“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Shelby in Cleveland County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)


Circa 1852

Webbley Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
1. Webbley Marker
Inscription. These grounds are a part of the original 147 acre tract donated by James Love to form the Town of Shelby in 1841. Augustus W. Burton built the original house in 1852; J.A. and Oliver Gardner Anthony overbuilt the 1852 house in 1907. Webbley is named for Judge James L. Webb and Kansas Love Andrews Webb, who purchased the home in 1911. Judge Webb's daughter, Fay Webb Gardner, and her husband, North Carolina Governor and Ambassador to Great Britain O. Max Gardner, lived in the home from 1911 until the Governor's death in 1947. Fay Webb Gardner thereafter occupied the home until her death in 1969. Webbley was restored by the Governor's grandson, O. Max Gardner III and his wife, Victoria Harwell-Gardner, 1989-90.
Location. 35° 17.28′ N, 81° 32.346′ W. Marker is in Shelby, North Carolina, in Cleveland County. Marker is at the intersection of South Washington Street and Pinkney Street, on the left when traveling south on South Washington Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Shelby NC 28150, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Plato Durham (approx. 0.2 miles away); Cleveland County World War II Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Cleveland County World War I Memorial
Webbley image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
2. Webbley
(approx. ¼ mile away); Cleveland County Civil War Monument (approx. ¼ mile away); Cleveland County Korean and Vietnam War Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); Thomas Dixon Jr. (approx. half a mile away); O. Max Gardner (approx. half a mile away); W. J. Cash (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shelby.
Also see . . .
1. History of Webbley from Max Gardner III web site. (Submitted on October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.)
2. Governor O. Max Gardner Homepage. The Governor O. Max Gardner website is sponsored and supported by the Governor O. Max Gardner National Historical Foundation, Inc. (Submitted on March 6, 2010, by O. Max Gardner III of Shelby, North Carolina.) 
Additional comments.
1. Webbley from National Park Service web site
Webbley, more commonly known today as the O. Max Gardner House, was the home of one of North Carolina's most prominent 20th-century public leaders. A key figure of the State's famous "Shelby Dynasty," Oliver Max Gardner
Webbley image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
3. Webbley
enjoyed a distinguished career that included service as State senator, lieutenant governor and governor from 1929 to 1933. The two-story house facing south Washington Street--the original core of the current house--was built sometime between 1852 and 1855 by attorney Augustus W. Burton. Shortly thereafter, the house was sold and for the next 48 years, changed hands rather rapidly, with one exception. On April 1, 1869, Mrs. Adelaide W. McAfee purchased the property at a sheriff's sale and lived there for nearly 20 years. In 1905, J.A. Anthony, a prominent Shelby attorney bought the home and, by that point, a much reduced lot. Anthony and his wife, Ollie Gardner Anthony, initiated a Colonial Revival renovation in 1907 which totally changed the appearance of the house.

Anthony's brother-in-law and law partner was Oliver Maxwell Gardner. Gardner married Faye Webb, a member of the politically influential Webb family. In 1911, Judge James L. Webb, Faye's father, bought the enlarged house from J.A. Anthony. The Webbs and the Gardners (including two of Max and Faye's three children) moved into the home which quickly acquired the name Webbley. Gardner had spent much of his life on a farm and took pride in that lifestyle. He kept several cows at Webbly to instill the same work ethic in his sons, Ralph and James. While the boys herded the cows to pasture on the other side of town
Webbley image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
4. Webbley
Law Offices of O. Max Gardner III at Historic Webbley
Webbley has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior
and brought them back at night for milking daily, they were embarrassed by this type of labor and were known to take the cattle through alleyways to prevent discovery of their work. O. Max Gardner's first step in his climb to political fame came in 1910 when he was elected to the State Senate. After holding many other offices, he was elected Democratic governor of North Carolina in 1928. In light of the spectacular defeat of the national Democratic ticket that year, Gardner's victory was a testament to his superb political organization and personal popularity. As the state's chief executive during the first years of the Depression, he was credited with initiating programs that helped many small farmers weather the difficult times. He later served under President Franklin Roosevelt as chairman of the Advisory Board of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, and under President Harry Truman as Undersecretary of the Treasury. He was appointed ambassador to the Court of St. James, but did not live to fulfill that appointment. Much of the last 25 years of his life were spent in Washington, D.C., but Gardner always considered Webbley his home. After Gardner's death, Faye returned to Webbly to live with her sister, Madge Webb Riley. The two inherited the house as the only surviving children of Judge James L. Webb. Madge died in the early 1950s leaving Faye as sole owner of the estate. She lived at Webbley until her death in January 1969. Of her three sons, only Ralph survived and lived in the house.

Webbley is not only reflective of United States politics, but of the entertainment culture as well. Webbley was the base for Thomas Dixon's 1905 novel The Clansman, and according to Ralph Gardner, also the setting for a segment in D.W. Griffith's 1915 cinema classic The Birth of a Nation, based on this novel. In May of 1993, O. Max Gardner III and his wife, Victoria Harwell Gardner, turned the home into a bed and breakfast with a political theme. The Inn at Webbly was one of the nation's finest inns, but closed in 1998 due to an illness in the family which made operation of the inn difficult.
    — Submitted October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Categories. Notable Buildings
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,786 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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