This shot from 1901 shows Charlotte’s fourth courthouse – a domed Greek Revival building at the corner of South Tryon and Third Streets. The city’s first law building was a humble log structure at the Square, and two more downtown buildings were eventually used for the purpose. The South Tryon courthouse was built in 1897 on the site of the Liberty Hall Academy, which was the successor of the classical school originally known as the Queens Museum. The monument in the middle of the plaza honored the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and was dedicated there in 1898. When the courthouse was built, this part of South Tryon was mostly residential, but it triggered a change in land use that led to the emergence of the street as an important financial district. Local entrepreneurs began to open buildings nearby, renting office space to lawyers needing a location near the courthouse.
This image of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Courthouse appeared on a postcard in 1911.
The South Tryon structure served as the city’s courthouse until 1926, when city leaders decided to create a city-county municipal building that combined the functions of a courthouse and a city hall. Both the courthouse and the city hall on Fifth Street were torn down, and a large government complex was erected on East Trade Street that still serves as the city’s municipal plaza today. The corner of South Tryon and Third was eventually occupied by various retail stores until 1953, when it became the site of the Modernist-style Jefferson Standard Building. The building underwent renovation in the 1970s and became the First Union National Bank Building. In the late 1980s, it received another major facelift, and its façade was remodeled to compliment the neighboring Two Wachovia Center after First Union and Wachovia merged. The building was known as Wachovia Main until the bank’s merger with Wells Fargo in 2008, and is currently called Wells Fargo Main.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass