This photo (above) was taken in 1902, the year the seven-story Trust Building was built at 212 South Tryon Street as the city's first high-rise building. It was constructed in the financial district to house the Southern States Trust Company, a new bank organized by local businessman and developer George Stephens. The Trust Building had other early tenants as well, one of which was the fledgling Catawba Power Company. Started in 1900, the company soon merged with the Southern Power Company and eventually became one of the largest electric power companies in the country as Duke Power, thanks to James Buchanan Duke. The first floor of the Trust Building was occupied by the Academy of Music, which replaced the Charlotte Opera House and became the city's leading entertainment venue by presenting traveling operas, vaudeville shows, and short movies.
For twenty years the Trust Building was a fixture on South Tryon, but it burned to the ground on December 17, 1922. The Trust Building property had been acquired in 1919 by The Textile Office Building Company, and when it burned, the lot was sold to the Anchor Mills Company in Huntersville. Anchor Mills was involved with Charles Worth Johnson, a local entrepreneur who had a stake in at least 5 different mills in Mecklenburg County. In 1924 the fifteen-story Johnston Building opened on the site of the Trust Building and was briefly the tallest skyscraper in the city until 1926. The building housed offices for cotton brokers, insurance agents, attorneys, realty companies, and the Southern Bell Telephone Company, and was held by Anchor Mills until the mid-1970s. Today the historic skyscraper still stands and is called the Midtown Plaza, although many Charlotteans still refer to it as the Johnston Building.
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