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November 22, 2022

Mr. Hill is home again

By Kailey Truczinskas

Lincoln Heights historical map

Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing cities to date, filled with rich history and aggressive urbanization. Its expansion has come with positive momentum but at the expense of historic neighborhoods.

Marvin Hill has lived in Charlotte his entire life. His father purchased Marvin’s childhood home in 1952 in Lincoln Heights. This neighborhood sits right along Beatties Ford Road, once a stretch of dirt now filled with concrete similar to the highways developed all around it. The road starts north of Uptown at Johnson C. Smith University and runs north to Lake Norman. Over the last few decades, many African American families moved to the area surrounding Beatties Ford Road.

In the 1920s, several neighborhoods, including Lincoln Heights, were developed, and planned by Southern Realty and Development Corporation, who intended to create all-white sub-divisions, but two distinct communities emerged instead. The African American community aided Lincoln Heights’s fast pace growth but this didn’t happen until the 1950’s and 60’s. Around this time, Marvin Hill’s father purchased their home, but unfortunately, like many African American men, he was significantly overcharged for the property.

The portion of the map showing Mr. Hill’s neighborhood on the right is from a 1949 Charlotte plot map.

Despite extensive gentrification and constant changes over the years, Marvin’s father kept the home in the family. He added a small addition to the back of the house for Marvin’s two older brothers. Marvin recalled that his father liked to keep dogs around the home, particularly beagles, because hunting was a favorite pastime.

After the passing of his father, Marvin took ownership of the house in 2002 and, at that point, knew its physical condition was in critical shape. “The roof was falling in, so I prayed about it, I let go and let god and that is when everything started happening,” said Marvin.

Marvin originally heard about Habitat Charlotte Region’s Critical Home Repair program through friends and family, but it wasn’t until a city official reached out to him that he decided to partner with Habitat Charlotte Region to bring his home back to health. After doing so, Marvin received a call from Charles Monroe, Habitat Charlotte Region’s Critical Home Repair Manager. With support from the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, the Critical Home Repair team got right to work on Mr. Hill’s beloved home.

Marvin Hill's roofline

Completed repairs on Mr. Hill's roof and chimney

Mr. Hills Kitchen

Sunlight brightens Mr. Hills renovated kitchen sink and counter

Portrait of Mr. Hill

Due to the age and condition of Mr. Hill’s home, the repairs were extensive. From a roof and floor replacement due to termite damage and rot to a bathroom renovation and additional electrical and plumbing repairs, Mr. Hill had to temporarily relocate while the work was being done.

With the right resources and strategic planning, the Habitat construction crew was able to fully repair Marvin’s home and now, he can continue living in the place he’s called home his entire life. When asked how he feels knowing he gets to keep his childhood home, Marvin said, “I am very excited about it! That’s my home – where my mom and dad raised me, and I have a lot of fond memories of that property.” He looks forward to moving back in with his boys, enjoying time with them, laying back, and having a good life.

“Life is not about you, it’s about what you can do for other people, and for that, I am eternally grateful.”

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