Kathleen Purvis

How did Charlotte get a Whiskey Lane?

Yes, Charlotte, you pass Whiskey Lane on Providence Road.
Yes, Charlotte, you pass Whiskey Lane on Providence Road. Kathleen Purvis

Driving home on Friday afternoons along Providence Road, looking forward to kicking back with a relaxing adult beverage, I know I’m getting close when I pass Whiskey Lane.

Yes, Whiskey Lane is an actual street, just before Wendover Road. Given the flow of traffic heading out east on Providence in the afternoon, I usually have plenty of time to sit at the light, ponder the sign and wonder: How the heck did button-down Charlotte get a Whiskey Lane?

I finally had to call Wendy Field and find out. Field is a developer and designer who has been active in Charlotte real estate for years. She’s the developer of Cottages on Providence, a new cluster of houses near Wendover. And, yes, she got to pick the name of the street leading into the development.

No, she’s not a lush. There’s a completely different story behind Whiskey Lane.

Choosing street names in Charlotte has gotten to be a challenge. There are so many streets out there now in our booming city. And since Charlotte has such a tangle of street names – all those Sharons, Sedgefields, Queens and Kings – the city has gotten tougher on names that sound like any other name.

When Field needed to pick a name, it was a struggle. She wanted Gregory Lane, to honor her late brother, but there’s a Gregory Place off Albemarle. She tried trees and plants. No dice – “there’s millions of those.”

Finally, she thought of family history: Her great-grandfather Arthur Lehmann was in the liquor business. His company, Lehmann & Co., was sold to Hiram Walker in 1919, and he later owned two Kentucky distilleries, Richland and Arrow. When Field was a girl, she loved horses and dreamed of having a brown horse she would name Whiskey. She never got the horse, but as an adult, she got a dog, an apricot-colored Labradoodle, and named him Whiskey.

So, she named her street after her dog, her dream horse and her heritage.

“I decided, ‘Oh, what the heck, I want to use the name finally.’ I thought it was a cute name for a street.”

It’s sort of a theme, too: Her investing partner named the other street Colton, after his own horse.

What Field didn’t expect was the reaction. Most people love it, she says. But there have been others who aren’t so pleased.

“We are in the South, and some people find they are not pleased with the name,” she says.

One prospective buyer told her she loved the houses, but wouldn’t buy because she didn’t want to live on Whiskey Lane. Another person who did buy a house wants to bring it up to the homeowners’ association, although Field doesn’t think they’ll change it. More people like it than don’t, she says.

“I never, ever thought of it in a way that would be offensive,” she says. “It was something that was a part of my family.”

It’s enough to drive a developer to drink. And while she doesn’t mind whiskey – it reminds her of boys she knew at the University of Alabama who drank whiskey and Coke – whiskey isn’t her drink of choice.

She says she’s a vodka or rum girl.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis

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