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Still-standing Historical Spaces
Brooklyn Grace estimated sometime before 1960. The houses are no longer standing. The first was built and occupied by JT William, founder of Grace, and the one closest to the church was the Andrew B. Kerns home.
Photo from Robinson Spangler Carolina Room
The History of Brooklyn Collective and Camp North End
by Kitty Janvrin
Located in the Brooklyn neighborhood in Charlotte’s Second Ward, Brooklyn Grace is a beacon of the vibrant Black community that sustained a mix of housing and local, walkable businesses and social spaces like the church for decades.
Recent work to revitalize the cluster of buildings at the corner of South Brevard and 3rd Street includes reimagining the church, introducing multiuse space Studio 229 into the one-story building, and opening an art gallery on the ground floor of the Mecklenburg Investment Company building.
The Brooklyn Collective
Brooklyn Grace neighborhood
Above, this historic photo shows businesses along Brevard Street that were part of the vibrant Black community in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Below, the up-close shot of the tower of Brooklyn Grace against a blue sky reveals some of the details of the brickwork by brick mason William W. Smith, North Carolina’s first recognized Black architect.
Here’s a brief timeline of the area:
A congregation of four men and 17 women establish Grace A.M.E. Zion Church under the principles of “Deo Religion ET Temperantiae” (“God, religion, and temperance”), which can be found inscribed on the cornerstone of the building.
The leaders of Charlotte’s Black Better Class establish the Queen City Real Estate Company, AME Zion Publishing House, the Afro American Insurance Company and the Mecklenburg Investment Company in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
The current Brooklyn Grace building is completed, boasting brickwork by William W. Smith, a brick mason and North Carolina’s first recognized Black architect. Smith’s design and bricks can also be seen on the Mecklenburg Investment Company building.
Urban renewal demolition of the Brooklyn neighborhood begins, clearing more than 238 acres of housing, businesses and other property designated as “blighted areas” by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission. Over the next seven years, the project displaces more than 1,000 families and shutters 216 Black-owned businesses.
Three of the remaining original buildings at the corner of South Brevard and 3rd streets are acquired and the Brooklyn Collective is established.
Blumenthal works with the Brooklyn Collective to develop programming such as Acoustic Grace and the Atelier at Grace in Brooklyn Grace.
Photo courtesy of Camp North End
The plaza at Camp North End.
Camp North End
With its sprawling 76-acre historic campus, Camp North End has repurposed warehouses as boutique retail and local dining, garage doors as canvases and its storied land as a one of the city’s hottest gathering places. A blended industrial and modern aesthetic has welcomed a diverse collection of local business owners, creators, events and visitors with plans to only increase its impact on the community.
First Photo by mike anthony photos, other two courtesy of Camp North End
Here’s a timeline of the space:
Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant operates at the property, employing 500 people and assembling more than 231,000 cars and trucks between the plant’s opening and 1932
The Ford plant is transitioned to U.S. Army Quartermaster Depot and an additional million square feet of warehouse real estate is built. These warehouses process uniforms, typewriters and other goods for training camps throughout the southeast during WWII.
During the Cold War, the U.S. Army remains at the site to operate the Charlotte Army Missile Plant (C.A.M.P.), specializing in the production of Nike Hercules and Nike Ajax missiles and Honest John rockets.
The site houses the Eckerd Distribution Center, which is incorporated into Rite Aid in 2007.
ATCO, a national real estate company, purchases the property and begins its innovative redevelopment project. This adaptive reuse initiative is the largest such project in Charlotte and is currently in Phase 2 of the 20-year plan.
Camp North End hosts Blumenthal Performing Arts to present We Are Hip Hop: The Reveal during the first weekend of November, beginning a new partnership. ◼
Photo by mike anthony photos
A view of the uptown skyline from Camp North End.