This year the Charlotte Museum of History is celebrating the 240th year of the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site. To celebrate these 240 years, The Charlotte Museum of History is launching Charlotte 240, a multi-media exhibit exploring the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Region’s history through 240 vignettes that highlight the people, places, and spaces that tell our story. We will post several entries each week on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Nicknamed the “Rock House,” the Alexander House is made of native Piedmont stone, several of which are marked with the year 1774. Additionally, one of the markings contains the Roman numeral “X” which is interpreted as signifying the month of October, suggesting October 1774 as the finish date of construction. Today, the Hezekiah Alexander House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is a federal designation recognizing the historical and cultural significance of the House according to national standards.
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 authorized the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to establishing an inventory of nationally significant properties, the NHPA provided tax incentives to encourage preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings. This fostered the development of a professional historic preservation movement focused on preserving the character of entire historic districts which encompassed the buildings, landscape, and history of all residents, while promoting the adaptive use of buildings and historic district designations to preserve and protect a community’s irreplaceable heritage.
Initially the historic preservation movement began in response to the deterioration and loss of buildings that were associated with people and events that played a significant role in the founding of our nation. From its inception, the leaders at the forefront of historic preservation were women. In 1853 Ann Pamela Cunningham created the Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association to save Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s plantation and home from deterioration and possible loss.
With similar goals, local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) formed a preservation committee to rescue the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site from neglect. In 1949, the DAR leased the house and adjoining property in order to restore the badly deteriorated building.
The DAR Restoration Committee was composed of prominent Charlotte women:
• Mrs. E. C. Marshall of the Halifax chapter, served as chairman,
• Mrs. Paul Efird of the Mecklenburg chapter, as vice chairman,
• Mrs. Preston Wilkes, Jr. of the Liberty Hall chapter,
• Mrs. W. H. Belk, of the Mecklenburg chapter,
• Mrs. Parks Kirkpatrick of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence chapter, and
• Mrs. Benjamin Wyche of the Battle of Charlotte chapter.
Today the Home Site is stewarded by The Charlotte Museum of History and includes the “Rock House”, a log kitchen, and a two-story springhouse. The Home Site is a culturally significant and powerful setting for educational programs and brings to life important themes in our national history. Here students, residents, and visitors can explore the three cultures that settled the Carolina Backcountry: Catawba Tribe, European Immigrants, and African Americans, as well as the ideas and events that led to the American Revolution through Hezekiah Alexander’s political career and the influential Southern Campaign of the American Revolution.
We will post several Charlotte 240
entries each week on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A weekly email newsletter with links to the entries will be posted. We invite you to join us on this exploration of Charlotte’s history. Please like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter at @CLThistory and #Charlotte240 and sign up for our email list at www.CharlotteMuseum.org.
This project is made possible through generous grants from Wells Fargo, the Arts & Science Council, the Morrison Foundation, and donors and members of The Charlotte Museum of History.
Solving the Rock House Mysteries exhibition at The Charlotte Museum of History
Photos courtesy of The Charlotte Museum of History.