World War I began in Europe in 1914. When America joined the fight on April 6, 1917, there was a need to mobilize troops quickly. Charlotte, after much deliberation, was chosen to get a camp on July 13, 1917. The military selected the southwest part of the county as the most suitable location, and work to build a camp began almost immediately. Since most of the area chosen was very rural, there were very few existing buildings for the government to use.
The James C. Dowd home, built in 1879, was chosen as the temporary headquarters, partly because of its high elevation, which would provide a nice view of the camp. Additions were built on the house for the many offices that were needed. Later, the headquarters was moved to another nearby home, but the Dowd house remained the office for construction.
The home was sold after the war and returned to civilian use. The Cook family, who owned the house for the next fifty years, added a heating system, electricity and bathrooms. A basement was dug by hand, and the many additional offices were demolished. Property around the house was sold off, and the lot became comparable to other homes in the neighborhood.
To read the historic survey and research report for the house, please go to:
. The report, completed in 1978, does not show the current owner of the property, the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department.
Come take a virtual tour
of the first floor of this historic house and the surrounding grounds as it looked in 2001.