History and images have been compiled from various sources including, among others, the 1987 National Register of Historic Places, Stack & Beasley's 1902 Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Union County Public Library (Patricia Poland, Genealogy & Local History Librarian), the Heritage Room Photo Collection, North Carolina Map Collection, Rootsweb - An Ancestry.com Community and Ancestry.com family histories.

A.A. Laney and George S. Lee

Laney-Lee House - Early Photo - Heritage Room Collection
The House
Laney-Lee House circa 1858 - 202 E. Windsor St.
National Register of Historic Places - 1987 Residential Historic District Nomination

"The earliest section of this large two-story frame house is said to have been built in 1858 for cotton planter and merchant A. A. Laney (1824-1902), who owned substantial tracts of land in Union county and operated a sawmill, a tannery and a saddle and harness shop in Monroe. Patternbook Greek Revival interior trim in the front section of the house provides confirmation of this date.

Patricia Poland photo - Church St. view
"After the death in 1909 of Laney's widow, their daughter moved into the house with her husband George S. Lee (1857-1931). The latter was a prominent local merchant, a founder with his brother James H. Lee of the Lee and Lee general store; in the last years of his life, Lee engaged in dairy farming. The Lees expanded and remodeled the house several times over the next twenty years after they occupied the house, with local contractor G. Marion Tucker carrying out much of the work.

"Owned and occupied today by several Lee daughters and a cousin, the house has a double-pile main block topped by a high hipped roof with a central hip dormer, a two-story pedimented bay on the east elevation, a two-story ell on the rear which extends beyond the west elevation of the main block and one-story enclosed porches along the full length of the west elevation. Tall single-shoulder brick chimneys with decorative caps bracket the front block; three additional chimneys with similar caps are in interior locations. The three-bay facade has a central projecting vestibule entrance with a transom above double-leaf doors.

Windsor Street view
"Spanning the facade and continuing along the east elevation to a porte cochere is a one-story porch whose original supports and balustrade were replaced with wrought iron in 1963. Windows have a variety of arrangements and sash patterns, including one over one, two over two, and six over six, as well as diamond and lozenge patterned sash in the dormer. Two huge magnolia trees flank the front walk and hide the front of the house. West of the house is a paved parking lot; it is the former site of the J. Frank Laney House, which was demolished in the 1960s.

"Garage, rear of 202 E. Windsor St. circa 1915 - Frame two-car garage topped by standing seam tin hipped roof; has exposed rafter ends and louvered cupola with weathervane."

Augustus Alexander Laney (1823-1902)
was born November 25, 1823, in then Mecklenburg County, to Archibald Laney and Susannah Blakeney. "A. A." Laney married Mary Elizabeth Pistole April 1, 1858 (he was twice her age 34 & 17). Mary Elizabeth (1840-1909) was the daughter of Charles B. Pistole and Margaret Williams of then Anson County.

In the 1850 census, 24-year-old Alex A. Laney was farming with his father in Union County. By 1870 he became partner of  E.A. Armfield in the firm Armfield & Laney. The firm "did an immense business and contributed much towards the growth of Monroe."

George S. Lee - (Stack & Beasley)
George Samuel Lee Sr. (1857-1931)
was born in South Carolina, March 27, 1857 to Thomas Newton Lee (1831-1900) and Rebecca S. Collins. On November 23, 1887, George married Mary Margaret Laney, daughter of Augustus Alexander Laney and Mary Elizabeth Pistole.

1910 Census - George S. 52, Mary L. 42, Archie L.(Archibald Laney Lee) 21, George S. Jr 18, Virginia 15, Dorothy 8, Marion 5 and one-year-old Margaret Lee.

1930 Census - George 72, Mary L. 60, Marion 23 and Margaret 19. George is noted as a farmer. Value of home $10,000. J. Frank Laney 65 (conductor for Seaboard RR), was living next door with wife Lillian 60, daughter Mary Dean 25 and servant Dora 39. This house was valued at $55,000 (demolished 1960s).

In their 1902 book, Stack & Beasley wrote, "George S. Lee is South Carolinian by birth and was reared on a farm. He followed farming until he came to Monroe in 1880 to become a salesman for Marsh & Lee. He worked for that firm until 1886, when he opened up a clothing store. in 1896 he joined his brother, James H. Lee in the large dry goods house of Lee & Lee. In May 1901, Mr. Lee was elected alderman from the fourth ward and is one of the most popular officials the city ever had. In his public and private life Mr. Lee is one of the purest and best of men."

Lee & Lee
LEE & LEE - (Stack & Beasley book)
Stack & Beasley 1902, "When a stranger drops into the handsome building opposite the southwest corner of the public square, he will receive all the favorable impressions usually conveyed by an up-to-date city store. This handsome new structure is the "Lee Building," just erected by Mr. Jas. H. Lee and occupied by Lee & Lee with their big stock of dry goods, millinery, clothing, shoes and hats. The building is three stories, and one of the prettiest to be found anywhere. Over five thousand square feet of floor are in use by Messrs. Lee & Lee, with double that amount available. There are more than sixty electric lights in the store room. 

The co-partnership of Lee & Lee was formed in 1892 by Mr. Geo. S. Lee, who was in business here, and Mr. Jas. H. Lee, who came from Marshville that year and bought the Heath & Williamson stock. Before the end of the year these gentlemen moved to the Bickett Building on Lafayette Street, where they continued till their recent removal to the Lee Building. Mr. J.H. Lee is the manager, owing to the fact that Mr. G.S. Lee's health necessitates his spending much of the time out of doors. Mr. Lee employs a force of ten clerks even during the dull seasons. Beside the active work of his own business, Mr. Lee is connected with other business enterprises. He had rendered invaluable service in the construction of the handsome new Methodist Church. He is a most public-spirited and progressive citizen, always in the lead when work for his town is to be done."

2 comments:

  1. This evening, the church that owns this house petitioned the Monroe Historic Committee to demolish it. The committee had no legal choice but to grant the petition but put a stay of 180 days to try to find someone willing to take on the cost of moving the house and renovating it. It may not be around much longer as a result.

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  2. I'm saddened to find out this wonderful old house is slated for demolition - not only because I hate to see historical structures lost, but also because my parents were friends with Marion and Margaret Lee and their sister, Dorothy "Dot" Lee Redwine; I have wonderful memories of visiting this home as a child during the 1960s. The Lee sisters were so gracious, and visiting their home was like a trip back in time to old-fashioned Southern hospitality; they were also the only people I knew who had a pomegranate tree in their yard! Occasionally I played with Dot's granddaughters when they visited from New York; Dot's grandson, Chip, enjoyed quail hunting with my dad on the Lee's farm in Union County. What a shame that this house will soon exist only in the memories of a few people.

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