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Tag Archives: Mecklenburg County North Carolina

10th and Graham Streets – Then and Now

North Graham looking towards 10th Street.  (Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Collection Charlotte Mecklenburg Library)

North Graham looking towards 10th Street. (Photo courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Collection Charlotte Mecklenburg Library)

I’m sorry that I haven’t put an entry in for a couple off weeks – I have been busy with some other stuff including school, but I’m back now!

While surfing the web on one of my favorite sites  www.cmlibrary.org, I was looking at this photo taken circa 1950 that is in the collection of the Robinson-Spangler Image Collection of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library.  This is about five minutes from my house and in located in the Fourth Ward area of Uptown Charlotte.  The neighborhood has changed a lot since this photo was taken, if you don’t believe me, here is a picture taken this year.

Photo taken by author

Photo taken by author

I hope that everyone has a great weekend and enjoy the great fall weather!

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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in History, Places, Transportation

 

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Boundary Street – Where did you go?

Among the things that Charlotte has lost because of growth are its streets.  Some roads have been altered or cut off, others may have had their named changed to honor someone or a community (an example is Thrift Road in West Charlotte which becomes Tuckaseegee Road at the Fifth Street Extension) or erased entirely like Spring Alley, or the Fourth Street Alley.  Today, I will be talking about Boundary Street which was erased from the map when the John Belk Freeway (also known as I-277 or the Uptown Loop) was created.

Located south of Stonewall Street, it was the southern boundary for the Brooklyn neighborhood which was also called the Second Ward or Log town.  Bordering on what would be the neighborhoods of Myers Park and Dilworth, it seemed logical that most of its residents worked “in service” to the white families in those neighborhoods.

Map of Boundary Street 1911 - Courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler Room Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Map of Boundary Street 1911 – Courtesy of the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina

But, with progress comes change.  The growth in automobile travel and Charlotte’s population along with the Urban Renewal projects of the 1960’s and 1970’s spelled doom for the street and its residents.  Today, nothing remains of this street and a lot of other streets in the old Brooklyn neighborhood but the memories are still there.

Present Day location of Boundary Street - Image via Google Earth

Present Day location of Boundary Street – Image via Google Earth

I hope that you will read more about the old Brooklyn Neighborhood, Myers Park and Dilworth and how these neighborhoods help shape Charlotte to the city it is today.  Some good books (both electronic and hard copy) that are available from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library are:

An African-American Album Vol. 1 (Currently out of print, you can read it at the Main Branch in the Carolina Room).  Volume 2 can be viewed via the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library at http://www.cmlibrary.org/cmstory

Plum Thickets and Field Daisies by Rose Leary Love.  This is a memoir of Ms. Love, who grew up in the neighborhood and later became a teacher at Biddleville Elementary School.

Historic Charlotte: An Illustrated History of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County by Dan Morrill.

Charlotte, Its Historic Neighborhoods by John R. Rogers and Amy T. Rogers (This is also available at your local Barnes and Noble in Charlotte or by special order if you live outside of Charlotte and Park Road Books in Charlotte)

Happy Reading!

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2013 in History, 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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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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