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Withers House provides comforts of home for adult students with hectic schedules

Home away from homeWithers House, Hayworth College for Adult Studies

Imagine doing homework between classes in a plush parlor with a handy kitchen close by to heat your dinner, all in an updated historic mansion.

Adult students at Queens have those perks and more at Hayworth College for Adult Studies' Withers House, a 1904 Queen Anne-style Victorian that has 21st century comforts but maintains its connection with a rich Charlotte history.

Queens acquired the house in 2000 after the structure spent nearly a century hopscotching across the city,  adopting a new architectural style along the way.  Hayworth College remodeled the house and became its sole occupant in 2009.

A local designer and a Hayworth interior design student planned the remodeling with help from Hayworth staff.  They chose contemporary tones and furniture to give the space the special allure of a private Myers Park mansion with the coziness of one's own home.  Comfortable armchairs, warm rugs over smooth oak floors and bookcases flanking the downstairs study parlors' fireplace welcome adult students who keep sometimes hectic schedules.

A cozy kitchen complete with a coffee machine, microwave and dining table, and a computer lab with a printer give students everything  they need to meet their practical needs on campus.

Original architectural details of the house remain intact, including chandeliers and tiger-eye walnut pocket doors in the parlors, and 1930s-era hand-painted wallpaper in a downstairs conference room. Hayworth College staff occupy upstairs offices, many of which still have original fireplaces.

The house was built in downtown Charlotte on what was then East Avenue - now East Trade Street - for Benjamin Withers, a building supply merchant. When the city bought Withers' and other Charlotteans' properties in the 1920s to make way for a new courthouse, he moved the house to Selwyn Avenue in the then-new Myers Park suburb, having its façade redesigned in the Colonial Revival style to fit in with his new neighbors' homes.

After a second generation of Withers lived in the house, followed by a medical doctor, Myers Park Baptist Church acquired it.  Then the church donated the house to Queens, which moved it one block south to the corner of Selwyn and Wellesley avenues.

Hayworth College plans to make Withers even more inviting and useful for adult students, said Dean Krista Tillman. The plans include additional student clubs for networking and academic interests, and more casual social meetings between students, faculty and staff.

"It's not a staff enclave," Tillman said. "It's a student enclave."
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