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Charlotte's Legacy: The Changing Faces of a City

The New City

A view of Charlotte at the end of the 20th century revealed handsome skyscrapers that were home to some of the leading financial institutions in the country. Many of the leaders of these banks have played in instrumental role in the changing face of Charlotte's skyline.

Bonnie Cone's Legacy

The history of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte began in the basement of Central High School in 1946 as an extension program of the UNC system. Three years later when UNC tried to close the school, Bonnie Cone led the good fight to keep it open. Her efforts paid off and Charlotte College was established as a community college. Cone was instrumental in establishing the school as a four year college. In 1962, the school moved to its present location in the northern part of the county and became part of the UNC system in 1965 with an enrollment of 1,815.

Henry Bridges' Legacy

The Community School of the Arts was founded in 1969 by Henry Bridges, who decided to bring together Charlotte's children and the pianos of the First Presbyterian Church. (Bridges was the choir director and organist for the church.) From its small beginnings, the school branched out to various locations throughout the city, bringing music education to young and old alike. Instruction in music, dance, the visual arts and other programs are available for a nominal fee, but no one is turned away because of lack of tuition.


Everyone loves Greece during the Yiasou Greek Festival which is held each Fall at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral on East Boulevard. Food, dance, and music abound to entertain young and old alike. The children below are dressed in traditional Greek costumes and are lining up as they prepare to perform during the festival.

A Legacy of Healing

The first hospital in Charlotte emerged during the Civil War at the North Carolina Military Institute. From 1876, a number of private hospitals, including St. Peter's (1876-1940), Good Samaritan (1888-1990), Charlotte Sanatorium (1907-1942), Presbyterian Hospital (1898-) and Mercy Hospital (1906-). The North Carolina Medical College, founded in 1892, occupied a building on the corner of 6th and Church Streets served the medical needs of the community.

Up in Arms

Not all changes have been embraced with open arms. Protesters picketed outside Judge James McMillan's home following his historical decision in Swann vs. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, which led to the integration of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Judge McMillan endured death threats, as well as protesters because he believed in the law's ability to protect the rights of all citizens. Eventually the concept of desegregation became accepted within the community.

Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

Charlotte’s first free library opened its doors in 1903. Designed in the Neo-Classical tradition, it was built with funds from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. This building served the city until 1954 when it was demolished to make way for a new building, which opened in 1956. Thirty years later this building was stripped and expanded until the library was nearly double its size. The third Main Library  celebrated its grand opening on June 18, 1989.

The Power of a Cracker

Founded by Philip L. Lance in 1913, the Lance Corporation has become synonymous with the peanut butter cracker. Originally Lance sold his peanut goods door-to-door. His son-in-law, S. A. Van Every soon joined him. By 1926, the company moved to the facility on South Boulevard as seen here. Eventually the Lance Corporation moved to a large, more modern facility on Pineville Road and the company expanded its operations throughout the country.

A Night at the Opera

he Trust Building on South Tryon Street was a six-story structure that housed a variety of businesses. The first floor was home to The Academy of Music. It opened its doors to the public on September 29, 1902 and would serve as the leading entertainment venue for the next twenty years. Many traveling opera companies appeared at the Academy as well as Vaudeville shows and short movies. Sadly, a fire in 1922 destroyed the Trust Building and brought an end to much of the traveling live entertainment in Charlotte.

Highland Mill #3

Highland Park Manufacturing Company first organized in 1891. The company opened its Charlotte division, Highland Mill #3 around 1900. Located in what is now known as the North Davidson District, the mill became one of the leading manufacturers of gingham in the United States. The owners of the company built recreation centers, businesses, and houses for the workers at the mill. A close knit community emerged and was greatly affected by the closing of Highland Mill in 1969. The area experienced an economic decline but reemerged as a vibrant neighborhood for the arts.