Are you a real Charlottean? How many of these 15 fun cultural facts do you know?

By Erin Maddrey

January 22, 2017

How much do you know about Charlotte’s cultural community? Did you know that Charlotte is home to the oldest community theater (Theatre Charlotte), the first municipal orchestra (Charlotte Symphony) and the first art museum (The Mint Museum) in North Carolina? I bet you didn’t know that, and truthfully, I didn’t know that either until I started writing this article.

The fact remains that the Queen City is vibrant with culture, art, dance, and music. To experience about all our community has to offer, you’re invited to ASC’s Connect with Culture Day. Connect with Culture Day is January 28 and is the not-to-be-missed cultural event of the year. This all day event features more than 20 free experiences that will take place at various times and locations throughout Mecklenburg County. A full list of activities and participating cultural organizations can be found here.

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Photo courtesy of ASC Charlotte

With so many things going on during the day, we at CLTure thought it would be fun to share some fun facts about Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural community. Many of the museums, theaters, and venues highlighted will be hosting events during ASC’s Connect with Culture Day. Get your squad together and make plans to have some serious fun learning about our beautiful city.

Here are some fun historical facts about Charlotte’s cultural community: 

1.) ASC’s first annual fund drive in 1958 raised $68,000 and supported eight member organizations that still exist today – Charlotte Choral Society (Carolina Voices), Charlotte Symphony, Charlotte Nature Museum, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Mint Museum of Art, Theatre Charlotte, Oratorio Singers (now part of the Charlotte Symphony) and Opera Carolina.

2.) The Charlotte Museum of History was originally founded in 1976 as the Mint Museum of History.

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Charlotte Museum of History at 3500 Shamrock Dr. Photo by Jonathan Cooper

3.) The design of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture was inspired by the old Myers Street School, which was Charlotte’s first black public school.

4.) The Levine Museum of the New South was founded as a “museum without walls” in 1991 and placed interactive kiosks and other exhibits around uptown Charlotte. It moved into its home on East Seventh Street in 2001.

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Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers exhibit Levine Museum of the New South in Uptown. Photo by Jonathan Cooper

5.) Stars including Bob Hope to Frank Sinatra performed at the Carolina Theatre in uptown Charlotte during the theater’s heyday. Elvis Presley made his first appearance in Charlotte at the now-vacant theater in 1956.

6.) RCA Victor Records recorded some of country music’s early stars, including Bill Monroe and the Carter Family, at the old Hotel Charlotte, which was located where the Carillon Building now stands on West Trade Street. The public artwork “Cascade,” by Jean Tinguely, includes a lion’s head that adorned the façade of the hotel.

7.) Clayworks, located on Monroe Road in East Charlotte, is one of the four largest ceramic arts educational facilities in the United States.

8.) The aircraft from the “Miracle on the Hudson” incident in 2009 is on display at Carolinas Aviation Museum. For those unfamiliar with this story, it has been immortalized in the film “Sully” featuring Tom Hanks as hero Captain Chesley Sullenberger.

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“Miracle on the Hudson” plane at Carolinas Aviation Museum. Photo by Jonathan Cooper

9.) The first performance at Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts took place Oct. 12, 2009, with Steve Martin on banjo accompanied by the Steep Canyon Rangers.

10.) The Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. established Children’s Theatre of Charlotte in 1948 to help expose Charlotte-area children to the arts.

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Children’s Theatre of Charlotte at ImagineOn. Photo by Jonathan Cooper

11.) The largest cultural event ever in North Carolina was The Mint Museum’s “Ramessess the Great” exhibition in 1988-89. The exhibition drew more than 634,000 visitors in four months.

12.) The Hezekiah Alexander House at the Charlotte Museum of History was originally built in 1774. Hezekiah Alexander bought more than 300 acres on Sugar Creek in 1767 and worked as a blacksmith and later a farmer while he served in the Fifth Provincial Congress which wrote North Carolina’s first constitution. It’s the oldest house in Mecklenburg County and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

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Hezekiah Alexander House at Charlotte Museum of History. Photo by Jonathan Cooper

13.) Charlotte Ballet – then the North Carolina Dance Theatre – moved from Winston-Salem to Charlotte in 1990.

14.) In 1984, after the McColl Center for Art + Innovation (former Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church) stood empty for several years, a homeless woman seeking shelter started a small fire to keep warm,  the fire quickly raged out of control and burned the structure down. The Charlotte landmark was merely an abandoned building before Hugh McColl and the Arts & Science Council helped renovate the building, completing the project in 1999.

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McColl Center. Photo by Jonathan Cooper

15.)  Portraits of the Bechtler family painted by renowned pop artist Andy Warhol are on display in the fourth-floor gallery of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art as part of the museum’s “Bechtler Collection: Relaunched and Rediscovered” exhibition.

Want to learn more about Charlotte’s rich history and culture? Check out the full list of free events on January 28 for Connect with Culture Day. Have fun and remember to use the hashtag #CultureForall.

*ASC Charlotte is a proud partner of CLTure*

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