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Cornelius News

Leading historian is hopeful sharecropper house will be saved

Jan. 12. By Dave Yochum. It’s looking like a historically significant sharecropper house on the Alexander Farm development site will be moved in time for construction to begin on the multimillion-dollar mixed-use project on 55 acres at Westmoreland and West Catawba.

Historian Dan Morrill, Preserve Mecklenburg’s consultant, says the group may have the wherewithal to move the one-story frame structure.

Historian Dan Morrill was honored by the Arts & Sciences Council in 2012

Where it goes is another question.

Extremely rare

The town is working with a “number of partners, both public and private to identify potential sites,” said Deputy Town Manager Wayne Herron.

The tenant structure is significant because so few are left in a once agricultural county where sharecropping was commonplace.

“We have a lot of farmhouses, but the tenant houses are gone,” Morrill said.

Wayne Herron

The building is apparently being saved because of a watershed survey that was conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers. According to federal rules, a historically significant building can’t be disturbed until there is a plan to move it.

Inspection Thursday

A structural engineer will inspect the structure on Thursday to make sure it can be moved, Morrill said.

Morrill said Preserve Mecklenburg has $15,000—available from the developer—and another $5,000 from an anonymous donor.

It’s unclear exactly how much it will cost to move the building because a site has not been identified.

Why last minute?

If it all seems last-minute, Herron says the town has been had its eye on the 55-acre farm soon after farmer Eugene Alexander passed away in 2014.

Alexander Farm at Westmoreland, Catawba

“The Town, since 2015, through our Historic Preservation Committee, has identified the structures on the Alexander Farm as significant and has sought to have the family allow for historic evaluation, or at a minimum, allow historical documentation of the structures. The Town has been repeatedly denied due to concerns of how historic designation may impact the development and sale of the property,” Herron said. 


Morrill said he is encouraged that the Town of Cornelius is considering the possibility of partnering with Preserve Mecklenburg in developing a preservation strategy for the tenant house.


The property changed hands in the last 30 days for an undisclosed amount, but the asking price was $18 million before being reduced to $12.5 million.

Interestingly, the plan for the property includes a 3.2 acre park. There are also two town-owned properties within walking distance: Westmoreland Athletic Complex and Robbins Park. Morrill said the cost to move a structure is largely determined by how far it must travel.

“It’s logical and appropriate to go to a site in Cornelius,” Morrill said.

The sharecropper house is in the upper left corner of parcel 00511105


17 Responses to “Leading historian is hopeful sharecropper house will be saved”

  1. Thought; Could this piece of Cornelius History be restored and kept in Cornelius? Historical value….catalyst for Civil War Era civic education? ( example was this a sharecropper or tenant farmer house.?). During those difficult times for our country the practice was not race centric…..was family survival centric. . Just a thought to teach…explain….help better understand “ our History”.

    Posted by William Beophey | January 12, 2022, 1:46 pm
    • This structure should not be renovated to look better. If displayed, it should have a plaque describing how shameful it was that our nation treated human beings so badly.

      Posted by Karen Asche | January 12, 2022, 3:47 pm
      • So true, Karen. If it’s preserved, the history should be preserved as well.

        Posted by Paulette | January 12, 2022, 4:19 pm
      • Pfft. Karen… you live in the best nation on Earth for human rights. And other nations that do well…have been protected by the blood of our people in various wars and pattern their governments after ours. Do you not know this?

        The problem in not US, Karen, or our nation….its humans. Humans throughout time and across all continents, cultures and races, there have been many terrible abuses. If you increased your education of world history and politics you would know this and stop thinking “we” are bad. We are pretty damn good. Not perfect…but we continually work at it.

        Posted by Nils Lucander | January 12, 2022, 5:05 pm
  2. Can it be placed in either of the Cornelius parks restored or ad a center piece in the new development.

    Posted by Linda Boyer | January 12, 2022, 3:03 pm
  3. This structure should not be renovated to look better than it is. If displayed, it should honestly show how badly our country treated people. It’s long past time to face the shame of our past and pledge to be better people.

    Posted by Karen Asche | January 12, 2022, 3:51 pm
  4. This is my grandparents house in Davidson. A Postmaster, head of the State ABC Board and 3 Mayors came out of this home. Sharecropper or otherwise, this is how folks lived. Hope they can save this structure.

    Posted by Rusty Knox | January 12, 2022, 6:14 pm
    • I hope it can be saved as well. And when it is, a plaque should be placed on it reading: “This home produced three mayors, a postmaster, the head of the NC ABC board and numerous other successful people.”
      It could be of tremendous value in educating the young, naive and privileged such as Karen.

      Posted by Lynn wikson | January 12, 2022, 6:43 pm
  5. The picture I tried to post did not post. Sorry for the confusion

    Posted by Rusty | January 12, 2022, 6:16 pm
  6. A worthy historic preservation. I agree with Karen Asche – preserved but do not enhance it to belie how it was lived in and love and used as a residence for the sharecropper farmers that, we, as a community and nation depended upon as cheap labour!
    Even thought there is a need for contributions to secure the home for moving and the actual move itself, there is NO mention as to where one might send contributions. A lack of community involvement vis-a-vie contributing to this project is not a good sign. Please publish how to contribute to this most worthy project!
    PS: Rusty, here-to-fore most of our leaders have come from humble beginnings – bravo for pointing that out, however,I think it churlish to rebuke Karen as naive, young and privileged.

    Posted by Nancy Brand | January 12, 2022, 7:30 pm
  7. Post-script:
    Rusty, apologies, I meant to say, “I think it churlish of Lynn Wilson to rebuke Karen Asche as naïve, young and privileged”. Left that out by mistake in my not so perfect typing – fingers move slower than brain!

    Posted by Nancy Brand | January 12, 2022, 7:51 pm
  8. Once we all vented -which is good in most ways….there is some way to preserve this historical building! That is one big step…now let’s get together on where and then move one step at a time on the rest-I am grateful.

    Posted by Sue WH | January 12, 2022, 8:46 pm
  9. It seems that Latta Plantation in Huntersville would be a logical place for this important structure.

    Posted by Rodney Graham | January 13, 2022, 7:22 am
  10. I agree with you Karen. Niils Lucander why so defensive about the truth? I think we all know that the US is not the only country that abuses humans on a daily basis.

    Posted by Deanna Pelucio | January 13, 2022, 12:08 pm
    • This debate is so tiresome. It’s a historic home for many reasons. Preserve it. Lotta Plantation would seem a logical relo IMO

      Posted by TC | January 14, 2022, 8:27 pm
      • What decision was made by the HughTorrance property on Gilead, if any? I know it’s not Cornelius but the Town does not seem too concerned with preserving it.

        Posted by James Simpson | January 17, 2022, 7:27 pm
        • Historian Dan Morrill responds: Several sites are being considered, including the Hugh Torence House and Store on Gilead Road. Rural Hill has expressed an interest. But since it has been in the Cornelius area for 120 years, it would be appropriate to keep it there.

          Posted by Newsroom | January 17, 2022, 8:40 pm

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