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Preservation News

Famous Revolutionary War house being DEMOLISHED for townhouses in Charlotte, NC!

April 16, 2018

The McDowell House was located at the intersection of S Tryon St and Beam Rd is 7001 S Tryon St in Charlotte, NC. While it wasn’t listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it very well should have been.

In 1780, this was the home of John McDowell and his wife Jane Parks McDowell.

According to CharlotteHouseHunter.com:

In October of 1780 when a detachment of British troops, that were stationed in Charlotte, were pulling out and heading to South Carolina.  At this time in the American Revolution, Savannah and Charleston had already surrendered to British control so it’s anyone’s guess where these forces were headed (Charlotte was always hostile to the British forces, which is why Cornwallis referred to it as a hornet’s nest).  As they were heading south, the ran across the McDowell plantation.

As the encounter was described in Touring North Carolina Revolutionary War Sites by Daniel Barefoot, the Redcoats set about pillaging the plantation, excusing their plunder as the “fortunes of war”.  Mrs McDowell pleaded for compassion from the captain since they are already lost so much.  The captain asked what her name was and Jane replied “McDowell.”  The commanding officer replied “that’s my name.  Where are you from?”

Like many early non-native settlers to the region, the McDowell’s were from Scotland.  Assuming that both the Redcoat Captain and Mrs McDowell were likely related, he ordered his men to cease pillaging the plantation and to restore everything as it was (talk about a good bit of luck).  The infantry then left the plantation and continued on to South Carolina.

 

After they left, Jane Parks McDowell rode ten miles on horseback, with her baby, to alert the Continental troops that the British were evacuating Charlotte, NC. This allowed them to saddle up, head them off for an attack.

Long considered the female Paul Revere. Her house stood quietly and unnoticed for over a century until BNA Homes decided townhomes needed to built on the 16 acres where the house stood.

A group, Save the McDowell House, was formed. They were determined to save the house, but unfortunately, their time ran out.

My friend, Matt Edwards, is a member of that group and took two great videos so you can see how it looked.

Unfortunately, most of the significant architectural pieces of the interior had been stripped. Matt’s interior video can be seen here. and here is his exterior video. It’s amazing how people take these, not realizing how important they will become.

Charlotte is not known for its preservation and I am sure this won’t be the last such story.

Photo courtesy of Savethemcdowellhouse.org.