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FAQ City: Where Are Charlotte's Revolutionary War-Era Buildings?

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NICK DE LA CANAL
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WFAE
The Hezekiah Alexander house, built in 1774 about five miles east of uptown Charlotte, may be one of the last surviving structures from the Revolutionary War in Charlotte.

Today on FAQ City, listener Mark Doherty is curious about Charlotte's Revolutionary War history, specifically, where is it?

"Knowing that Charlotte played a role during the Revolutionary War, I would expect to see some neighborhood or some sites related to that war," he says, "like Boston's North End comes to mind because I'm from New England."

And perhaps you've wondered about this too, having stumbled across one of the many historic plaques and markers around town that talk about the historic buildings that used to be here but aren't anymore. So do we have any original sites left? And if so, where?

On this episode, we bring out our inner Nicolas Cage and go hunting for answers, and just like National Treasure, the search involves American Revolution artifacts and mysterious Masonic runes - and all here in Charlotte!

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Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
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WFAE
Do you recognize these Masonic runes? Historians believe the Alexander house may have been built to represent a Masonic lodge. Some believe these symbols were carved by Hezekiah Alexander himself.

Special thanks to local historian and attorney Scott Syfert for lending his voice and knowledge to this episode. By the way, he's written two books on Charlotte history, the first taking a microscope to the local legend of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, titled "The First Declaration of Independence?" And the second (which just came out a few weeks ago!) about "Eminent Charlotteans: Twelve Historical Profiles From North Carolina's Queen City."

And if, after listening to this episode, you want to go check out the Hezekiah Alexander house for yourself, do it! Tours of the house are included with admission to the Charlotte Museum of History, open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also, if you're looking for more cool historical places from the Revolutionary War time period around the area, here are a few honorable mentions, which are all open to the public:

  • Historic Rural Hill - Located in Huntersville, this sprawling 265-acre patch of land was once a Revolutionary War-era farm. On the property today is an old schoolhouse, the ruins of the family's mansion, an old graveyard, and several other historic buildings, including a log cabin that dates back to around the 1760s, and a well house and an ash house from 1788.

  • Historic Latta Plantation - Also in Huntersville, this 52-acre living history is more geared toward the early 1800s - it includes an original two-story plantation house and a few other buildings from that time period. But it also has an original log cabin that's estimated to have been built sometime between 1760 and 1790, which would place it around the time of the Revolution.

  • Hugh Torance House And Store - Wow. Yet another site in Huntersville. This site is reportedly home to North Carolina's oldest store. The log house section of the building was built in 1779, and it was later expanded into a store in 1805. Tours of the site only run April through October, on every first and third Sunday.

  • Old Settler's CemeteryNot exactly a building, but a Revolutionary War-era site nonetheless. Located near uptown Charlotte, this graveyard has the remains of many of the city's first settlers. Some graves date back to 1776.

Which question about Charlotte should we tackle next? Ask your question in the box below, and we may just find an answer on an upcoming episode of FAQ City!
Also, be sure to subscribe and rate/review the podcast on Apple PodcastsNPR One, and Google Play.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. He work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal

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