|Charlotte Coca-Cola Bottling Company
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.