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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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TBT – The H. D. Dennis Apartments

While I was looking around for a subject for today’s TBT entry, I ran across this photo on the cmstory.org website:

H. D. Dennis Apartments under construction 1928.  Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library.

H. D. Dennis Apartments under construction 1928. Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library.

Located at the corner of Granville Avenue and Hopewell Avenue in Myers Park it was built in 1928. the same year that Myers Park Traditional School (then known as Myers Park Public School) located about 1/2 mile to the south opened.  Well, that was then, this is now:

H. D. Dennis Apartments 2015.  Photo taken by the author.

H. D. Dennis Apartments 2015. Photo taken by the author.

Now that spring is on the way (finally!)  check out Charlotte’s historic neighborhoods, you might see something new!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Buildings, Neighborhoods

 

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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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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

 

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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