It’s almost a single word – Matthews-Mint Hill.
There’s Matthews-Mint Hill Road and many other references to the Matthews-Mint Hill area. Mint Hill Middle School is within eyesight of the Matthews line. Morning Star Lutheran Church’s sanctuary is in Mint Hill, but its cemetery and historic old chapel are across the street (and down the road a bit) in Matthews.
The two towns are Charlotte’s fast-growing southeast suburbs.
Let’s start with what they have in common. Like Charlotte’s other suburbs, they grew quickly over the past three decades. Their elected and appointed officials have wrestled with tough decisions on such issues as multi-family housing, expansion of roads, and mass transportation.
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The two towns have destinations for dining and recreation, but they are best-known as good places to live. Their populations are similar – Matthews at 28,000; Mint Hill at 24,000. Those numbers are estimates, and they’re probably a bit low.
Their lifeline to the rest of the region is Interstate 485, which has put the towns’ residents within a 30- or 45-minute drive of anywhere else in the county. Crime rates are low, and fires are still fought at times by volunteers, although police and firefighting are becoming more of a full-time job in both towns.
There are differences, though.
Matthews’ history seems a bit better-recorded, and the town has more business development, much of it settled along the major thoroughfares of Independence Boulevard and Monroe Road. Windsor Square, Sycamore Commons and Matthews Township Festival are major draws for shoppers. But Mint Hill has experienced rapid growth around its Brighton Park shopping center and in the town’s nearby downtown area.
When it comes to downtowns, though, Matthews leads the way.
Its central business district dates back to the 1870s, when hardware stores and banks sprang up along the stagecoach line between Charlotte and Monroe. Trains replaced the stagecoaches in 1874, and the farms that produced cotton across the Matthews area – then known as “Stumptown” because of all the cleared trees – diminished in number.
Mint Hill has history, too. Bain School, founded by John Bain, dates back to 1890. The town’s historical village gives a look into Mint Hill’s rural past.
The two towns have a real connection with the contemporary world, though. The Matthews Sportsplex and Mint Hill’s Fairview Park host regional athletic competitions. And there have been celebrities. Matthews has produced Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker and former “Big Brother” winner Jordan Lloyd. The 2005 Miss USA, Chelsea Cooley, attended school in Mint Hill, as did several players in the NFL.
“The pace of life has picked up,” former longtime Matthews Mayor Lee Myers said of the area recently, “but this is still a great place to live.”