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Special Collections Holds Rare "Sketches of Charlotte" Booklets

Image: Sketches of Charlotte book and pages
Special Collections Holds Rare "Sketches of Charlotte" Booklets

Many researchers who visit Special Collections want to learn about the history of Charlotte’s built environment, and among the most valuable resources we bring out for them are the series of publications titled Sketches of Charlotte

Sketches of Charlotte was published periodically by Wade Harris, an editor at The Charlotte Observer, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The objective was to boost the city, promoting Charlotte as a great place to live, visit, and do business. Its pages depict an urban landscape booming with new growth and industry: textile mills, hotels, stores, and water power plants that drove the city's growth at the turn of the century. Other pages show churches, educational institutions, and street scenes, such as a Meck Dec Day celebration. 

The booklets contain images of buildings important to Charlotte's history that no longer exist, such as the original Belk Bros. store on Trade Street and the Central Hotel, which was the largest hotel between Washington D.C. and Atlanta at one point. Another aspect of these publications that makes them so historically valuable are the advertisements scattered throughout for local businesses that were active in the Charlotte community.

Atkins holds copies of five editions of this rare publication, spanning 1888 to 1904. Ranging from very poor to fair condition, each requires a professional conservator to repair the paper and bindings and provide a variety of additional treatments. A gift of at least $1200 would allow us to begin conservation work on these visual chronicles of our city’s past, allowing Charlotteans to enjoy and learn from them for generations to come. Please contact Dawn Schmitz, Associate Dean for Special Collections & University Archives at 704-687-1674 or to learn more about this opportunity.