Charlotte’s Historic Neighborhoods and Homes

We all recognize, and many of us love, the Charlotte skyline: peaked skyscrapers that stand in silhouette against a Carolina blue sky. 

But it wasn’t long ago that our skyline was very different indeed. Drive to the outskirts of our city—to small towns with names like Marshville and Mineral Springs and the gentle, rolling woods that stretch between them—and you can almost imagine the Charlotte of yesteryear. 

It was a little more than a century ago that Charlotte’s neighborhoods began to take shape, carved from those same groves of trees and swaths of pastures, manicured and curved into districts we now know by name: Myers Park, Eastover, Freedom Park. 

“Charlotte is a city of neighborhoods,” Tom Hanchett, local historian and author of Legacy: The Myers Park Story, explains with excited earnestness. Hanchett’s experience in and passion for local history stretches back into history itself; he came to Charlotte in 1981 to work for the Historic Landmarks Commission, fell in love with the area, and worked for the Levine Museum of the New South for 16 years. Now he shares Southern history through his website, HistorySouth.org

“It was a tiny place in 1900 with a population of less than 20,000; most of its growth was in the 20th century,” he continues; his voice lilts with love for his adopted hometown. “And we are just now as people, as Americans, starting to think the 20th century had some history to it! Charlotte may not have a lot of log cabins or old Victorian houses, but it does have some amazing 20th century neighborhoods.”

Some of them still hold the historic emblems of their making; others have evolved into wholly modern metropolises. All of them have a story.

MYERS PARK

“In the teens and twenties, that area of southeast Charlotte was really the elite quadrant of the city,” explains Hanchett. The city’s earliest movers and shakers called Myers Park home—people like James B. Duke, mastermind millionaire behind Duke Energy and the The Duke Endowment and Duke University. In addition to claiming the largest residence as his own, Duke also helped forge the foundation of the neighborhood; it was his assistance, for example, that led to the planting of more mature trees on the barren landscape of the new neighborhood. Duke was joined by other of Charlotte’s nouveau riche: “The people around him were the leaders of banks, the electric power generation, textile mills,” Hanchett adds. “The economic heartbeat of Charlotte was there, and in many ways it still is.”

The neighborhood’s residents may have helped shape the economic landscape of Charlotte, but it was the neighborhood’s planner—John Nolen—who helped shape the physical landscape of the city. “Myers Park is of national importance; it is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is unusually significant even at that level because it was planned by John Nolen, who was probably the foremost landscape/neighborhood planner in the first third of the 20th century,” Hatchett explains. It was Nolen who introduced the notion of curving streets (Myers Park’s trademark), and his ideas continue to influence the evolution of the city today: “Nolen had an idea for greenway parks that would thread through that neighborhood and Sugar Creek, and they’re now building some of his visions from 1911.”

Modern Conveniences

Favorite Sights

    
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  • Queens Road West, with its curving, tree-lined avenues, is often cited as one of the most beautiful boulevards around. 
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  • Historic architecture shines at Queen’s College 
and the Duke Mansion.

Favorite Eats 

    
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  • Aix en Provence, littleSpoon, RockSalt

Favorite Dos

    
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  • The 2.8 mile Queen’s Road loops is a favorite 
for local cyclists. 
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  • Take in a show at the neighborhood theater, 
Theatre Charlotte. 

FREEDOM PARK 

Though locals have only recently begun to recognize Freedom Park as a “neighborhood,” the history of the community runs deep. The park itself was planned to honor war veterans following WWII (you’ll still find a plaque dedicated to veterans near the baseball stadium). “People chipped in and raised money for the park, which was part of John Nolen’s greenway plan,” Hatchett says, circling back to touch on Charlotte’s favorite neighborhood planner. 

Bordered by Myers Park on one side and Dilworth on the other, Freedom Park was largely influenced by its neighborhoods. “The north end of the neighborhood is an extension of Dilworth, which was Charlotte’s first suburb planned out in 1891 by Edward Dilworth Latta (that’s why Latta Plantation is in the middle of that neighborhood),” Hatchett explains. “In the ’20s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, Dilworth spilled southward around the new Freedom Park.” Drawn by the now-historic park, people are flooding the neighborhood today to renovate old homes and build new ones. 

Modern Conveniences

Favorite Sights

    
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  • The park itself, of course, which is 98 acres of nature, including a 7-acre lake. 

Favorite Eats

    
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  • Kid Cashew, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

Favorite Dos

    
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  • Check out the Symphony’s Summer Pops shows in Freedom Park.
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  • September’s five-day long Festival in the Park attracts over 100,000 visitors.

EASTOVER

Though Eastover could be considered an extension of Myers Park, the ‘20s-era ‘hood is truly its own entity. “It’s different in significant ways,” Hatchett points out. “It’s almost entirely upscale (Meyers Park had a variety of different price points), and Eastover is hard to find because, as the 20th century went along, we got more and more consumed by the notion that a neighborhood is synonymous with privacy, which is not the way neighborhoods were originally.” But like Myers Park, Eastover was also home to the city’s elite, like Hugh McColl Jr., the man behind Bank of America, the first coast to coast bank in America: “And his wasn’t even the biggest, fanciest house!” Hatchett adds with a laugh.

The neighborhood was planned by Earl Sumner Draper, a protege of John Nolen; like his mentor, he loved curving streets and trees, which is still evident in the neighborhood today.  What makes Eastover particularly special is that it was the site of the first municipal art museum in North Carolina, the Mint Museum, the original iteration of which was founded in 1837 (and was first housed in a previously functioning mint on the corner of Mint and Trade). “The people who saved that building were some of the movers and shakers in Charlotte, and they moved it there,” Hatchett adds. 

Modern Conveniences

Favorite Sights

    
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  • Parks, public tennis courts and quaint little shops and restaurants are all within walking distance.
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  • The red-brick Georgian revival and Tudor Revival architecture are a sight to behold. 

Favorite Eats

    
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  • Napa on Providence, Deejai Thai Restaurant

Favorite Dos

    
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  • Visit The Mint Museum of Art, located on Randolph Road, for rich history and art. 
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  • The Manor Theatre, a classic movie theater, shows artsy flicks.