Belmont, North Carolina: Wikis

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Belmont, North Carolina
—  City  —
Nickname(s): City of Diversified Textiles
Location in the U.S. state of North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°14′40″N 81°2′8″W / 35.24444°N 81.03556°W / 35.24444; -81.03556
Country  United States
State  North Carolina
County Gaston
Incorporated 1895
Government
 - Mayor Richard Boyce
Area
 - City 8.2 sq mi (21.3 km2)
 - Land 8.1 sq mi (20.9 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (0.4 km2)  1.82%%
Elevation 702 ft (214 m)
Population (2008)
 - City 9,374
 - Density 1,077.4/sq mi (416/km2)
 - Metro 2,067,810
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 28012
Area code(s) 704
FIPS code 37-04840[1]
GNIS feature ID 0980966[2]
Website http://www.cityofbelmont.org/

Belmont is a city in Gaston County, North Carolina, United States, located about 15 miles (24 km) west of uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. The population was 8,705 at the 2000 census. Once known as Garibaldi, the city named in honor of August Belmont, a prominent New York banker.[3] Belmont is home to Belmont Abbey College.

Contents

Geography

Belmont is located at 35°14′40″N 81°2′8″W / 35.24444°N 81.03556°W / 35.24444; -81.03556 (35.244496, -81.035650)[4].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.2 square miles (21.3 km²), of which, 8.1 square miles (20.9 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (1.82%) is water.

Nestled in the southern Piedmont region of North Carolina, the town of Belmont is flanked by two rivers, the Catawba River and its right tributary, the South Fork Catawba River. Adjacent to Belmont, the rivers make up two arms of Lake Wylie and form a peninsula on which the city is situated.

Areas to the west of the center of town are part of the South Fork Catawba watershed. Eastern parts of Belmont north of the Norfolk Southern Railway belong to the Catawba Heights watershed, while those to the south are in the Paw Creek watershed. Areas of unincorporated South Point Township south of Belmont belong to the Neal Branch-Beaverdam Creek watershed.[5]

History

Settlement in the Belmont area began around the colonial-era Fort at the Point, built in the 1750s by Dutch settler James Kuykendall and others near the junction of the South Fork and Catawba Rivers[6][7]. The fort was built because of ongoing hostilities with the Cherokee, but it was apparently never attacked.

The South Point Community, located about 2-1/2 miles south of present-day downtown Belmont, was the site of Stowesville Mill[8]. Founded by Jasper Stowe and Associates in 1853, it was one of the first three cotton mills in operation in Gaston County[9].

Abram Stowe (1842-1897) returned to the area after serving in the Civil War. He built a handsome Greek Revival home (still the oldest known structure in Belmont) and opened a small mercantile store. He later became postmaster and town depot agent for the new Atlanta and Richmond Air Line Railway, which was constructed in 1871. Additional stores were soon built near the community's railroad stop, Garibaldi Station. The station was named for John Garibaldi, who had supervised construction of a water tank near the new railroad[10]. Existing settlers in the South Point community moved north to be closer to the railroad[6].

In 1872, Father Jeremiah O'Connell, a Roman Catholic missionary priest, purchased a 500-acre (2.0 km2) tract known as the Caldwell farm, less than one mile (1.6 km) north of Garibaldi Station. The land was then donated to the Benedictine Monks of Saint Vincent's Arch-abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for the establishment of a religious community and school[10]. Belmont Abbey, officially named "Mary Help of Christians Abbey," was founded in 1876 by Bishop Leo Haid, and still functions today. The Abbey operates Belmont Abbey College, a liberal-arts college. Bishop Haid is said to have been the one who suggested changing the name of the town to Belmont.[11]

In 1883, the name of Garibaldi Station was formally changed to Belmont. In 1895, by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly, an area within a 1/4 mile radius from the intersection of Main Street and the railroad was incorporated as the Town of Belmont[10].

Belmont was still a small town at the turn of the century, with a population of only 145. The organization of Chronicle Mills in 1901 marked the beginning of Belmont's development as a textile center. It was founded by Robert Lee Stowe Sr. (1866-1963), his brother Samuel Pinckney Stowe (1868-1956), and Abel Caleb Lineberger (1859-1948, son of Caleb John Lineberger, who had founded Gaston County's second textile mill, the Woodlawn, or "Pinhook," Mill in Lowell, North Carolina in 1852). Chronicle was the first of the nearly twenty mills built in Belmont through 1930, expanding the town population to 3,793.

Demographics

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 8,705 people, 3,348 households, and 2,226 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,077.3 people per square mile (416.0/km²). There were 3,552 housing units at an average density of 439.6/sq mi (169.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.39% White, 10.07% African American, 0.26% Native American, 2.98% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.26% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.49% of the population.

There were 3,348 households out of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.6% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 31.9% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,819, and the median income for a family was $46,765. Males had a median income of $32,388 versus $25,213 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,065. About 6.9% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.3% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.

Government

Belmont, like a majority of cities in North Carolina, has a council-manager government, with a mayor and a five-member city council. The longtime city manager is Barry Webb.

Belmont has its own police and fire departments which operate within the city limits. Fire protection in the unincorporated areas south of Belmont is handled by the South Point Volunteer Fire Department (2001 Southpoint Rd.), in areas southwest of Belmont by the New Hope Volunteer Fire Department (4804 S. New Hope Rd.), and in areas north of Belmont by Community VFD (1873 Perfection Ave.).

Belmont is in South Point Township.

Business and industry

The textile industry was once the very core of Belmont's economy. Today, due to a changing world economy and global marketplace, most of the textile jobs have left not only Belmont and Gaston County but the United States entirely. Cheap foreign labor has brought about a major shift to the American textile industry and it has been especially noticeable in Belmont's economy. The lure of cheap labor in the oversees textile industry coupled with controversial trade legislation to make off shore foreign textile goods more accessible have led to a dramatic decline if not the demise of U.S. made textile goods and textile related jobs.

Though it is still used, Belmont's motto "The City of Diversified Textiles" is no longer relevant. Most of the large textile facilities that once employed thousands of local workers have been torn down or converted to other uses including housing. The large acreages that were home to the once thriving industry have also seen dramatic change. Most of the "mill houses" where employees lived and raised their families for generations have been torn down to make room for new housing developments and some areas have been converted to Industrial Centers containing various types of businesses. Most of the few remaining plants still in operation, run at reduced capacity employing fewer workers. To say that the impact of foreign textiles has adversely affected the lives of local residents is a gross understatement. Foreign textile imports have literally changed the landscape and physical look of Belmont and the lives of the families that once depended on the textile industry for their livelihoods. The mention of NAFTA and other such trade agreements often bring about bitter comments from the long time residents who have witnessed the huge loss of jobs and the decline of the once "King Cotton" industry.

Even with all of the negative impact of the foreign textile industry, Belmont continues to grow and thrive. Its proximity to the large fast growing city of Charlotte have made Belmont an attractive place to live for the flood of new residents moving into the Charlotte area. Proof of this is readily seen in the historic downtown area of Belmont where the commercial occupancy rate is 100%. This represents quite a change from just a few short years ago when (in the midst of the textile decline) the downtown area was often referred to as a "ghost town" as many businesses that had enjoyed commercial success for decades closed their doors and remained vacant for years. Belmont's business community in cooperation with local city government recognized this problem and poured money into the almost dead downtown area for redevelopment. Though somewhat controversial at first, those investments have more than proved their worthiness. New restaurants, boutique shops, mom & pop enterprises and various other businesses have made downtown come alive again. The renovation of Stowe Park and the almost continuous public activities surrounding it lend proof to the welcome revitalization of the downtown area.

Its residents, young and old, natives and newcomers certainly find no stretch to compare Belmont to the fictional "Mayberry", where its natural beauty, friendly folks, and calm, laid back atmosphere take residents and visitors to a slower, simpler time. Belmont has faced its varied and difficult challenges head on with optimism and enthusiasm. Though the close knit textile community with its mill villages have all but disappeared, the same pioneer spirit that drove those early settlers to carve out their existence and make their homes west of the Catawba is still prevalent today in the quiet and quaint little town of Belmont.

R.L. Stowe Mills, Inc. has its headquarters in Belmont and operates the Helms production facility. Gastonia-based Parkdale Mills currently operates two plants (Plants No. 15 and 61) and its Fiber Research Center in Belmont.

Duke Energy operates the G. G. Allen Steam Station on Lake Wylie (the Catawba River) south of Belmont. First built in 1957, the Allen Station a five-unit 1,140-megawatt coal-fired power plant.

Transportation

The primary east-west highway passing through Belmont is Interstate 85. Other important east-west highways include U.S. Route 29/U.S. Route 74 (Wilkinson Blvd.) and North Carolina Highway 7 (Catawba St./N. Main St./McAdenville Rd). The primary north-south highway is North Carolina Highway 273 (Armstrong Rd./South Point Rd./Keener Blvd./Park St./Beatty Dr.).

Freight rail service is provided by the Norfolk Southern Railway. It operates the parallel Washington to Atlanta Main Line and S-Line. A spur off of the S-Line carries coal to Duke Energy's Allen Steam Station south of Belmont. While Amtrak's passenger train also follows the main line, the nearest station is in Gastonia.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is Belmont's commuter bus provider to Charlotte. The Gastonia Express (Route 85X) offers Monday-Friday bus service to/from uptown Charlotte, via the Abbey Plaza Shopping Center Station. One-way fare to/from uptown Charlotte: $2.60; transfer costs vary.

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is a major, full-service airport with passenger flights. It is across the Catawba River in Mecklenburg County, about 7 miles (11 km) east of Belmont.

Education

Public education in Belmont is administered by the Gaston County Schools public school system. Public schools in Belmont include:

  • South Point High School - The school receives students from Belmont, Cramerton, parts of McAdenville and Mount Holly, and eastern unincorporated South Point Township. In athletics, the South Point High School Red Raiders were winners of the 3-A NCHSAA Football Championships in 2003 and 1979, the 1971 WNCHSAA 3-A Football Co-championship, and the 1981 NCHSAA Baseball Championship.

Private schools in Belmont include the middle school and high school programs of Gaston Christian School. The school has been renting facilities at the former campus of Sacred Heart College in Belmont since 1994. New middle school and high school facilities are currently under construction at Gaston Christian School's campus in Lowell, North Carolina.

The First United Methodist Day Care Center also operates Pre-K and Kindergarten programs.

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Colleges and universities

There are currently two colleges in Belmont. Belmont Abbey College is a private liberal-arts college affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church and the Order of Saint Benedict. It was founded as St. Mary's College in 1876 by the Benedictine monks of Belmont Abbey (the name changed to Belmont Abbey College in 1913). It was a men's college until the mid-1960s when it became co-educational.

Gaston College is a community college serving Gaston County. Belmont is home to one of Gaston College's three campuses, the East Campus and Textile Technology Center. The Center began operations in 1943 as the North Carolina Vocational Textile School, later renamed the North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology. It was transferred to Gaston College in 2005. The Textile Technology Center offers instruction in new and sample product development, product testing, training, and consulting for the textile industry. Continuing education and a few curriculum classes are offered on the campus[12].

Sacred Heart College, a women's college affiliated with the Roman Catholic order of the Sisters of Mercy, formerly operated in Belmont. It was founded as a girls finishing school, Sacred Heart Academy, in 1892. It began offering associate decree programs in 1937 and baccalaureate degrees in 1970. After years of declining enrollment, it closed its doors in 1987.[13]

Points of interest

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a 450-acre (1.8 km2) world-class botanical garden located on New Hope Road southwest of Belmont. Daniel J. Stowe, a retired textile executive, set aside the property and established a foundation to develop the Garden. The first gardens opened to the public in 1999.

The Downtown Belmont Historic District has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1996. Roughly bounded by the former campus of Sacred Heart College, the Norfolk Southern Railway line, Main, Glenway, and Bryant Streets, Keener Blvd., and Central Ave, the district covers 1,700 acres (6.9 km2). It contains 264 buildings and 2 structures built between 1850 and 1949, including examples of Tudor Revival, Bungalow/Craftsman, and Colonial Revival architectural styles. It includes the Colonial Revival-style former US Post Office at 115 N. Main Street, now the Belmont City Hall. The Belmont Hosiery Mill at 608 S. Main Street is also listed on National Register.[14]

Stowe Manor, at 217 South Central Avenue, is the 1920’s mansion built for textile magnate S.P. Stowe.

The campus of Belmont Abbey has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an Historic District since 1973. The Abbey Basilica of Mary Help of Christians is the central feature of the campus. Built in the German Gothic-Revival architectural style, the Basilica was the largest Catholic church in North Carolina at the time of its construction. The monks of Belmont Abbey did much of the construction work themselves. The original art glass windows of the Basilica were designed and executed by the Royal Bavarian Establishment of Francis Mayer and Company of Munich, Germany. They were painted then heat-fused, allowing for greater detail than was possible with stained glass. The windows were part of a display that won four gold medals at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1892. The Basilica held cathedral rank from 1910-1977. It was elevated to the rank of a Minor Basilica on July 27, 1998.[15]

The Belmont Historical Society Cultural and Heritage Learning Center is located in the former R.L. Stowe home at 40 Catawba Street. Built in 1899, it is believed to be the third oldest home in Belmont. The property also contains a free-standing kitchen, a mill house, and a garage. Displays include furnishings, artifacts, and pictures which tell the history of Belmont from the time of its Native American inhabitants through the textile age.

The U.S. National Whitewater Center is located just across the Catawba River from Belmont in Mecklenburg County. Situated on the east bank of the river, the Center is a non-profit outdoor recreation facility for whitewater rafting, canoeing, and kayaking. It opened for public use in 2006.

Recently, the downtown area of Belmont has been expanding and adding new attractions like restaurants, bars, and comedy clubs. There also is a coffee shop in the downtown part of Belmont called “Caravan,” that hosts an open mike night on Thursday and Friday nights. With coffee being enjoyed by those in all aspects of life, Caravan attracts all different types of people in Belmont, some you may not have known lived in Belmont before and then again, you might see an old friend. Since it is right beside Stowe Park, it is a good rest area to get a cold drink during the summer or a hot cup of coffee during the colder parts of the year.

There is a general store by the name of “Stowe Mercantile Co.” that provides everything you need from fixing things around the home to toys for the children. Belmont is home to “Bills Belmont Drive-In”, more commonly known just as the “Drive-In.” the drive in stays busy during the warm summer nights when students are out of school for the summer. These have both been a part of Belmont for a long time, but they still are a major part of the community.

Famous residents

References

  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. http://geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  3. ^ Gaston County Municipalities, Gaston County government website.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  5. ^ Watershed Map, Gaston County government website.
  6. ^ a b Belmont Chamber of Commerce website. Retrieved 2008-07-01
  7. ^ Piper Peters Aheron. Images of America: Gastonia and Gaston County North Carolina. Arcadia Publishing, 2001 (ISBN 0738506737)
  8. ^ South Point UMC History. Retrieved 2008-07-03
  9. ^ Pre-1860 Textiles, NC Business History. Retrieved 2008-07-03
  10. ^ a b c History of Belmont. Retrieved 2008-07-20
  11. ^ Garibaldi Realty. Retrieved 2008-07-03
  12. ^ East Campus, Gaston College official website.
  13. ^ Sacred Heart College, Gone but not Forgotten, North Carolina's Educational Past, UNC University Libraries. Retrieved on 2008-07-20.
  14. ^ National Register of Historic Places - Gaston County. Retrieved on 2008-07-18
  15. ^ Abbey Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project. Retrieved on 2008-07-18.

External links


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