The U.S. Mint Building, on the corner in Charlotte that has always been operated by the federal government.
In 1799 farmer John Reed found a seventeen-pound gold nugget on his farm twenty-five miles east of Charlotte. When a jeweler told him exactly what his expensive doorstop was, it sparked the first gold rush in the United States. As discoveries around Charlotte and the nearby counties spread, the city became the trade center of the first gold production region in the country, and several rich local mines appeared. By 1835 gold production was so heavy that the U.S. Treasury decided to open a branch of the U.S. Mint in Charlotte, and this Neoclassical building was completed on West Trade Street in 1837.
Between 1838 and 1861, the Charlotte mint coined more than $5 million in gold pieces before it closed amid the Civil War. This photograph shows two men posing beside a cannon on the grounds of the Min around 1900, with the corner of the larger 1891 Post Office beside it.
The postcard inset is from around 1900 and shows the Mint's neighbor, the first United States Post Office, which operated on the corner of Trade and Mint Streets from 1881 to 1915.
The U.S. Mint was reopened in 1868 as an assay office, which operated only until 1913 since gold production in Charlotte largely ceased after 1910. It stood vacant for four years until the Charlotte Women's Club used it for meetings from 1917 to 1919, and it was also used as a Red Cross station during World War I. The original post office next door was torn down in 1913, and two years later a larger building was constructed on the site for the same purpose. In 1931, a planned expansion of the newer post office that would nearly triple its size threatened the historic U.S. Mint, and plans were made to raze it. In 1933, it was saved when a coalition of private citizens acquired the structure from the U.S. Treasury Department. New Deal workers for the Civil Works Administration dismantled it brick by brick and reconstructed it in the Eastover neighborhood, and in October 1936 it became North Carolina's first art museum, the Mint Museum of Art. The former location of the building is remembered by a historic marker and the street running beside it, which is still called Mint Street. Today the site continues to serve the federal government; it is still occupied by the expanded section of the 1915 U.S. Post Office, which is now called the Charles R. Jonas Federal Building and functions as a United States Courthouse for the Western District of North Carolina.
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