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Turn of the 20th Century: Life in Charlotte 1900 - 1910

Parochial School

By 1900, the O'Donoghue School was the oldest private school in Charlotte. It was established on August 27, 1887 by the Sisters of Mercy. It was first called St. Mary's Seminary. This school was for children whose parents wanted them to receive a Catholic education.  In 1905, the school moved to a larger building at 531 South Tryon Street, and changed its name to the O'Donoghue School after the school's benefactor, Dr. Dennis O'Donoghue.

Chapter One: Fun Facts

Below are things you would have seen in 1900. The date beside each item indicates the year it was invented.

French Fries - 1700s by Thomas Jefferson

Bicycles - 1790

Graham Crackers - 1829

Lawn mowers - 1830

Chewing gum - 1848

Sewing Machines - 1851

Elevators - 1853

Dynamite - 1866

Cracker Jacks - 1872

Mail Order Catalogs - 1872

Ketchup - 1876

Telephones - 1876

Toilet Paper - 1880

Coca Cola by John Pemberton - 1886

Basketball - 1891

Chapter Information

1.  Fun Facts

◾ First Time Events 

◾ New Words 

◾ Cost of Living 

◾ Things Familiar 

◾ Things Unknown 

◾ Winter Wonders 

◾ Holiday Gifts 

Early Cameras

Roll film cameras by Kodak were first introduce in 1895. Eastman Kodak Company became one of the largest manufacturers of home cameras. This enabled families to take home pictures without hiring a professional photographer.  The Van Ness Family operated a photograph studio and sold camera equipment and film from  their store at 125 East Fifth Street from the 1870s  to well into the 1930s. William  I. Van Ness was the son of local photographer, James Van Ness who was one of Charlotte's early photographers. 

The Bee Hive

The Bee Hive was a popular place to go shopping for clothes and shoes.  Located at 43-47 East Trade Street, this small drygoods store opened in 1902 by H. M. Efird with cooperation of Charles A. Williams of the Williams & Shelton Company.

Things Familiar

Believe it or not, everything has a history, including chewing gum! Listed below are some things you might recognize.  Beside each item, is the name of the person or persons associated with introducing or inventing the product, and the year it became popularly known.  

French Fries  by President Thomas Jefferson - 1700s

Modern Bicycle  by John Kemp Starley - 1871

Graham Crackers are associated with the dietary recommendations of the Reverend Sylvestor Graham - 1750 


The turn of the century marks the beginning of the Edwardian period in architecture and furniture design. Elaborate wood carvings and heavy fabrics are very popular. The Andrews Furniture and Music Store carried a wide array of  futniture and organs. Most homes had an organ from the late 1800s until the 1920s when pianos became more popular. Andrews was located at 16 West Trade Street.

Play Clothes

Playtime is very important. Girls usually wear smocks over their dresses, and most boys run barefoot. In town, small parks become a common playground for children, complete with swing sets. These open spaces give children lots of room to play baseball, basketball, Hide-and-Seek, Ring-Around-the-Rosie, “Drop-the-Handkerchief, and Follow-the-Leader.      

Independence Park in Elizabeth was the first city park in Charlotte. There were swings, basektball courts, badmitton and a host of other playground activities available to children in Charlotte.