Earle Sumner Draper House
1621 Queens Rd., Charlotte
Earle Sumner Draper came to Charlotte in 1915 to work as a landscape architect, supervising the layout of Charlotte’s newest neighborhood—Myers Park. He arrived after graduating from Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts); as part of his contract, Draper agreed to offer his landscape design services as a bonus to those who purchased lots in the new neighborhood.
In less than two years, he’d earned a reputation as a talented landscape architect. In 1917 he opened his own firm, which grew to include offices in Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York. It may have been the first resident firm of a professionally trained landscape architect in the Southeast. Draper was responsible for the landscape design at numerous cemeteries, parks, and college campuses, including parts of Davidson and Winthrop Colleges.
He bought the lot on Queens Road in 1918, but it took him five years to build a home on the property. The home was designed by architect Franklin Gordon and was meant to serve as a showplace for prospective clients. It took eight months to build the Tudor-style home, at a cost of between $40,000 and $45,000.
In true Tudor style, each of the windows has 4,400 diamond-shaped leaded panes of glass. A family crest was carved out of stone and set into the chimney face. Draper, naturally, served as his own landscape architect. He took special care to design the garden to reflect the style of the home, adding an oval rose garden in the backyard.
In 1932, Draper rented out the home when he left to pursue a job as the Director of Town Planning and Housing for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He planned to return to Charlotte after a short stint in Tennessee but other opportunities, including a short stint designing war housing around the country, meant that his plans never materialized. He rented the house out for 12 years before it was sold.
The neighborhood kids used to say the house was haunted and refused to trick-or-treat there on Halloween. It is still maintained as a private residence.
© Jodi Helmer from Moon Charlotte, 1st Edition