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Lost and Moved

If you have ever traveled to Rock Hill, South Carolina and drove into their downtown via Dave Lyle Boulevard, you may have seen these two free standing columns just before you enter the downtown area:

Photo taken by author

Photo taken by author

Photo taken by author

Photo taken by author

Well, they used to be in Charlotte.  These two columns used to adorn the Masonic Lodge which was located at the corner of Second and South Tryon Streets.  Built in the Egyptian Revival Style, it was designed by C. C. Hook and built by the J. A. Jones Construction Company in 1921 replacing an earlier lodge building that was built in 1913.

Postcard from the Robinson-Spangler Image Collection of  the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Postcard from the Robinson-Spangler Image Collection of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

According to the 1921 Charlotte City Directory, every white Masonic organization in existence at that time including the Shrine, Consistory and the Order of the Eastern Star met at the Lodge building at various times during the month.  Those organizations, including Mizpah Chapter # 36  Order of the Eastern Star and the Oasis Shrine are still in existence today.

The building was demolished in 1987 when the land was purchased by then First Union Bank (now Wells Fargo) to build their corporate headquarters.  But, the columns were saved after being purchased by the City of Rock Hill to help create a gateway to their downtown area.  If you are interested in learning more about buildings in the Uptown Charlotte area, please visit the Charlotte Mecklenburg Story at http://www.cmstory.org.  If you are in the Charlotte area, please visit the Levine Museum of the New South located at 200 East 7th Street at the corner of North College Street.

Notes

Charlotte City Directory, Page 30 Fraternal Organizations Commercial Service Company, publishers 1922. Downloaded from archives.org November 17, 2012.

Robinson-Spangler Image Collection of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Downloaded August 4, 2013

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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Places

 

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Newell Rosenwald School

Nestled at the end of Torrance Grove Church Road off Old Concord Road lies a hidden treasure.  Once a school house for African American Children in the Newell Community of Northeast Mecklenburg County , it is one of the few school buildings built by the Rosenwald Foundation in the early 20th century that has been preserved. There were 28 buildings scattered throughout the county with names such as Jonesville, Ben Salem and Rockwell, only nine still stand, including this one.  Named for the communities where they were built or the churches that helped raise funds to build them, they were built to promote education in the African-American community when they couldn’t attend white schools due to Jim Crow laws.

A simple one story frame structure with a tin roof, it was built in 1920 according to the Mecklenburg County Tax Records Database in the Nashville 3-teacher style (which meant that it was designed for three classrooms with its own teacher).  A picture of what the outside may have looked like when it was built is below:

From the Community School Plans, Bulletin No.3 Issued by The  Julius Rosenwald Fund Nashville, Tennessee, 1924

From the Community School Plans, Bulletin No.3 Issued by The Julius Rosenwald Fund Nashville, Tennessee, 1924

The buildings were built facing East or West with large windows to let in the sunlight, as electric service was not widespread in rural areas.  The basic floor plan for this size building looked like this:

Community School Plans, Bulletin No.3 Issued by The Julius Rosenwald Fund, Nashville, Tennessee, 1924

Community School Plans, Bulletin No.3 Issued by The Julius Rosenwald Fund, Nashville, Tennessee, 1924

The school operated from 1921 until the end of the 1951-52 school year, when it was consolidated with Clear Creek Elementary School in an effort to combine smaller schools into several large “feeder” schools.  But by that time, several other Rosenwald schools had closed including Ben Salem, Piney Grove and Jonesville.

Currently owned by Silver Set Lodge # 327 (Prince Hall Affiliated F&AM) and used by several affiliated groups including Christain Workers Chapter # 301 Order of the Eastern Star (Prince Hall Affiliated) it was given historic status by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission on May 15, 1989.   Efforts to renovate and repair the inside has been on-going by both Silver Set Lodge and the Silver Star Community Group.  Earlier this year, Silver Star sponsored a fund raiser to help raise funds to preserve this piece of Mecklenburg County African-American history. Featuring Robin Washington-Banks, the great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington who also helped raise funds to build these rural schools  they will continue to work to raise funds to help repair and preserve the school.

Here are some pictures of what the school looks like today:

This is the front of the school to the right of the front door.  Photo taken by author.

This is the front of the school to the right of the front door. Photo taken by author.

This is the front of the school to the left of the front door.  Photo taken by author.

This is the front of the school to the left of the front door. Photo taken by author.

What I would love to see is a sign designating this as a historic site and maybe a highway historic marker on Old Concord Road.  If you have any pictures of the school or the community around it, please send me the link, as I would love to see what the community looked like in the early part of the 20th century.

If you want to learn more about the Rosenwald Schools (which North Carolina had at least 800 buildings) or about the Newell School, please check out these sources:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Landmarks Commission report on the McClintock and Newell Rosenwald Schools: http://landmarkscommission.org/S&Rs%20Alphabetical%20Order/surveys&rrosenwald.htm

History South Website: http://historysouth.org/rosenwaldhome.html (This site also has additional books that you can read regarding the Rosenwald Schools, Booker T. Washington and schools in the Jim Crow South)

If you are on Facebook, the Silver Star Community Group has a page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Silver-Star-Community-Inc/385749594772649

And they also have a group on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Silver-Star-Community-4521964?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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An Abandoned Treasure – The Piedmont & Northern Railroad Station

Image

Thrift Station – Picture taken by author

This old train station, dating back to 1911 sits in what is now part of the “Tank Farms” in the Paw Creek area of West Charlotte.  Used as a station for the Piedmont and Northern Railroad (P&N) and designed by C. C. Hook, it is a forgotten piece of Charlotte transportation history.  The last remaining station for the old P&N Railroad, the station has seen the changes in the area from farmland and textile manufacturing to storing fuels for modern transportation.

The P&N Railroad was started in 1911 by James B. Duke (the founder of Southern Electric Company, now Duke Energy) as an electric interurban (transportation service connecting two cities) railroad connecting Charlotte to Gastonia to the West and to Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg to the South.  Built in the area known as Paw Creek, it was named Thrift due to the nearby Thrift Textile Mill (later renamed Kendall Mill) and served passengers and businesses from the nearby communities of Paw Creek, Pawtuckett and Moore’s Chapel. The station was closed in 1969 after P&N merged with the Seaboard Coast Line and the closure of the nearby Kendall Mill.

Image

Thrift Station – Picture taken by author

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission has applied to designate this as a historic site as it is the last surviving P&N station in Mecklenburg County. It would be a shame to let this treasure go to rot, as it could be used as a transportation museum (in conjunction with the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spenser, North Carolina),or as a working train station for CSX, the current owner of the property.

If you want to go see it, please take Freedom Drive (NC 27) until you reach Old Mount Holly Road.  Turn left, and the station will be to your right.  Because the building is on private property, please do not trespass as the property owners take a dim view of unauthorized persons on their property. If you want to know more about the P&N Railroad or other train stations designed by C.C. Hook, please check out these sources:

Electrifying the Piedmont Carolinas by Robert F. Durden (2001) pg. 25-26

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission – Survey and Research Report on the Thrift Depot of the Piedmont and Northern Railroad Company.  Historical Overview prepared by Dr. William H. Huffman (Original Report October 5, 1982, Revised October 2009)

http://www.cmhpf.org/S&Rs%20Alphabetical%20Order/Surveys&rThriftP&NDepot.htm

North Carolina Architects and Builders: An Biographical Dictionary

Charles Christian Hook: http://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu/people/P000211 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in History, Transportation

 

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The Great Flood of 1916

This weekend is the 97th anniversary of the Great Flood of 1916, which was caused by two Category 4 hurricanes converging over Western North Carolina over a period of six days causing massive flooding on the French Broad and Catawba River systems.  While the flooding did not affect the City of Charlotte; it did suffer damage due to the storm winds.  However, the resulting flood waters affected thousands of people from Asheville to Fort Mill, South Carolina as it washed away homes, bridges and business and killed 80 people. Among the victims were 13 members of a Southern Railway crew attempting to save a double-track railroad bridge between Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties by parking an engine on the span, but was swept away by the flood.

Asheville Flood, 1916. [From the Schandler Family Collection, UNCA Special Collections via Google Images]

Asheville Flood, 1916. [From the Schandler Family Collection, UNCA Special Collections via Google Images]

The flooding that not only washed away bridges linking Mecklenburg County with Gaston County to the west and York County, South Carolina to the South, but telegraph lines in the mountains and the Mountain Island Mill in Gaston County.  An article on the Mountain Island Mill by Dwight Frady can be found at HTTP://www.historicmountholly.com/highlighted-points/mountain-island-mill/.  The waters also damaged the dam at Lake Wylie, which was rebuilt in 1924 by the Southern Company (the forerunner of Duke Energy).

Bridge over the Catawba River at Fort Mill, South Carolina Inamge from catawbariverkeeper.org via Google Images

Bridge over the Catawba River at Fort Mill, South Carolina Inamge from catawbariverkeeper.org via Google Images

Railroad travel was not the only type of travel affected.  The burgeoning highway system, which was started as the North Carolina Highway Commission in 1915 was also affected.  Automobile bridges up and down the river was also washed away in the floods stranding motorists on their way to their vacation destinations in the North Carolina Mountains.

Bridge between Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties destroyed by the flood.  Photo by Cushman.  From the Book "The North Carolina Flood (1916) Published by William Bell via Google Images

Hwy 74 bridge between Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties wreaked during the 1916 flood. Photo by Cushman. From the Book “The North Carolina Flood (1916) Published by William Bell via Google Images

In 1916 there was no government agencies such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to help with disaster relief, and the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army were just starting to send help in disasters.  There are no records that indicate if they did assist in relief efforts in the region.

If you want to learn more about the Great Flood of 1916, please check out these sources:

The Great North Carolina Flood (1916) Published by William Bell, Charlotte, North Carolina

Catawba County, North Carolina: The Great Flood of 1916 (http://www.ncgenweb.us/catawba/flood.htm)

Asheville.com: The Great Flood of 1916 Changed Biltmore Village and Family Lives Forever (http://www.asheville.com/news/flood1916.html)  This is an excellent source of first hand accounts of families that were affected by the floods.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2013 in History, Places

 

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Have you driven on a “Ford” lately?

(With apologizes to the Ford Motor Company for swiping their 1984 slogan)

Visitors to our city have probably noticed the abundance of roads with with “Ford” or “Ferry” in the name and may have wondered how the road got their name.  Places such as Beatties Ford Road, Nations Ford Road and Rozzells Ferry Road are well known here in Charlotte and named for places on the Catawba River that early settlers used to cross the river going west.  Most of these names have been lost to history, but several still survive in the roads that were given their names.

Beatties Ford Road, which starts just north of Uptown at Johnson C. Smith University and runs north to what is now Lake Norman was named for John Beatty, who according to historians, was the first white man to cross the Catawba River while following the a trading path used by the Native American tribes of the area.  He is recorded as buying 944 acres on the west bank of the Catawba River on July 17, 1749 and establishing a ferry to take passengers across the river and became the main route between Salisbury and Morganton, North Carolina. 

Rozzells Ferry, which is south of Beatties Ford on the Catawba River was named for John Rozzell, who operated the only ferry between Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties before the Civil War. A descendant, Edward Rozzell built a house near the river that was the scene of the only skirmish in Mecklenburg County during the Civil War.  The road starts at the “Five Points” intersection which comprises of Beatties Ford Road, 5th Street, State Street, West Trade Street and Rozzells Ferry, the road parallels NC 16, locally known as Brookshire Boulevard.  The road changes names just  to Bellhaven Boulevard in the 1980’s but a small spur of the original road retains the Rozzells Ferry name. The road ends just before reaching the Rozzells Ferry Bridge on NC 16. 

Nations Ford Road in the southern part of the County, was on the main trading route from Charlotte to Columbia, South Carolina.  Like other roads in this part of the state, it was established along an Native American trading path.  The modern version of Nations Ford starts at the Billy Graham Parkway (named for the famous evangelist) and winds southeast through the Charlotte suburbs until ending at NC 51, known locally as Pineville Matthews Road at the South Carolina state line.  While it does not go into South Carolina, Nations Ford is remembered as a major trading path and Nations Ford High School in Fort Mill carries the name.

I will be going into more depth about these roads in future articles and I hope that you will enjoy them. If you want to know more about the old roads and ferries that helped shape Mecklenburg County, please check out the Carolina Room at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library on-line at http://www.cmstory.org. If you are visiting Uptown Charlotte, please visit the main library at 310 North Tryon Street, the Carolina Room is located on the third floor.

A special thanks to Ms. Jean Johnson and Dr. Thomas Cole at the Carolina Room for their help and assistance in getting this article written.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in People, Places

 

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Good Samaritan Hospital

Good Samaritan Hospital, or “Good Sam” as it was known in the black community during the days of segregation was one of the first hospitals set aside for blacks.  Located at 411 West Hill Street in Third Ward it was started in 1891 by the Episcopal Church who was instrumental in starting several public service institutions in Charlotte including Saint Peter’s Hospital and Thompson Orphanage.(1)  Other North Carolina cities soon followed suit with St. Agnes in Raleigh and Colored Community Hospital in Wilmington.

After the public hospitals started accepting African American patients in the late 1950s (still in separate wards with black nurses), Good Sam closed in 1961.  The building was later acquired by the Carolina’s Health Care System which turned the building into a nursing home.

This is the front of Good Samaritan Hospital, which was established for African Americans in the early 20th century.

 Good Samaritan Hospital, (Courtesy Google Images)

After Charlotte gained their NFL team, the future of the building and the neighborhood became cloudy.  When the team decided to build what is now Bank of American Stadium in Third Ward,  the fate of the old hospital and   neighboring buildings including Isabella Wyche School was sealed.  Both buildings were lost to the wreaking ball in the early 1990’s.  The site is now in the middle of Bank of America Stadium:

West Hill Street

 

But memories of Good Sam was still in the minds of those who worked there, had family to receive care there and those that tried to preserve the building.  A historic plaque was placed on the site of the hospital on the north side of the stadium:

Courtesy cityunwrapped.com via Google Images

Courtesy cityunwrapped.com via Google Images

 

I encourage my readers to read more about the places and people that I will be profiling on this blog.  To read more about Good Sam, please check out these sites:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission: http://www.cmhpf.org/Surveys/surveybytopicafam.htm

Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: http://www.cmstory.org/history/timeline/default.asp?tp=11&ev=223

 

Notes:

(1) Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, Old Good Samaritan Hospital – Historical Review. Hanchett, Thomas W., Dr., and Huffman, William H., Dr. prepared March 6, 1985.  Report by Dr. Dan R. Morrill

 

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Places

 

My how the skyline has changed!

Having lived in Charlotte for over 30 years I have seen a lot of changes in the skyline.  When I arrived in August 1982 they had just imploded the old Independence Building at the Square (this is at the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets in Center City, or Uptown as the old timers call it!) to prepare for a new building, also named Independence.  Some nine years later, I was experimenting with a new SLR camera and took this picture from the corner of Morehead Street at South Church Street:

Image

The newest skyscraper at that time was One First Union Plaza (on the right).  At 45 stories, it was the tallest building in town until the 60 story Bank of America building was opened in 1992.

Take a look at Charlotte’s skyline now:

Image

 

Now the skyline not only includes Charlotte’s two big banks, Bank of America and Wells Fargo (which brought out Wachovia at the beginning of the Great Recession of 2008) but also several high rise apartment buildings including the Vue.  Duke Energy, formally Duke Power brought the naming rights to what would have been 5 Wells Fargo at the corner of Tryon and Stonewall Streets giving them a 48 story headquarters tower. 

Unfortunately,  the price of progress means that a lot of old Charlotte has been erased.  Buildings such as the old Masonic Lodge on South Tryon Street at 3rd and Belks’ former flagship store at the square have been lost.  

The price of progress doesn’t mean that we have to lose our old buildings.  Charlotte is starting to remember that when they re-purpose the old textile mills or save a historic house, but has a long way to go.  

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Places

 

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