Why did I fall in love instantaneously with my mill house?
Why did Scott Lindsley and Joey Hewell choose a mill house for their business and call it “The Company Store”?
Why was Hollis Nixon so passionate about our local mills that she volunteered years of hard work to keep them standing?
Why did Jeff Tonidandel not raze but renovate one of the oldest buildings on North Davidson Street to house his Haberdish restaurant and serve us up fried chicken and cornbread?
And why did Jen Cole and Dale Treml join John Richards and myself in securing easements through Preservation NC to protect our three mill houses from ever being torn down?
Tom Mayes answered these questions eloquently in his speech at the Historic Preservation Awards Ceremony at the Charlotte Museum of History on August 22, 2019. (And, yes, we won an award!) Mayes’ book, Why Old Places Matter, How Historic Places Affect Our Identity and Well-Being, addresses how people who love old places—as we love NoDa—connect to history even in times of massive change. Mayes argues that old places matter because they give us our sense of belonging, giving us continuity, stability, identity, and memory. Thus preserving our old NoDa places is not just for understanding our mill village history, but it gives us our sense of ourselves. In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck’s displaced families ask, “How will we know it is us without our past?”
Even the Beatles sang, “There are places I’ll remember all my life” full of “moments of loves and friends I still can recall.” We are fortunate in NoDa because our mill houses connect us to the generations before us and the ones to come.
Because many of our old structures remain in tact, our Mill Village remains visible. Writes Dennis Hockman, editor-in-chief of Preservation Magazine, “People matter more than things, but the spirit of the people—the heartbeat of the community—is in the old things.”
If you too are the proud owner of one of Charlotte’s last remaining mill houses, you might wish to know that if your house records claim “built in 1926,” then your house is probably older. 1926 was the year these mills allowed their workers to purchase their houses; therefore, they went on record that year. Our three protected houses were built in 1905. Historical information on individual addresses is archived at the Main Library Uptown.
Our nonprofit Preservation NC contact is Ted Alexander. Even if your house has a preservation easement, they will still let you build additions.
Walk by to see our homes: 620, 704, and 701 East 37th Street. You can contact me with questions.