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Cornelius News

Has the tenant house really been saved?

Possible site for tenant house

March 25. By Dave Yochum. It turns out the historic tenant house on the Alexander Farm property has not officially been saved, although the parties involved privately say they are closer to an agreement.

Despite a lengthy Town statement—it was 385 words—read at the Town Board meeting Monday night, there was apparently no final agreement as to where to place the dwelling, among the last of its kind in Mecklenburg County.

Mecklenburg historian Dan Morrill late Friday morning said he was still “uncertain of the fate of the house,” but discussions are ongoing.

Sharecropper/tenant house / Photo by Jason Benavides


The developer, WIN Development, based in Florida, will clear and grade the 55 acre site—a massive undertaking that begins in April. The Town’s plan to move the structure twice was apparently unworkable.

In an email, the owners of the mixed-use project called the 385-word Town statement “disgusting.” (The statement is printed in full below.)

In question were the town’s plans to move the fragile building not once but twice—the proposed location being a new, town-owned park in the back of the property. (The town has so far ignored a Freedom of Information request on Wednesday regarding public emails between the Planning Department, WIN and Morrill.)

Morrill and others said a location right at the corner of Westmoreland and West Catawba would be better—more visible to the public and ultimately more logical.

“It makes sense to me,” Morrill said.

Dan Morrill

Sale sign went up in 2015

The Alexander Farm property went on the market it 2015, so there’s some history around the pending nature of development, grading and demolition.

“Special thanks should go to WIN Development, the State Historic Preservation Office, Preserve Mecklenburg, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, the local press, the citizens of Cornelius and North Mecklenburg, and history-minded people throughout Mecklenburg County,” Morrill said.

Town statement

“The only coordination needed with WIN Development at this time is their commitment to not tear the structure down. Town did explore options and has committed to allowing the tenant house to be placed on a future Town park

The Staff would like to thank the Town Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) for the due diligence in identifying the Alexander Farm structures as having potential historic significance.
The HPC has worked since 2015 to explore options and look to document the history that exists on the site.

The Town has been denied access to document history, up to this point. In late 2020, due to a requirement from the Army Corps of Engineers, the State Historic Properties Office was able to step in and mandate some elements of preservation for WIN development to adhere to.

The State was in communication with WIN Development and a private preservation group, Preserve Mecklenburg Incorporated (PMI). The Town was approached about assisting with the possible relocation and preservation of the tenant farm house on the Alexander property.

Due to the pending grading and development of the Alexander property, the Town did explore options and has committed to allowing the tenant house to be placed on a future Town park on the Alexander Farm for potential preservation. The Town made this decision with the approval of the State Historic Properties Office and in coordination Charlotte-Mecklenburg Landmark Properties.

The Town saw this as a win/win. The structure would only be moved once and the Town was committed to exploration of the resources for an adaptive re-use and long-term operation and maintenance.

WIN has not made this commitment, so PMI is now forced to move the structure twice to ensure protection.

The Town has been working with Mecklenburg County throughout. Mecklenburg County is equally committed to the protection of the structure and has committed to a temporary relocation of the structure until it can be moved to the Town park.

The Town and Mecklenburg County are committed to pursuing the structure’s preservation and have noted this repeatedly and shown as such through our actions to host the structure temporarily on County property and potentially permanently within a Town park on the Alexander property.

The Town continues to take pride in our commitment to the long term planning, use and care of the structure.”

Message from WIN to the town on Wednesday:

“We have been attempting to preserve this house since the start. Dan Morrill can certainly back that up. In a final attempt to get the tenant house to its final resting place, we offer to move it to the corner of Westmoreland and W. Catawba, sketch provided attached. We are offering to work with PMI to cover all costs of the move, provide a new foundation and slab, landscaping , and ongoing maintenance. This means the house only needs to move once and substantially reduces the risk of catastrophe. An easement can be created for the house or we can look at creating a parcel that we will deed to the Town, open to either. This seems like a very viable and reasonable solution and in this location people travelling the corridor will get to enjoy the house versus it being tucked way back on the property.”

Follow up

Town officials are expected to discuss the matter at next week’s Town Board retreat at the Graylyn International Conference Center in Winston-Salem.

“After a rocky few weeks, the Tenant house for all purposes is going to be fine, from my perspective. We just need a few more days to iron out the details,” said Jesse McInerney, of WIN Development.


The tenant house is sited in the upper left corner in the aerial view of the 55 acre farm. Westmoreland runs along the bottom of the image taken from Mecklenburg County property records