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Category Archives: History

Anyone remember this building before the State took it over?

This lonely building at the corner of West Trade and South Graham Streets sits in the shadow of BB&T and Bank of America Stadiums serves as a reminder of Charlotte in its small town days.  Serving as a full service Buick dealership, it was owned by C. C. Coddington (the first C standing for Charles) it was a showcase in its day.

The Coddington Building. Picture taken January 2015 by the author.

Built in 1925 it served as his Buick Dealership (one of his officers was Lee Folger, who would go on to establish his own Buick dealership later) which was one of the first in the Carolinas.  When it was completed in 1925 at the west end of Center City Charlotte near the Southern Railway station on West Trade Street it was considered one if the finest buildings in the City. This building also housed WBT Radio (1110 AM), which Mr. Coddington brought in 1925 and used the call letters to help promote his dealership (Watch Buicks Travel).   I found this picture of the almost completed building on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Website:

Coddington Building, 1925.  Picture courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

After it was sold to the State of North Carolina and renamed the Polk Building for President James K. Polk of Pineville it was used for various state agencies until they moved out to the suburbs in the early 1990’s.  According to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Real Estate Lookup database, it was sold by the state to Trinity Capital Partners in 2006 which turned around and sold it to the Crosland Company and one of their subsidiaries in 2008. in It has stood as a lone symbol on West Trade Street of what the City used to look like; deteriorating with scaffolding that has been there for at least a decade it is a shame that the current owners try to rehab and bring it back to its glory it like they did with the old Charlotte Cotton Mills just one block over on West Fifth Street.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2017 in Buildings, History, People

 

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Confederate Memorials – Stay or go?

I’m sorry that I haven’t done a blog entry in a couple of weeks – I hope that this will get you to think.

I normally don’t get into current events on this blog, but with the events in Charleston last week and the current debate about the Confederate Battle Flag and Confederate monuments and its place in public spaces I thought I would weigh in on the debate.

Charlotte, along with many other Southern cities has their monuments to the war in many places.  If you remember my Memorial Day entry I showed the one at Elmwood Cemetery:

The Confederate Monument at Elmwood Cemetery. Photo taken by author.

The Confederate Monument at Elmwood Cemetery. Photo taken by author.

There are some small ones in the Center City – one talks about where Jefferson Davis was when he heard about the assassination of President Lincoln and another one designates the location of where the Confederate Cabinet had their last meeting before Appomattox. Both of these are on private property on South Tryon Street.  The ones that are raising a stink here are located on City and County property.

This monument located on the grounds of the old City Hall was placed there in 1977:

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Confederate Soldiers Monument on the grounds of the Old City Hall. Photo taken by Tom Vincent

This one is located near Central Piedmont Community College and was erected in honor of the 1929 veterans reunion, please note the bottom part of the inscription:

Confederate Veterans Marker at CPCC.  Photo taken by the author.

Confederate Veterans Marker at CPCC. Photo taken by the author.

All of these monuments are on either city owned or county owned property which is owned by the public and paid for with tax dollars.  Now the current debate is whether or not they need to stay on public property or not.  While I feel that they do not need to be in places such as the Old City Hall and Central Piedmont Community College, they don’t need to removed all together.

In my opinion, the perfect place for these monuments is Elmwood Cemetery which is owned by the city, but has an established Confederate Memorial at the graves of those who fought in the war and was buried there.  This way, it is out of sight of those who really don’t need to be reminded of slavery and the war and has easy access for those who feel the need to honor a time where brother fought brother. And if you really think about it, those that voted for succession were really traitors to the United States and because of the war and its aftermath, an entire region was decimated both politically and economically and an entire generation of men were killed or wounded.

If you want to read more about why the monuments were built and placed, please check out:

Still Fighting the Civil War and America Aflame by Dr. David Goldfield.  Both of these can be ordered on-line via Amazon or locally at Park Road Books.

Monuments to the Lost Cause – Women, Art and the Landscapes of Southern Memory by Cynthia Mills.

Ghosts of the Confederacy – Defeat, the Lost Cause and the Emergence of the New South by Gaines F. Foster.

Now, back to your regular programming…

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in History, People

 

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Lakewood Park

It is Sunday afternoon, you went to church that morning and you and your family are looking for something to do.  If it is between 1910 and 1933, your thoughts would turn to maybe taking a streetcar to Lakewood Park where you and your family could ride the boats on the lake,visit the other attractions or listen to a band in the pavilion located next to the lake.

Built in 1910 after the Southern Electric Company (one of the predecessor companies to today’s Duke Energy) to  built a dam and lake to cool electric turbines in nearby Chadwick Mill it soon became a recreational destination for those living in Charlotte and the surrounding area.  Of course due to the Jim Crow laws on the books at the time, Blacks were not permitted to visit the park and ads of the period made sure that Whites were the only ones who could visit the park:

Lakewood Park Ad for May 29 1915.  Photo courtesy of the Lakewood Park website.

Lakewood Park Ad for May 29 1915. Photo courtesy of the Lakewood Park website.

During the First World Way when Camp Greene was in full swing, soldiers were encouraged to visit the park, as the streetcar line ran right next to the camp; during this period Liberty Park was built for those soldiers but did not have all of the attractions that Lakewood had (like a lake!)

Unfortunately the park was closed in 1933 due to the Great Depression when people could no longer afford to visit.  The lake was drained in April 1936 when the dam holding the water in broke.  Another amusement park on this scale would not be seen in Charlotte until Carowinds opened up in 1973.  If you want to learn more about Lakewood Park, and of course where I got my information from, please check out:

http://www.lakewoodparkcharlotte.com/.  This site gives the history of the park with photographs and postcards of the era.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Story at http://www.cmstry.org this site, sponsored by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library is a great resource for local history with images, copies of documents and links to other history sites.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in History

 

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Memorial Day Musings

Today (May 25, 2015) is Memorial Day.  Today is when we celebrate those that made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country both at home and abroad.  If you want to see some more facts about this day, please check out “Rookie Notes”, which had an entry about how the day got started – it is really good reading.

Here in Charlotte we have memorials to most of the wars that Mecklenburg County has sent their sons and later their daughters to fight. Here are the ones that I found on a road trip across the county:

The American Revolution

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the Battle of Charlotte memorial, I did find this one on Beatties Ford Road just north of Sunset Road.  This commemorates the Skirmish at McIntyre’s Farm, which I am not too familiar with but will explore for a future blog post:

Plaque commemorating the skirmish at McIntyre's Farm.  This was erected by the Mecklenburg Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1901.  Photo taken by the author.

Plaque commemorating the skirmish at McIntyre’s Farm. This was erected by the Mecklenburg Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1901. Photo taken by the author.

The Civil War

Of course we have to memorialize the Civil War, after all we are in the South.  Unlike a lot of towns our Civil War memorial is located in Elmwood Cemetery.  Maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp # 1423, they have also included a plaque commemorating the Confederate Navy Yard that I thought was lost when they tore down the old convention center:

Plaque commemorating the Confederate Navy Yard.  Photo taken by the author.

Plaque commemorating the Confederate Navy Yard. Photo taken by the author.

At the entrance of the Confederate monument at Elmwood Cemetery.  Photo taken by the author.

At the entrance of the Confederate monument at Elmwood Cemetery. Photo taken by the author.

The Confederate Monument at Elmwood Cemetery. Photo taken by author.

The Confederate Monument at Elmwood Cemetery. Photo taken by author.

World War I

As we come up on the centennial of America’s entry into the war in 1917 and the building of Camp Greene on the city’s westside it is interesting that the memorial to the “Doughboys” has been moved several times since its dedication in 1923.  First located near Central High School (now Central High Building at Central Piedmont Community College) it was moved to Cecil Street (now Kings Drive) near Memorial Stadium and moved to its current location in the 1960’s. This is a monument to a war that a lot of people in the United States have forgotten but marked the beginning of the country’s exit from the isolationist stance that it held since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823:

World War I Memorial dedicated in 1923.  Photo taken by the author.

World War I Memorial dedicated in 1923. Photo taken by the author.

World War II

In the years between 1918 and 1941 Charlotte and the rest of the country enjoyed the roaring 20’s and endured the Great Depression after the Stock Market crash of November 1929.  After we entered the Second World War in December 1941 we again sent our sons and daughters this time to “Make the World Safe for Democracy”.  And again, some of our sons did not make it home.  This time the Gold Star Mothers came together in 1949 to create the World War II memorial that would be located in Evergreen Cemetery which at that time was on the eastern edge of the city:

Plaque to the World War II Memorial at Evergreen Cemetery.  Photo taken by the author.

Plaque to the World War II Memorial at Evergreen Cemetery. Photo taken by the author.

World War II Memorial at Evergreen Cemetery.  Photo taken by the author.

World War II Memorial at Evergreen Cemetery. Photo taken by the author.

Korean Conflict

The Korean Conflict, which was fought from 1951-53 is one of those wars (but was actually a “Police Action”) that we as a nation had forgot about.  But thanks to the veterans of the conflict,  Mecklenburg County has the only memorial in the State of North Carolina to those that fought and died in that conflict.  Located in the eastern part of Mint Hill, North Carolina on Fairview Road near I-485 it is a respectful place to reflect on the sacrifices made by our troops:

Wall at the Korean War Memorial showing the number of those KIA, MIA and the deadliest battles of the conflict.  Photo taken by the author.

Wall at the Korean War Memorial showing the number of those KIA, MIA and the deadliest battles of the conflict. Photo taken by the author.

My husband at the Korean War Memorial.  Photo taken by the author.

My husband at the Korean War Memorial. Photo taken by the author.

Vietnam War

At the time that the country was involved in the war, it was thought that we should not have gotten involved and those that went over and made it back home were reviled as “baby killers” and other foul names.  Over the years however, that view of those that fought in the war has changed.  A memorial dedicated to those from Mecklenburg County was built and dedicated in 1989.  Modeled on the memorial in Washington, DC it is located in Thompson Park in view of the John Belk Freeway and beside St. Mary’s Chapel.  It is a quiet, reflective place that honors those who served and died from Mecklenburg County:

Plaque at the Vietnam Memorial.  Photo taken by the author.

Plaque at the Vietnam Memorial. Photo taken by the author.

Vietnam Memorial Wall.  Photo taken by the author.

Vietnam Memorial Wall. Photo taken by the author.

I hope that everyone has had a chance to reflect on the sacrifices that were made to maintain our freedom on this day, for as someone told me “Freedom isn’t free”.

I got my information on the World War I statue from: http://doughboysearcher.weebly.com/charlotte-north-carolina.html

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2015 in History, Places

 

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Easter Monday

Easter Eggs.  Image courtesy of Google Images.

Easter Eggs. Image courtesy of Google Images.

Up until 1987, the Monday after Easter was a state holiday that gave people a chance to do the things that they didn’t do on Easter Sunday such as attending baseball games, holding Easter Egg hunts or just enjoying a day off from work.  According to NCPedia it was proposed so that members of the General Assembly could attend the annual baseball game between NC State and Wake Forest University, which at that time was located in the town of Wake Forest in northern Wake County, but of course no paper records exist of the reasoning behind bringing this about.

A search of the 1935 General Assembly session minutes shows that this bill, which was S.B. 483 which included not only declaring the Monday after Easter as a state holiday, but also declares Decoration Day (which later became Memorial Day) a legal holiday to be celebrated on the 30th of May.

If you want to check out some more interesting facts about our state and our city, please check out NCPedia at:  ncpedia.org

Where did I get my information today?

“Easter Monday Holiday” Williford, Jo Ann 2006, NCPedia The University of North Carolina Press.  http://ncpedia.org/easter-monday-holiday.  Accessed April 5, 2015

“Chapter 212 – An Act to Amend Section Three Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifty Nine of the Consolidated Statutes so as to make Easter Monday and Decoration Day Legal Holidays” NC General Assembly 1935 Session.  Chapter 212, page 227.  Accessed via NCPedia on April 5, 2015.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in History

 

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TBT – Cecil Street (Again?)

Okay – I seem to have a fascination with Cecil Street, which is now considered Kings Drive.  Back in the day however, Cecil Street used to end at the pasture for Thompson Orphanage and then take up on the other side of the property near Central High School. This picture, taken in the early 1950’s on the street at the edge of the Cherry Community features my dear hubby, his dad and two of his siblings Greg and Beverly Perry.  Unfortunately, three of them have passed on, but I still have the hubby!

Albert Perry, Leroy Perry, Gregory Perry and Beverly Perry at the end of Cecil Street in the early 1950's.  Photo from the author's collection.

Albert Perry, Leroy Perry, Gregory Perry and Beverly Perry at the end of Cecil Street in the early 1950’s. Photo from the author’s collection.

Here is what that spot looks like today:

Cecil Street at Kings Drive 2015.  Image courtesy of Google Earth.

Cecil Street at Kings Drive 2015. Image courtesy of Google Earth.

I wish that my late father in law could have seen the changes in his hometown.  Oh well, I think he is looking down and smiling. I hope that everyone has a safe holiday weekend!

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2015 in History, Neighborhoods, People

 

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Shuffletown Dragway

If you go up Bellhaven Boulevard going towards the Coulwood Neighborhood you may notice Shuffletown Park on the right within eyesight of I-485.  If you go past the baseball fields and dog park you will notice some pavement that may resemble a street.  This is the remains of the old Shuffletown Dragstrip, which was closed in 1996 after residents complained about the noise from races held there.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the raceway was opened in 1958 when the area was more rural.  As progress and growth growth followed, so did those who wanted their peace and quiet and was not fond of listening to the drag races in their backyard.  While googling the dragway, I found this YouTube Video that was uploaded on September 11, 2008 by diamondpvideo (which can be found at https:///www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNpOG8Hl4II) – this is a good look into amature drag racing in a period before the ZMax Dragway was built near the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Today, the park takes up a lot of the old track property but there are remnants left if you look carefully:

Remains of the old pavement.  Picture taken by the author.

Remains of the old pavement. Picture taken by the author.

Remains of the electric poles used at the Shuffletown Dragway.  Picture taken by author.

Remains of the electric poles used at the Shuffletown Dragway. Picture taken by author.

I’m so glad that the land is not being forgotten, but is being used for good.  While a part of Mecklenburg County’s rural past has been erased in the name of progress, at least you can still see some if you look carefully.

I accessed the Charlotte Observer via their website: Sportsplex Delays Might Not Affect Opening Date by Karen Sullivan, Charlotte Observer September 8, 2008 accessed March 21, 2015.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in History, Neighborhoods, Places

 

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Saturday Night at the Movies (who cares what picture you see?)

(The writer of this blog wishes to apologize to Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, the original writers of the song for borrowing this song line for this blog entry – full credit will be below)

Saturday nights in Charlotte before WBTV went on the air in 1949 meant that you had a couple of choices to take your significant other.  You could take them to a swanky restaurant in the Barranger, Selwyn or Charlotte Hotels, or if you belong to the Charlotte City Club or the local country clubs you could go there.  If you couldn’t afford to do that or you didn’t belong to those clubs, you could take her to the movies.

For a town the size of Charlotte, we had plenty of theatres to choose from.  In the Uptown area we had the Carolina Theatre on North Tryon Street near 6th:

Facade of the Carolina Theatre 1927.  Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Facade of the Carolina Theatre 1927. Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

There was the Imperial Theatre on the South Side of the Square located on South Tryon Street and the Charlotte Theatre located on West Trade Street.  If you lived out in the neighborhoods of Dilworth, Myers Park and Midtown, you had your choices of the Dilworth located on South Boulevard, the Center on East Morehead Street and the Charlottetown Mall Theatre located across the street from Midtown Mall.

But because this was also the age of Jim Crow, they had to build separate theatres for African Americans.  In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Second Ward, they had the Savoy and the Lincoln and the Grand on Beatties Ford Road near Johnson C. Smith University.

The Savoy Theatre in the Brooklyn neighborhood,  date unknown.  Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Property Commission via Google Images.

The Savoy Theatre in the Brooklyn neighborhood, date unknown. Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission via Google Images.

While making sure I got my facts straight for this blog entry, I found this website, which talks about movie theatres that are open, closed or demolished and has them sorted by state. You can find Cinema Treasures at http://cinematreasures.org.  Now, for the song that I used as my title for this blog entry:

The Drifters “Saturday Night at the Movies”  by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, written in 1964, released as a single by Atlantic Records.

The images that I used were obtained from:

The Carolina Theatre – from the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Image Collection. The photo of the Savoy Theatre is from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission via Google Images.

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in History, Places

 

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South Graded School – Throwback Thursday

Today’s Throwback Thursday article talks about a school that left us before its 100th Birthday.

Starting out as the North Carolina Military Institute by D. H. Hill and modeled on West Point, it was built in 1859 at what was that time just outside the city limits to the south on what would become Morehead Street at the corner of South Boulevard.  When the Civil War started in 1861, its facility and students took up arms and fought for the Confederacy.  During the war the building was used as  a hospital, prison and medical laboratory.  After the war, it served as the Mecklenburg Female College (1867-1869) and from 1873 to 1883 it served as the Charlotte Military Institute, a private school for boys.

In 1883 it was turned into an elementary school, known as South Graded School serving grades 1-10 (11th and 12th grades were added later) and served the growing southern suburbs of Dilworth and Wilmore .

South Graded School - 1920's.  Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

South Graded School – 1920’s. Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

But changing times, shifting population and the opening of schools in nearby neighborhoods including Dilworth, Wilmore and Eastover and the conversion of the building from a school to a maintenance supply warehouse spelled its doom as the building was torn down in 1954.  Now the Dowd YMCA sits on the site of the old school:

Dowd YMCA. Photo taken from Google Earth 03/05/15.

Dowd YMCA. Photo taken from Google Earth 03/05/15.

If you have a chance to go to the Carolina Room in the main branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library located on North Tryon Street at Sixth Street, please do as you will find a wealth of information including the story of the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System by former superintendent Harry P. Harding (Harding University High School in West Charlotte is named for him) as well as other sources for this article.  I also consulted the J. Murray Adkins Library at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (GO NINERS!) for some of my information. :

Information about the South Graded School: From the Mary Boyer Collection of the J. Murray Adkins Library of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. (http://digitalcollections.uncc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15483coll1/id/912)

The 1920’s Image of the school: Robinson-Spangler Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (cmstory.org)

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Buildings, History

 

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Low Bridge anyone?

No this is not a title for a new Roger Corman film, but what truck drivers experience every time they encounter a bridge that is lower than the height of their trailer which may start at 13’4″ and taller (that fact was courtesy of some fellow Fb’ers on another city’s page).

The most infamous ones in the state are in Durham, which is known as the “can opener bridge”  has a clearance of 11’8″ and is featured on the blog 11 foot 8 (http://11foot8.com) located near Duke University’s West Campus and the bridge on Peace Street in Raleigh near Downtown, which has a clearance of 12’4″ and has had its share of trailers getting stuck under them.  In Charlotte, I found a bridge that has a clearance of 12’0″ and yes, has had its share of tractor trailers stuck under it.  What all of these bridges have in common was that they were built for the railroad before they mandated higher height clearances because trailers had become taller.  Around the Charlotte area, bridges were built by the Seaboard Airline Railroad and Southern Railroad.  I have not been able to find any trestles built by the Piedmont and Northern Railroad (P&N), although I think the remains of an old bridge on South Graham Street near Bank of America Stadium may have been built by P&N and if had still been intact would have been really low.

Built for the Seaboard Airline Railroad in 1929, this bridge carried the tracks to their Charlotte station located at North Tryon at 16th Street.  This has a 12’0″ clearance and when I went to take pictures, I could tell that trucks over the years have had their encounters with the bridge:

Clearance Sign for the Seigle Avenue Bridge.  Photo taken by the author.

Clearance Sign for the Seigle Avenue Bridge. Photo taken by the author.

Seigle Avenue Bridge.  Picture taken by the author.

Seigle Avenue Bridge. Picture taken by the author.

Faceplace showing Seaboard name and year.  Picture taken by author.

Faceplace showing Seaboard name and year and damage done by trucks stuck underneath the bridge. Picture taken by author.

To learn more about Charlotte’s Railroad History, please check out the updated Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story website sponsored by the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library at http://www.cmstory.org.  The Historic Properties Commission has done studies of some of the railroad depots including the P&N Depot at Paw Creek and has included the history of transportation in the Charlotte area; they can be found at http://www.cmhpf.org.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2015 in History, Transportation

 

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