In the back of the Charlotte Museum you will find a walking tour which highlights some of Charlotte’s history. There are 10 places featured on the tour. You can walk through the Charlotte Museum or just simply walk around the side and walk to the trail.
The first item you will encounter is the 7 foot liberty bell . The bell is 7-foot tall and 7 foot around and weights 7 tons. It was given to the people of Charlotte by the Belk foundation to honor the independent spirit of the people and to pay honor to the original colonies of the Carolinas. If you take the guided tour, the docent will ring the bell for visitors.
If you think gold was first discovered out west, then you would be wrong. It was first discovered right below my house in 1799 by Conrad Reed. Today visitors in the Locust area (about 45 minutes from the museum) can explore Reed’s gold mine and pan for gold. You can read about that in my 5 of the 22 Pt. 2 journal. But for the Charlotte museums connection, there is a Chilean Mill used in the mining industry along the walking tour.
In August of 2002, the NC Chapter of Colonial Dames erected a maker in honor of John Lawson . Lawson was the surveyor-general of NC in the early 18th century. His book, A New Voyage to Carolina , published in 1709, was the most comprehensive of the state at the time.
Chip Calloway of Greensboro was commission by the Queens Table to design a Native American garden path along the museums walkway. The garden is made up of plants that the natives used during the 17th and 18th century for medical and spiritual purposes. The plants were typical of what the natives used and plants that the first colonists would have encountered.
On past the gardens you will find a bronzed statue in honor of Hezekiah Alexander and the Backcountry patriots. As far as anyone knows it is not a rendering of Hezekiah himself, since there are no known photographs in existence of him. To me it looks like Mel Gibson in the Patriot. The life-sized statue was sculpted by David Dowdy of High Point and was installed on October 24, 2001.
Up on the hill and giving a lovely view of the walking path you will find the Hezekiah Alexander home . Built in 1774 it is the oldest home in Mecklenburg Country. When the home was restored over 90% of the exterior of the home was still in tact. This is the original spot of the home. You may tour the home given by costumed docents of the museum. There are several tours offered through the day.
To the right of the home you will see a log barn . The barn itself is not original to the property, but most likely there would have been such a barn somewhere on the premises. It was rescued from the Harris-Caldwell Farm in Harrisburg. It is original to the period of the home.
Next to the house there is also an herb garden . A look from one of the upstairs bedrooms you will give you a great view of the design of the garden. The herbs here are typical of what you would find in colonial gardens. While very pretty, the gardens were not designed as pleasure gardens. The herbs grown here were used for cooking and their medicinal qualities. The herbs grown today are used for the cooking demonstrations as part of several events open to the public.
In front of the herb garden you will find the reconstructed log kitchen. People kept their kitchens separate during this period for several reasons. For one thing if your kitchen went up in flames, then the rest of your home was spared. Also since it took most of the day to prepare meals, a fire had to be kept going at all times. Homes were not equipped with electricity at the time, much less A/C so having a fire going in your house at all times would have been quite miserable in the summer months.
Archaeological research has determined this is where the original kitchen stood. The kitchen would have been staffed by female slaves and the loft area upstairs is where they would have lived. The kitchen you see today was built by students from CCPC. Today the kitchen may be toured on the guided tours and are used during cooking demonstrations.
The foundation of the springhouse is original from the home and dates also from 1774. There were several uses for the spring house, but the main use was to keep foods cool thus preserving them from spoilage. The jars and crocks would have been placed in the water and cooled by the springs. The spring runs over a floor of bedrock. The temperate averages 54-56 degrees year round. Even in the dead of the summer, you can feel the cooling effects from the house when you approach it.
The walkway provides a beautiful shaded walkway year round. In addition to the featured places on the tour, the paths are filled with flowers and accompanied by lovely stone bridges. The pathway goes through a tree lined area offering escape from the heat even in the hottest months of the year. There is not an actual charge to use the pathways and this is a favorite walking/jogging path of many locals. Pets are permitted along the path on a leash. The path is lit at night for the safety of those who use it. If you happen to take the guided tour of the Alexander home then you will also have a guided tour of the pathway. For more information you can simply go to www.charlottemuseum.org.