A Postcard's-Eye View of Historic Charlotte
Charlotte, like any major American city, is constantly changing.
Buildings are erected. Buildings are demolished. Mary Lynn Morrill's
collection of Historic Postcards provides a fascinating glimpse into
Charlotte's evolving townscape. Many of these structures are gone. A few
remain. Look at these images and take a trip back in time.
The Osborne Corner
This picture was taken sometime between 1891 and 1908. It shows the
Osborne House, an early 19th century, Federal style dwelling
that stood on the northwestern corner of the Square. Notice the blur of
the trolley moving along Trade St. The building on the far left is the
Selwyn Hotel that stood at Trade and Church Sts. New South industrialist
D. A. Tompkins lived here for many years.
Charlotte Southern Railroad Station
Architect Frank Milburne designed this Spanish Mission style station
soon after 1900. It stood on West Trade St. and the railroad tracks,
about where the Bus Station presently sits. Milburne fashioned a series
of stations in this style. Indeed, Salisbury still has and has restored
its Spanish Mission style railroad station. Legend holds that President
Woodrow Wilson once asked whether the Charlotte Station was fireproof.
When told that it was, Wilson supposedly said, "What a pity." The
building was demolished in 1962.
Charlotte Carnegie Library and Charlotte First Baptist Church
Architect James McMichael designed both of these buildings in the
first decade of the twentieth century. The building on the right was the
Charlotte Carnegie Library. Many Charlotteans remember sitting by the
open windows in the main reading room on lazy summer afternoons, feeling
the breeze brush across their faces. The building on the left was the
First Baptist Church, now part of Spirit Square. Notice that McMichael
liked domes. McMichael insisted that the Library, which was built
second, be compatible in design with the church next door. Would that
Charlotte architects remained so sensitive to the concept of
Steward's Hall at the North Carolina Military Institute
This imposing edifice was built in 1859 at the southern edge of
Charlotte as a dormitory and classroom building for the North Carolina
Military Institute. It stood about where the Central Y.M.C.A. now sits.
The Superintendent of the Institute was South Carolinian
Daniel Harvey Hill. The school closed at the outbreak of the Civil
War when the students went to Virginia to fight the Yankees. The
building was later used as a public school. Notice that the postcard
says that the building was used as a prison for Federal troops during
the Civil War. The building was demolished in the 1950's to make way for
Charlotte Central High School
This building was home to thousands of high school students from the
1920's to the 1960's. Students remember teachers like Janet Robinson, a
specialist in religion, Karl Sawyer, a mathematics teacher, and his
brother George, who taught Biology. George was especially adept at
dissecting frogs. And who could forget Mary Balle? She insisted that
correct grammar be used. The building, which has been insensitively
altered, is now used by Central Piedmont Community College.
Charlotte Memorial Stadium and Armory
Long before crowds gathered at Ericsson Stadium, throngs went to
Memorial Stadium to watch football games, even professional teams. There
was a professional football game going on when word arrived on December
7, 1941, that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. College games occurred here
regularly. Johnson C. Smith University still plays some of its games
here. The Armory Building eventually burned. The site is now occupied by
The Mayfair Hotel was built at North Tryon and Sixth Sts. in the
1920's. By then homes along Tryon St. were beginning to give way to high
rise buildings like this one. If you look at the very top of the Mayfair
you will see a penthouse. The owner of the house that occupied the site
before the building was erected insisted that he be given living space
at the top of the hotel. The architect of the Mayfair was Louis Asbury,
who fashioned many notable building across Charlotte and the region.
Happily, the building still stands. It is now the Dunhill Hotel.
Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts
This 1950's motel was designed as "logo architecture." This means
that all buildings erected by the company were the same. This allowed
motorists to recognize the chain as they drove across the country.
Clearly, buildings like the Alamo Plaza were reflective of the
automobile era, when gasoline was cheap and folks wanted to drive their
cars right up to the door. The Spanish Mission style Alamo Plaza, which
stood on North Tryon St. when that was a major entryway into Charlotte,
is no more. But we still have oodles of "logo architecture."