South Charlotte

Century-old home now an historic site

Matthews commissioners have voted to designate the century-old Benjamin DeWitt Funderburk House, at 201 West Charles St., an historic landmark.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission's Stewart Gray told commissioners, "Some landmarks take a lot of explanation. This one doesn't. This house maintains a prominent position in the town and is one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture around. This designation will help protect the house and the setting from further renovation."

Gray also said the house is unique because of the legacy and community prominence of those who lived there.

Currently occupied by Jim and Janet Johnson, the transitional Queen Anne-Colonial style house was built by Benjamin DeWitt Funderburk in 1904. Funderburk and his wife, Sally Faulkner, raised three children there.

Funderburk expanded his father's dry goods store on north Trade Street and, in 1909, built and created the Bank of Matthews. He also served on the Mecklenburg County Board of Education.

In 1926, the house was acquired by son Lee Edward Funderburk, who married Mildred Elizabeth (Betty) Morrah. They had no children but boarded school teachers in their large home. Lee Funderburk served as president of the Bank of Matthews for 56 years while Betty Funderburk taught in the public schools.

She lived there until she moved to Plantation Estates in 1991. After her death in 2001, her niece bought the home but did not do any renovations. Jimaana Properties bought it and later renovated it in 2009, preserving the original carriage house, pump house and meat house.

The historical designation means the owners are eligible for a 50 percent reduction in property taxes as long as the designation remains. If they wish to do further renovations, however, they must get plans approved by the landmarks commission.

Paula Lester, president of the Matthews Historical Foundation and chairwoman of the Matthews Historical Preservation Advisory Committee, says she's thrilled with the vote.

"From a preservation standpoint and from a historical standpoint, this is a real plus for Matthews. These preservations help preserve the town's old homes and properties for future generations to enjoy," Lester said.