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Charlotte Coca-Cola Bottling Company Plant

1401-1409 West Morehead St.




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In April, 1902, J. Luther Snyder, a Virginia native, moved from Atlanta, where he had worked for the Coca-Cola Co. for two years. He settled here to establish the first Coca-Cola bottling plant in the Carolinas. "When I came to Charlotte, the city had 17,000 people, eighteen saloons, two breweries . . . and I had a terrible time selling soft drinks with that kind of competition," Snyder remembered.

Several factors were working in Snyder's favor, however. The temperance movement was sweeping the South, and it would soon sound the death knell for the breweries and the saloons. Charlotte was becoming a major textile center; and the industrial workers, forced to work for 12 to 14 hours a day in stifling heat and humidity, would eagerly buy Snyder's "soft" drink.

At first, the bottling and distribution systems were primitive. The capping and bottling equipment were foot-powered. Horse-drawn wagons meandered through the streets of Charlotte, hauling Coca-Cola to industrial establishments, neighborhood grocery stores, and drug stores. Long distance deliveries were shipped in metal packing crates by railroad. In 1907, Snyder moved his bottling plant to 14-18 South Poplar St.; in 1913 to 522-524 West Fifth St.; and in 1918 to 213 N. Graham St. But it was in 1930 that Snyder had this magnificently playful building erected on W. Morehead St.

"The Charlotte Coca-Cola Bottling Company has purchased a site on West Morehead Street and will begin immediately the construction of a new plant to cost approximately $100,000," the Southern Public Utilities Magazine proclaimed in January, 1930. The architect was Marion "Steve" Marsh. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Marsh came to Charlotte in 1916 as chief draftsman for architect J. M. McMichael. In 1922, he opened his own practice and went on to design such important Charlotte buildings as the Charlotte Armory (destroyed), Fairview Homes, and the Plaza Theater (destroyed). Marsh's Coca-Cola Bottling Company building has wonderful ornamental detail, including Coca-Cola bottles. Coca-Cola vacated the building in 1974. It has recently been restored for an adaptive reuse.