In a few weeks, newcomers, longtime residents and history buffs alike can get a portrait of a Charlotte they've never seen, a virtual tour of life in the ever-transitioning city from 1900 to 1925.
That quarter-century was a time when south Charlotte was nothing more than cotton fields and forests.
A time when the dirt roads were muddy and the electric train was the transportation of choice.
A time when James Buchanan Duke, one of the greatest industrialists and philanthropists of the 20th century, changed the face of the city and state.
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James B. Duke's old homestead, The Duke Mansion, now a historic bed-and-breakfast inn and meeting place in Myers Park, will host a free presentation 3 p.m. March 20 called "Mr. Duke's Charlotte."
The event will feature popular history speaker David Erdman, 61, who will talk about life in Charlotte 100 years ago, as well as tell stories Charlotte's modern architecture keeps hidden.
Erdman, a lawyer with the law firm Erdman Hockfield & Leone LLP, became interested in Charlotte's history when he moved to the city in 1976. Erdman grew up in New Bern, but said Charlotte largely was excluded from the North Carolina history he'd studied in school.
"I concluded that there were many untold stories about Charlotte," he said, "and I have set out to tell those stories."
For decades, Erdman has collected and catalogued hundreds of photographs of Charlotte from libraries, the Internet and private sources in his free time. He has organized them block by block, address by address.
He's also given about 115 history presentations to more than 100 different audiences. Erdman does this out of his great love for the city, a love Charlotteans of old also shared, as evidenced by the sheer number of early photos of the city, he said.
"Cameras were not small, portable objects," said Erdman. "They were the type of objects you would have to put in a horse-drawn carriage and set up on a tripod. It was an ordeal. ... A lot of people cared and a lot of people took time to commemorate our city."
During his presentation, Erdman will share a couple hundred photographs of Charlotte life from 1900 to 1925. Erdman said the main message in studying the Charlotte of old is knowing that the Charlotte of today is practically a different city. The amount of change is overwhelming.
"The buildings that were the core of Charlotte 100 or so years ago don't exist anymore," he said. "We've been completely transformed. ... (Presentation participants are) going to take a visit to a place they've never been to, and yet they walk and ride there every day."
No registration is required, but it's recommended attendees arrive between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m., due to the event's popularity.
The program, including a question-and-answer session after Erdman's presentation, should last about 11/2 hours. Guests then are welcome to stroll through the grounds of The Duke Mansion.
The Duke Mansion has hosted these quarterly events in partnership with the Levine Museum of the New South for about five years.
"A lot of history has taken place here," said Pat Martin, development director for The Duke Mansion, which is nearly 100 years old. "We want to be an active part of encouraging people and connecting people to history and what matters."