The Duke Mansion, 400 Hermitage Road, Charlotte, NC 28207
The Duke Mansion History
In 1915, a gentleman named Zebulon V. Taylor visited the emerging suburb of Myers Park, in Charlotte, and decided to purchase some property.
Myers Park was considered an up-and-coming neighborhood, thanks to the invention of the streetcar. Mr. Taylor built a house on the property and called it Lynwood Mansion.
At the time, Mr. Taylor was President of Southern Public Utilities–which still exists today, as Duke Energy.
Many people believe the mansion was built by its most famous owner, James Buchanan Duke, however, this is incorrect.
Duke sought out a property to continue his emerging hydroelectric business, and he also wanted to introduce his daughter, Doris, into southern society. Thus, he purchased Lynwood in 1919.
Already a highly successful businessman, Duke decided to expand the home. He added an additional 32,000 square feet to the property, tripling the mansion in size.
The original Lynwood estate makes up the east wing of the present-day mansion. Duke utilized the property to the fullest extent, and Duke University, Duke Energy, and the Duke Endowment were all ideas that he grew and developed while living on the property.
New Owners, New Ideas
When Duke passed away in 1925, a man named C.C. Coddington purchased the property the following year. Mr. Coddington owned a local radio station and a Buick dealership near town.
However, Mr. Coddington proceeded to sell the property three years later to a man named Martin Cannon.
Mr. Cannon renamed the property White Oaks shortly after he moved in, in 1929. The Cannon family was very happy at the mansion for many years.
It is believed that offers were made for the property several times, as Charlotte began to expand. But the Cannon family refused all offers and kept the property until the Linebergers purchased the home a couple of decades later.
In 1966, tragedy struck. A fire broke out on the house’s third floor and the entire top floor was destroyed. Henry and Clayton Lineberger painstakingly restored the entire level of the mansion.
It is unclear what prompted the idea, but during the late 1970s, the mansion was converted into five separate condos.
At one point, the plan was to actually divide the property up and build single-family homes on the site, but this plan was, thankfully, never carried through.
Restoring Former Glory
In 1989, Dee and Rick Ray, founders of the company Raycom Sports, toured the property, with the intention of purchasing one of the five condos within.
After going through the mansion, however, they elected to purchase the entire house instead. Over time, they converted the house into one single-family home once more.
By the mid-1990s, it became quite clear that the property was in need of continuous upkeep, in order to preserve its historic beauty. A non-profit organization was started to oversee the care, and handling of the property.
Nobody in the community recognized it by the name of White Oaks, and it was often referred to as “the old Duke mansion.” Thus, the name stuck.
Today, the Duke Mansion is still tended to by the same non-profit organization. The house became a Bed, and Breakfast and all of the proceeds go directly back into maintaining the property’s elegant rooms, and lush gardens.
Numerous charity events are held at the Duke Mansion, as well as private events, and lush weddings. The Duke Mansion continues to be a cherished part of Charlotte’s history.
The Ghosts of Duke Mansion
A Tragic Love Story
While the Duke Mansion is well known, and beloved within the community, not many people know that the property is, in fact, haunted. It is believed that there is a short period of time, between the Cannon family, and the Lineberger family when the property was owned by a gentleman named Jon Avery.
Mr. Avery was no stranger to tragedy when he lived at the mansion. His mother and sister lived with him at White Oaks, to help take care of the property, and to look after Jon. Mr. Avery’s wife had some severe mental health issues and was living at an institute at the time.
One day, a young lady contacted Mr. Avery. She was a writer, and wish to write a piece on the historic property. Mr. Avery agreed to meet with her, and provide her with a tour of the grounds.
Mr. Avery and the young lady were instantly attracted to each other and spent several hours talking while walking around the mansion. The two struck up a quick friendship.
Over time, it became clear that their feelings for each other were more than platonic. Mr. Avery fell in love with the vibrant woman. However, he would not abandon his sick wife. When the lady realized they would never be together in any legal capacity, she told him they had to terminate their romance.
Dead or Alive
Mr. Avery was utterly devastated. He convinced the young lady to meet him one last time, in the gardens on the property.
During this clandestine meeting, he spoke of his earnest love for her. He persuaded her to meet him one last time, one year later, in the same location within the garden. He made her promise she would show up, whether dead or alive.
A year came and went. By the time the young lady had become engaged to another man and was happy with her choice. However, she wanted to honor the promise she had made to Mr. Avery.
She asked her roommate to accompany her to White Oaks and to act as a makeshift chaperone. The roommate agreed but elected to stay several feet away, so as not to encroach on their privacy.
Minutes passed, and the young lady began to worry that Mr. Avery would not show up at midnight, as he had promised. Just as she elected to leave, she heard footsteps approaching from the house.
Mr. Avery appeared, clad in dark, formal clothes, and slowly made his way to meet her in the garden. She reached out to touch his arm, and Mr. Avery turned to her and spoke.
The lady watched his lips move, but heard his voice in her head, rather than out loud. Mr. Avery said, “dead or alive” before he continued walking past.
Little did the lady know at the time that Mr. Avery had died a few days prior to this meeting. Many people tended him at his bedside, where he continuously wondered out loud if he would be well enough to honor the meeting.
It would seem the love he had for the woman outweighed his desire to depart from this world after death. He had honored their agreement as a ghost.BOOK A ROOM