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Historic Dilworth house threatened by demolition

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    Monday’s public meeting of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission starts at 6 p.m. at the agency’s offices, 2100 Randolph Road.



Next year, the stunning Dilworth bungalow at 602 E. Morehead St. – the only survivor of what was once a stretch of elegant homes for Charlotte’s wealthy – will turn 100.

Its centennial may be observed by the owner tearing it down.

The owner, Charlotte lawyer Nelson Casstevens, has all but retired his law practice that since 1984 had filled the 10-room house with its sweeping, rock-faced porch and columns.

Late last month, Casstevens filed for a certificate to demolish the house – known historically as the G.G. Galloway House – for which he sought and won local historic landmark designation the year after he opened his law office.

Monday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission will grant the certificate but likely delay the demolition for a year.

“The commission has no power to deny the certificate,” said consulting director Dan Morrill. “It can delay the effective date for up to 365 days, and then he can go ahead with whatever plans he has.

“The fate of any property rests with the owners.”

Morrill said he was told that Casstevens has a potential buyer for the property, but on the condition that the house is torn down.

Casstevens wouldn’t talk about any deals or negotiations with potential buyers but he didn’t mind talking about the house.

“It is a magnificent structure,” he said. “I have really enjoyed practicing law there. I’m not practicing law anymore, but I still go in and look around in wonderment – and pay the bills.”

Extensively restored

Before it became home to the former Casstevens, Hanner, Gunter, Riopel & Wofford, P.A., it was a popular restaurant from 1975 to 1980 called the Stonehenge.

Prominent real estate broker Gaston Gilbert Galloway and his wife, Carrie, built the 4,800-square-foot house in 1914 in the new streetcar suburb of Dilworth. Galloway had gone into business with Peter Brown, a former Charlotte mayor and county commission chairman who owned the Trader’s Land Co., according to landmarks commission documents.

In 1913, the year Galloway was appointed the company’s vice president, Brown suddenly died. Galloway took over the company, and a short time later he married Brown’s daughter, Carrie.

The newlyweds bought a lot on Morehead between Caldwell and Euclid streets and hired Charlotte architect William Peeps to design it.

Peeps gives the house its importance, Morrill said.

A London native, he’d become one of Charlotte’s leading architects – designing uptown’s Ivey’s Department Store (now condos), the Latta Arcade and Brevard Court and many other buildings and homes in the region.

“The house really derives its historic significance from its architect,” Morrill said.

Galloway died in 1974, and the house became the Stonehenge a year later.

When Casstevens and former wife Barbara bought the house in 1981, it was “in severe disarray,” Casstevens said.

Landmarks Commission documents show that Barbara supervised extensive restoration.

Finding house-saving options

Monday, the landmarks commission has three choices on the matter: It could grant Casstevens his permit without delay. It could buy the house, but would have to sell it right away to a buyer who wouldn’t tear it down. Or it can delay the demolition.

Morrill said he expects the commission to delay demolition, allowing the agency more time to explore other options to save the house. He doesn’t believe the commission could sell the house for what he believes Casstevens is asking.

“It is a well-preserved, handsomely appointed example of bungalow-style architecture rendered in this case in a large elegant manor,” he said.

“It’s in move-in condition. It’d be a shame to lose it.”

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