The Cherry neighborhood was established in 1891 as a neighborhood of black laborers, and not as a servants’ quarters for Myers Park as many believe. “It was a rural farm community 20 years before Myers Park happened,” explains longtime local historian Tom Hanchett. Mount Zion Lutheran Church was built in 1896 and served its congregation for decades. No longer a church, the structure was purchased by a local company in 2001, renovated, and lives on as a design studio. Reporter Rhonda Williams explored Mount Zion’s history in this 1990 story:
“In 1896, a church sprang up in the Cherry community: Mount Zion Lutheran Church. Now, six years shy of a century, that church still exists. It sits on Luther Street, named after the church.
“The only difference is it’s now called the Mount Zion Church of God Holiness. Organized by William Philo Phifer, a black man who established black Lutheran churches in the Charlotte area, the church is the oldest religious building in the historically black community. … The church, which became Holiness in the mid-1970s, seats about 110 people. ‘It’s just a small chapel,’ said Dan Morrill, consulting director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. ‘(But) it demonstrates again the importance of us protecting these properties. And we don’t go for just the grand and the majestic. We try to document the history and all its elements in the community.’
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Maria David is the Observer’s librarian.