‘Principle of bee-building’ applied to house design

On this day in 1869: Harriet Morrison Irwin, a frail and bookish Charlotte homemaker, becomes the first woman granted a patent for an architectural design — a hexagonal house.

One advertisement touts Mrs. Irwin’s hexagon as applying “the principle of bee-building to human architecture,” but it wins few converts.

Her model home in Charlotte’s Fourth Ward — two stories with central tower, mansard roof and arched porch — will be torn down without fanfare in the 1960s.