Thursday, January 23, 2020

Charlotte Museum of History

Growing up in Charlotte, it must have been a rite of passage to take a field trip to the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site. I remember going – probably more than once – but I hadn’t been back to this historical landmark and The Charlotte Museum of History that maintains it since elementary school. So I recently decided I was long overdue for a visit.

The Charlotte Museum of History, located in east Charlotte off Shamrock Dr., is a not-for-profit organization that preserves and showcases relics, artifacts and a deeper understanding our community’s past.

While the flagship attraction of the museum is the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site (built around 1774, this is the oldest surviving house in Mecklenburg County and the last existing home of a framer of North Carolina’s 1776 Constitution and Bill of Rights), there are many other exhibits that make this a destination worth visiting.

Inside, you’ll find galleries dedicated to things like “Unforgettable Music Venues of Charlotte” (an ode to venerable establishments like the Double Door Inn and Tremont Music Hall), “Charlotte Neighborhoods” (which explores urban growth and development from settlement to the early twentieth century), “Keeping Watch on Water: Looking Back at our City of Creeks” (taking a close look at the city’s stream network and its nuances and evolution) and “A Focus on Sports” (a photographic exploration of local amateur and professional sports).

In addition to gallery halls, there are some kid-friendly exhibits, including the Rock House Mysteries play room and the Backcountry Gallery with hands-on replicas of Colonial-era dwellings, furnishings, and a garden.

Outside, in addition to the Alexander home, there’s a reproduction log kitchen, barn, and reconstructed two-story springhouse.

Along a short, paved loop trail, you’ll also find the American Freedom Bell (at 7 feet by 7 feet, this is the largest bell at ground level in America; it symbolizes the patriotism and pride of the people of Charlotte), a picnic area, and a Chilean Mill used to separate pieces of gold ore during the Carolina Gold Rush that began in our area in the early 1800s.

Out front of the museum is a Spanish cannon used in the Spanish-American War and gifted to the city two years after it was captured by American forces in 1898.

For hours and admission, visit the Charlotte Museum of History website. Worth noting: The museum will offer free admission and special programs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 8, 2020 during the Arts and Science Council’s Connect with Culture Days.

How to get there: The Charlotte Museum of History is located at 3500 Shamrock Drive, between Eastway Drive and Sharon Amity Road.

Don’t forget to take:
  • Money for admission: See fees here.
  • A picnic lunch or snack: Enjoy a bite to eat in the outdoor picnic area.
  • A sense of curiosity: There’s more to our city’s history than you probably know!

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