The Captain Charles McDowell, Jr. House
at Quaker Meadows
The place name “Quaker Meadows” was given to the area by Joseph McDowell (1715-1771). He received two Crown Patents in 1849 and 1780. The acreage in the earlier grant contained a large meadow. Joseph named the area Quaker Meadows after his home in Frederick County, Virginia.
On this property, Joseph’s sons, Revolutionary War leaders Charles and Joseph, gathered the Overmountain Men on September 30, 1780. These patriot soldiers from Virginia, current-day Tennessee, and Wilkes and Surry Counties in North Carolina, met under a giant oak tree now known as the Council Oak and laid plans leading to the defeat of the loyalists under British Major Patrick Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain, a turning point of the Revolutionary War in the South.
The house at Quaker Meadows was built in 1812 by Captain Charles McDowell, Jr. in anticipation of his marriage the following year to his cousin, Anna McDowell of Pleasant Gardens. By1850, Charles and Anna had created a thriving estate of over 1500 acres including 52 enslaved people. Here they reared their six children and three orphaned relatives, including Harriet Epsy, future wife of two-time North Carolina Governor (1862-65) and (1877-79) Zebulon Baird Vance.
The house was a center of social activity in antebellum Burke County. Both Charles and Anna died in 1859. Their only surviving son, Colonel James Charles McDowell, was killed in action during the Civil War.
An outstanding example of vernacular federal style architecture, the house was constructed of brick made on site and laid in the Flemish bond pattern on a foundation of coursed granite rubble. It features a corbelled brick cornice and tall exterior end chimneys. Window and door openings are topped with flat jack arches. Built on the “Quaker” or “continental” floor plan typical to Pennsylvania and the Shenandoah Valley, it has twin entries both front and back, one large room on one side of an enclosed stairway, and two rooms on the other side. One of several Catawba Valley plantation homes built on this plan, Quaker Meadows is the oldest known brick structure in Burke County. The bricks were handmade at Quaker Meadows.
The elaborate mantel and wainscoting in the parlor are thought to have been brought up from Charleston because the work workmanship is more sophisticated than that found in the other rooms or other early houses in the area.
Wallpapers used in the house are reproductions of patterns from the period 1810-1840 and were donated by the manufacturer, Twigs, of Venice, California.
Donated to Historic Burke Foundation by Crescent Land and Timber Corporation in 1986, the house has been restored to its 1812 appearance, and the detached kitchen, known as the Kistler Kitchen, has been reconstructed on its original foundation.
A lovely kitchen garden, located at the rear of the house, is maintained by the Mimosa Garden Club
Each September, Historic Burke Foundation, along with community volunteers, descendants of Burke County Revolutionary War patriots, Overmountain Victory Trail Association members, and the public, commemorate the September 1780 gathering under the Council Oak at Quaker Meadows. Events include Living History Days for Burke County 4th graders, a commemorative Crossing of the Catawba River at Greenlee Ford, and an afternoon of colonial activities at the Captain Charles McDowell, Jr. House.
The house is open for tours by appointment with the required advance notice. Donations of $5 for adults are welcome (free for children aged 12 and under). It is available for private events and meetings with a rental fee, deposit, and staff. Please contact us for details.