Current and former residents of Wentworth Place in Madison Park share an affection for their street and its place in Charlotte’s history.
Houses on Wentworth Place were featured in the first Parade of Homes by the Charlotte Home Builders Association Sept. 20-27, 1953. This month is the 60th anniversary.
There are 13 homes on the cul-de-sac. Originally, 14 homes stood, but one was torn down after a flood, residents said.
Margaret Sexton, 56, bought her home in 2005. To commemorate the Parade of Homes anniversary, Sexton has been researching houses and compiling information. When the project is complete, she plans to have a friend write a report for the street’s residents and the Madison Park Homeowners Association.
Sexton’s interest was sparked by a copy of a page about her home in a Parade of Homes section published in the Sept. 20, 1953, edition of the Charlotte Observer.
Sexton said her research shows that some of the houses in the neighborhood were built for servicemen who had returned from World War II.
The land was formerly part of a farm belonging to the family of evangelist Billy Graham, she said.
The late Gordon Golding was a longtime resident of Wentworth Place. Golding’s son, also named Gordon, resides in Paris but grew up on the street and lived there until he went to college in 1970. A popular pastime for neighborhood children was re-creating World War II, with landmarks representing Europe and the Pacific, he wrote in an email.
He said he also produced a newspaper for the street as a child.
One of the most famous residents of Wentworth Place was Boyd Payton.
He was a textile union organizer sentenced to prison after being convicted of conspiracy charges related to the Harriet and Henderson mills in North Carolina, according to the website of UNC’s University Libraries, North Carolina Collection. Questions remain about Payton’s conviction. He was released on parole in 1961. Gov. Terry Sanford granted him a full pardon in 1964.
Jan Shore has lived on the street 49 years and remembers Payton and his wife. She said he was loved by neighbors.
Chuck Gallant, 57, lived on Wentworth Place from about 1956 to 1980.
“Let me tell you, as a kid growing up here, if you did anything wrong, you didn’t have a prayer. Somebody’s mother saw you. Most of these houses had moms that stayed home,” he said.
Gallant recalls the fallout shelter installed beneath his childhood home.
“God help us if we’d needed it for a nuclear attack,” he said.
He and other kids made it a clubhouse.
Cindy Tucker, 60, has lived in her house since 1999. She said it’s a “fabulous little bungalow.”
“I came over and looked at it and fell in love with it. I just felt like I was home when I walked in the door, and I still feel that way today,” Tucker said.
Others echo the sentiment: “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” Shore said of when she first met neighbors after buying her house.
Hope Yancey is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Hope? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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