Retro Charlotte

A Spanish cannon tug-of-war

“El Dominante” was moved from D.H. Hill school to Alexander Graham (above) in the mid-50s.
“El Dominante” was moved from D.H. Hill school to Alexander Graham (above) in the mid-50s. The Charlotte Observer

How in the world did a three-ton Spanish cannon named “El Dominante” come to be in Charlotte? One theory was reported by Observer columnist Kays Gary in 1958: President Teddy Roosevelt presented it to then-Mayor S.S. McNinch around 1900, for our Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence Celebration. Since then “the dominant one” has hunkered down in several spots around town. Here’s a summary of its travels, from 1967:

Fine Relic Neglected?

Old Cannon Once Ignited Royal Fuss

By J.A.C. Dunn, Observer staff writer

October 7, 1967


“In 1900, Charlotte received two cannons, captured in Havana, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War. One was named El Dominante and had been cast in Barcelona, Spain, in 1769 (only a year after Charlotte was officially established).

The two cannons stood in front of the Post Office (on W. Trade), with the Shipp Monument, until the new Post Office was built.

One was moved with the monument to the rear of the Post Office on South Mint Street, and no one knew what to do with the old El Dominante until the Stonewall Jackson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy had it mounted in front of the old D.H. Hill school on the corner of East Morehead Street and South Boulevard.

When the Hill school was razed to make way for Independence Boulevard, El Dominante was moved to Alexander Graham (up the street). In 1958 that property was transferred to James J. Harris, who donated it for the new YMCA building.

At that point, the National Park Service, which had long been casting a lustful eye on El Dominante, tried to have it moved to St. Augustine, Fla. The NPS offered a Confederate cannon in return.”

The Park Service lost out, and arguing ensued about where in Charlotte the cannon should be placed -- City Hall? Freedom Park?

“City Hall eventually won (you can’t fight it, even with historic artillery), and on May 16, 1958, El Dominante was placed upon its concrete foundation facing Trade Street. The city didn’t even bother to fasten it down: it weighs three tons.”

In 1999 the cannon was moved to the Charlotte Museum of History where it remains today.