The Emma Corbett Thomas Residence at 910 Courtland Street in Westerwood is one of a small number of housetypes in Greensboro popularly referred to as an Airplane Bungalow.
Mrs. Thomas was the first occupant of this home. She was the widow of David Elzavan Thomas. David was a great-nephew of the founder of Thomasville, and was among the first to establish a retail store in Greensboro. He had a large family with his first wife who passed away in 1900. At 56 years old, David married 25-year-old Emma in 1905, and the couple had one child, David Jr. Their extended family resided in a rental house on North Davie Street until David Sr.’s death in 1923, at which point they relocated to this splendid Airplane Bungalow in Westerwood.
The Airplane Bungalow is a rare variation of the Craftsmen Bungalow that graces 1920s neighborhoods across the nation. The subtype earned its name in having a second floor that was largely wrapped in windows. Craftsmen designers loved generous windows because they admitted a great deal of light and air, which was seen as a health benefit in the wake of influenza and typhoid epidemics earlier in the century. In the case of Airplane Bungalows, the window-wrapped second floor, to some war-weary Air Force veterans, resembled the feeling of being in the cockpit of an airplane. This is one of the only Airplane Bungalows in Greensboro.
Emma Corbett Thomas was a native of Wilmington. Immediately after her husband’s death, she purchased the house on Courtland Street that was likely built speculatively by developer A. K. Moore and financed through a mortgage held by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company for $10,000. For unknown reasons, payments had fallen behind by 1932 and the insurance company foreclosed on the property. Emma and David moved to the West End neighborhood of Winston-Salem. A few years later young David got married and moved to Florida where he worked on an Air Force base. His mother returned to her home in Wilmington where she passed away in 1938.
The property passed through several different owners, including Jessie and Oscar Sapp and Margaret and Paul Courtright. Lisa Rouchard has owned the house since 1992. Note the use of large windows that allow copious amounts of sunlight into the home, and the charming staircase that leads to the second floor. Be sure to enjoy the panoramic views from the second floor “cockpit”!
The 2014 Tour of Historic Homes and Gardens will feature a total of eight vintage homes in the Westerwood neighborhood. The tour will also include the “Village Fayre”, an event that will include food trucks, live music and arts and crafts venues on Saturday, May 17th. Tickets are available online through the link below, or at The Extra Ingredient (Friendly Center) and Brown and Gardiner (N. Elm Street).
Stay tuned to our website, this blog and our Facebook page for additional tour information!