Need a car?
Rick Hendrick’s automotive empire includes dealerships spread out along Independence Boulevard in east Charlotte.
Customers are rolling off his lots in Acuras, Land Rovers, Lexuses, Minis and Porsches – as well as more affordable Chevy and Kia brands. Dozens of other dealerships surround the Hendrick Automotive properties for even more choices for getting around.
Craving international flavors?
Central Avenue is the heart of east Charlotte’s international restaurant district – an unofficial tagline but a fitting one for an area that offers so many options for interesting food and dining. The international restaurants and markets here are often small, family-run businesses where the owners take pride in showcasing their culture.
Along with eateries, the area has markets and bakeries selling ingredients and prepared foods that are staples in other parts of the world. These flavors have traveled here from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and beyond. (Go to charlotteeast.com and see the section on Taste of the World restaurants.)
Hungry for a brain boost?
That’s when east Charlotte really gets interesting.
A visit to the Charlotte Museum of History gives you a chance to see the oldest surviving home in Mecklenburg County.
The Hezekiah Alexander House was built on the same site around 1774. The rock house, at 3500 Shamrock Drive, is included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The homestead has a reproduction log kitchen, barn and reconstructed two-story springhouse, which provided cool storage for perishable foods such as dairy products or meat.
The home’s original owner, Hezekiah Alexander, has a colorful history. In 1775, for example, Alexander was a was a signer of the “Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.”
We shouldn’t take for granted the opportunity to visit the museum or the rock house. Loss of revenue during and after the Great Recession forced administrators to shut down the facility in May 2012.
A new leader came on board in March 2013 and reopened the museum on a limited schedule. More than three years later, the list of programs is growing, albeit with a much smaller staff of four people, compared to 22 as it closed.
Today the museum is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The staff offered more than 173 programs between June 2015 and July 2016, including hosting tours for school groups. That’s compared to just 31 programs in the 2013 calendar year.
Education is a strong focus as the museum recovers, said Kay Peninger, executive director. Preserving and maintaining the Alexander house also continues to be a priority.
“In a city that does not always preserve its history, the Hezakiah Alexander house is an important resource,” Peninger said. “It’s very important to Charlotte and should be preserved.”
The staff is also finding strength by reaching outside its own fences to connect with people for events and education programs. An example is the Mid-Century Modern Home Tour, which features a collection of homes with modern design and architecture as well as urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965.
Interested in digging deeper into the property’s past?
Well, then, here’s something you might not know about the Charlotte Museum of History. The 6.5 acres for the museum and Alexander home site is owned by Aldersgate, which has an additional 224 neighboring acres where it operates a retirement community.
Aldersgate is expanding its inventory of apartments and cottages for independent living to meet the community’s needs as Baby Boomers move into retirement. As a continuing care community, Aldersgate also offers residential options for seniors who need specialized care.
In 2015 Aldersgate announced that it will invest $70 million to add 62 new for-purchase apartments and villas, as well as amenities and a new skilled nursing facility.
Construction is scheduled to start in early 2017 on the apartments and villas, with a finish date expected in early 2018.
Karen Sullivan is a former reporter for the Observer.