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Posted: Sunday, May. 31, 2009

Get acquainted with Matthews history, food

Melinda Johnston
Published in: Regional News
  • From “Matthews Memories:”

    In the 1930s, in need of a gym, Matthews School principal V.V. Long and a group of local leaders determined that the high ceilings and large size of a vacant Baptist church on West Matthews Street would suffice. The building, which stood where Windstream Telephone Co. is now, served the community until a new high school and gym were built in 1937.

    Renfrow's Hardware founder Thomas Jefferson “Captain” Renfrow earned his title when he was named captain of the Rea gold mine, located on a 1,000-acre tract near what is now Sardis Village Shopping Center and Movies at Crown Point.

    When Matthews streets were surveyed and named, John Street was named for Renfrow's son, John, and McDowell Street (by Matthews Elementary School) was named for another son, Eugene “Dow” McDowell.

    Matthews School's second grade teacher, Sallie Quarles Bost, taught in the same classroom – first floor, front of the building – for 40-plus years.

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    From the Reid House to Renfrow's Hardware, Matthews School to the Crestdale Community, a new book mixes the history of Matthews with many residents' favorite recipes during the past 100-plus years.

    The Matthews Historical Foundation has released “Matthews Memories, a Collection of Remembrances and Recipes from a Small Southern Town.”

    The 133-page, wirebound volume is crammed with recipes, pictures and stories of some of Matthews' most noted residents, starting from the late 1800s.

    Matthews Historical Foundation president Paula Lester, the book committee chairman, says compiling the recipes and remembrances took much more time than originally planned, but the results were worth the extra effort.

    “This book has been a long time in the making. This is an example of starting a project that comes out to be so much more than you envisioned, but it's been well worth it,” said Lester.

    “This book gives citizens the opportunity to learn the story behind many of the names that they may hear around town. It's a great way to acquaint present Matthews citizens with the previous generations of the town.”

    The book was put together by a committee of historical foundation members. Relatives of those profiled wrote many of the remembrances.

    Proceeds will support the restoration efforts of the historical foundation.

    Books are $15 each and may be purchased at the Depot, 210 Matthews Station St., Matthews, next to Town Hall, during normal business hours. They also may be purchased by mail for $18 (includes postage and handling). Make check payable and mail to Matthews Historical Foundation, PO Box 117, Matthews, NC 28106. Information about the Matthews Historical Foundation: www.matthews

    Melinda Johnston writes about people, places and happenings in Matthews and Mint Hill. Contact her at

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