Words and photos by Tom Hanchett
The Elizabeth neighborhood opened in 1891, Charlotte’s second “streetcar suburb” after Dilworth. Trolley tracks ran from the center city out Elizabeth Avenue to Elizabeth College – today the site of Novant Presbyterian hospital. Eventually the streetcars continued along Hawthorne Lane through gracious Independence Park, the city’s first public park, and on out 7th Street.
Elizabeth bid fair to become the city’s elite district – but Myers Park eventually snagged that honor. Nonetheless, Elizabeth attracted such notables as department store founder William Henry Belk, bestselling author Harry Golden, big-band music star Hal Kemp and pathbreaking minister Rev. Carter Heyward.
What’s to see? Some of Charlotte’s best-preserved early-twentieth century residences, including five official Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks. Four grand old churches. A tree-shaded park. And one of the city’s favorite taco-and-empanada joints.
Start outside the Hawthorne Recreation Center, 345 Hawthorne Lane
If you’re arriving by car, you can usually find a spot in the public lot for Independence Park, tucked behind its Hawthorne Recreation Center. Please help our mom-n-pop stores — don’t park in a business’s lot unless you are buying something there.
Please stay on the public sidewalk. Except for Fig Tree bar and restaurant and Sabor Restaurant, none of these places are open to visitors.
Length: about 2 miles
To begin, walk down into Independence Park adjacent to the Rec Center
INDEPENDENCE PARK, ARHELGER MEMORIAL POOL – 355 Hawthorne Lane
The entire park is a Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmark (designated in 1980 – one of the first city parks in the U.S. to be named an historic landmark). Here’s a recent in-depth history.
Climb the stairs up from Independence Park to 7th Street, turn left on 7th Street
JOHN PAUL LUCAS HOUSE – 1601 E. 7th Street
The Lucas house is an official Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmark.
ST. MARTIN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH – 1710 E. 7th Street
Turn right on Louise Avenue. After one block, turn right again onto E. 8th Street
BING – KEMP HOUSE – 1604 E. 8th Street
Click for more on Kemp and Trotter and their sound.
HAWTHORNE LANE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH – 501 Hawthorne Lane
Continue on E 8th Street, crossing Hawthorne Lane
COCKE – GOLDEN HOUSE – 1701 E. 8th Street
NOW IS FIREWORKS – E. 8th Street at Lamar Avenue
Continue up the hill on E. 8th Street, crossing Lamar Avenue
HARRY ARTHUR ZEIM HOUSE – 1812 E. 8th Street
Do you know the song about the Chicago Fire?
Turn left on broad Clement Avenue. Taking its right sidewalk, stroll one block to Clement’s intersection with E. 9th Street
THAD ADAMS HOUSE – 604 Clement Avenue
The Adams house is an official Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmark.
Cross Clement Avenue. Head back the way you came – but taking the other sidewalk. On your right you’ll pass three Alexander family houses, two on Clement and the third around the corner on 8th Street.
W.L. ALEXANDER HOUSE -- 523 Clement Av
J.B. ALEXANDER HOUSE -- 509 Clement Av
Turn right on E 8th Street
JENNIE ALEXANDER DUPLEX – 1801 - 1803 E. 8th Street
Continue on E 8th Street, crossing Lamar Avenue. At the end of the block, turn left on Hawthorne Lane
SPOONS PHARMACY / SABOR – 415 Hawthorne Lane
Carefully cross busy E. 7th Street. On the left corner, look for the Wildcat Highway stone marker at the stair leading down into Independence Park
WILDCAT HIGHWAY MARKER – 380 Hawthorne Lane
Take the stairs down into the tree-shaded dell of Independence Park. Keep to your right and you’ll pop back onto Hawthorne Lane in one short block. Then turn left on Hawthorne Lane heading up the hill.
ST. JOHN’S BAPTIST CHURCH – 300 Hawthorne Lane
Continue on Hawthorne Lane, crossing E 5th Street. Look to your left on the hospital campus to see the Belk Mansion under the big oak trees.
BELK MANSION – 200 Hawthorne Lane
The Belk Mansion is an official Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmark.
NOVANT PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL – 200 Hawthorne Lane
Turn around and head back the way you came on Hawthorne Lane. Turn left on E. 5th Street and stroll down the gentle hill.
CALDWELL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH – 1609 E 5th Street
In 2006, a congregation known for commitment to social justice and diversity of all kinds began to take shape. Under the leadership of Rev. Dr. John Cleghorn, the flock is back up to about 300 members. Don’t miss its gospel choir on Sunday mornings.
Turn right on Park Drive and head around the curve back to the Independence Rec Center parking lot on the hillside about Independence Park
Want to learn more?
Click for an on-line study of Elizabeth’s early development.
Our Charlotte Walking Tours
Some other tours we like
Mid-Century Modern in Center City
ArtWalks Charlotte – self guided walking tours of murals and other public art
Sorting Out the New South City explores how Charlotte became a city of neighborhoods. Book discussion guide available here >>