Spotlight on Charlotte Part 2
As we left off with part 1 of our spotlight on Myers Park history, John Spring Myers inherited his family’s property and continued to buy up adjoining land until he had over 1000 acres! His dream was to create an upper scale suburb. He found a man who had the energy and vision to create this suburb in George Stevens. George Stevens would end up marrying his daughter Sophie. George Stevens then partnered with John Nolen to bring this dream suburb to pass. They knew that to lure wealthy business owners from their residences in uptown Charlotte on Trade and Tryon Streets the plan had to be superb.
One of the first challenges the team faced was to decide on the mix of land uses. From the very beginning they decided that it would be best to allow for a mix of economic class development. Therefor at the same time the large mansions were being built small bungalows were constructed in other parts of the community. There were even restrictions regarding price so that the desired homes would be built on the larger lots.
Besides residential areas the team also planned for a neighborhood shopping area. The shopping was planned for the corner of Queen’s and Providence. Besides the planned commercial use areas the team also brought in a university and renamed it Queen’s College. It was formerly the Presbyterian College for Women.
The next step was to lay out the streets. The team did not want a grid of straight streets intersecting predictably as in the city of Charlotte. Instead they planned for varying widths of streets and intentionally curved the roads to create a sense of privacy and to make the neighborhood aesthetically pleasing as well. As with all suburbs in the early 1900’s the neighborhood was a “streetcar suburb” and trolley tracks were laid out in grassy medians down the wide boulevards.
After the streets were planned out the next step was the parks, greenways and trees. Some of the proposed parks and greenways did not come to pass in the end. The original plan called for the greenway to extend along the creeks banks all the way into Charlotte. Some of this land ended up being sold for private development. However Edgehill Park along a fork of Sugar Creek makes Edgehill Rd a very pleasant street to drive along. What is interesting is the trees in Myers Park were not original but again were planned. Even to the varieties to be planted and where. And not only were the trees carefully planned but also plants for ground cover as well. They were so concerned with the look of the neighborhood that those early homeowners had their lots landscaped for free.
In the end, their plan to entice business owners to move out of Charlotte into Myers Park was apparently successful! In 1916, within 5 years of the original planning, more than 50 homes had been built and additional homes were under construction. Even though by the 60’s the original plans had been completely cast aside, in recent times many have come to realize and appreciate the vision that this team had in creating this beautiful neighborhood. To read the history of Myers Park in more detail please visit this website.
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Diane and William Kradel