Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
President's House

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Institution Name: Queens University of Charlotte
Original/Historic Place Name: Lethco House later name Lethco- Medearis House
Location on Campus: 2038 Rosewell Ave. (off campus)
Date(s) of Construction:
1928original construction Peeps, William H.
Designer: William H. Peeps (Charlotte, NC)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation:
Walls: stone, stucco, and timber
Roof: terra cotta tile
 
Function:
ca. 1928private residence (Frank and Mary Lethco)
ca. 1928private residence (Bill and Helen Lethco Medearis)
ca. 2004-present (2006)president's house
 

Narrative:
Like many bankers, textile magnates, and utility executives, Frank and Mary Lethco were drawn to the new Myers Park suburb planned by John Nolen and landscape architect Earle Sumner Draper. The shift in upper and middle class families from the center of Charlotte to the "highly desirable" suburb is historically significant for Charlotte. Frank Lethco owned Lethco's Linen Supply and was President/manager of Charlotte Laundry and a Director of the National Bank.

William H. Peeps designed the Lethco House in 1928. After 1919, the Tudor Revival style was very popular in Charlotte, and the style is used more in Charlotte than in many other cities in North Carolina. Originally, the tree-shaded double lot faced the fairways of the Myers Park Country Club. In later years the country club sold the land across Roswell Avenue, and more residences were built. The Lethco house has been described as one of Charlotte's finest Tudor Revivals. As with any "English Tudor," there is a combination of brick, stone, stucco, and decorative half-timbering exterior finishes. Peeps proved inventive in his use of rustic textures and produced a rambling mansion with seemingly endless wings. Lethco House has a steeply pitched gabled roof line with decorative tin/lead lining, tall narrow windows, and a number of large chimneys. Peeps included bay window, battlements, and stained glass windows as a part of his unique design.

The front of the house has five distinct vertical sections. Beginning on the left side, there is an open air porch constructed of stacked stones. The front and back sides present a stone arch, while the open side has decorative timber arches. The top is surrounded by a wrought iron railing. The second vertical section is two bays wide with a prominent chimney. The chimney has a unique 45 degree transition from the stone base--as part of the first story--to finish the second story section with brick. The top of the chimney is edged with sandstone.

The third section contains the front entrance. It is off-set from the other sections by four feet and creates a layered affect. The entry area is constructed of stucco and is trimmed by sandstone. The flattened Tudor arch has an ornately carved vine pattern in the top corners, and the door is flanked by narrow diamond paned sidelights. The second story above the entrance has three large four-over-six windows capped by the half-timbered gable and a small eight-pane window. The edge of the gable is lined with ornately designed tin or lead.

The fourth section overlaps with the third, creating the layered effect on the right side of the entrance. It contains the same details in the gable and a large bay window. The chimney on the north side has three flues and is capped with sandstone. The fifth section is not in the original design, and according to Bill Medearis was added around 1945. It is connected to the rest of the house by a stone hall and is one-story tall.

The rear of the house features sections which contain a turret, battlements, and a stucco-enclosed porch. The central focus is a large stained glass window set in a turret-like section which ends in a metal roof. The stained glass window contains light yellow, green, and blue square panes, and the bottom is stair-stepped to follow the interior staircase. Beside this is a section that is brick capped with battlements. The brick is slightly curved. The carriage house features decorative half-timbered stucco and brick with a clay tile roof.

The Lethco House is one of Peeps' remaining Tudor Revival designs from the Post World War I era.

William H. Peeps was a well-known architect in Charlotte and North Carolina. A native of London, England, he probably drew inspiration for his designs from the architecture of his homeland. Peeps originally settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan and began working in America as a furniture designer. In 1905 he moved to Charlotte. During his forty-five year career, he designed a number of architecturally important public buildings in Charlotte, as well as a number of residences. The sky-lighted Latta Arcade (1914) is considered highly innovative and unusual. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the interior is designated a local historic landmark by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. He also designed a second arcaded office building, the Court Arcade, on East Trade Street; the clubhouse at Myers Park Country Club; the J.B. Ivey Company Department Store (1924); Ratcliffe Flowers (1929), and an orthopedic hospital in Gastonia. His residential designs include a Colonial Revival house for John Bass Brown, one of the leading retailers in Charlotte, and Tudor Revivals for businessmen Osmond Barringa and F. D. Lethco in Myers Park. He designed a 1925 English country house for Ralston and Frances Pound in Dillworth.

Peeps was Vice President (1922-1923) and President (1924-1926) of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. In a 1925 address to the NCAIA, he issued a call to North Carolina architects to work toward greater public recognition of the architectural profession. He expressed concern for the quality of architecture. According to the George W. Hamilton's 1928 book William H. Peeps, A.I.A. Architect, "In addition to the designing of many of the homes, the decorations and furnishings have also been handled by Mr. Peeps" ([Charlotte, NC: News Publishing House, 1928], 1). He followed the practices of the American Institute of Architects in all his work.
 

References:

Hamilton, George W., ed. William H. Peeps, A.I.A., Architect. Charlotte, NC: News Publishing House, 1928.

Hanchett, Dr. Thomas W. "Charlotte Architecture: Design Through Time." Online (2006). Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC. http://www.cmhpf.org/essays/ArchEssay2.html

Alexander, Frances P., and Richard L. Mattson, Mattson, Alexander, and Associates. The Latta Arcade. Report. Online (2006). Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC. http://www.cmhpf.org/surveys&rlattaarcade.htm

 

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