Charlotte’s history in finance begins with quite the humble origin story. Just as the century was set to turn in 1799, a young boy discovered a substantial gold nugget weighing in at 17 pounds. This discovery sparked what history knows now as the United States gold rush. In less than forty years, over 50 operational mines spanned the region. A Charlotte branch of the U.S. Mint opened in 1837 where North Carolina gold was utilized to produce coins.
Queen Charlotte - Charlotte NC’s namesake and where we get the nickname “Queen City.” Image courtesy of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
From its opening in 1837 to 1859 the Charlotte Mint produced over $5 million worth of gold coins. During the Civil War the Confederacy took control of the Mint when North Carolina seceded. The building was repurposed during the war for medical and official purposes. The building was used for various other purposes following the war, but it never returned to its original purpose. The building was eventually relocated and repurposed as the Mint Museum of Art in 1936, North Carolina’s first art museum. Coins minted at the Charlotte branch are highly valued due to their rarity.
Mint Museum of Art, in the former Charlotte Mint building. Image courtesy of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Although the era of large mergers and outsized growth ended with the recent recession, Charlotte remains a strong financial center. Bank of America’s Charlotte headquarters employs over 15,000 people, while Wells Fargo employs close to 20,000. Additionally, dozens of smaller financial companies and banks moved to Charlotte to take advantage of the high concentration of employees with financial experience. Today, Charlotte is the second largest banking center in the United States—the Queen City of Finance.
Until next week,
UNC Charlotte Undergraduate Student
Summer Intern, The Charlotte Museum of History
About The Charlotte Museum of History
The Charlotte Museum of History exists to save and share the Charlotte region’s history, helping create a better understanding of the past and inspiring dialogue about the future. The museum is the steward of the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Rock House and homesite, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest home in Mecklenburg County. Visit charlottemuseum.org and follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The museum is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
This post is based on an essay by Paul Kurzeja for the Charlotte 240 project, a collection of essays written by Charlotteans that explore regional history and highlight the people, places, and spaces that tell our story. You can find the original article here.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass