After months of restoration work, the Matthews Historical Foundation reached their goal in 2010 of renovating and restoring one of the earliest homes in downtown Matthews, returning it to a useful part of the community. The renovated building houses the new Matthews Heritage Museum and Matthews Historical Foundation office. The Museum explores the first 100 years of Matthews history.
The Massey-Clark House, built in 1880, was home to two different families, the Massey’s and later the Clark’s until 1977, when it was acquired by the Town of Matthews. Then it served as the home of the Matthews Help Center for 25 years, until 2004. The Matthews Historical Foundation acquired the home in 2009.
MASSEY-CLARK HOUSE HISTORY By Paula Lester
Located in downtown Matthews, incorporated in 1879, the 1450 square foot Massey-Clark House is one of the oldest residences in Matthews. Built in the early 1880s for Dr. Henry V. Massey, a physician and Civil War veteran, it was originally constructed as a four-square with wooden interior walls and ceilings, heart of pine flooring and a central hall to allow the best “air-conditioning” available at the time. This house design remained popular well into the 20th century.
The Massey family sold the home to C.C. and Susie Clark in 1925. The couple had five children, two who died at young ages. When the Clark’s lived in the home, Matthews was still very rural, the field next to the house was used for growing cotton. Over the years, the house received two room additions that were located on the back side and a wrap-around porch. In 1953, Paul and Lucy Clark, along with their two children Jane and Oliver, came to live with Paul’s aging mother Susie. At this time, each family occupied one side of the house. Although both families had their own kitchens at the back of the house, everyone ate together in Susie’s kitchen.
At some point, the wrap-around porch was changed to a smaller porch covered by a low-pitched roof supported by two posts. During one of the remodeling phases, the central hall was altered to allow a bathroom and closet. The wooden walls and ceilings were covered by sheet rock, some of the heart of pine floors were covered with new oak flooring and others were covered with carpet. Only one of the original fireplaces remains in the home today.
Oliver Clark died at 14 and Jane remained in the home until she left for college. When her parents died in 1976, Jane, who no longer lived in the area, made the home available to the Town of Matthews in 1977. Beginning in 1979, the Matthews Help Center occupied the house. They stayed at the Massey-Clark House for 25 years, until moving to their new location in 2004.
The Massey-Clark House remains a good example of houses that populated many small North Carolina towns by the early 1900s. In 2006, the Massey-Clark House received local historic designation by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. In 2008, the Matthews Historical Foundation, who owns and operates the Reid House in downtown Matthews, expressed interest in renovating the Massey-Clark House. In 2009, the Town of Matthews partnered with the Foundation to help make this happen.
Visit the Matthews Heritage Museum in downtown Matthews, North Carolina. For more information, visit us on the web.