Historic preservation

Charlotte keeps losing bits of itself as the city grows

The Dairy Queen on Central Avenue that's closing after 70 years. Photo: Google Street View In one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., with rising rents and rapid changes in long-established neighborhoods, there’s sure to be a certain amount of churn in the local business scene. Angst and nostalgia are certain to follow. But as it grows and stretches, Charlotte is shedding pieces of its skin, and many don’t like the new identity they see emerging. 

Five 2019 Historic Preservation Awards winners announced in Charlotte

Second Ward High School's gym in uptown Charlotte. Photo courtesy Charlotte Museum of History Charlotteans often lament how many old buildings here have been torn down, but there are still structures worth saving, along with groups and developers willing to put in the work.  On Thursday, the Charlotte Museum of History announced the winners of its 2019 Historic Preservation Awards. The five honorees, from 27 nominations, include a historic high school gym, a hip, repurposed mill, and historic houses. 

Blending the old and the new at Camp North End

An old silo, restored wooden trusses, augers and native plants form some of the backdrop at Camp North End's Gama Goat building. Photo: Ely Portillo The cluster of old factory buildings, a former munitions dump, missile assembly plant and warehouses just north of uptown has long glimmered with possibility - if you could look beyond the dingy facades and faded, rusty interiors.  Now, more of that possibility is becoming a reality at Camp North End, on a nearly 80-acre triangle of land between Statesville Avenue and North Graham Street. After years of planning and development, the biggest adaptive reuse project in Charlotte is coming together.

Charlotte’s torn down a lot of old buildings. But one type has staying power.

Optimist Hall, a food hall and Duke Energy Innovation Center, is in a reused mill that dates to 1891. Breweries, apartments, hip food halls, creative offices, coworking spaces: Charlotte developers keep finding new uses for the city’s old mills. As a post-war, Sunbelt boomtown, Charlotte has garnered a reputation for tearing down its old buildings and replacing them with sterile plaques to make way for the city’s glittering new skyline. But while many once-grand buildings have fallen (Goodbye, Masonic Temple and Hotel Charlotte), the humble, sturdy mill has proved surprisingly resilient. 

Why do old places matter? A Mecklenburg native explores the question.

Piazza Navona in Rome. Credit: Paul Edmondson/National Trust for Historic Preservation Why do we care about old places, and why should we work to preserve them? A Huntersville native and prominent national preservationist takes a look at those questions through a lens that stretches from Eastland Mall to the historic wonders of Rome. 

Should Charlotte do more to preserve its history?

Camp North End, a former Ford factory, distribution center and missile factory north of uptown Charlotte that's being redeveloped for adapative reuse projects. Photo: Nancy Pierce. There’s been a lot of talk lately in Charlotte about the value of older buildings and what we should do to save them, spurred by the Excelsior Club’s possible sale and demolition. For a fast-growing city with leaders who have long been spurred on by the promise of more development and an ever-bigger, ever-shinier skyline, it can be hard to preserve the past. Charlotte has a reputation for tearing down its past to make way for the future, with casualties that include notable buildings such as the Masonic Temple, Independence Tower and Hotel Charlotte (imploded as part of a David Copperfield television special).

When downtowns come alive again

Uptown Shelby alley that a Boy Scout restored. Photo: Mary Newsom If you’re thinking downtowns are dead, you haven’t been paying attention. I recently got an earful of downtown success stories from across the state. Commentary.

Can Charlotte learn these lessons in time to save lower South End?

A refurbished corner store building in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: David Walters Can lower South End survive the large-scale cookie-cutter development now ravaging South End and NoDa? David Walters offers a way forward, based on lessons from Des Moines. Yes, Des Moines. Commentary.

With mill preserved, new effort saves Loray’s village

Brian Miller with the house he bought as is in Gastonia's Loray Mill village. Photo courtesy Preservation North Carolina. Gastonia’s huge Loray Mill held its grand opening in March 2015, showing off the adaptive reuse of the building. Now the nonprofit Preservation North Carolina aims to restore many of the houses in the nearby mill village.

George E. Davis – Rosenwald agent extraordinaire

Sketch of a Rosenwald community school. Photo: HistorySouth.org Charlotte's George E. Davis, a tireless advocate for education and one of the leading advocates for the building of Rosenwald schools, was a major reason that a number of these schools were built in North Carolina.