Exterior of Laura's Rozzelle House
Interior shot of the dining room
Fireplace in the dining room
Not much left after the fire in 1990
Front and inside of original matchbook (courtesy of Robert McEwen)
Just north of Charlotte where Highway 16 crosses the Catawba River, sat Laura's Rozzelle House--an unassuming small plantation house that was famous for it's family-style country food.
The house was built in 1849 by Dick and Rozzelle when they ran a ferry service across the Catawba River. It was the only house in Mecklenburg County that was witness to the only Civil War skirmish in the area (the house even carried bullet hole marks from the battle). For a hundred years it served as either an inn or some type of restaurant. The building had a great feel to it--with walls and ceiling made of wide pine boards and a simple dining room of long tables and wood chairs and a big fireplace.
In the 1960's the house became "Laura's" and was famous for the cast-iron skillet fried chicken, sugar-cured country ham, candied yams, and hot "cat head biscuits" (named for their whopping girth). The biscuits were complemented by the native home-made crab-apple jelly. Everything was served family style and was all you-can-eat.
"It's hard to be strangers with someone when you've just asked him to pass the delicious candied yams. The restaurant is a century-old white frame house that sits at the foot of the Catawba River Bridge on Highway 16, ten miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina." These were the words uttered by Orson Welles in a commercial recorded for Eastern Airlines at Laura's in 1971. Eastern Airlines ran a series of commercials spotlighting several restaurants across the country. The commercial for Laura's drew many visitors that were stopping over at the Charlotte airport. It is said that when Orson was there, not only did he eat a ton of those candied yams, but also polished off two whole fried chickens.
Laura's closed in 1987. The building was designated an historical landmark, but burned to the ground in a suspicious fire in August 1990.
1976 exterior photo