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Community Guidelines

The NoDa Community believes in supporting the neighborhood to be the best it can be. We strive to promote the arts, advocate for a greener environment, support small and local businesses and entrepreneurs of all types, encourage diversity, inclusion, and equity, and create a sense of connection and community. The following Community Guidelines have been developed by our community members to help create an environment in which street vendors are able to continue selling their wares in our neighborhood’s ‘downtown' while ensuring that all NoDaZens and friends of NoDa enjoy a safe and welcoming environment in our shared public spaces. To support our community, please self-regulate and follow the guidelines. 

Community Guidelines
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  • Public Spaces / Accessibility
    Public Spaces are Public – We believe that public spaces such as right-of-way areas, are for public use and are first come, first served. Blocking or claiming ownership of a public space in NoDa is not accepted by our community members. All public space is welcome for any community member to use on a first come, first served basis. Sidewalks - All community members and friends of NoDa must adhere to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and be aware of and welcoming to people of all abilities. Do not block sidewalks, curb cuts, or crosswalks. Please visit the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division for more information. Parking/Loading Zones – Loading zones, parking spots, and crosswalks are to be used only for their intended purposes. Loading zones are welcome to be used by community members for the loading and unloading of items and not for parking vehicles or staging tables. Please visit the City’s Park It program for more information. Driveways / Bus Stops – Access to driveways and bus stops must be accessible at all times, even during loading and unloading. Never block driveways or bus stops. Benches – Community benches are provided to the NoDa business district by the NoDa NBA. They are intended for public use so that our community members and guests can have a place to sit and rest. Therefore, they should not be used in part or in whole for vending purposes.
  • Let’s Keep our Community Safe
    Applicable Laws – All local, state and federal laws must be followed. To view applicable laws, please click here. No Illegal Products – Illegal products must not be sold, displayed, or used in any public space in NoDa. Sight Lines – Maintain line of sight at corners, intersections, and crosswalks. Blocking the line of sight from any direction poses a safety hazard to all visitors. Please ensure the safety of our pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. Threats / Violence – Threats, intimidation, or violence are not tolerated by our community. In an emergency, please dial 911. The NoDa NBA’s Crime & Safety Committee takes these issues seriously and reserves the right to report issues to our CMPD Division Community Coordinator. Food and Beverage – For the safety of community consumers, food and beverage sales need to adhere to City of Charlotte standards, with proper permitting publicly displayed at all times.
  • Access to Buildings, Patios, and Private Property
    Entrances, Windows, and Signage – Please do not block brick and mortar businesses, regardless of operating hours. Please keep a thoughtful clearance to all businesses by not blocking doors, entrances, windows, or signage so that the business may be seen from the street. Similarly, any signage put out in a public space should not impede pedestrians and/or traffic, nor should it impede business door, entry, window or signage sight lines. Private Property – Any use of private property that is not part of a public right of way should have prior permission from that property owner before a display is set up. If you have questions about the use of private property, the NoDa NBA Business Council can serve as a resource for introductions. Please email us at or visit our website to inquire.
  • Be Respectful to Others (Be Neighborly)
    Family Environment – NoDa is a family-friendly environment. The displays and items sold should be mindful of our neighborhood and the people who live here. Music & Amplified Sound – Volume and content should be family friendly. Introduce yourself! We are a community that believes that we are better when we know one another and collaborate. We welcome and encourage all community members from brick-and-mortar businesses, to local artists, to vendors, to residents, to guests, and beyond to come together to build community.
  • Leave No Trace
    Trash – Please use the community trash cans throughout the downtown district for small amounts of trash (less than a standard grocery store bag). For large quantities of trash, businesses are responsible for their own waste and for all other community members, please pack it out. Trees – NoDa prides itself on the care and growth of our tree canopy. In order for our trees to live long and healthy lives, please do not nail, hammer, screw, or bolt anything into the trunks or limbs of trees. Please do not hang anything from tree limbs. Similarly, wires (such as lights) can girdle tree trunks and limbs and should never be tightly bound. If used, please replace and/or adjust yearly. If you see a tree in distress, please contact Landscape Management. Green Space – In order to preserve trees and natural ground cover in our public spaces and to prevent soil compaction, we ask that you prioritize the use of paved areas; nevertheless, please ensure enough room for passage of pedestrians of all abilities. If a paved option is not available, we ask that there remain a buffer zone between any street tree and any public display. Setup / Breakdown – Leave it as it was! Please pick up after yourself and leave no trace.
  • Why do FAQs matter?
    FAQs are a great way to help site visitors find quick answers to common questions about your business and create a better navigation experience.
  • What is an FAQ section?
    An FAQ section can be used to quickly answer common questions about your business like "Where do you ship to?", "What are your opening hours?", or "How can I book a service?".
  • Where can I add my FAQs?
    FAQs can be added to any page on your site or to your Wix mobile app, giving access to members on the go.
  • 11. A Transitional Neighborhood
    With neighborhood support, Winter Properties completed a massive historic renovation of Highland Park Mill No. 3 into market rate apartments called Highland Mill Lofts. The last phase turned the front warehouse building into Heist Brewery and NoDa Veterinary Clinic 2003 marked the beginning of an ongoing evolution of the NoDa Business district. Crosland Properties replaced Kelly’s Café’s mill house eatery at the corner of East 34th Street and North Davidson Street with a 3-story mixed-use project that now houses She Luv-A and Sprinkle. Also in 2003, Pat Nevitt’s building that house Pat’s Tavern, The Wright Now Gallery, and Studio 23 was replaced with the new Nevitt Building. That is now Sabor, Jugo Juice Bar and NoDa 101. In 2006 Crosland also Redeveloped Fat City into a mixed-use project that now houses Protagonist, Pop Bar and Drip IV. The front façade remains with new murals added to the side of the new building. Many other parcels were refurbished and upfitted, going from storage space and light industrial uses to new retail. With this energy came higher rent. It became much more difficult for existing or new galleries to operate in this environment. In 2010 The Center of The Earth Gallery closed and The Chop Shop, a massive warehouse music venue, opened. This was emblematic of NoDa’s transition from “The Arts District” focused on canvases in galleries to more of an “Arts and Entertainment District” with creative energy coming from many angles. While the NoDa Gallery Crawl was no longer viable, art moved to less centralized gallery locations around NoDa, into the streets with vendors, into the periodic All Arts Market hosted by the neighborhood NoDaRioty arts committee, into the restaurants, bars, lobbies, and venues with art exhibitions hanging on the walls, and public art installations. This period also saw the first significant new multi-family residential development in decades. Major new construction projects like The Colony (2002), The Renaissance (2006), and NoDa 18 (2006), Steel Gardens (2007), brought new homeowners to NoDa. Similarly Highland Mill Lofts (2005), The Arden (2007) and The Davy (2010) first opened the door for new apartments. A transitional neighborhood also had another meaning. NoDa had to confront the gentrification that came with increased demand for the historic mill homes and bungalows in walking distance to bustling nightlife. A migration of new families bought and remodeled single-family homes, often with major additions. This trend was highlighted in 2005 when a production company bought the house at 704 East 36th Street. An all-female construction and production crew extravagantly rehabilitated the home on a Turner South network TV show called Homemakers. What was once a condemnable flophouse just a few years before was now a stately mansion, perhaps the premier home in NoDa. All of NoDa used to be affordable housing because the local market rate was well below city averages. Yet each successive apartment or condominium project increased in quality and price. These projects were usually built on vacant or industrial land, but on some occasions, they displaced more affordable housing stock. The NoDa NBA began to advocate for affordable housing concessions in new projects to maintain economic diversity. These efforts did not stop property inflation but did have some limited success. A key moment came in 2006 when the earlier Johnston and Mecklenburg Mills affordable housing project fell into bankruptcy and the City of Charlotte suddenly owned the mill property as one of the lenders on the project. Soon thereafter the city conducted an inspection and determined that the buildings were structurally unsound. In one traumatic night the current residents were evacuated with no time to pack. NoDa lost hundreds of residents to displacement overnight. Johnston and Mecklenburg Mills sat vacant once again.
  • 5. Life in North Charlotte in the early 1900’s
    North Charlotte has a rich and diverse housing typology to go along with the diverse peoples. Mill workers often lived on the same streets as their doctors, teachers, pharmacists, and bosses. Thus, the home types range from the simple mill cottage to big 2-story houses. It was this diversity that would continue to characterize North Charlotte as a potentially exciting neighborhood. Yet when people summarize the history of North Charlotte, they are focused on the mill worker. They usually lived in mill homes, or if bachelors or transient, then possibly boarding houses. The design of the mill plots spoke to the desires of North Carolina mill workers. Because most originally came off farms, they wanted a small plot to garden for supplemental food. Thus, mill homes in the south were not tightly packed row houses or tenement buildings, they included a backyard. They were built to mimic common rural home styles on contained and organized streets, evoking the impression of a rural hamlet more than a factory town. This felt familiar to both migrating farmers and mill veterans alike. While hogs were technically not allowed in Charlotte, most North Charlotte residents had a hog at the neighborhood piggery just beyond city limits and salt-cured their own meat. Residents kept family cows at the neighborhood stables, producing milk and butter. Chickens were everywhere, perhaps the majority of NoDa residents were poultry. The number one crime in North Charlotte was said to be chicken theft, and the community posted signs warning of heavy penalties for poaching. Workers used vacant land around the mills for farming vegetables. Mill homes (and most every North Charlotte home or boarding house) all had front porches. Without electricity at first and air conditioning later, most people spent their leisure hours on their front porch where they could find shade, but also a breeze and light to read the paper. People gathered on porches with instruments for entertainment sharing the music of their roots, and in this way the music from the Appalachia, ethnic heritages, gospels, and slave songs intermingled to slowly build the foundations of American music. With the advent of the radio in the 1920’s, mill workers put their radio in the front porch window, listening to WBT and other stations that recorded and played the music they themselves and other amateurs created. Mill Towns had baseball teams and North Charlotte was no different. Teams started out as a competitive circuit of mill workers, but as competition grew ringers were brought in: mill workers hired only for their baseball skills. This eventually created an ad-hoc semi-professional circuit known as the Twilight League because games were played after work in the summer, under lights. Pro talent at that time was readily available as the Great Depression decimated traditional pro teams. The Highland Park Mill #3 Baseball Team played for over 25 years, winning the National Amateur Baseball World Series in 1941. The ballpark stood between the two rail lines, where the Yards at NoDa Apartments is today. Things weren't perfect by any means. The day-to-day existence of a mill worker was a struggle and was tied directly to the prosperity of the mills. From time-to-time people were out of work and they depended on their extended family and neighbors to help them out. The hours were unreasonably long for everyone, you could expect 10- or 11-hour shifts Monday through Friday, a half shift on Saturday. The mills encouraged only basic education for most workers and employed child labor until national labor laws put limits on these practices. In 1923 some mill workers attempted to unionize and then strike when the labor organizers were fired. But the strike ultimately failed after 1 week and North Charlotte never unionized. The mills themselves often had jobs segregated by race, usually with only the least desirable and most dangerous jobs available to black workers. This segregation likely extended into the neighborhood. Based on common experiences in NC, it is probably right to assume that the housing stock within the mill village was also segregated. In NC mills, women similarly were limited on what jobs they could have and were often paid less. The mill was your boss, your landlord, in some cases your lender, your school principal, and probably funded your leisure and religious activities. It was mostly not feasible to leave the mill life for the average worker. They could exercise their freedom mainly by jumping from one mill to another down the street or two towns over for better pay or to settle grievances, but ultimately many people were born textile mill workers and died textile mill workers. In some ways it was a modern-day feudal system where the “lord” had outsized control of the “serfs” who toiled under them. But the mill workers persevered and at times prospered. They relied on family and a very strong sense of community. The defunct Electric Park was renovated and turned into a community center with bowling alleys, a movie theater, library, and gymnasium. This later became the first North Charlotte YMCA in 1948. North Charlotte had a strong faith community with active churches including the North Charlotte Baptist Church on 36th Street (where The Mercury now stands), North Charlotte Presbyterian Church also on 36th St (where Centro NoDa now stands) Spencer Memorial Methodist Church on North Davidson Street (Where the Johnston YMCA now stands), Friendly Tabernacle Baptist Church on North Davidson Street (exact location unknown) and the tiny Yadkin Avenue Revival Center at 3104 Yadkin Avenue (a shed-like structure behind a mill house). North Charlotte was officially annexed into Charlotte city limits in 1928 and started paving some of the roads. Yet residents were still looked down upon by the greater Charlotte community. Residents were derisively referred to as “lint-heads” for the cotton that clung to their clothes and hair as mill workers. North Charlotte was considered a rough community by outsiders. There was a perception of theft and brawling. In reality it was a strong neighborhood, an economically diverse community, a safe environment to raise a family and do business. Yet North Charlotte was still a separate town as well, surrounded on all 4 sides by farmland. It was connected to Uptown Charlotte only by train at the North Charlotte stop, by trolley or by car on a circuitous route either down North Tryon Street or Central Avenue. Due to its remote location, the city established Charlotte Fire House No. 7 at 3210 North Davidson Street in 1935. It was designated a historic landmark in 2009.
  • 1. North Charlotte's Rural Past
    The lands north of Charlotte have many thousands of years of human history that have been mostly lost to time. At the time of colonization by Europeans who founded Charlotte this area traditionally belonged to The Catawba, Cheraw, Sugaree, Wateree and Waxhaw Peoples. English Explorer James Lederer was probably the first European to encounter The Catawba Nation in 1670 and such interactions introduced endemic European diseases such as smallpox to the native tribes, which lead to the eventual decimation of populations through successive waves of pestilence. The first English frontiersmen arrive in the early 1700’s and through a series of conflicts, migrations, and land deals with natives the Charlotte area is opened for European settlement by the 1760’s. With British settlers comes the first slavery to the area; the first recorded Charlotte slave trade is in 1764. The scourge of slavery is intertwined with prosperity, commerce, and growth in Charlotte for the next 100 years. The lands north of Charlotte along the Sugar Creek (aka Sugaw Creek) and the trading path that would become North Tryon Street are used mainly for farming. By 1780, during the American Revolution, locals formed the Sugaw Creek school, indicating there is a population in the area of North Charlotte. The southern portion of present-day North Charlotte once was W. W. Phifer’s antebellum plantation. His tract extended from the plantation house on Phifer Avenue in Uptown north to present-day 34th Street. In 1815 Archibald Frew built the Rosedale Plantation on North Tryon Street, at the northern edge of what is now the NoDa neighborhood. The plantation encompassed 900 acres that extended to include much of north NoDa. The Phifers as well as The Frews and then the Davidsons who followed them used slaves to work their cotton and timber interests. Because slaves often lived on or near their fields, many of the NoDa residents at that time were likely slaves. Over time much of the land was sold off, especially after the Civil War ended slavery. North Charlotte continued through Reconstruction as smaller farms with sharecroppers and landowners. There were two small lakes off Sugar Creek that were tapped as Charlotte’s water supply in the 1890’s, one at the current floodplain along Cullman Ave and another where The Renaissance and The Colony now stand. In 1870 Mecklenburg County authorized the construction of a larger 100 acre Poor House, situated near the newly constructed Poor House Road (now The Plaza). The Poor House ended up on what is now 36th Street, housing individuals who were disabled, mentally ill, and/or destitute. By 1903 much of North NoDa was owned by Mecklenburg County. Historic Rosedale today sits on 8 acres of land. The undeveloped portions of the Phifer estate were in the hands of the Pegram-Wadsworth development company. Mecklenburg County agreed to move the Poor House again in 1903 to appease the coming mills.
  • 9. A New Name for a New Century:
    The Name “NoDa” was probably coined by architect Russell Pound in the late 90’s. NoDa was short for North Davidson Street, in the way that “South of Houston” branded itself SoHo in New York City in the 70’s. Raid Ahmad likely made the first NoDa logo for the NoDa in the 90’s documentary. The name circulated within the community but did not immediately catch on. Around the Year 2001 North Charlotte resident, WonderWorld film artist, and entrepreneur Dorne Pentes came to a Historic North Charlotte Neighborhood Association (HNCNA) neighborhood. He suggested the neighborhood should fully commit to changing its name to NoDa. The meeting attendees were enthusiastic and voted to pursue NoDa as a brand. Pentes came back with a stack of black and white oval bumper stickers that looked like the country tags you see on European bumpers. The NoDa bumper stickers were soon seen everywhere. The North Charlotte Business Association immediately changed its name to the NoDa Business Association. The HNCNA officially rebranded a year later to the NoDa Neighborhood Association, developing new marketing materials. But the tipping point was likely when all local Realty companies switched from North Charlotte to NoDa on marketing materials in order to sell properties in “The Arts District.” The NoDa Business Association later folded into the NoDa Neighborhood Association, as it’s business committee. The new entity is called the NoDa Neighborhood and Business Association or NoDa NBA. Over the next decade the NoDa brand took off in popularity as many wanted to be associated with The Arts District of Charlotte. Since 2003 the NoDa NBA has defined its own borders for the neighborhood as Matheson Avenue, North Tryon Street, Sugar Creek Road, and The Plaza. This logically defines the historic growth pattern of North Charlotte. Yet there are many businesses and developments outside of this border who call themselves NoDa within the greater North Charlotte region.
  • 2. The Industrial Revolution in Charlotte: The building of a mill town
    During the late 1800’s the US Industrial Revolution that had started in New England made its way south in search of cheap labor and to place manufacturing near the source of the raw materials. North Carolina had regions that became known for cigarettes, furniture, and in particular, textiles. Over time 780 textile mills sprouted in the South and of those, 500 were within 125 miles of Charlotte, making Charlotte a commercial capital of “The New South.” Most Carolina textile mills of the 1800s were built adjacent to rivers and streams to allow hydrodynamics and steam to directly power the textile machinery. But by the turn of the century the Duke family and others were devising the first power grids, thus allowing manufacturing to move away from rivers and instead grow in areas more advantageous for labor and transportation. “North Charlotte” began development in 1903 on rolling farmland about two miles north of the Charlotte city limits. It stood at the nexus of the North Carolina Railroad (NCRR), formerly the Southern Railroad and the Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway Company (ACWR), formerly the Norfolk & Southern Railroad. In a time before paved roads, trucks, and automobiles, this was a key location to bring in cotton from farms, migrant workers from the countryside, and to ship out textiles across the US and the world. North Charlotte was conceived by a group of wealthy textile leaders who envisioned a self-contained industrial district. William Holt from Alamance County, as well as Jesse Spencer and Charles W. Johnston, both of Charlotte, joined forces to build Highland Park Mill No. 3. It would be Charlotte’s first fully electric driven mill and the largest mill with 800 employees, 30,000 spindles and 1,000 looms. Highland Park Mill No 3 was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 and is now Highland Mill Lofts and Heist Brewery. The original power station is now the site of the Duke Energy substation on Brevard Street. Textile mills at that time required a mill house community to attract and house workers, 200,000 of whom migrated off North Carolina family farms. Thus, the mill owners simultaneously built a village for mill workers and their families across North Davidson Street (called North Caldwell Street at that time) from the mill, occupying the area between North Davidson and North McDowell Streets. Designed by noted mill architect Stuart Cramer, the mill housing was of a simple, yet functional design. The typical house consisted of five rooms which included two bedrooms with fireplaces, living room, dining & kitchen, and a front porch. The houses were so simple that they could be built fast. 80 houses were built in just a couple of months. They were originally built on piers with no foundation, no plumbing, nor electricity. Those upgrades came quickly in the following years. Building homes for laborers worked in part because nearly every family member was expected to work at the mill. Less than a month after Highland Park No. 3 was announced, Robert L. Tate, S. B. Alexander, Jr and B. Lawrence Duke conceived Mecklenburg Mill, north of 36th Street. They purchased the land from Highland Manufacturing Co and began construction in 1903. It was much smaller with only 6500 spindles for spinning thread. This mill is a locally Designated Historic Property and is now The Lofts at NoDa Mills. The owners constructed roughly 50 mill houses immediately across North Davidson Street on Mercury Street, 37th Street and Herrin Avenue. These houses of D. A. Tompkins designs were originally implemented for the Atherton Mill Village in Dilworth. The original water tower for North Charlotte still stands on North Davidson Street at East 37th Street. With a new plan for two mills, each with its own mill village, the original location of the business district as conceived by Stuart Cramer was scrapped. North Charlotte’s downtown was moved to North Davidson Street at 36th Street.
  • 12. Preserving the Past for the Future:
    In 2006 the City of Charlotte approved the proposed alignment for the LYNX Blue Line Extension (BLE) that connected Uptown to UNC Charlotte. The alignment followed the Norfolk Southern tracks on the southern half and thus NoDa would soon gain two light rail stations: one at 36th St and another at Sugar Creek Road. For a half century, North Charlotte was a rain stop with its own station as well as a trolley stop with connection to Uptown. Now, a half century later, history would repeat itself. The NoDa NBA immediately understood that becoming a mass transit stop would drive growth even more than Noda was generating on its own. The city made clear that the entire concept of mass transit in Charlotte was to encourage mass density development along the line. The NoDa NBA supported the BLE but with an eye towards smart growth. Unlike most BLE stops, NoDa had single-family residential neighborhoods and many historic mills and business district parcels in the 36th Street station pedestrian overlay zone ½ mile from the proposed station. Thus, the neighborhood placed a focus on preserving the existing community and driving new development to vacant land and industrial parcels. Development interests came right away, well in advance of the actual light rail station opening. The recently vacated Johnston and Mecklenburg Mills were now owned by Charlotte and the City Council planned to put it on the market for private development. The NoDa NBA was able to insert multiple members on the request for proposals steering committee. Those representatives made sure that historic preservation and affordable housing were the top two selection criteria. The neighborhood initially lobbied for an ArtSpace proposal that would renovate Mecklenburg Mill for artist affordable housing, but the city council shot that down. The neighborhood then backed a Tuscan Development project that would preserve both mills and provide affordable housing City Council approved. Over the next couple of years there were title issues and financing problems tied to the national banking crisis. The deal fell through, and the mills were up for sale again. In 2009 the NoDa NBA strongly supported The Community Builders, a non-profit affordable housing agency, to win the project. The city council agreed and TCB began the long process of historic rehabilitation. With increased development in NoDa the NoDa NBA decided to make its own 2030 Vision Plan which was adopted in 2010. NoDa wanted to proactively guide smart growth with foresight instead of reacting to each proposed project by developers. Many aspects of the 2030 Vision Plan were adopted by the City of Charlotte and local developers and thus it has affected the direction of NoDa. Many key parcels and homes within the Historic District were rehabilitated and preserved. In particular, an assortment of small business interests converted most mill houses along North Davidson Street for adaptive reuse. The only mill lost to redevelopment was Grinnell Manufacturing Company, where Novel NoDa now stands. The Mills at NoDa opened in Mecklenburg Mill in 2012. The Lynx Blue Line Extension took 12 years to plan and build, opening in 2018. Noda Wandry completed construction in 2023, opening in Johnston Mill with new buildings along 36th Street as well.
  • 7. The Long Decline of North Charlotte:
    In 1953, The Highland Manufacturing Company sold off the homes to the current occupants or other interested investors. The relationship between the mill ownership and the mill community changed. The concept of a mill village was gone, and the houses were being sold on the open market. Over time more homes became rentals, and the neighborhood became more transient. The sense of community that held North Charlotte together for the first half of the century was replaced by apathy toward the community among newer residents, and fear and distrust among the mill workers who were homeowners. In 1969 Highland Park Mill No. 3 closed, soon followed by the Mercury Mill, formerly known as Mecklenburg Mill. This led to immediate hardships within the North Charlotte community, as many workers were laid off, and the properties within the neighborhood devalued. In 1969, the construction of Matheson Avenue, a four-lane divided throughway with limited access, did irreparable damage to the southern edge of the neighborhood. It demolished homes, disconnected neighborhood streets, and created a physical divider in the neighborhood. The once quiet neighborhood street, formerly known as Wesley Avenue, now carried high volumes of traffic. With the closing of the Mills, the Johnston YMCA fell into financial hardship. For the previous 20 years the mill owners, through the North Charlotte Foundation, had subsidized the Johnston YMCA operations. In addition, YMCA membership cratered with the mill layoffs. In 1970 the Johnston Y announced plans to close in a Charlotte Observer article. But due to fundraising drives, membership drives, charitable grants, and the efforts of Johnston YMCA director Jim Van Landingham, the YMCA had a long-term plan by the end of the year and remained open. In 1975 the North Charlotte Foundation “sold” the deed to the Johnston YMCA to the YMCA of Greater Charlotte for one dollar, ”for the good of North Charlotte.” The faith community in North Charlotte saw some shocks to their membership but remained strong. The North Charlotte Baptist congregation eventually moved to Whiting Avenue in 1951 and changed its name to Whiting Avenue Baptist Church. The congregation swelled to over 500 so in 1962 they built a new mid-century modern sanctuary and became a North Charlotte community gathering space with children’s programs and a softball league. By 2001 the congregation had slowly dwindled, and the property was donated to a New Life Theological Seminary as a divinity school. In 2019 that church was restored and repurposed to what is now the HQ co-workspace. Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church had moved to 36th Street in 1951 in a land swap that allowed the construction of the Johnston YMCA. That congregation also grew, and they built their current sanctuary further down 36th Street 1961 where it is still in use today. Just around the corner, Tabernacle Baptist Church moved to 3321 The Plaza in 1949 changed its name to Plaza Baptist Church. It was rebuilt in 1966 and is still in operation. The Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic founded in 1946, moved into a vacant church at 601 East 36th Street, and built their current sanctuary across the street in 1979. North Charlotte Presbyterian Church, later known as Johnston Memorial Presbyterian Church was built at 719 East 36th Street in 1941 and remained in continuous operation for over 75 years. Johnston Memorial closed in 2018 due to dwindling membership and leased the space to Forest Hill Church as a satellite location of their megachurch. In 2021 Ascent Real Estate acquired the property and built a mixed-use project dubbed NoDa Centro. The tiny Yadkin Avenue Revival Center was reborn in 1960 as the Congregational Holiness Church. The beginning of the 1970s found a neighborhood characterized by deteriorating houses and vacant storefronts. The symbolic low point for North Charlotte occurred in 1975 when Johnston Mill closed. It was the last surviving textile mill in the region. The mill buildings in North Charlotte were used as warehouse storage for the next 20 years. The Housing and Community Development Act (HCDA) of 1974 was the first positive step in the revitalization of North Charlotte. The HCDA made available low interest loans and grants for the rehabilitation of deteriorating houses. Charles Avenue Park, North Charlotte Park and what is now Davis Flohr Park were funded by the HCDA, as were other public improvements. Yet there was still a predominance of low-income residents, and many houses needed improvement. The business districts on North Davidson Street and The Plaza had declined until only a few viable businesses remained, and most were struggling. The overall appearance of these commercial areas was one of negligence and disrepair, which added to the negative impression of the neighborhood. The Astor Theater was rebranded the “Astor Art Theater” in 1964, showing only X-rated movies. A topless bar opened immediately adjacent, at what is now The Sanctuary bar. There was an adult bookstore on The Plaza. Over time two separate paths developed in NoDa where prostitutes walked a circuit: one at the block that is now The Mercury and the other on the block that now includes Domino's Pizza and Chasers. An illicit massage parlor opened at what is now the Dog Bar. In short, North Charlotte was now known as an area for sex trafficking and other vice. Through the 1980’s North Charlotte remained in an overall condition of continuing deterioration. Most single-family homes were for rent, often by landlords uninterested in maintaining the property to quality neighborhood standards. Some of the worst were subdivided into single rooms for rent, effectively becoming flophouses. But many long-term homeowners remained, some of whom were former or retired mill workers, that took pride in their homes and neighborhood, hoping for the day it would be revived. Similarly, many businesses small and large stuck through this era, including Brooks Sandwich House (1973), The Fish and Chicken Corner (circa 1980), Dino’s Family Restaurant (1973), China Bowl (circa 1979), and Food Town (1960 now Food Lion), Giant Genie Grocery, Pat’s Tavern (aka Pat’s Time for One More). Yet, over half of the business storefronts were unoccupied and most of the rest were used for storage or other non-retail purposes. Local businesses such as Consolidated Press (printing), McCullough Auto, and a commercial glass company provided employment, but had no retail business in the storefronts. The Norfolk Southern intermodal yard was just south of North Charlotte, and thus trucking and warehousing dominated local commerce. Heavy industrial uses detracted from any neighborhood feel with scores of freight trucks rumbling though and properties fenced in with barbed wire and bars on windows. By the 1990 Census the local census tract report confirmed North Charlotte was a “threatened” neighborhood.
  • 13. NoDa Today
    NoDa remains a thriving neighborhood known for its unique blend of art, music, dining, and community. It hosts numerous annual events and festivals. The neighborhood has also retained its historic charm, with all the original textile mills and most original mill houses still standing alongside modern developments. Today the gallery experience has migrated more to the periphery of NoDa with the Charlotte Art League anchoring North NoDa and NoDa’s Hart-Witzen Gallery now on North Tryon Street. Additional art venues include C Photography & Jewelry, The North Carolina Academy of Art, and The Little Studio. NoDa is a center of tattoo culture with Charlotte institutions Canvass Tattoo, Fu’s Custom Tattoo, Rose & Thorn, Oneskull Studio, The Ink Lound NoDa, Seraphim Tattoo Company, and 510 Expert Tattoo along North Davidson Street. Live music is still a signature of NoDa with The Neighborhood Theater and The Evening Muse anchoring downtown NoDa, but also new venues The Shed, Rendezvous 704, and Blackbox Theater in North NoDa plus many shows at various bars and breweries. Chasers has hosted drag shows for 30 years. Arts events and music festivals including Digital Gardens, Astro Pop, Rocktoberfest, Queen City Jam Session, and the Krampus Krawl dot the calendar. NoDa's journey from an industrial mill community to a dynamic arts district is a testament to the resilience of the community and its ability to adapt to changing times while preserving its unique identity. It continues to be a vital part of Charlotte's cultural landscape, drawing visitors and residents alike with its creative spirit and rich history. Tom Hanchett, a historian who researched much of the NoDa history found herein, made a walking tour that highlights NoDa’s past.
  • 6. The Last Boom of North Charlotte
    World War II brought the last golden age for the North Charlotte mills. The war machine again demanded textiles, with all the NoDa facilities running at full capacity across all shifts. The mills added additional outbuildings to aid in production. Charles Johnston had great timing, acquiring the Mecklenburg Mill, now known as Mercury Mill, around 1940. This completed the consolidation of all three North Charlotte textile mills under one ownership. In 1949 David R. Johnston, grandson of one North Charlotte founder, took over the family interests. By this time, the Johnston family had consolidated Highland Park and its village, the Mecklenburg Mill and its village, and the Johnston Mill all under one ownership. The war era brought commercial development onto 36th Street, most notably The Astor Theater on 36th Street opened in 1948, showing “The Plainsman” as its first movie. With the prolonged success of the Mills, the Johnston Family and other interests funded the North Charlotte Foundation, a non-profit created for the betterment of North Charlotte. In 1950 the Foundation funded The Johnston Memorial YMCA in memory of R. Horrace Johnston. The $500,000 building and land was leased for free to the greater Charlotte YMCA as a permanent home in North Charlotte. The Johnston Y grew over time to include Charlotte’s first Olympic indoor pool and an expanded gymnasium and childcare facilities. The North Charlotte Foundation funded other community interests, such as college scholarships for neighborhood children. Pet Dairy Products expanded into Charlotte, opening a processing plant on The Plaza in 1946. Most of the commercial buildings on The Plaza were built in the 1950’s, bringing more retail and services to the area. There was a corresponding post-war housing boom in the 40’s and 50’s that expanded North Charlotte towards Sugar Creek Road and then surrounded North Charlotte creating new neighborhoods. The city worked in earnest to pave the roads around town, including North Charlotte. And North Davidson Street (which had been called North Caldwell Street until this time) was extended across Sugar Creek in the Optimist Park neighborhood, finally connecting North Charlotte directly to Uptown. This also marked the turning point of when North Charlotte effectively became a Charlotte neighborhood instead of separate town of its own.
  • 10. A second wave of Business
    The turn of the century also saw many small business entrepreneurs try their hand in NoDa. Kelly’s Café (1999), Boudreaux’s (1999), The Chicken Box Cafe (1999), Smelly Cat Coffee House (2000), Sunshine Daydreams (2000), Cabo Fish Taco (2001), The Evening Muse (2001), Salvador Deli (2003), and The Rat’s Nest (2005). Mellow Mushroom Pizza (2003) anchored the Corner of 36th and North Davidson with a massive renovation of the Thomas Costner boarding house. In 2002 NoDa finally got freight trucks rerouted off North Davidson Street. Due to the freight activity at the nearby Norfolk-Southern intermodal yard up to 100 trucks a day used to come right through the business district making the streetscape inhospitable. That same year Charlotte updated North Davidson Street to a pedestrian scale with curb bump outs, tree wells, on-street parking, crosswalks, and updated lighting. These changes had been requested in the 1997 North Charlotte vision plan. Soon after 36th Street was re-striped into a 2-lane road with on-street parking, again reinforcing NoDa as a walkable neighborhood. In 2003 Mecklenburg County opened Sugar Creek Library. NoDa turned the corner from hot-and-cold business totally reliant on Neighborhood Theater shows and gallery crawls to a destination district bustling 7 days a week.
  • 3. North Charlotte as a neighborhood:
    By 1908 the North Charlotte Realty Company started developing the remaining large tract of land in North Charlotte, east of the Highland Park and Mecklenburg Mill villages, towards The Plaza. The parcels closest to the mill villages as well as larger parcels closest to The Plaza developed first. The Plaza was energized because at that time there were plans to extend the streetcar that served Plaza-Midwood down The Plaza to North Charlotte. This was laid out for suburban house lots and provided larger houses for middle income families. One example was the Jasper K Hand House at 2900 Whiting Avenue. It was the home of the pharmacist who ran Hand Pharmacy. The original plan included a square between present day Alexander and Yadkin streets. Two stores, a pair of churches, a hotel and a school were to face onto the square. As built, most of the east-west streets in the grid were omitted, as was the square. The hotel was apparently the only one of the proposed public buildings to be erected, called the North Charlotte Inn. It stands today as a boarding house called Highland Inn at 3020 North Alexander Street. The business district was instead located on North Davidson Street running two blocks from 34th Street to 36th Street linking the two mill villages and becoming the "main street" of North Charlotte. This district provided the necessities for the mill workers and their families: a drug store, several grocery stores, a dry goods store, a doctor's office, and The Bank of North Charlotte. Some of these business parcels were retained by the mills for them to develop and manage, but mostly they were sold off to small business entrepreneurs interested in serving the fledgling North Charlotte community. One example is the Hand Pharmacy, built in 1912 by Jasper Hand. The Hand Pharmacy was a popular gathering spot for residents, the ice cream and soda fountain being a particular favorite. That building is now Cabo Fish Taco. By the time the area was included in Charlotte city directories in 1929, the district also included a barber shop, drug store, dry goods store, lunchroom, doctor's office, and five small grocery stores. The upper story of most buildings was used for apartments. One large Victorian home anchored the corner of North Davidson Street and East 36th Street. It was built in 1905 for local physician Thomas Costner but was actually occupied by the Tuberville family who operated Tuberville Brothers Drygoods. The Costner House is the oldest standing private residence in North Charlotte. In 1927 it became a boarding house for the next 75 years. The North Davidson Trolley connected the business district of North Charlotte to uptown down North Davidson Street. The trolley came to NoDa on North Brevard Street, jogged over to North Davidson Street and then turned onto 36th Street, running almost all the way to The Plaza. This was for residents who wanted to do business uptown, as few residents in the first two decades owned an automobile. Conversely, the North Charlotte Trolley was used by Uptown Charlotte residents who had business or recreation in North Charlotte. Intrepid entrepreneurs at Charlotte Consolidated Construction Co. opened Electric Park on 36th Street (the site of the former Poor House) in 1908. This was a short-lived 10-acre amusement park with a merry-go-round, pavilion, pipe organ, a lion, and monkeys. Later, Herrin Brothers Coal and Ice was a frequent destination in the days of coal heating and prior to refrigeration. 37th street was the city limits, so some even came for hog tending and fireworks, both banned inside Charlotte. Charlotte’s trolley system was scrapped in 1938.
  • 8. The Renaissance of North Charlotte
    The decade of the 90's saw some promising signs of rebirth. The North Davidson Street business district took on a new life as artists and entrepreneurs reopened many of the storefronts for artists’ studios and galleries. In North Charlotte residents created the Historic North Charlotte Neighborhood Association (HNCNA) and ratified a set of bylaws in 1988. The Association sought to build community and advocate for the North Charlotte neighborhood. This spirit of rebirth showed the love of community and vision shared by North Charlotte residents even at the lowest point in the neighborhood’s economic ebb. The HNCNA and other neighbors immediately went to work designating North Charlotte as a National Historic District. In 1990 the US Department of the Interior placed the “North Charlotte Historic District” in the National Register of Historic Places. It encompassed the mills, the mill homes and the business district. It included 287 “contributing” buildings and structures (built before 1939) out of 438 total structures, making it among the largest and most intact historic mill villages in North Carolina. Entrepreneurship mirrored the community energy. In 1986 partners Paul Sires and Ruth Ava Lyons purchased some North Davidson Street storefronts and opened The Center of the Earth Gallery 3204 North Davidson Street where XXXX Pizza now stands. This was an award-winning upscale gallery in a decidedly downscale business district. Over the next two decades many galleries followed. In 1991 Pat Nevitt, the owner of Pat’s Tavern, rented some of her Nevitt building to artists in the Friends of Van Gogh collective who opened the Absinthe and Acanthus galleries. They later became 23 Studio and Wrightnow Gallery respectively. Over the next two decades, galleries additional art spaces including Rococo Fish, The Blue Pony, Art Preserve, Lark & Key Gallery, The Preserve, Green Rice Gallery, Beet Gallery, Baku, Niche MKT, Hart-Witzen gallery, and The Boulevard at NoDa followed. Other galleries were often almost transient in nature, like exhibitions, seeming to open one month and then closed the next. The rent was cheap, allowing much of this art on display to be more emerging and experimental in nature. Other creative groups and businesses like Rising Moon Bookstore, Corrigan & Johnston Casting, WonderWorld Productions, RealEyes Bookstore, Cosmic Soul, Innovative Theater Troupe and Behailu Academy set up shop in this era as well. The uniqueness of this emerging arts district in a former mill village began to attract citywide attention. The artists and galleries instituted gallery crawls on the first and third Fridays each month, where patrons could walk down the street from storefront to storefront to experience a wide range of art experiences. Drum circles. Street vendors and fire batons were common, offering an alternative to the more upscale galleries of Uptown and South Charlotte. In 1995 Fat City Deli opened on the corner of 35th Street and North Davidson Street and became a Charlotte institution for counterculture. At the time the Deli encompassed 3 business parcels: one a vacant lot of the corner used for courtyard dining and community, the central parcel was an actual building where the kitchen stood with a few tables inside, and the third parcel was just a brick façade, with a pit behind where a building once stood used for live music on weekends. Fat City probably marked another first for NoDa: a curated public mural. Fat City was known for its graffiti style signage and façade. NoDa now has well over 30 murals and other public art installations woven into the fabric of the neighborhood. Adding additional flavor, Martino’s Italian Restaurant opened just across the street in the Hand Pharmacy Building and St Ruby’s Coffee Shop was in a mill house on North Davidson Street. In 1994 the HNCNA worked with City Staff to create The first North Charlotte Vision Plan, adopted in 1995. It has not since been updated by the City of Charlotte so technically still the official vision plan for NoDa today. In 1997 Paul McBroom and Sharon Pate founded The Neighborhood Theater, renovating the old Astor Theatre just enough to open as a mid-sized live music venue for touring alternative music acts. This was the next great catalyst for the rebirth of North Charlotte. The Neighborhood Theater brought scores of visitors to NoDa 3-4 days a week instead of 3-4 days a month, which meant customers for restaurants and retail. This was a real place, unaffected by the wrecking balls that had demolished many of Charlotte's older neighborhoods. Along with the revitalization of this artists' district, many young families and individuals started moving into the neighborhood and fixing up the old houses. A diverse mix of artists, young bohemians, and many from the LGBTQ+ community flocked to the area for cheap rent and cheap fixer-uppers. In the early 90's Mecklenburg Mill was completely redeveloped to provide low-income housing, utilizing Section 8 housing funding from the previously mentioned HCDA. The City of Charlotte and local banks provided a low-interest loan enabling the developer to build 100 units for rent. This marked the first adaptive reuse of a mill building in NoDa, perhaps the first in Charlotte. The positive steps taken by the private sector, as well as the excitement and interest generated by the Gallery Crawl, gave the HNCNA the impetus to continue to improve at the turn of the century. by Jack Burke, Jerry Kirk, and Patrick Felton chronicled the North Charlotte Renaissance in their 1997 documentary NoDa in the 90’s, full title NoDa: The Evolution of Charlotte’s North Davidson Street Art District.
  • 4. The second manufacturing boom of North Charlotte
    Charles Worth Johnston established his own Johnston Mill in 1913. Built between the two existing mills in an already established mill village, it did not have its own mill houses. Workers originally lived in assorted housing surrounding the mill village. It was a spinning mill, producing yarns and twine instead of finished textiles. It also housed a regional quality control laboratory for other mills. By the 1950s it employed 425 workers. Johnston Mill was designated an historic landmark in 1993 and today is NoDa Wandry apartments. At around the same time the Grinnell Manufacturing Company built a fire extinguishing system factory at the intersection of 36th Street and the railroad. Also known for a period as the General Fire extinguishing Company, they specialized in fire suppression systems for textile factories, a huge concern with lint accumulations mixed with hot machinery in textile production. This building was used in 2010 as The Chop Shop NoDa, a cutting edge live music scene, but was leveled in 2015 to make the 30six NoDa Apartments development. The manager of this facility lived in a large Victorian home on East 36th Street that later became Sir Joseph’s Clothing Store, which burned down in 2014. These ventures timed the market well. With the advent of World War I, textiles were booming, and North Charlotte’s mills operated at full capacity. The Southern Textile Bulletin noted that by 1919 Mecklenburg Mill had expanded to 14,048 spindles plus 350 looms and employed approximately 175 laborers. But its owners overextended themselves and the venture went bankrupt. It was sold and Reopened as Mercury Mills; the name was a nod to cutting edge dying technology that used mercury to make yarns more vibrant. The North Charlotte boom continued to varying degrees through most of the 1920’s. The last major mill built in the NoDa area was the Larkwood Silk Hosiery Mill, later known as Chadborn Mill. It was constructed in 1932 at the intersection of North Brevard Street and Charles Avenue. It was the first knitting mill in the area. The construction of Matheson Avenue later divided this northern section of the Optimist Park neighborhood from North Charlotte. The mill building was refurbished in 2019 and is now the headquarters for Ekos, behind Camden NoDa Apartments. The boom was curtailed by the Great Depression. During this period the mills reduced production and at times some shut down with furloughs. Many North Charlotte residents struggled as a result.
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