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As of September 29, over 680,000 people have died and an estimated 42 million have been infected in the United States since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic in March, 2020. If you’re one of the lucky ones who didn’t get infected and made the wise decision to be vaccinated, chances are you started to feel a severe case of cabin fever about this time…last year.
Yes, you might want to read that again.
The world has been held hostage by a plague for over a year and a half now. For many of us it is hard to remember we once darted about, back and forth from a job perhaps, to restaurants and grocery stores, nightclubs and parties, churches and synagogues and even took trains and planes to distant places.
All of that seems so long ago these days.
As time has passed and we have struggled to survive, the world has evolved. We have found different ways to shop, guarded ways of dining out and protected methods of enjoying the world around us.
But some experiences, because of the pandemic, have changed dramatically. Multiple Pride events around both Carolinas and across the country have been canceled, many now for two years in a row. Political conventions, live entertainment, sporting events and most anything that draws large crowds have either been canceled, or relegated to a virtual presentation.
As fall approaches and the temperatures drop, there are many annual traditions that kick off around this time and continue throughout the season into the beginning of the New Year.
In Charlotte and the surrounding Metro region, historic home tours are at the top of the list. Regrettably, most have been completely canceled. But don’t despair. There are two that remain.
Sort of – one is completely virtual, while the other is mostly in-person, with some streaming. While it may not be exactly like the home tours we experienced pre-pandemic, it is a step to returning to some sort of normalcy. But for attendees of the Salisbury event, a certain level of COVID responsibility will be required (see below).
Mad About Modern, sponsored by the Charlotte Museum of History, has traditionally been an opportunity to explore some of the best examples of Mid 20th Century Modern homes in Charlotte and some of the nearby outlying areas. The event, which kicked off September 23, continues through October 22.
Now for the second year, the event is being presented virtually. You can buy a ticket and you’ll get a program, but you won’t actually be there. No more exploring. At least, not in person. Instead, you’ll be at home, streaming it on your laptop or perhaps a big screen television that you’ve shared your stream with. Whatever the case, it still gives you the opportunity to see some fine examples of space age architecture that have survived the city’s predisposition to replace anything with something new, and not necessarily better.
Included in the lineup of houses you’ll be able to see are the Amos Smith Road house, built in 1958. Designed by noteworthy Charlotte architect Murray Whisnant, the house is built near the banks of the Catawba River. The large expansive windows provide panoramic views of the Catawba, something you simply won’t find in today’s modern cookie-cutter architecture. The low pitched roofs provide ample shading for the oversized windows and allow for a row of striking skylights. Think residential interpretation of an old Lums Restaurant or an early Pizza Hut, but fashionable and stylish.
Perhaps one of the most impressive homes on the list of midcentury moderns is a house built in 1964 in Myers Park and referred to as the Carlanda Circle home. Unlike most brick ranch style homes from the era, this one is a two-story A-frame by Charlotte architect Friedrich Schmidt, who was hired by the original owners after they discovered his interesting designs for local churches. The main living space includes a massive cathedral ceiling with lots of natural light and an original metal fireplace, also designed by the architect. In this case think original IHOP. Instead of orange and aqua it’s all in the earth tones of brown.
The Coatbridge Lane home, built in the Wynwood neighborhood in 1970, is just under 2000 square feet. With a low roof line perched atop white brick, the original owner, who also designed the home, was a UNC Charlotte Professor of Philosophy who taught a course on Utopian Communities. It has been theorized by some that the design was his attempt to build his personal interpretation of utopia. The home wraps around a small courtyard and includes sizable picture windows, as well as skylights and views of the surrounding and attractively wooded lot.
Built in 1964, the Colchester Place house, located in Charlotte’s Spring Valley neighborhood, started out life as what appears to be a standard style ranch home. The original owners still reside there, and over the years have made multiple modifications to create the midcentury modern masterpiece it is today. Both previously worked for leading architectural firms and have collected a sizable array of appropriate period furnishings, resulting in a showcase of their creative talents.
Although it was built in 1980, this East Providence Road home in the Providence Estates neighborhood was clearly influenced by early 1960s architectural design, although no specific architect is named. Not surprisingly, the current owners and residents are avid collectors of midcentury modern artifacts that include furniture by Eames and an impressive collection of vintage lamps and cameras. Unlike other earlier midcentury modern homes this one is decidedly larger at just under 4000 square feet, it includes three bedrooms and three and a half baths. Oddly enough it bears a striking resemblance to Charlotte Public Library Branch Locations and the old Northwestern Bank branches, built in the same time period.
For more information regarding tickets and schedules, visit madaboutmodern.com.
In nearby Salisbury, you’ll find something a bit more traditional. An-in person tour of historic homes.
Six are available for in-person tours and three can be seen virtually. In addition to the homes available to tour, check out The Patron’s Party. The official kick-off for the event on Friday, October 8, it promises to be Salisbury’s party of the year at one of the town’s most fascinating private homes. Enjoy premier food, drink, music, and dancing at this signature October Tour event. Tickets are $125 per person or $225 per couple and include admission to all tour sites and to the Patron’s Porch, a relaxing private reprieve during your tour weekend. Organizers require that you bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the 72 hours preceding the tour and related events to pick up your tickets.
There’s also the Silent Auction, a great opportunity to find vintage architectural salvage and other interesting collectibles. It takes place online Friday, October 8 through Sunday, October 10.
The homes included in the tour cover more than a century of culture and a variety of architectural style, beginning in 1820 and continuing through 1942.
Among them, are:
The Fulton Mock Blackmer House
Located at 112 South Fulton Street, this house was originally constructed in 1821 by local merchant John Fulton. He and his family, along with several boarding young ladies who attended the Salisbury female academy, resided in the structure until his death in 1827. It was later purchased at auction and bequeathed to Davidson College. Over the years it was remodeled a few times and owned by an actor named Sydney Blackmer. He and his wife raised their two sons in the home, prior to a devastating fire in 1984, which left the house vacant for nearly 30 years. Purchased by historic Salisbury in 2012, restoration was complete in 2015.
The Walter McCanless House
Construction began on this house in 1925 and was completed by 1929. Located at 204 Confederate Avenue, the striking home features a roof of green tiles, iron embedded brick, and molded stone coins which rise to friezes with embedded colored tiles.
The Josephus W. Hall House
Located at 226 South Jackson Street, this structure was built in 1820 in the then popular Federal style and used by the girls department of the Salisbury academy. It was purchased in 1859 by Dr Josephus Hall and remained in his family until 1972 when it was purchased by Historic Salisbury.
The Leo Wallace Sr. House
Built in 1912 and located at 301 West Fisher St., the home was originally designed and constructed for Ella and Leo Wallace, in what is referred to as Mission Style, which is found much more commonly on the West Coast of the United States. In the years that followed the house passed through multiple families until it was purchased by the current owners, who undertook extensive interior and exterior restoration, including a complete removal of the Spanish tile roof for repairs. All of the red tiles were stacked and numbered for reinstallation.
The Napoleon Bonapart McCanless House
Built in downtown Salisbury at 619 South Main St., the Bonaparte McCanless House is considered to be a second Empire style structure. It is built from locally quarried granite with 15 rooms, and it boasts three floors. Industrialist and entrepreneur Napoleon Bonaparte McCanless built the house for his family in 1897. He died just 30 years later. Following his death and the stock market crash of 1930, the resulting economic depression left his widow Georgia so economically challenged, she was eventually unable to pay the electricity bill by 1932. The county sheriff sold the home to a bank, which allowed her to live there in two rooms and a bath until her death in 1940. In the years that followed the structure would serve as a nursing home, a college and even a restaurant. In 2019 historic Salisbury acquired the property and begin the process to restore the house.
The Rock House
This unique structure was constructed in 1913 at 225 South Fulton St. A craftsman style bungalow, it was also locally quarried. The house has a total of 10 full rooms, six working fireplaces and two full baths, one upstairs, the other down, which was considered quite a luxury for the era. This marks the third time the house has been on the tour since 1980.
Additional houses on the tour include The Peacock Fowler House, The T.W. Borland House and The Moses Corriher House. For more details, visit the Historic Salisbury website.
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