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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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Traveling to Charlotte – 1950’s Style

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.

Ad for the Hotel Alexander in the 1950 Hill's Charlotte City Directory (image obtained via digitalnc.org)

Ad for the Hotel Alexander in the 1950 Hill’s Charlotte City Directory (image obtained via digitalnc.org)

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.

Listing for the Stonewall and T & J Motor Court from the 1950 Hill's Charlotte Directory (images via Google Images

Listing for the Stonewall and T & J Motor Court from the 1950 Hill’s Charlotte Directory (images via Google Images

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)

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2015 in Buildings, History, Places

 

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Where did part of North Myers Street go?

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:

This would have been the 500 block - the street was removed during urban renewal.  Photo taken by the author on December 31, 2014.

This would have been the 500 block – the street was removed during urban renewal. Photo taken by the author on December 31, 2014.

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:

1935 Charlotte City Map Courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

1935 Charlotte City Map Courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

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!

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Streets

 

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