With a mission to capture and share the stories of the Charlotte, North Carolina region, the Charlotte Museum of History is a small but enticing attraction with a long history.
The museum has its roots in the Hezekiah Alexander House, built in 1774. This 5,000 square-foot rock house is the oldest home in Mecklenburg County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Prior to that designation, however, the house was in extreme disrepair. A foundation was organized in 1969 to raise funds to restore the home and build an adjoining facility that would serve as a reception area for those who visited. The building, dubbed the Mint Museum, and the house opened to the public in 1975. In 1987, administrative responsibility for the museum was turned over to the city of Charlotte Department of Parks and Recreation and the name was changed to Charlotte Museum of History. However, the foundation regained the rights to administration in 1996 and raised money for a new museum building, which would include 36,000 square feet and plenty of gallery space. It opened in 1999 and has become one of Charlotte's most visited attractions.
The three galleries on the first floor of the Charlotte Museum of History help visitors travel from the 18th through the 21st centuries with displays that outline the history of the city and surrounding areas. Permanent exhibits include Settlement in the Backcountry, a look at the 18th century North Carolina Piedmont frontier. Displays offer a glimpse at life during that era as well as the founding of Charlotte and the city's participation in the American Revolution. Other permanent exhibits include Mecklenburg: Crossroads of Commerce, a display which profiles how the city grew from a small 1700s town to the bustling center of commerce and trade that it is today. This exhibit also alludes to the town's rich mining and minting history and its importance as a manufacturing center for the Confederacy.
Solving the Rock House Mysteries is a permanent exhibit that takes a close look at the restoration of the Hezekiah Alexander House and explores the lives of those who once inhabited this historic home site; and Charlotte's Pole to Pole Flag traces the journey of a Charlotte city flag from the North to the South Pole. (It's the only city flag ever to have flown over both poles.)
The second floor of the museum is reserved for temporary exhibits, which change several times each year. Past temporary displays have included photographic exhibits on the history of the North Carolina Mountains and their settlers, and an informative display about Charlotte's diverse ethnic neighborhoods.
Tours of the home site are offered twice daily and group tours for adults can be arranged by reservation. A number of youth and family-oriented history-related programs are scheduled throughout the year and kids may attend the Colonial Destination Camp scheduled each summer at the museum.
The Charlotte Museum of History is open daily except Mondays. A small admission fee includes a guided tour of the home site.
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