The Lansdowne Civic League celebrates its 41st anniversary this year.
Since its incorporation May 15, 1969, the group has worked "for the welfare and improvement of the Lansdowne Subdivision in Charlotte."
An older development by today's standards, the 463-home subdivision is tucked between Sardis and Providence Roads, with entrances on both. Construction started on the first homes in the late 1950s. Neighbors say that back then a three-quarter-acre lot could be bought for about $7,000.
"This neighborhood was the outer belt of Charlotte when it was first built. The Civic League helped neighbors form a common bond and a community, as opposed to just living out in the suburbs," said Bill Schroeder, president of the Civic League board.
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Civic League board member Dane Rabb says the concept is still working.
"The Civic League helps new neighbors meet old neighbors. It helps set up self-run groups. New moms meet and walk together. We even have a card club," said Rabb.
Board member Holly Giacobone is working with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police to establish a Neighborhood Watch program, though crime in the neighborhood is relatively low.
"We have a lot of retirees who keep a lookout for their neighbors," Schroeder said. "We have a lot of eyes on the street."
The Civic League is similar to a homeowner's association but with a few important differences. Membership and the $40 annual dues are voluntary. League treasurer Grae Garrison says approximately 60 percent of homeowners are dues-paying members; the league is working to increase that percentage.
Dues are used to maintain the signs and common areas at the entrances, as well as to fund the annual fall festival, a family friendly gathering where neighbors meet neighbors over hamburgers, hotdogs, bounce houses and more.
The neighborhood has several covenants set up by the homebuilders, but the Civic League has no legal power to enforce them. Instead, it works to make sure homeowners are familiar with the rules and trusts they will abide by them.
Board secretary Pat Loncar says the neighborhood includes an interesting mix of folks.
"I've lived here since 1983," Loncar said. "My set of kids has grown up and moved on and a new set has moved in. Still, I think about 15 percent to 20 percent of our residents have been here from the beginning."
When Lansdowne was first built, homes there were state-of-the-art.
"I've been told that in the 1960s, this was a 'happening new development,'" said Schroeder, who moved to Lansdowne in 1995. "The designs were considered cutting edge and many of the homes were on home tours."
Schroeder's own home contained an indoor grill and a kitchen decked out in gold and robin's egg blue. Many residents have replaced their harvest-gold appliances, all the rage 50 years ago. But they still use their original intercoms from the 1960s.
The Civic League has an annual meeting each February at Lansdowne Elementary School and specially called meetings and events throughout the year. Notice is given on the league's website, as well as on fliers.
Giacobone is busy planning their next event - the second annual Children's Parade and Ice Cream Truck Social on May 29.