Project Description

The Knowlton-Shaw House

2400 Mecklenburg Avenue, charlotte, N.C. , 28205

C.1928, Colonial Revival Style

Historical Context & Redevelopment:

Marie Knowlton was a student of interior design and she made the house a showplace where she enjoyed hosting wedding receptions, bridge parties, and book club meetings. Marie’s interests also included civic affairs. In 1939, when voters refused to fund the Charlotte Public Library, she headed a committee that gathered over 7,000 signatures on a petition to force a new election that reversed that decision. The Charlotte Observer put her on a list of the eleven most outstanding civic leaders of 1939; no small accomplishment for a woman of that era. Marie Knowlton served a term as president of the Board of the Crittendon Home, a facility for unwed mothers and occupied a leadership position in what is now the United Way. The Knowltons were devoted members of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church on Seventh Street. Hannah Knowlton, their daughter, married Thomas Wright in 1937, who later became the Episcopal Bishop of Eastern North Carolina. The Knowltons’ son, named after his maternal grandmother, had a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.Victor Shaw (1888-1966) and his wife, Elsie B. Shaw (1894-1960), purchased the Knowlton-Shaw House in 1944. Shaw, a third-generation Charlotte businessman, was elected mayor in 1949. Flamboyant, gregarious, and a natty dresser, Mayor Shaw belonged to a long line of Charlotte boosters. Shaw labored tirelessly to enrich the Queen’s City during his four years as Charlotte’s chief executive. Mayor Shaw insisted that Charlotte must have a suitable civic auditorium and coliseum. Shaw made winning public support for this initiative a major goal of his administration. He was successful. In May 1950, the Charlotte Observer announced that architect A. G. Odell, Jr. would prepare plans for the buildings. The voters approved a $3 million bond issue on October 14, 1950, to buy a 21-acre site for the Charlotte Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium on East Independence Boulevard. Shaw’s daughter, Elsie Babbitt Shaw (1929-2015), lived in the Knowlton-Shaw House as a teenager. She became an artist and sculptor of note and she is best known locally for her statue of Hugh McManaway, which stands in Charlotte at the intersection of Queens Road and Providence Road. In December 2018, the owner of the Knowlton-Shaw House, announced his intention to demolish the structure, clear the site, and allow a cul de sac. The Historic Landmarks Commission was able to delay the destruction for one year.

In June 2019, Preserve Mecklenburg, a private, non-profit preservation agency, obtained an option to purchase the entire property or find a buyer. It succeeded in finding a purchaser. The help of Ben Collins of the Salins Group was invaluable. Ben was responsible for making the Terranova Group of Greenville, S.C. aware of the property. Terranova bought the Knowlton-Shaw House property in February 2020 and agreed to accept a preservation easement that will assure the preservation of the historic homeplace, so its stories will not be lost. The Knowlton-Shaw House will become the centerpiece of a unique residential development called Mecklenburg Park with two ownership options: the Shaw Estates and the Knowlton Cottages. Designed under the watchful eye of the Preserve Mecklenburg historical society, Mecklenburg Park will complement the grandness of the surrounding neighborhood with traditional exterior elements and quality interior specifications while providing “right-sized” lifestyle floorplans.

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