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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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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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William W. Smith

Another forgotten Charlottean, William W. Smith (1862-1937)  was the city’s first African-American builder and architect designing such buildings as the Mecklenburg Investment Company (MIC) building located at the corner of 3rd and Brevard and Grace AME Zion Church (he and his wife were founding members of the congregation) located a couple of doors down on South Brevard Street.  He was also involved in his community through his membership in Paul Drayton Lodge # 7 (Prince Hall Affiliated Masons) in which he served in various positions in the Lodge. Although not formally trained as an architect, he apprenticed to another well known brick mason in the Brooklyn neighborhood, William Houser who taught him the ropes in designing and building beautiful buildings.  A couple of examples of his work include:

Mecklenburg Investment Company Building (1922).  Image courtesy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission via Google Images

Mecklenburg Investment Company Building (1922). Image courtesy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission via Google Images

Grace AME Zion Church.  Image courtesy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission via Google Images.

Grace AME Zion Church. Image courtesy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission via Google Images.

Born in Mecklenburg County and living at 409 South Caldwell Street at the time of his passing he designed his own mausoleum located in 9th Street Pinewood Cemetery in the same style as the MIC Building.  He, his first wife Keziah, father and sister are interred in this mausoleum:

Smith tomb_Pinewood Cemetery

Smith Mausoleum at 9th Street Pinewood Cemetery. Picture taken by author.

He also designed the mausoleum for the Jones family, which is located about 25 yards away.  I hope to get some more information about that family for a future article. If you want to know where I got my information from, here are my sites:

North Carolina Architects and Builders – A Biographical Dictionary, Smith, William W.  http://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu/people/P000291

History of Prince Hall Free Masonary and Appendand Bodies in the Charlotte Area, 32nd and 33rd Districts by James E. Harrell, 33° (1994, Self Published)

Pictures of the MIC building, Grace AME Zion Church courtesy of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in History, Places

 

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Belgrave Pavement

No I am not kidding, I was looking for anything that may give me a clue as to the location of Wream Field, home of the Charlotte Hornets from 1908-1948 before the owners built Crockett Park (another lost treasure, which I will explore in another article)  when I found this on a 1935 Charlotte City Map:

Belgrave Pavement_1935_

Okay, most of us are familiar with street naming, like Avenue, Street, Boulevard, and even some alleys from the early days of Charlotte but this one threw me for a loop.  Located in Dilworth, which is one of Charlotte’s earliest suburbs, similar to Myers Park was a planned neighborhood with wide winding streets with names such as Berkley, Romany and Buchanan centered around Latta Park, named for Edward Dilworth Latta, Founder and President of the 4C’s Company (Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company) and designed by the Olmsted brothers, one of the first architects and city planners who also designed Central Park in New York City.

Now known as Belgrave Place, it runs between Berkley Avenue and Romany Road ending at Latta Park.  Like many streets in Dilworth it is a tree lined peaceful street with speed humps and large houses of which many were built around the turn of the last century with some modern built homes which for the most of them they were designed to fit into the neighborhood.

Belgrave Place_Google Earth

Belgrave Place. Image courtesy of Google Earth 2015

If you want to learn more about the Dilworth Neighborhood, Edward Latta or about how our neighborhoods got started, please check out:

Sorting out the New South City by Dan Morrill (1998 University of North Carolina Press).  This can be ordered at Park Road Books located in the Park Road Shopping Center.  Written by the Historian at the Levine Museum of the New South located on North College Street, this was actually his doctoral dissertation and is a well written and through look at how Charlotte’s neighborhoods were shaped not only by geography, but politics and history.

 

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in History, Neighborhoods, Places, Streets

 

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6th Street Bridge

I have been in Charlotte for over 30 years. While traveling around town, I had not always paid attention to this bridge located on 6th Street just west of Graham Street:

Southern Railway Bridge over 6th Street.  Picture taken by author.

Southern Railway Bridge over 6th Street. Picture taken by author.

Well, I finally got around to checking this bridge out.  It turns out that this was a bridge operated by the old Southern Railroad that led to the old railroad station on West Trade Street:

Southern Railway Station and Stonewall Hotel circa 1908.  Image courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Southern Railway Station and Stonewall Hotel circa 1908. Image courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

This station, designed by Frank Milburn in 1905 in the Mediterranean Style complemented an existing Seaboard Air Line train station on North Tryon Street at 16th Street.   When the station was closed in the 1960’s and the railroad tracks converted to freight traffic and raised above the street, it was thought that everything had been taken away.  Well, in two parking lots located on 5th Street on opposite sides of the street if you look hard enough, you can see the railroad tracks that they didn’t take up:

Old Southern Railway Tracks facing 6th Street.  Picture taken by author.

Old Southern Railway Tracks facing 6th Street. Picture taken by author.

And on the other side of the street, you can see one track but not the other:

Old Southern Railway Track part II.  Picture taken by author.

Old Southern Railway Track part II. Picture taken by author.

I managed to get a shot of the old Right of Way on the bridge looking north towards the silos at Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), I cannot began to describe my excitement as I found out that this actually served the old Charlotte train station:

Old Southern Railway ROW on the 6th Street Bridge.  Picture taken by the author.

Old Southern Railway ROW on the 6th Street Bridge. Picture taken by the author.

I wish I had gone on and find out when this bridge was built, but as I was by myself and the area was deserted I didn’t want to take a chance of running into trouble.  Also, there was ample warning signs that the area was owned by the State of North Carolina:

No Trespassing Sign installed by the NC Department of Transportation.  Picture taken by the author.

No Trespassing Sign installed by the NC Department of Transportation. Picture taken by the author

If you want to learn more about Charlotte’s transportation history and see images from not only the railroad stations, but its early streetcars and other forms of public transportation, please visit http://www.cmstory.org.  This site is run by the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and covers Charlotte and Mecklenburg County History from its beginnings to the present day.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Buildings, Business, History, Places

 

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What is the name of this street now?

I had seen an report about a year ago on our local ABC affiliate about a forgotten cemetery located in Southwest Charlotte. The story stated that it was a slave cemetery owned by the Shuman Family. Now back around the 1930’s and 1940’s this street went by Shuman Avenue. The name changed sometime during the 1950’s. Do you know what the street is known as now?

Shuman Avenue 1935.  Courtesy Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room (cmlibrary.org)

Shuman Avenue 1935. Courtesy Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room (cmlibrary.org)

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Places, Streets, Uncategorized

 

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