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Thrift Community

Before Charlotte started swallowing up its neighboring unincorporated communities with names such as Paw Creek, Sharon, Newell, Clear Creek and Dixie these little crossroads and sometimes actual towns had their own post office, grocery or general store and regular mail service.  Now, what’s left of them has been incorporated into the Charlotte city limits and sometimes the only way to find out that they did exist are street signs for the streets that have been named for them or memories of our older residents.

One of these towns located in western Mecklenburg County was the town of Thrift.  Located on Mt. Holly Road going towards the town of Mt. Holly (NC 27) they could boast of having a nearby train station, the Piedmont and Northern station at Paw Creek as well as a regular post office.

1972 Highway Maintenance Map showing the township of Thrift.  Courtesy of the NC Maps Collection of the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina.

1972 Highway Maintenance Map showing the township of Thrift. Courtesy of the NC Maps Collection of the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina.

Unfortunately, nothing remains of the community today, not even the post office. I have even gone down Highway 27 in an effort to find any traces of the old community except for the name of a short road named Thrift (which is off of Freedom Drive)

Thrift Road 2015.  Image courtesy of Google Earth.

Thrift Road 2015. Image courtesy of Google Earth.

If anyone who used to live out that way before the tank farms were built wants to talk with me, please let me know – I will be happy to help you record and save your memories.

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Posted by on April 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Wearn Field

While we are waiting for 2015 Major League Baseball’s opening day, let me take you back to a time in which baseball was America’s game and Saturday afternoons could be spent at the ballfield watching the Charlotte Hornets play.

Wait a minute you ask me, the Charlotte Hornets playing baseball?  Yes, before the city got its NBA team in the late 1980’s, our minor league team from 1901 to 1973, which served as a farm team for various Major League team from the Washington Senators to the Minnesota Twins was named the Charlotte Hornets.  They played Wearn Field, which was built and owned by the club owner J. H. Wearn who owned a lumber mill of the same name located in the old Brooklyn neighborhood between Third and Fourth Streets near the Fourth Street Alley.

His baseball field, however was located just inside the city limits at the corner of South Mint and Dowd Road, according to the 1922 Charlotte City Directory,  the field keeper was Henry Petty:

1935 Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Map_Shows location of Wearn Field

1935 Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Map. Arrow shows the approximate location of Wearn Field. Image courtesy of the Spangler-Robinson Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

What threw me in trying to find the location was that the street name like so many others here in Charlotte has changed over the years.  Dowd Road was changed to West Summit Avenue sometime in the 1960’s:

Summit and South Mint_2015

Location of Wearn Field 2015. West Summit Avenue in 1923 at this point was called Dowd Road.

When I finally found the location, of course I had to find out what was there now:

Office complex on the site of Wearn Field.  Picture taken by the author.

Office complex on the site of Wearn Field. Picture taken by the author.

Here is a picture of a game day at the field, courtesy of James Jack:

Game at Wearn Field, date unknown.  Picture courtesy of James Jack.

  Game at Wearn Field, date unknown. Picture courtesy of James Jack.

After World War II, it was supplemented by Clark Griffith Field built in Dilworth which was later destroyed in an arson fire.  I don’t have any information about when the park was finally closed and demolished, I hope someone can help me out.

I hope that you will explore more about the Charlotte area’s sports history.  You can start at the Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library or the Levine Museum of the New South both of which are located within a couple of blocks from each other on North Tryon and North College Streets. If you know of anyone who may have more information, please let me know.

My sources for today’s entry are:

Picture showing a game day is courtesy of James Jack date unknown is via Facebook from the Charlotte, NC Past and Present Page.

Map showing location of Dowd Road at South Mint Street from the online maps collection of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library.

Information on J. H. Wearn and Wearn Field from the 1922 Charlotte City Directory, page 660.  This was downloaded from digitalnc.org on November 17, 2012.

1911 Sanford Fire Map showing the location of J. H. Wearn Lumber Yard was courtesy of the North Carolina Maps page of the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina located at http://www2.lib.unc.edu/dc/ncmaps/sanborn.html

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

TBT – Cecil Drive

In 1955 what we now know as Kings Drive looking towards 7th Street looked like this:

Cecil Street looking towards 7th Street just above the Grady Cole Center 1955.  Picture courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library.

Cecil Street looking towards 7th Street just above the Grady Cole Center 1955. Picture courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library.

Now, this is what that same intersection looks like:

Kings Drive towards Seventh Street_2015

Kings Drive looking towards Seventh Street 2015. Picture taken by the author.

The house on the right is long gone, that site is now a parking lot for Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC).  The Kayo is also gone, and the site is now the overpass for Independence Freeway near the I-277 split and where the billboard was located is now Van Emery Building which is also a part of CPCC.

I encourage everyone who is interested to check out more images of old Charlotte on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Story website which is a service of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (www.cmstory.org).  Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Want some books to read?

During this arctic weather spell, I went by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library to find some books on local history good or bad – well, more along the lines of what happens beneath the surface of our fair city. Well, I found two books, both published by The History Press of Charleston, South Carolina.

Wicked Charlotte, The Sordid Side of the Queen City by Stephanie Burt Williams (2006) explores crimes dating back to the American Revolution including murder, prostitution, bootlegging and larceny from the murder of a well known sheriff with ties to the area’s prominent families to Henry Louis Wallace, the city’s first black serial killer.  She also explores the effects of the nation’s first gold rush on the region and how some people took advantage of other people in the pursuit of gold.

A sequel of sorts, Charlotte Murder, Mystery and Mayhem by David Aaron Moore (2008) explores more of the seedy underside of the city that the tourist books don’t tell you about.  His stories range from a 13 year old  church arsonist to a lynching that is that I never heard of until I read this book and touches on the 1965 firebombings of Fred Alexander and Dr. Reginald Hawkins.

Both of these books can be found at Park Road Books, located in the Park Road Shopping Center (which by the way was one of the first suburban shopping centers in Charlotte!) if they don’t have it in stock, they will be happy to order them for you.

Happy reading!

 

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in History, People, Uncategorized

 

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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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