Concord native Michael Eury's new book examines the history of his hometown and ties the city's mill roots to today using vintage photographs.
Eury, executive director of Historic Cabarrus Association and the Concord Museum, sifted through more than 2,000 photographs from museum archives, private collections and local institutions. He whittled that number down in seven months and wrote the book about a month after.
"Images of America: Concord" is a 128-page softcover book that includes 200 black-and-white photographs from the city's past and present. It goes on sale March 14 through Arcadia Publishing, known for its regional history books.
The book's six chapters are "The Making of a Mill Town," "An Era of Progress," "The Home Front (World War II)," "Concord Schools," "Concord Businesses" and "An All-American City (post-World War II community photos)." The photos depict early views of Concord and track the city's development and its influential citizens throughout the 20th century.
"The introduction surveys Concord's history from the mid-1700s, but the earliest photographs are from the 1870s," said Eury. "The lion's share of the photographs are from the 20th century, but the last two photos are of the 2010 groundbreaking of the Concord Rotary Club's 'Everybody Plays' accessible playground at McGee Park, and of the Avett Brothers."
An entertainment-publishing industry veteran for more than 20 years, Eury has written or co-written nine other books and edited and/or written hundreds of periodicals. He calls his latest book a love letter to his hometown. Local journalist and historian Helen Arthur-Cornett wrote the foreword. The book retails for $21.99 and will be available at major retail and online bookstores and in the Concord Museum's gift shop.
Eury answered five questions for Cabarrus News in honor of the book's upcoming release and to promote a handful of meet-the-author events.
Q. What was one of the most interesting things you discovered while doing research for this book?
A. "Viewing Concord's history through photographs allowed an intimate perspective that sometimes took me beyond the depicted event and reminded me that our past is a collection of personal stories.
"Case in point: Long-timers will recall the Efird building fire in downtown Concord in April 1978, but a photo I found in the Fire Department's archives of an evacuation being made at the burning building's neighbor, Porter Drug Co., made me realize how a fire doesn't affect merely one building."
Q. Why did you take on the project and what's next?
"Arcadia Publishing decided to produce a Concord photo-history book in its "Images of America" imprint and they approached me for author recommendations. I'm a published author with over twenty years of writing and editing experience and wanted to take this on myself, especially since such a project had been on my to-do list. The Board of Directors of Historic Cabarrus kindly OK'd my doing the book.
"What's next? A 2012 Historic Cabarrus Photo Calendar, featuring 12 vintage photos from the county. It will be produced late this year and be on sale at the Concord Museum, although members of Historic Cabarrus Association will receive a complimentary copy."
Q. Was there anything you left out that you wish you could go back and add?
"I'm very happy with the book as-is and hope the community embraces its visual tour of our past. Narrowing Concord's 200-plus-year history into a 200-photo narrative wasn't easy, and after considering roughly 2,000 photos for print, there simply wasn't enough space to include them all. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a second volume, because there are hundreds of additional photos waiting to be shared."
Q. Give a brief summary of the book and describe its intended audiences.
"(My book) surveys Concord's story through vintage, and a few recent, photographs, starting with a 19th-century image of downtown Concord and ending with our local-boys-made-good, the Avett Brothers. This book will appeal to those who grew up in Concord, as it looks back at their roots and ancestors, and in many cases themselves, and will also appeal to newcomers curious about the histories of local buildings, schools, businesses and organizations."
Q. What do you want people to know most about the book and our former residents and their history?
"That Concordians are wonderful. The book's photos show that the people of yesteryear were committed to making Concord a great place in which to live and work. The photo contributors - the people of today - kindly opened their doors to me, allowing me to borrow their personal family photos or images from their private collections, as did organizations such as the police and fire Departments, Barber-Scotia College and the Boys and Girls Club. Producing this book was the greatest privilege of my career."
About the author
Known during his youth as Mickey Eury, Michael Eury, 53, is the son of Aggie and the late Ray H. Eury. He graduated from Concord High School in 1975 and from East Carolina University in 1980. He has been married to his wife, Rose, for 24 years. His younger brother, John, is a reference librarian at the Cabarrus County Public Library's Concord branch.
Michael was an editor at DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics. He edits Back Issue, a pop-culture magazine about retro comic books and related media. It's published eight times a year by TwoMorrows Publishing. He is a Concord Rotary Club member and attends Forest Hill United Methodist Church
He has written projects for Nike, Toys R Us, Warner Bros. Worldwide Publishing, the Microsoft Network, Marvel Comics, and Hearing Loss Magazine.
He volunteers as state president of the Hearing Loss Association of North Carolina, a nonprofit organization.