About the Belmont Community
The Belmont community is made up of almost 800 homes, ranging from single family to high density, old and new homes, long-time residents and new comers. Our boundary streets include N. Davidson, Parkwood Avenue, Hawthorne Lane and 10th Street. The Little Sugar Creek Greenway – part of the Cross Charlotte Trail – runs through Belmont offering walking and biking opportunities. Restaurants that are a part of Belmont such as Intermezzo, La Unica, and Kickstand are within walking distance, along with retail and entertainment at Green with Envy and Codescape.
Belmont Community Garden
As Charlotte’s second oldest community garden, the Belmont Community Garden is located at the corner of Belmont Ave and Allen St. With the support of Charlotte Green, members of the Belmont community have a spot to harvest and garden with neighbors. To become a member, there is $5.00 annual membership to the Charlotte Green family which provides gardening tools, a choice of plants and vegetables, tilled land, topsoil, water usage, and a Charlotte Green t-shirt. The community gardeners maintain the continued upkeep of the gardens.
Honoring the History and Shaping the Future of the Belmont Community
Read an excerpt from THE BELMONT-VILLA HEIGHTS-OPTIMIST PARK SURVEY AREA report by Dr. Thomas W. Hanchett in 1985 below, or visit the full story here.
The Mills and Their Villages
The Belmont-Villa Heights-Optimist Park area contains three of Charlotte’s five surviving pre-1900 textile mills, plus a number of related industries. The three mills were begun between 1888 and 1897, a critical decade in Mecklenburg County’s economic development. In that short period the county moved from having a single cotton mill to become one of North Carolina’s top three textile producers. After the Alpha Mill, the second mill in the survey area was the Highland Park #1 Mill begun in 1892 two blocks north up Brevard Street. The third textile mill was the Louise Mill between Louise Avenue and Hawthorne Lane on the Seaboard Railroad. The two-story brick building opened May 31, 1897, and was joined by a second weave building in 1900. A two-story packing room connected these two large wings, giving the plant a “U” shaped layout not found in other Charlotte facilities. A stream which ran along the route of today’s Hawthorne Lane was dammed to provide a mill pond whose water was not used for power but rather as insurance against fire: water mains ran from the pond to a pump house, and thence throughout the complex. The facility was known as the Louise Mill, after the wife of founder H.S. Chadwick, until 1908 when it became Mill Number Four of the Chadwick-Hoskins chain. Today the buildings remain in a much-altered state, and are used by a cookie factory. Seventy-two cottages for Louise Mill workers lined parallel William (now Pamlico), Louise, and Pegram streets on the hill above the mill. Compact T-plan cottages line Louise Avenue, while slightly larger dwellings are found along Louise and Pamlico avenues. The Louise cottages often use grooved “novelty” siding rather than weatherboards, paired rather than single front windows, and possibly have slightly less steeply-pitched roofs, but otherwise the designs appear identical. Today windows, porches, and siding have been changed on many of the mill cottages, but the village survives essentially intact.
Privately Developed Subdivisions & Their Residents
At the same time that the factories, textile mills, and company-owned housing were going up along the railroads, a number of private developers were building suburban subdivisions between the industrial sites. The architecture of these streets of single-family dwellings is surprisingly uniform, a mix of wooden, one-story blends of Victorian and Bungalow influences. Occasionally a duplex or quadraplex is added for spice. The Phifer family initiated private development in the area when they extended Brevard, Caldwell, and Davidson streets northward into their farmland sometime in the 1880s or very early 1890s. By 1892 the Belmont Springs Company was making plans for development of a second tract on a hilltop across Sugar Creek. In 1896 the company formally platted a nine block area that included the first blocks of Pegram, Allen, and Harrill Street, and parts of Seigle Street, Fifteenth Street, and VanEvery Street. Belmont Avenue ran through the subdivision’s center. Low-lying land between Seigle Street and Sugar Creek at the western edge of the subdivision was shown on the plan as a tree-shaded park with a winding drive called McAden Avenue. In the park were the spring-fed branches that gave the development the name Belmont Springs. By 1905, Belmont had some seventy houses. The vast majority worked in the nearby factories as mill workers, molders, machinists, or overseers. A much smaller, but still significant, number worked in the building trades. Most of the earliest residents of Parkwood Avenue, for instance, were carpenters, bricklayers, or plumbers, and other streets usually had one or two such artisans. A third occupation was storekeeper. In all of Charlotte’s working-class neighborhoods in the early twentieth century, there were grocery stores and small general merchandise stores on almost every corner. Mill workers and others who spent ten to twelve hours per day at their factories, six days a week, seldom had time, energy, or means to travel downtown to the groceries and department stores patronized by more wealthy suburbanites. Dozens of small shops originally stood in the survey area. Most of the wooden ones are gone, but several substantial brick structures may still be seen, such as the two-story Belmont Pharmacy Building at Belmont and Pegram streets. Storekeepers almost invariably lived close to their stores, and an assistant clerk or two might live nearby as well.
Belmont in Transition
A major change was experienced in the mid 1960s. Belmont, Villa Heights, and the other subdivisions in this area were built during the era of Jim Crow. Like most other Charlotte suburban areas, this area had only white residents. In fact, as late as 1962 there were virtually no black residents in the survey area north of Belmont Avenue. This changed radically by 1970. Urban Renewal-funded demolition destroyed thousands of housing units in Brooklyn, Greenville, and other historically black sections during the decade of the 1960s. These changes created a tremendous demand for affordable housing by black renters and former homeowners. By 1985 the survey area’s residents were almost entirely black. In 1987 the City of Charlotte conducted the Belmont Special Project plan. At the time of this study, the population and housing stock were declining sharply. From 1970 to 1985 the population had dropped nearly one-third, from 4,412 to 3,000. Forty percent of the housing units were deteriorated and many were unoccupied. City Council adopted a plan to use code enforcement to address abandoned houses, install curb and gutter to solve drainage problems, make some intersection improvements, expand recreational facilities and programs, and organize a neighborhood Crime Watch. Additional task forces and plans were conducted through the late 90’s resulting in zoning changes to reduce density, increase homeownership and stabilize the neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity contributed substantially by supplying over 190 homes in an area that had the largest concentration of dilapidated housing in the city. Institutional groups in the neighborhood, such as Seigle Avenue Presbyterian, St. Paul’s Baptist, and the Salvation Army contributed significantly to Belmont. This Belmont Area Revitalization Plan was created based on the earlier studies and resulted in a vision that Belmont would be a family-oriented community, diverse in age, culture and income, that promotes public safety, economic and community development, affordable housing and community pride — a place to live, work and play. The goals were to:
- Preserve the single family character and develop a mixed use plan to enhance the quality of life
- Provide employment opportunities and increase the number of viable community oriented services
- Increase and facilitate home ownership while stabilizing existing housing stock
- Develop a program of historic documentation and create passive and recreational open space
- Create a more pedestrian friendly community and allow an easier flow of vehicular traffic
- Provide facilities and social services that are responsive to the needs of the community residents
- Improve the physical and visual appearance of the Belmont area