Another forgotten Charlottean, William W. Smith (1862-1937) was the city’s first African-American builder and architect designing such buildings as the Mecklenburg Investment Company (MIC) building located at the corner of 3rd and Brevard and Grace AME Zion Church (he and his wife were founding members of the congregation) located a couple of doors down on South Brevard Street. He was also involved in his community through his membership in Paul Drayton Lodge # 7 (Prince Hall Affiliated Masons) in which he served in various positions in the Lodge. Although not formally trained as an architect, he apprenticed to another well known brick mason in the Brooklyn neighborhood, William Houser who taught him the ropes in designing and building beautiful buildings. A couple of examples of his work include:
Born in Mecklenburg County and living at 409 South Caldwell Street at the time of his passing he designed his own mausoleum located in 9th Street Pinewood Cemetery in the same style as the MIC Building. He, his first wife Keziah, father and sister are interred in this mausoleum:
He also designed the mausoleum for the Jones family, which is located about 25 yards away. I hope to get some more information about that family for a future article. If you want to know where I got my information from, here are my sites:
North Carolina Architects and Builders – A Biographical Dictionary, Smith, William W. http://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu/people/P000291
History of Prince Hall Free Masonary and Appendand Bodies in the Charlotte Area, 32nd and 33rd Districts by James E. Harrell, 33° (1994, Self Published)
Pictures of the MIC building, Grace AME Zion Church courtesy of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.