By Mark Price, The Charlotte Observer
A historic home in Plaza Midwood that faced demolition to make way for a road has been rescued by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.
The commission agreed last week to pay $975,000 for the Barnhardt-Cramer House, an imposing historic mansion on Country Club Lane that was built in 1938. The purchase will preserve the home at its current location and prevent redevelopment from adding any roads through the property.
News of the purchase comes at a time when historic homes in the Plaza Midwood area are facing a growing threat from projects that want to use the highly valued acreage for newer, pricier homes. Among the latest examples is the 104-year-old VanLandinghame Estate, which could be leveled to make way for townhouses. The estate sits on five acres.
The Barnhardt-Cramer house faced a similar threat, but the property developer worked with historians after it was determined a connector road would have to be put through the house.
“It would definitely have been destroyed if the commission had not bought it,” said a Facebook post from Dan Morrill, of the historic landmarks commission.
Preservation work on the home will begin in coming months, Morrill says. If all goes as hoped, the commission will put the property on the market in the summer, after placing preservation covenants in the deed to stop demolition in perpetuity.
The home was originally the centerpiece of a 15-acre estate and is considered a “sophisticated example of the revivalist style,” said Morrill. The architect was Martin E. Boyer Jr. During the 1920s and 1930s, Boyer was the designer of many of Charlotte’s most elegant homes.
It once belonged to two of the city’s most prominent families: The Barnhardt family of Barnhardt Manufacturing Co., and the Cramer family of textile industrialists.
Charles E. Barnhardt was a prominent business and civic leader in Charlotte. Tragically, he never had the opportunity to live in his magnificent Plaza Midwood home. “He drowned in the pond on the estate while inspecting the construction of the grounds with his wife Edna on May 26, 1938,” said Morrill.
In 1948, George B. Cramer and Elizabeth Crooks Cramer purchased the house, and members of the Cramer family lived there until 2016. George Cramer was the son of textile engineer and industrialist Stuart Cramer, for whom the Gaston County town of Cramerton is named.
Money to buy the house and four adjacent lots came from the landmark commission’s Historic Preservation Revolving Fund.
This year, the fund helped save the Phillips House and the Morris Barn in Matthews, as well as the Delburg Mill House in Davidson.
The Edward Rozzel Farm is under contract for preservation using money from the fund.