The threat of a road being put through the middle of the historic Charles E. Barnhardt House in Plaza Midwood has prompted local historians to buy the home for designation as a historic landmark.
Officials with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission say they have signed a contract on the property at 2733 Country Club Lane and expect the deal to close in March, pending due diligence.
The home was “in imminent danger” of demolition for a housing development, officials said. It once belonged to two of the city’s most prominent families: The Barnhardt family of Barnhardt Manufacturing Co., and the Cramer family of textile industrialists who built the mill town of Cramerton in Gaston County.
Dan Morrill of the Historic Landmarks Commission says the property developer worked with historians to rescue the site after it was determined a connector road would have to be put through the house.
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“The city’s sub-development ordinance requires connectivity between blocks of a certain length. The developer was simply doing what the city required,” Morrill said. “The city has now agreed to allow connectivity to be achieved by a sidewalk that will run beside the house. That will allow the house to remain.”
The purchase is subject to approval by the Mecklenburg County commissioners, and designation of the house as a landmark must be approved by Charlotte City Council, officials said. The cost of the purchase was not released.
Money to buy the house and four adjacent lots will come from the landmark commission’s Historic Preservation Revolving Fund. If all goes as hoped, the historic landmarks commission will eventually sell the property, after placing preservation covenants in the deed to stop demolition in perpetuity.
“Completed in 1938 as the centerpiece of a 15-acre estate … the house is a beautiful, sophisticated example of the revivalist style,” said Morrill. “The architect was Martin E. Boyer Jr. During the 1920s and 1930s, Boyer was the designer of many of Charlotte’s most elegant homes.”
Charles E. Barnhardt was a prominent business and civic leader in Charlotte. Tragically, he never had the opportunity to live in his magnificent Plaza Midwood home. “He drowned in the pond on the estate while inspecting the construction of the grounds with his wife Edna on May 26, 1938,” said Morrill.
In 1948, George B. Cramer and Elizabeth Crooks Cramer purchased the house, and members of the Cramer family lived there until 2016. George Cramer was the son of textile engineer and industrialist Stuart Cramer, for whom the town of Cramerton is named.