Thursday, February 14, 2008

Laura's Rozzelle House **HALL OF FAME EATERY**

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.


REVISIONS-- 8-2-2008

1976 exterior photo

Revisions 10-16-11

1968 ad




1973 ad

1977 photo

18 comments:

  1. We have a place similar to Laura's up here called The Homeplace. It's very popular, though a little out of the way.

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  2. I'm not from NC but ate at Laura's once, January 1975, and it was memorable, in the best sense of the word. I have been telling my husband about Laura's since we met in 1978. I regret that I didn't take him there before it closed.

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  3. My dad was told by the man who owned the property when it "suspiciously burned" that he was going to burn the place down because he wanted to use the property...and he did.

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  4. It was a wonderful place. My family used to go there and also to the Riverview (to see Capt Windy). Good memories.
    Karen in central Florida

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  5. I grew up eating at Laura's . I just found this and it so exciting to see the house again. Do you remember the crazy bus that sat outside near the restraunt. I have been trying to find out more about it. If you have any information on that white bus contact me at customcory1@hotmail.com It was the best food in the world, the atmosphere, before air conditioning, the front screen door. I always got fried chicken. My parents took me and my brother there all the time. We lived in Shuffletown then. Wonderful site and information.

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    1. I'm the KB in florida Dec 8 2011 note, do't remember the bus - but you mentioned Shuffletown, my brother used to race there in the late 50's and early 60's ! Frank Bishop - he loved the area as well as laura's. Karen

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    2. KB , my father raced there in the late fifties. I will mention Frank Bishops name and see if he remembers something! Thanks for replying. Cory Vaughn.

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  6. I remember going when I was 16, around 1980 or so. My greatest memory was of the pictures of Fleetwood Mac, when they had stopped by in 1977 to eat. There were autographed pictures on the wall of many celebrities. How sad....

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  7. I grew up in this house my Mom and Dad owned the business from 1969 to closing. I cleaned on Saturday's when I was a kid and then moved up to break green beans peel yams debone and prepare Country Ham make biscuits fry chicken. Wow alot of memories, My Mom and Dad are deceased now but we spent alot of time at Laura's. We prepared everything that we could Fresh and done things the old fashion way. hey by the way I was working the nite Fleetwood Mac came in they were to perform in Charlotte and Stevie Nicks had a eye infection or something and the band came to eat with us.

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    1. Oh my goodness - great memories! I remember that visit. PS: I beg of you - is there any way you would share that fried chicken recipe?

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  8. The house was a southern rural style plantation house built in 1849 by Richard A. Rozzelle and his wife Elizabeth. In 1865 Union troops from Lincolnton set the plank road bridge crossing the Catawba river below the house ablaze and skirmished with a cavalry unit in Richard Rozzelle's front yard. There were minnie ball shots lodged in the side of the house. Just weeks before Jeff Davis and what was left of his Confederate government crossed the bridge fleeing from Richmond.

    There is a similar house built in 1881 by a son Edward about a mile SW.

    Its too bad people in Charlotte don't really care about their history. A bronze plaque in the sidwalk is good enough.

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  9. I am living in Lincoln, CA now, and am 91 years old. My granddad Augustus Rozzelle was born in this house. He helped his dad farm and operate the ferry. When he married my grandmother, Ella Cannon his dad gave him some land and built a house for them. After my Granddad died my grandmother sold her land to the Duke Power Co. I have a picture of her house. It was where my Mother Perrye Rozzelle and brother Clarence Excell were born.
    I had dinner at Laura's Inn when I was 16 years old and visiting from Ky. I ate so much I could not get up off the chair, so my brother lifted me off and put me in the parlor where I fell asleep.

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  10. Thank you so much for this trip down memory lane. I just discovered your site, but I will visit often. Where did you get your photos? Sometime, we need to talk. Judy Rozzelle

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  11. My wife & I had our 1st Date at Laura's on Nov. 6, 1971! We married 2 mons. & 1 day later & have been together for 42 years now. The charm worked. We had 8 kids together & now have 11 Grandkids! God has been good to us!

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  12. Cory, The 'bus' you were asking about was next to Laura's at a place called Hubie's Bubble Up-- a wild biker bar.long gone now. The bus was apparently towed away and crushed . It was quite a sight itself. A double decker with a roof off a Hudson.

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  13. I ate there many times as a student at Davidson. I just searched it hoping to eat there and see if it was as good as I had remembered. Sorry to hear it is no longer.

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  14. i remember that bus! with the giant tail lights and bubble on top. awesome!

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  15. We had Thanksgiving dinner there one year(mid 80's). I never had a chance to return, but if was the best Thanksgiving dinner I have ever had. Thanks for sharing.

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