Cover Story: Mid-Century Modern - Preserving Charlotte's Past

By Jeff Atkinson -  bio | email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - In our Cover Story helping preserve a part of Charlotte's past.  It's known as mid-century modern architecture.  Homes that came out of the Second World War, but now face a modern day conflict.  PrimeTime's Jeff Atkinson tells us why they're being threatened and how they're being saved.

If it looks like the house the Brady Bunch lived in, well it was built a couple years before the TV show debuted.

An architectural style known as mid-century modern.  Built after World War 2.

Homes with lots of glass.  And wood. With sunken living rooms and a part of the surroundings.

"I feel like I live in a park and this house just the way it fits into nature.. I like," says homeowner Roger Plaster.

"I like a kitchen..."

Roger Plaster fell in love with the place about a year ago.  Sought out a mid-century modern when moving to Charlotte from California.

But mid-century modern homes, thousands in Charlotte  are in danger.  Considered an architecture.. a part of the past not worth preserving.

"Because there's been so much development lately that these buildings in particular.. because people think of them as that's the house I grew up in.. I don't need to do anything about it."

Diane Althouse, Executive Director of Historic Charlotte says buildings from the mid-century modern era are in greater risk of demolition than others in Charlotte.

In fact the National Register of Historic Places puts mid-century modern on its most endangered list.

She says, "What we want to do is bring attention early as we can so that these houses survive. They're part of our heritage and history and that's why you save the buildings."

With their form and long lines.. some don't consider them attractive.  They're old enough to be old fashioned.. not old enough to be historic.

But as Historian Tom Hanchett points out that's happened before.

"The reluctance to mid-century modern buildings reminds me of the reluctance to designate Victorian buildings when I was a youngster. It's something we'll get over the sooner we get over it.. the less we'll lose," says Dr. Hanchett.

Though it's been an architecture unloved.. mid-century modern is seeing a resurregence..

A new generation of buyers coming up.. who like "the look" that their parents did.

"I think the popularity of these houses is growing.. and it's time for people to wake up and see the value of what they have," says Roger Plaster.

If you're interested in taking in the past.. Historic Charlotte has a Mid-Century Modern Home Tour.. first time ever.. going on this weekend in Charlotte.

It's Saturday-Sunday, May 16-17, 2009.

18 well-decorated homes from the period.. proceeds from the tickets go to the non-profit group, Historic Charlotte.

For more information go to 

And coming up next week, the Levine Museum of the New South is sponsoring a walking tour of Uptown Charlotte.

Thursday May 21st, 5:30pm

"South Tryon, 'Wall Street of Charlotte,'"

History and architecture along the street that money made.

Tour begins in the lobby of Levine Museum of the New South.   RSVP 704 - 333 - 1887 x501

$8 for adults, $7 for Seniors