By Sarah Melton
Learning more about Lincolnton is easier than you may think.
Whether you work or live in the city, or perhaps, simply drive through, finding out more about how Lincolnton came into existence is right at your fingertips – literally. A marketing specialist intern, Madison Lanier, working at the Downtown Development Association (DDA) of Lincolnton created a Historic Walking Tour of Downtown Lincolnton in 2000.
Brad Guth, Business and Community Development Director for the City of Lincolnton, said Lanier actually started the project as part of her Girl Scout project, but completed it during her time at the DDA. A map to accompany the project was later added.
The 1.4-mile trail features 20 stops – from historic homes to churches to businesses – with many places listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “The trail could have featured every building downtown, but that was not the purpose,” Guth said. “The purpose was to highlight the most historic buildings in town.”
The trail, highlighting a city known as “Lovable Lincolnton,” starts at North Cedar Street and ends at West Main Street. Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about the businesses, leaders and political movements that shaped Lincolnton, dating all the way back to the 1800s. In fact, here’s a few of the many fun facts you will learn when exploring the trail:
• Confederate Gen. Stephen Ramseur and William Hoke are buried in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
• The Lincoln Cultural Center was originally built as the First Baptist Church of Lincolnton.
• The Lincolnton Post Office features a painting made by Richard Janson in his Wisconsin studio
• The Mauney Building used to be the Reeves Gamble Hospital.
• The congregation of First United Methodist Church was established in 1816.
• The cost to build the Lincoln County Court House in the 1920s was $350,000.
• From 1835-1845, Lincolnton was home to Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American to serve in either house of the United States Congress.
• Shadow Lawn, on West Main Street, is the last of Lincolnton’s early 19th century brick homes to survive. The home was built by Lincolnton businessman Paul Kistler.
• Rev. Robert Newton Davis was the pastor for First Presbyterian Church for more than 20 years.
• The Motz Hotel, later changed to the North State Hotel, was the headquarters for union troops.
• Emmanuel Lutheran Church was the first organized congregation in Lincolnton and sermons were delivered in German until 1822.
You can pick up brochures to walk the trail yourself at the DDA office, Lincoln Cultural Center and Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce. For more information about the Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Lincolnton, visit http://www.ci.lincolnton.nc.us/bizcommdev.html.
1. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (1886)-
The tour begins at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 303 North Cedar Street. The congregation of this church was founded in 1841, and the
church was built in 1886. There were very few Episcopalians in the
area at that time. The architect and builder of the Gothic Revival
style church was Silas McBee, a member of the parish. He carved
the altar, reredos, and credence table. The stained glass windows
were made in England by Lamb & Co. and are considered some of
the finest in the nation. Both St. Luke’s and its cemetery are listed
in the National Register of Historic Places.
2. Lincoln Cultural Center (1922)
- The Lincoln Cultural Center was built in 1922 as the First Baptist Church of Lincolnton, a congregation organized in 1859. This building was designed by James M. McMichael, a Charlotte architect famous for his church and hotel designs. The structure is laid in the shape of a cross with a dome sitting in the middle. It became the Lincoln Cultural Center in September 1991 after First Baptist Church moved to
the 321 bypass. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
3. Lincolnton Post Office (1937)
- The Lincolnton Post Office was built in the 1930s for a Work Project Administration Program as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Inside on the wall of the post office Richard H. Janson’s “Threshing Grain” hangs in the same place it has been since 1938. In 1867, Lincolnton’s original Post Office sent mail out of town on Sundays and Wednesdays and received mail from other towns on Mondays and Thursdays.
5. Carolina & North Western Freight Depot (1929)
- Although Lincolnton has been connected to nearby towns by railroad since 1860, this depot was built around 1929. The Carolina and North Western Railroad was the second line to service Lincolnton, and it carried both freight and passengers. A mile of the track that was once part of a 109-mile railroad from Lenoir, NC to Chester, SC has been removed and paved over to serve as the Marcia H. Cloninger Rail-Trail.
6. Central Candy and Cigar Company (1915)
- 205 and 207 South Academy Street has been a restaurant, a jewelry store, a laundry, an industrial roller covering company, and is best known for its utilization as a candy and cigar company from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. The lower storefront was formerly glass, but the molded metal cornice above the first story, the rough granite sills and lintels, and the rest of the brick are as they were when the building
was constructed in 1915.
7. Frank Beal House (1910)
- At 204 South Academy Street is the Frank Beal House. Mr. Frank Beal built this Colonial Revival style home just yards away from his place of work, F.R. Beal & Co. Feed & Sale, on East Water Street. Beal was in the Standard Oil business with C. H. Rhodes, who later owned the business under multiple names. The signs for Rhodes and Corriher can still be seen on the building.
8. First United Methodist Church (1919) -
The United Methodist Church is at 201East Main Street. The congregation of this church was established in 1816 and held their services in a building on the corner of South Aspen and Congress Streets. The graveyard can still be found there today.
9. Pleasant Retreat Academy (1820)
- Chartered in 1813, only 28 years after the city of Lincolnton was established, this school was built from 1817 to 1820, making it the
oldest remaining building in Lincolnton. It was the first school
building in the area. The school educated a secretary of state, and North Carolina’s 30th governor. The congregation of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church met here for two years and the school building was turned into a hospital from 1861 to 1865 during the Civil War. On August 27, 1908, the building, no longer a school, became Memorial Hall and the meeting place of Lincolnton’s Daughters of the Confederacy. The bottom floor served as a library from 1923 to 1965 and was the first library in Lincoln County, informally established by a book club.
10. Academy Street School (1914) -
This building was erected in 1914 as Lincolnton Grade School and shortly afterward became North Academy Primary School. The building served as the Lincoln County Public Library from 1965 to 1975 until our current library was built.
11. Wampum General Store (1905
) -At 132 East Main Street is a building that began as Wampum General Store. It offered most household items. It has also existed as a retail outlet, department store, and pharmacy. Built around 1905, at the same time as many of the surrounding buildings, the storefront was originally brick with keystoned lintel
and granite detail.
12. Rivoli Theatre (1902) -
119 East Main Street and 121 East Main were originally joined as one building, and while the west half was used for
various stores, the east side was the Rivoli Theatre from 1920 to 1950. This is only one of many theatres that have been located in downtown Lincolnton over the years. In 1920, the building at 112 East Court Square was a movie theatre until it was converted into a bowling alley later that decade. Ab Miller opened the Grand Theatre at 227 East Main Street where it remained until 1940 when he opened the Century Theatre across the street. It remained there until the 1970’s.
13. Lincoln County Court House (1923)
- This building is the fifth court house of Lincoln County since 1785 when Lincolnton was named the county seat. Construction of the building was begun on September 30, 1921, at a cost of about $350,000.
14. Goodson, Jones, and Hoyle Building (1924)
-This building was erected in 1924 by C.L. Goodson, C.A. Jones, and P.A. Hoyle. The building was constructed for a fuel oil company and was later known as Bumgarner’s Service Station and then the Central Service Station. Automobiles would drive in fromlarge open bays off of North Aspen Street. The original offices were on the second floor. In 1970, the bays were enclosed to become storefronts for Ramseur’s Sandwich Shop and Mary’s Yarn which closed in 2006 after 31 years of service.
15. Emmanuel Lutheran Church (1920)
- The Old White Church was built on the site diagonally across the intersection from the current church and next to the graveyard in 1788. It was a building shared by Lutherans and Presbyterians and was used for public worship, burial of the dead, and as a school house. The Lutheran congregation was the first organized congregation in Lincolnton, and the sermons were delivered in German until 1822. The Evangelical Lutheran North Carolina Synod was started in this building when there were disagreements with the Tennessee
Synod. The Old White Church was burned to the ground in 1893 and a brick church built on the same site was entirely Lutheran. The Presbyterians moved to West Main Street.
16. North State Hotel (1852-1975)
- The old North State Hotel (seen above) used to stand where the parking lot of the Lincoln County Citizen Center is today. It was built by John Motz in 1852. He lived there and owned the hotel which was originally called the Motz Hotel. The hotel was taken over in 1865 by Union Troops and General Hart used it as headquarters until the end of the war later that year. John Motz died in 1862 and the hotel was sold to the Lander family. In 1906, Thomas Edison arrived with his son and brother-in-law looking for cobalt for an experiment with the alkaline battery. The trio stayed for ten days paying two dollars a day for room and board. In 1934 the hotel was given the name North State Hotel. The entire hotel was torn down in 1975 for a parking lot.
17. Reinhardt Building (1909) -
Robert S. Reinhardt, the original owner and the man after
whom the building is named, is also responsible for the building that holds North State Books today and for the rest of the buildings on the west side of the Court Square. His name and the date of construction can be seen at the top of several of
these buildings, and it is often called the Reinhardt block.
18. First Presbyterian Church (1917)
The building you see today was finished on September 16, 1917, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.The congregation came from the church that was built on the corner of West Main and Government Streets in 1892 and brought with them some of the old church’s bricks and several of the arched window frames to use in the construction of the new building.
19. Butt-Brown-Pressley House & Medical Office(1849)
-This house is considered to be a Greek Revival, but it is suspected to have been built as a Federal Style structure when it was constructed some time prior to the Civil War.Dr. Zephania Butt bought the house around 1849 and remodeled it. A stone wall, grape arbor, and boxwoods in the back yard are thought to be over 100 years old. The home was later sold to Dr. Martin L. Brown and then to Dr. John Pressley.
20. Shadowlawn (1826)
- 301 West Main Street. This home was built in 1826, making it the last of Lincolnton’s early nineteenth century brick residences to survive. It was built by Paul Kistler, a successful Lincolnton businessman who owned a tannery between Water and Church streets. The gutter boxes are dated “1826″. Charles Raper and Annie Elliot Jonas began living in the house in 1935 and named their home Shadow Lawn. Mr. Jonas was a prominent Lincolnton attorney who served in the United States House of Representatives for twenty years.