by Paula Lester
Upon the death of Nancy Reid on July 25, 1986, the main topic of conversation in Matthews was “What will happen to her beautiful house?” At age 88, Nancy was Dr. T.N. Reid’s last living daughter. Edward Solomon Reid, Nancy’s uncle, built the house in 1890. After living in the home for three years, he and his family moved closer to Charlotte. Nancy’s mother, Ellie Reid Bell, bought the home from her brother in 1893. She was a widow and soon to be married to Dr. Reid. They raised Ellie’s two daughters and their own two daughters in the home.
Nancy willed the house and property to a grandniece, Sarah Redd, in South Carolina who had no desire to move her family to Matthews. Local citizens became concerned about the future of the Reid House. On Aug. 26, 1986, the organizational meeting of the board of directors of the Matthews Historical Foundation was held at the Matthews Public Library. The six members were David Lemmond Sr., Joseph Griffin, Mary Louise Phillips, Kress Query Jr., Ben Walters and John Webster. Officers were designated at this meeting: Lemmond (president), Query (vice president), Ben Walters (treasurer) and Joseph Griffin (attorney secretary).
The treasurer was authorized to open a bank account with Branch Banking and Trust Company. Griffin informed the board the law firm of Griffin and Ruff would donate the Matthews Historical Foundation corporate seal, minute book, corporate supplies and all fees expended through the Secretary of State and the local Register of Deeds for the cost of incorporation. The president volunteered his post office box 1117 at the Matthews Post Office for foundation use. After 30-plus years, that is still the Matthews Historical Foundation’s address.
In 1987, Lemmond retired and moved with his wife to the coast. Query became president, an office he retained for several years. The focus of subsequent foundation board meetings, and Query’s correspondence with Nancy’s grandniece, Sarah, was the acquisition of the Reid House. Griffin handled all the legal preparation and worked at achieving IRS 501c3 nonprofit status for the organization, which was awarded Sept. 14, 1987, thus paving the way for Sarah Redd to gift the Reid House to the foundation. This occurred Dec. 31, 1987.
We celebrate 1987 as the beginning year of the Matthews Historical Foundation, having attained IRS non-profit status and the gift of the Reid House. Of course, achieving the goal of obtaining the Reid House was just the tip of the iceberg. There was no endowment with the house and all the furniture had been removed. Immediately after acquiring the house, Query approached town council for a $10,000 loan to stabilize the property. The foundation repaid the loan within a year. Query also talked with Pete Hulsey, owner of Matthews Building Supply, and asked if they would help by furnishing materials and labor to duplicate some of the home’s ornate woodwork inside and out. Hulsey immediately sent his men down to repair, replace or duplicate the decorative woodwork and rebuild the porch, asking nothing in return. Other Matthews businesses also donated to the project.
Interested citizens got involved with the project, among them Eleanor Morris (fundraising chairman), Wayne Haigler and Aana Lisa Johnson Whatley. A 1988 fundraiser party was planned at the house with very little interior furnishings. At the party, BB&T gave the fledging foundation a $5,000 donation to help furnish and refurbish the house. Haigler donated the Victorian pump organ, dining table and buffet. Morris and her husband, Dick, attended auctions and flea markets in search of age-appropriate household furnishings. They donated the Collins Company Department Store Board Room Table, Victorian library table and dining room sideboard. Whatley donated the antique hall light fixture and other citizens donated Victorian furniture. Oriental carpets, round catering tables and chairs were purchased for the house. Contemporary Classics and Home Fashion Outlet donated the material and Dean Bigham donated her time to make window treatments.
Over the years, Nancy Reid’s sofa and other household items have been returned to the Reid House. The Matthews Historical Foundation has broadened its efforts in Matthews. Not only does the foundation have a long and successful history of maintaining the Reid House, it owns the Massey-Clark House/Matthews Heritage Museum. The foundation is committed to its mission as caretakers of the properties entrusted to them along with acting as custodians of the town’s history.
Paula Lester is the president of the Matthews Historical Foundation. Lester provides readers with an in-depth look at one of the town’s historical aspects.