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 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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
Only a fraction of the Rosenwald Schools remain, reminders of a remarkable early 20th-century partnership of rural black communities in the South and a Jewish philanthropist from Chicago. Those remaining in Mecklenburg range from lovingly restored to painfully dilapidated.
Bus 1074, one of GM's “New Look” buses that debuted in Charlotte in 1972, has found new life, thanks to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.
The efforts vary from city to city. Kannapolis, for instance, bought 50 acres of downtown property. Initiatives to revitalize downtowns across the Carolinas range from renovating aging buildings to building museums to trying to lure private hotel developers.
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