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.

Dr. J. M. Belk House 1903 - 401 S. Hayne Street

Dr. J.M. Belk House 1903 - Heritage Room Collection
The largest and most impressive of the Neo-Classical Revival residences built in Monroe during the first two decades to the 20th century, this massive frame house was erected in 1903 for Dr. John Montgomery Belk (1864-1928), a South Carolina native, who with his brother W.H. Belk founded what was to become the largest chain of department stores in the southeast United States.

J.M. Belk received his medical degree from New York University and practiced medicine in neighboring Anson county for a number of years. His older brother, William Henry Belk, had moved to Monroe and opened a general store in 1888. Dr. Belk gave up his medical practice in the mid 1890s and moved to Monroe to join his brother in the business world. They quickly moved to open stores throughout North and South Carolina, with 38 stores operating in the two states by the time of the doctor's death.

In 1895 W.H. Belk moved to Charlotte where they had recently opened a large store, leaving his brother in charge of the Monroe store, but they often exchanged places as they took active roles in the management of the chain's operations. Dr. Belk also served the community, being a member of the city school board and the board of trustees of the Ellen Fitzgerald Hospital; the philanthropies of the Belk brothers are also well known.

The remarkably intact house, known locally as the "Belk Mansion", features a two-story, double-pile, center-hall plan main block covered by a slate hipped roof with a widow's walk. The roof extends over an engaged two-story, full-facade portico with monumental composite Order fluted columns. There is also a one-story Ionic order full wraparound porch with a porte cochere on the south elevation and a turned balustrade on both the deck and the roof. A two-story semi-circular bay on the north elevation and a two-story semi-hexagonal bay on the south also have turned balusters on the roof. Two small gabled dormers are located on the side and front slopes of the hipped roof; those on the front flank a larger gabled dormer with a Palladian window and a balustraded balcony. These dormer windows light a full attic.

On the first floor of the three-bay facade, one-story semi-hexagonal bays flank the entrance, which has a double-leaf door between full-size one over one sidelights and below a three-part transom in a paneled surround. The transom and upper sash of the sidelights have stained glass. Tall corbelled-cap brick chimneys are in interior end and interior positions, and a wide frieze is decorated with a dentil course. Extending across the rear is a one-story, L-shaped wing with an engaged porch which has turned posts and balustrade and wood lattice between brick piers. A semi-circular walk leads to the house from the sidewalk; a high hedge runs along the north edge of the property, to the line of the east edge of the house where a chain link fence begins. (National Register)

John Montgomery Belk was born in Lancaster, SC on July 12, 1864, the son of Abel Nelson Washington Belk (1833-1865) and Sarah Narcissus Walkup, who were married November 22, 1859. "During the Civil War when Union troops came thought Lancaster county, they caught Able. They thought he had hidden his Gold from them. They held him underwater in Gills Creek to get him to tell where it was hidden. Instead he was drowned." (ancestry.com)

A.N.W. Belk and Sarah Walkup had three children: Thomas Milburn Belk (1860-1875), William Henry Belk (1862-1952) and John M. Belk (1864-1928). These young boys were ages five, three and one when their father was killed in 1865.

J.M. Belk married Hallie Bennett Little (1871-1918) in 1890. By the 1910 Monroe Census, John M. and Hallie J. Belk had a house full of daughters: Nellie 19, Sadie W. 17, Mabel C.15, Daisy 12, Hallie May 10, Henry 8 and one-year-old John Elizabeth.


  1. Wasn't the original store Named Hudson Belk?

    1. "Belk pioneered inventive partnerships in order to expand his business. He saw that the south presented an opportunity for the large department store and that stores could join together to gain price concessions from manufacturers. Belk built partnerships with stores across the south. Belk’s company provided management expertise and supplied these stores with items from the company warehouses in Charlotte. Many of the stores in this chain had the Belk name hyphenated with another name such as Belk-Leggett in Virginia; Parks-Belk in Tennessee; Belk-Gallant in Georgia; and Belk-Hudson in Alabama."

  2. Under Places & Buildings in the sidebar, see: http://monroenc.blogspot.com/2012/09/william-henry-belk.html

  3. It is my belief the Belks were a NC family living on the NC-SC border and those in SC was within walking distance. My grandmother with the name is listed in the 1900 census as SC native. Potter Rd., Union Co.

  4. It is my belief that Dr. John Montgomery Belk had seven daughters - no sons.

  5. My mistake - the last two daughters were given traditionally male names - Henry and John.