Carol Hampton was driving home one day “a long time ago” and pulled onto her road to find a crew hoisting a sign renaming it to “Alexanderana Road.”
Hampton, who’s lived on the road for 51 years, stopped her car in shock, rolled down the window and shouted to the crew: “You all got it spelled wrong.”
The historically correct name should have been Alexandriana Road, but for decades residents have lived on a misspelled road and received mail to a wrongly named address.
Tuesday, Mecklenburg County commissioners unanimously corrected that mistake after a public hearing to give historical accuracy to the road just north of where Interstates 77 and 485 intersect. They also held public hearings for name changes for two other roads: South I-77 Service Road to Chartown Drive and Poplar Tent Church Road to Poplar Tent Road.
But it’s Alexanderana Road that local historians and some residents have wanted to change for years.
The accurate name is historically important for that part of Mecklenburg. “Alexandriana” was the name of the sprawling plantation owned by John McKnitt Alexander, one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence – the document that some historians say proclaimed the county “free and independent” from England’s King George III – 14 months before the country’s declaration.
Linda Dalton, president of the Mecklenburg Historical Association and Alexander’s great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter, said the road had long been known “as the road to his homeplace – Alexandriana.”
From 1804 to 1886, there was an Alexandriana Post Office in the area, and a 19th- and early 20th-century school of the same name. Alexander’s home no longer stands, but the property is now a historic site and park established by the Alexandriana chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in the 1950s.
Hampton said the road before the misspelling was Alexandriana Road. Others say it had simply a rural route number.
In a letter to commissioner Jim Puckett, who represents that part of the county, JoAnne Brown Miller of the Olde Huntersville Historical Society said the mistake was made – likely in the late 1970s – when Mecklenburg hired out-of-state consultants to name all rural roads before the county established its 911 emergency service.
“These consultants did not know the historical significance of the name and just spelled it as they thought it sounded – Alexanderana,” Miller wrote.
Puckett, an Alexander descendant, said in an interview that most property and business owners on the road signed a petition supporting the name correction.
The road, he said, is still sparsely populated, but growth is coming. “It’s a good time to make the change now,” Puckett said. “We need to make the change before the road gets too developed.”
Dalton was overjoyed by the correction. She, too, recalled seeing the proper spelling on road signs on her way to high school in the 1960s.
“It’s an important piece of history – it’s not some little insignificant thing,” Dalton said. “It’d be like putting road signs up that say Tyron, instead of Tryon Street. Wouldn’t that grate on people if they misspelled one of our major roads?”