C.C. Coddington’s business prospered, paralleling the growth of the city itself. Ironically, it was the streetcar, not the automobile, that first made it possible for society’s well-to-do to move to new communities known as suburbs. In 1917, Coddington hired London-born architect William Peeps to design his home to be located on an ample corner lot at East Morehead Street and Berkeley Avenue in the heart of the suburb known as Dilworth. Peeps’ commission was to design a residence patterned after Mrs. Coddington’s family home in Pennsylvania and to that end he fashioned the gracious and stately clapboard mansion and grounds that stand today.
Built in 1917, the story of the Inn actually begins in the year 1907 when a Northerner, Charles Campbell Coddington, was granted exclusive rights to distribute Buick automobiles in the Carolinas. As the story goes, Coddington was driving from New Jersey to Charlotte in the first Buick south of the Mason-Dixon Line, when he happened to stop at a local drug store in Greensboro, North Carolina. There he laid eyes on the eighteen-year-old Marjorie Lyon, herself a native of western Pennsylvania. It is said that Coddington was so taken with the young beauty that he put his business on hold until he could meet her. Their courtship blossomed and Marjorie and Charles were married the next year. After their marriage, the Coddingtons moved to Charlotte in 1908.
Tragically, however, our romantic story ends far too soon, as Mrs. Coddington died in 1925 of a heart attack, during her eleventh pregnancy, leaving three young sons. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Coddington sold the Morehead Street house and purchased the Duke Mansion in Myers Park. Coddington’s own life was cut short when he too died tragically aboard a yacht in the Pamlico Sound in 1928.
Remarkably, the residence that became known as the “Old Coddington House”, managed to survive. While other similar properties on Morehead Street eventually gave way to the needs of commerce, the Coddington house remained a private residence until 1980. Opened to the public as the Morehead Inn in 1984, the house once again began to experience the acclaim and appreciation of its many visitors. Subsequently the property’s significance was recognized by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, and the entire Dilworth community, Charlotte’s first street car suburb, has been designated a National Trust Historic District.
Until next week!
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“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass