To honor the five generations of the Walters family that have lived on Walker Street in Huntersville, the Town Board recently changed the street name to Walters Street.
Paul Walters, 75, said his family may not be the oldest in Huntersville, but they’re certainly among them. He’s been working on and off for the past two years to get the 21/2 block street – covering 0.23 miles and running north and south a few blocks east of Town Hall – named for his family.
“I can name 30 Walters who’ve lived on Walker Street,” he said. The family owned the entire 100 block of the street from 1940 to 1946, when it served as a family farm during the lean war years.
Altogether, Walters said, the family has built and/or owned seven different homes there, and he’s personally lived in four of them. Walters currently owns two lots on the street.
Walters was born and raised in Huntersville, as were his father and grandfather. His great-grandfather, Thomas Franklin Walters, moved to Huntersville in 1905 from Belmont, to take a job as one of the superintendents of Virgin Cotton Mill, he said.
Thomas Walters built the house on the corner of Huntersville-Concord Road and then-Walker Street in 1919. The house still stands today.
His grandfather, John Henry – who was Thomas Walters’ oldest son and one of nine children – opened Walters’ Barbershop, Huntersville’s first barber shop, in 1909. Paul Walters’ father, Thomas Samuel, was the oldest of four children and also worked at the barber shop for 46 years, Walters said.
Other notable family members include Walters’ brother, John, who was Huntersville mayor for two years, and his uncle, Clyde, who was a town board member for several terms.
As for their history on Walker Street, Paul Walters said to his knowledge, the land was first developed in 1908 and coincides with the time his family built their first house there, possibly the first on the street.
Walters said he started the process of requesting the name change in November 2010 but put the project on hold after his wife, Ruth, died in December of that year. Walters said it was nearly a year before he picked it up again, with hopes of having it done in time for what would have been his father’s 100th birthday, on May 16, 2011.
“When I was growing up, if the mayor wanted to change the name of the street, he just did,” he said with a laugh. “I thought that was they way they (did) things.”
In reality, Walters said, the process involved filling out an application, paying $450 – to cover the application fee and three new street signs – and contacting the other 18 property owners on Walker Street to get signatures of approval.
Walters said he knew roughly half of the other property owners and was relieved when he got 100 percent support.
Huntersville town board member Charles Guignard, who owns property on Walters Street, said getting 100 percent support on a petition is rare.
“The whole street obviously had no problem,” Guignard said. “It is appropriate considering his family’s history. I was glad to (vote in favor of the name change) because in the back of my mind, I wonder if it was misnamed, and the person who named it thought they were naming it Walters Street.”
Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain said she’s invited Walters to join the town’s soon-to-be-formed historic commission, due to the wealth of information and photos he has – not only about his family but the growth of Huntersville.
Swain said it’s important to highlight the core group of families that have been part of the town’s history.
“The majority of the population is new, and I don’t think they realize we have (these families),” she said, adding she was pleased the board voted in favor of the street name change. “Why wouldn’t we highlight that? (Walters has) got a big heart, and it’s significant to show his kids and grandkids how important their history is,” said Swain.
Walters said two of his three children still live in Huntersville, as do two of his grandchildren.
“We’ve just kind of been here forever.”
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda
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