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

hezekiah alexander house.jpg
Nick de la Canal
/
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.

Editor's Note: A version of this episode originally aired on May 22, 2018.

Last month, Charlotte celebrated what’s known as “Meck Dec Day," the annual holiday in honor of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. On May 20, 1775 — more than a full year before the United States Declaration of Independence — it's said that influential men of Charlotte declared themselves "free and independent" of British rule. In honor of Meck Dec Day, this week FAQ City revisits a 2018 episode about Charlotte's Revolutionary War history.

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," Doherty said. "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?

masonic runes.jpg
Nick de la Canal
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?" The second is called "Eminent Charlotteans: Twelve Historical Profiles From North Carolina's Queen City."

If, after listening to this episode, you want to go check out the Hezekiah Alexander house for yourself, tours of the house are included with admission to the Charlotte Museum of History.

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 in Huntersville is a sprawling 265-acre patch of land that 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 wellhouse and an ash house from 1788.
  • Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville is a 52-acre living history ites 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 - is yet another site in Huntersville. This site is reportedly home to North Carolina's oldest operating store. The log house section of the building was built in 1779, and it was later expanded into a store in 1805.
  • Old Settler's Cemetery is not exactly a building, but it's 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.
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
Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.