Civil Rights activism. In September 1957 he accompanied young Dorothy Counts as she walked through an angry mob to desegregate Harding High School, a moment captured in photos that appeared in newspapers nationwide.