Arts & Culture

Historic Walking Tour Of Charlotte

June 9, 2014 8:00 AM

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(photo credit: lattaplantation.org)

(photo credit: lattaplantation.org)

Walking tours are one of the best ways to see Charlotte’s Center City, a compact district with numerous museums, sports facilities and works of public art, including the largest collection of frescos found in any city outside of Italy. Despite its reputation for tearing down historic landmarks, the city retains a collection of historic commercial buildings, most from the 1920s modernist school, as well as an uptown neighborhood of restored Victorian mansions. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission website offers numerous walking and driving tours of Charlotte neighborhoods as well as details on historic properties. History buffs seeking more information on the region can visit the top floor of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library’s main branch at 310 N. Tryon where the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room holds numerous resources on local history, genealogy and the African American community. Those who prefer not to walk can tour by rental B-Cycle, aboard the free Gold Rush Trolley, by Segway or by horse-drawn carriage. Contact the Charlotte Visitor Info Center for additional information.
The Square
Trade St. and Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
www.meckdec.org/charlotte-liberty-walk

Charlotte history began at the corner of Trade and Tryon streets, once the crossroads where two important Native American trading paths crossed. Thomas Polk, Charlotte’s founder, built his first house here, and constructed Mecklenburg’s first county courthouse in the middle of The Square in 1768. In the years since, the crossroads witnessed most of Charlotte’s important events, including the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in 1775, and today is dominated by the Bank of America headquarters and a series of statues commemorating Charlotte history. The Charlotte Liberty Walk, a series of markers in the blocks surrounding The Square, detail local events that occurred during and after the Revolutionary War, including the Battle of Charlotte in 1780 and President George Washington’s visit in 1791. Thomas Polk Park, on the southwest corner of the Square, has markers giving details of the life of this early settler and great-uncle of President James K. Polk, and, with its waterfall, makes a refreshing stop on a walking tour of the city.

Related: Best Murals In Charlotte

Old Settlers’ Cemetery
200 W. 5th St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 336-2123
www.cmstory.org

Located just behind the historic First Presbyterian Church, Settler’s Cemetery was Charlotte’s first burial ground, with graves dating from 1774 to 1867. Those interred here include Charlotte’s founder Thomas Polk and his family, Revolutionary War hero George Graham, N.C. Governor Dr. Nathaniel Alexander and other early figures in Charlotte history. The nearby Elmwood/Pinewood Cemetery, founded in 1853, contains the graves of many prominent Charlotteans, both African American and white, as well as distinctive examples of Victorian-era funerary art.

Related: Historic Churches In Charlotte

Alexander Michael’s Restaurant And Tavern
Fourth Ward
401 W. 9th St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 332-6789
www.almikestavern.com

Located in the historic Crowell-Berryhill store, which opened in 1897, Fourth Ward’s favorite hangout, known to locals as “Al Mike’s,” is a great place to grab some refreshments while touring this neighborhood of restored Victorian mansions, many over 100 years old, located just blocks from the Square. Diagonally across 9th Street, the Newcomb-Berryhill house, built in 1884, is one of the most ornate with elaborate examples of gingerbread millwork. Free walking tour maps of the neighborhood can be found in kiosks located on Poplar Street at the corners of 6th and 9th streets. The Friends of Fourth Ward association sponsors holiday and garden tours of this charming district in December and May.

The Dunhill Hotel
237 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 332-4141
www.dunhillhotel.com

The Dunhill, which opened as the Mayfair Manor in 1929, is Charlotte’s oldest surviving hotel. The 10-story neo-classical structure, designed by architect Louis Asbury Sr., is topped by an elegant penthouse with balconies overlooking Tryon. Today it is home to the Asbury Restaurant, serving innovative Southern-inspired cuisine. The surrounding block is an interesting one for history buffs, with the Foundation for the Carolinas displaying its world-class collection of art in the former c. 1920 Montaldo’s department store building. Next door, the shell of the 1927 Carolina Theatre, once an Art Deco showplace, is being returned to its original appearance by the foundation in association with Bank of America, and is due to reopen in 2016.

Latta Arcade
320 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 561-5275
www.facebook.com/LattaArcade

Built in 1914 by Edward Dilworth Latta, developer of the Dilworth neighborhood, this unique building originally used for grading cotton has a glass ceiling and is lined with small shops and restaurants. Behind it, the cobblestone-paved Brevard Court provides a pedestrian pass-through to the new Romare Bearden Park, and is home to many pubs and eateries. Nearby, in the 400 block of South Tryon, Bernardin’s Restaurant occupies the historic 1929 Ratcliffe’s Flower building, with a charming Mediterranean-inspired interior. Ratcliffe’s original neon sign hangs in the adjacent park called The Green. The Wells Fargo History Museum, at 401 S. Tryon, tells the story of Charlotte’s gold rush and its growth as a financial center.

Related: Best Local Trivia About Charlotte

With 15 years of experience covering restaurants in Charlotte and the Carolinas, and two regional guidebooks under her belt, Renee Wright examines the dining scene with enthusiasm plus a deep knowledge of food trends and outstanding local eating ops. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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