Historic Salisbury Foundation 43rd Annual October Tour
10:00 am - 7:00 pm
On October 13 and 14, 2018, Historic Salisbury Foundation offers a look at the impact of the railroad on the area’s development during this year’s OctoberTour. Ride the trolley—or, maybe an antique fire engine–from the Square in Salisbury along Main Street to the former plaza in Spencer. It is a ride through history beginning with Salisbury’s nineteenth century downtown, through Salisbury’s first suburb, North Main Street, and on to Spencer, the area’s economic engine at the turn of the twentieth century. Visit the historic Spencer Shops (now the NC Transportation Museum), stroll through Spencer’s historic district and visit several of its notable houses. The tour sites tell the stories of those whose lives and labors have shaped the character and the historic fabric of these communities. The architecture reflects the history, literally and figuratively.
For detailed tour information, sponsorship opportunities, photos of the sites and to purchase tickets, visit www.octobertour.com.
2018 OctoberTour Sites:
1896-1935 The Spencer Shops – Salisbury Avenue, Spencer
The Spencer Shops, now home to the North Carolina Transportation Museum, played an important role in the economy of Rowan County from their inception in 1896 through World War ll. At its peak, the railroad shops employed between 2,000 and 2,500 people, many of whom lived in Spencer. The Town of Spencer was founded to house railroad employees and grew along with the railroad shops for decades. The significance of the facility to this area cannot be overstated. The Spencer Shops, sited midway between Washington and Atlanta, were Southern Railway Company’s most important railroad repair facility. The facility was “state of the art” from the beginning—with electric lights and all the modern conveniences of the era. It was continually improved and added onto until diesel powered engines rendered the steam engine obsolete. Spencer Shops scaled back in the ‘50s, fully closing July 1960.
The buildings fell into disrepair. Southern Railway Company gave the site to the State of North Carolina in the late ‘70s. While several of the original facilities were demolished, the remaining buildings from the complex, especially the Back Shop and the Roundhouse, are considered the most important example of transportation history in the state. The facility was landmarked and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
It seems fitting that the derelict shops became the North Carolina Museum of Transportation; its first exhibit opened in 1983. The Transportation Museum gradually restored the remaining buildings including the impressive 37 stall Roundhouse. The newly renovated Back Shop won an HSF Preservation Award in 2017. The Museum has been an excellent steward of the Spencer Shops—its buildings, its trains and its history. It will be on OctoberTour for the first time in 2018—tour goers will be able to take a trolley ride through the facility and visit any or all of its exhibits.
c. 1910 J.K. Dorsett House – 301 Fourth Street, Spencer
Situated on the corner of Fourth Street and Rowan Avenue across from the entrance to the Spencer Library, the J. K. Dorsett House is one of Spencer’s best known houses. The two-story frame house was built for banker J. K. Dorsett and his family. Its dominant style is Queen Anne with a front gable and one-story porch wrapping around the Rowan Avenue side of the house. The house also has Colonial Revival features which include the Tuscan columns on the porch and a more simplified detailing than is typical of Queen Anne’s. The combination of architectural styles creates an interesting and impressive house.
c. 1909 Eagle-Burdette House – 409 Fourth Street, Spencer
This two-story stucco house was built for W.M. Eagle, an engineer for Southern Railway who doubled as a financier for housing construction during Spencer’s early days. Eagle’s daughter, Annie Laurie, married T. R. Burdette, who worked for Southern and served as mayor of Spencer from 1953 through 1977. The Burdette’s lived in the house through the 1980s.
The Eagle-Burdette House is a fine example of the Colonial Revival style popular in the early twentieth century. It is notable for its perfect symmetry easily seen in both the house and the one-story porch which wraps around both sides. Its classical details add visual interest to the exterior and continue in the house’s interior. A couple relocating from Australia purchased the house a year ago and are in the midst of an ongoing restoration project.
c. 1910 McFee House – 509 South Carolina Avenue, Spencer
This house was given to the Town of Spencer in June 2017 by John R. McFee, who had owned the property since 1968. This two-story frame house with a hip roof and cross gables has an undistinguished exterior, thanks in part to composite siding added in the ‘50s or ‘60s. However, its historic interior remains largely intact with most wood trim, stairs and mantels remaining unpainted.
The Town of Spencer and the Salisbury Community Development Corporation (CDC) formed a partnership to renovate the house. This unconventional arrangement will help Spencer return a vacant historic house back to the market with all of the modern conveniences and restored historic charm. The renovation will be largely complete by OctoberTour.
c. 1925 Snider-Floyd House – 505 Seventh Street, Spencer
Robbie Snider, a fireman for Southern Railway, had this one-and-one-half story frame bungalow built in 1925. This attractive house complete with board and batten siding has the overall feel of an English cottage. That said, its dominant architectural features are of the bungalow style. Combinations of those two styles were popular during the 1920s and ‘30s as Spencer’s development matured and reached beyond the early town grid.
The house was renovated by the previous owners in 2010. Its current owners have continued to make improvements. They are avid collectors of eclectic art and antiques as well as memorabilia related to the house and the railroad.
c.1910 Davis-Wilhelm-McDaniel House – 910 North Main Street, Salisbury
This elaborate one-and-one-half story frame bungalow nicely illustrates the three architectural styles that characterize the early North Main Street houses. Its bungalow styling is evident from the house’s steep gable end roof with flared eaves, its front dormer and its contrasting stucco and shingled siding. The Tuscan columns on the porch add a Colonial Revival touch to the house while the projecting bay is late Victorian. The interior reflects the same mix of styles.
Easily the most charming house on the block, the Davis-Wilhelm-McDaniel House was built by A.E. Davis around 1910. By 1920, Adolphus Wilhelm, a bookkeeper for the railroad and his wife Minnie owned it until the crash of 1929. Its current owner has added an artistic flair to the cottage.
c. 1912 J.C. Cress House – 928 North Main Street, Salisbury
J.C. Cress built this two-story frame house and lived there with his family into the 1940s. The house nicely illustrates how a less fussy version of the Victorian style morphed into a Colonial Revival look. Its overall composition, notably the projecting front gable and brackets, is distinctly Victorian. Yet, the simplicity of the styling and lack of ornamentation on the house looks similar to the four-square, a popular version of the Colonial Revival style in that era.
Historic Salisbury Foundation acquired the J. C. Cress House for the Revolving Fund in 1997, selling it to Ken Weaver and Preston Sale in 1998. The house has been renovated and sold several times since. The Cress House bears the distinction of being the only house on tour this year to have been on OctoberTour previously—it was shown in 1999. It received an HSF Preservation Award in 2015.
c. 1926 F. N. McCubbins House – 1013 North Main Street, Salisbury
The F.N. McCubbins House sits on one of the more prominent sites on the east side of North Main Street. While the four-square house was influenced by the area’s bungalows, it is predominately Colonial Revival in style and appearance. It was built around 1926 by F.N. McCubbins, a well-known local realtor and businessman, and was one of the first sites (three lots in total) sold and developed in the Steeleworth subdivision, located east of the mid-section of North Main Street.
The two-story frame house was severely damaged by fire in December 2016 and was donated to Historic Salisbury Foundation a year later for its Revolving Fund. The Foundation is currently working to clear out the fire-damaged interior and to stabilize the exterior of the house. The McCubbins House, which should be on the market for sale by year end, is featured on OctoberTour as a “work in progress.”
1859 Kluttz Drug Store 3rd floor Apartment – 101 North Main Street, Salisbury
Dr. C.A. Henderson built and opened a drugstore on the northeast corner of Main Street in 1858. The three-and-one half story brick building, said to be the tallest in the state at the time, is one of the only pre-Civil War commercial buildings remaining in downtown Salisbury. Henderson left Salisbury after the War and the drugstore was taken over by Theo. F. Kluttz. Later, the Purcell family bought the building and ran their drug store on the ground floor until the mid-70s.
The building sat neglected for years. Margaret and George Kluttz along with Bill and Susan Kluttz bought it in 1985 and completed its restoration a few years later. The project received a Preservation North Carolina award in 1986. One of the Kluttz’s innovations was to convert the third floor, once home to a Masonic Temple, into a loft apartment. It was one of the first apartments in downtown Salisbury—well ahead of today’s trend in downtown living. The original loft apartment was on OctoberTour in 1992 and will be on again this year in its recently remodeled state.
1873 Hedrick Block Building Apartment – 101 South Main Street, Salisbury
This commercial building built in 1873 was home to Littmann & Lichtenstein Dry Goods in its early days. The two-and-one-half story brick building has arched windows on its front and south side. It was first modernized in the 1920s with the addition of two false Spanish tile mansard roofs supported by decorative brackets. Much later its façade was covered with aluminum siding—“modernized” along with many other storefronts in downtown Salisbury.
The building’s current owners acquired it in 2008; they painstakingly restored the façade and renovated the interior. It is now the home of Pottery 101 on the ground floor and an upstairs apartment for the owners. The apartment, with its original pine floors, incorporates doors and other architectural features from the original building. It received an HSF Preservation Award and was featured on OctoberTour in 2009. It returns this year with a newly built roof terrace.
1908 Historic Salisbury Station – 215 Depot Street, Salisbury
The Salisbury Railway Passenger Station, designed in the Spanish Mission Style by noted architect Frank P. Milburn, makes its eighth appearance on OctoberTour. In 1984, Historic Salisbury Foundation acquired the Station, then vacant and derelict after rail passenger service stopped in 1979. The Foundation raised funds from the local community and completed the renovation of the Station in 1993, 25 years ago. Today, the Salisbury Station receives more than 50,000 visitors a year and is notable for being a catalyst for the redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood. It is a national landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It is also recognized as one of Amtrak’s Great American Stations and has its own exhibit in the Smithsonian Museum.
This year, Salisbury Station will be the site of weekend ticket sales pick-ups and will be open as a tour site to railroad buffs and those who appreciate its grand Mission Style architecture. Tickets will be available at the window of the original ticket office!
Other Tour Activities:
On Thursday night, October 11th, the annual Patrons’ Party will provide our Patrons, Sponsors, and homeowners with a night of festive food, libations, and dancing. Stay tuned for more party updates! As a homeowner, Patron or Sponsor, enjoy catching up with friends during Tour hours at our Patron’s Porch, hosted by Trustee Emerita, Sarah Kellogg.
Friday, October 12th, Dr. Gary Freeze will be the guest speaker at our Lunch and Learn session. His talk, “Towns, Trains, and Transition: 1839-1913,” will explore the impact of the railroad on this area. The Lunch and Learn will include a field trip to the NC Transportation Museum for an early view of historic private railcars.
Saturday and Sunday October 13th and 14th during Tour hours, food and entertainment will be available at Spencer’s Library Park. Take a break from touring and enjoy lunch, craft beer and wine, as well as live musicians at the park’s gazebo. Plan to stay after tour hours on Saturday for the Plein Air Artists reception and art show on the park’s lawn where you can view and purchase works of art painted at sites throughout the Tour.