The Poplar Apartments is thought to be the very first luxury apartment building in Charlotte, N.C. In fact, many city locals still see The Poplar as one of the most well-built, majestic multiple–unit structures in the South today. It's ironic, though, when you consider The Poplar was constructed during the tail end of the '20s boom and completed in 1930—a time when the nation underwent the drastic economic chaos of the Great Depression.
Historians note that if it weren't for the tenacity of The Poplar's first owners—Willetts Construction Co.—the five-story structure would have never been erected in the first place. But when the economic environment got worse after the stock market crash, the pertinacious Willetts faced its toughest blow: After defaulting on a loan just a few months after the apartment's grand opening, the construction firm was forced to sell the property to a local, Stephen Thomas Henderson. After that, the apartment was sold to financial company, Home Real Estate and Guaranty. The Poplar changed hands many times as the years went on, but the landmark structure retained its elegant and elaborate features.
The Poplar, located in Charlotte's trendy upscale Fourth Ward area, features design elements not normally seen in residential housing during the 1930s. For one, every apartment unit had cross-ventilation and an unobstructed view. The 39-unit building was fireproof and soundproof, and each unit was equipped with a working fireplace in the living room. All units contained a modern kitchen, with an electric refrigerator and tiled baths. Residents can even park their cars in a basement garage, which was one of the first parking garages in Charlotte.
The Poplar continued to thrive under its new owners, the Jones-Brown Realty Co., which bought the property in 1950. Jones-Brown owned the property for almost 30 years until it sold it to NCNB Community Development Corp. in 1978. Two years later, NCNB formed a joint venture with local developer SYNCO, under the name Hackberry Place Associates. During that time, the apartment was converted into condominiums, which it remains today.
Abby Garcia Telleria is a freelance writer in Costa Mesa, Calif.