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?
I was looking for another business that I saw on a post on Facebook when I came across this ad in the 1953 Hills Charlotte City Directory for the Westside Ice and Fuel Company. When I looked up the former address it was located where Johnson C. Smith University has built student housing with ground level retail.
I am not sure when this company went out of business, but when I arrived in Charlotte in 1982, the site was known as Carostate Ice and the parking lot facing Duckworth Avenue held ice machines that the company owned that was either broken or awaiting transportation to area stores to hold bags of ice for sale.
Charlotte before 1960 had several dealers for block ice (this was in the days of iceboxes, which required blocks of ice to help keep foods cold or frozen in the days before substantial freezers on refrigerators) and coal, which was used to heat homes and sometime business buildings (including schools) in the winter.
I will be exploring these type of businesses in future writings.
I found this ad in the 1953 Hills Charlotte City Directory, courtesy of digitalnc.org
Ceasar R. Blake, Jr. (1886-1931) is one of those people that outside of the Prince Hall Masonic family here in Charlotte that no one knows anything about. Serving as the Imperial Potentate for the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Prince Hall Affiliated (A.E.A.O.N.M.S.) or better known as the Shriners, he also served as the presiding officer of Paul Drayton Lodge # 7, later serving the Prince Hall Grand Lodge as the Grand Senior Warden.
In his private life, according to the 1912 Hills Charlotte City Directory (page 131), he was a clerk with Norfolk and Southern Railway (page 331) and lived at 411 East 1st Street which was between Brevard and Caldwell Streets in the old Brooklyn neighborhood. When he passed away in 1931, he was buried at Pinewood Cemetery, which was set aside for blacks as it was custom and and law during this period.
I encourage you to read more about him or the period in which he lived.
I got my information from:
1912 Hills Charlotte City Directory (Hackley and Moale Printers) via DigitalNC.org
History of Prince Hall Masonry and Appendant Bodies in the Charlotte Area, 32nd and 33rd Districts, Formerly the 19th and 20th Masonic Districts & 14th and 24th OES Districts by James E. Harrell (self-published, 1994)
Picture of Mr. Blake courtesy of Mr. Willie Harris, Jr.
Headstone photo by the author taken April 2009
Update (01/11/15): Thanks to my husband who reminded me that First Street did not cross Sugar Creek back in those days, I went back to verify my information and to find the right place via the 1911 Sanford Fire Insurance Map located at:
Last year I was working with the After-School Enrichment Program at Myers Park Traditional (where I work this year as a Teacher Assistant). I had gotten off the bus at Queens University last April and saw this:
Taken in the common area at Queens University near the Student Union April 30, 2014 by the author
In the ending days of the Civil War, the Confederate Naval Yard was moved from Norfolk, Virginia to Charlotte. Now while this may seem strange to have a naval yard so far inland, to the Confederates, it made sense as the Union Navy had effectively blockaded the entire Southern coastline since the beginning of the war.
Now here comes my question – the company that manufactured this manhole cover did not come into exsistance until the 1870’s and after the Naval Yard in Charlotte was dismantled. I hope that someone with knowledge of Charlotte history and the Civil War can answer some questions for me, like how did this end up at Queens University when the area was created in the 20th century? Was this moved from somewhere in Center City Charlotte?
I hope that someone can help me with these questions.
While we take it for granted in 2015 that we can find a hotel that fits our budget and stay anywhere we want to regardless of race and that we can find our favorite hotel chain in any town. But it wasn’t that way in 1950; due to the Jim Crow laws on the books travelers were restricted to hotels that catered to their race and most of the hotel chains such as Marriott, Holiday Inn and Hilton were not available here in town. But, the hotel that you stayed at also depended on how much money you were willing to spend for a good night’s sleep.
Charlotte had its upscale hotels such as the Hotel Charlotte on West Trade Street which was imploded in the mid-1980’s and the Hotel William Barringer on North Tryon Street which is currently being redeveloped after being used for years as a senior citizen’s resident facility. For African-American travelers, they were directed via the “Negro Travelers Green Book” to the Hotel Alexander was touted in the City Directory as “The South’s Finest Negro Hotel” in First Ward or the Ebony Guest House located at 214 South Myers Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
If you didn’t have the means to stay at the Hotel Charlotte, or you were traveling by car with your family, you have a choice between the Stonewall Hotel on West Trade Street near the Southern Railroad Train Station or the T & J Hotel Courts located on Wilkinson Boulevard.
The Alexander, Stonewall, T & J or Ebony Guest House no longer exist. The Alexander closed in the 1960’s after the Civil Rights Act desegregated hotel accommodations and was burned down by the Charlotte Fire Department in a controlled burn in 1973. The Stonewall Hotel, which was later renamed the Travelers Hotel became a transient hotel which was later closed and torn down in the mid 1990’s. T & J Hotel Courts became a Choice Hotel, but was condemned by the City in 2011 after years of calls to police for various things such as drug dealing, prostitution and other problems, it had also become a “rental by the week” hotel that catered to those who could not afford housing in an increasing expensive housing market. There are no records as to when the Ebony Guest House closed and torn down, I hope one of my readers can help me out with that question.
Doing my research for this entry, I found the following web sites to be very helpful:
Motel Americana – North Carolina: http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/wooda/motel/northcarolina/index.html
The American Hotel Blog by James Lileks: http://www.lileks.com/motels/NC/1.html
Mecklenburg County Real Estate Lookup (for the right address): http://meckcama.co.mecklenburg.nc.us/relookup/
I got my ads from the Hill’s 1950 Charlotte City Directory (via digitalnc.org)
I was doing so research into my next entry about the old Abbie’s Apartment House which was listed in the 1957 Hills Charlotte City Directory as the “finest hotel for Negros”. As many of you know, this was during the Jim Crow era which by law and custom, travelers had to stay in separate hotels. White travelers could stay in the Hotel Charlotte or the Barringer Hotel which blacks had to stay at the Hotel Alexander or the Ebony Guest House. But when I went to photograph where the hotel was located at 516 North Myers Street, I found this:
Which leads me to another question, why was this part of North Myers Street taken out? This area, known as First Ward could count as its residents people such as Bishop George Clinton of the AME Zion Church, Thad Tate who not only had a successful barber shop, but also co-founded several business’ including the Mecklenburg Investment Company. But, I am digressing somewhat and let me get back to my original question.
According to a 1935 Charlotte City map, Myers Street extended north to 12th Street:
The street was still complete in a 1962 map, but by the early 1980’s, the 500 block was gone.
While Charlotte has bulldozed not only buildings but also its streets to accommodate the city’s growth. Streets that people may remember from the 1940s and 1950s may have had their routes or names changed or eliminated altogether. While most people that visit our city often complain about streets that change names sometimes in the middle of an intersection (think of the intersection of Woodlawn Road at South Tryon Street, Woodlawn Road turns into the Billy Graham Parkway). I’ll be exploring more streets in upcoming entries that have either been plowed under in the name of progress, changed names or had their route changed due to progress.
I hope you will take this journey with me.
Happy New Year!
Well, after a hiatus due to school and work responsibilities I have come back. I could not remember my original password for this site so I had to create a new one. I hope that you will rediscover me and come back.
I want to thank Mr. James Harrill, who is currently serving the North Carolina Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons as a District Deputy for discovering my original Lost Charlotte blog and posting one of my entries to Facebook – this was the inspiration for bringing it back. Also a big thank you to Mr. Damajo Smith for his comments on Facebook, he currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Phylaxis Society which is the research arm for Prince Hall Affiliated Free and Accepted Masons.
There is a blog called “Retro Charlotte” that is authored by Maria David who is the archivist and research librarian for the Charlotte (NC) Observer. While some people think that there is not enough material for more than one blogger, I have to disagree. While Ms. David has the resources of the Charlotte Observer, which has been around for over a century (first starting off as the Charlotte Daily Observer) I have the heart and people that I can go to to verify anything that I have heard.
I hope that you will come back and take the journey with me to find out what Charlotte used to be like.