About Huntersville > Rich History

Rich History

Huntersville, the first Lake Norman town north of Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, was renamed from Craighead to Huntersville in honor of major landowner and cotton farmer Robert Boston Hunter. The town officially incorporated in 1873.  Fertile land and a rail line promoted quick growth.

Even before Huntersville was established as a municipality and named for one of its founding fathers, steam engines carried passengers on rails that still run parallel to N.C. 115. Farmers grew cotton on their large plantations and prominent schools attracted families from near and far. In later years, textile mills brought more jobs and residents to the area.

As the town grew larger, so too did its business community. The Virgin Manufacturing Company, a cotton mill, encouraged the development of Huntersville’s “mill town” on the east side of the railroad tracks. 

It is the sense of Huntersville’s past that has brought so many new residents to this town. The allure of the remaining farmland, the simple commute into the city of Charlotte and the proximity to the relatively new Lake Norman are just some of Huntersville’s enticements.

Huntersville's Rich Cultural and Historical Heritage:

You can view a map of the town's historic landmarks on the Historic Preservation link on our Planning Department's page.

Battle of Cowan's Ford fought on February 1, 1781 - This was the last battle of the American Revolution to be fought in Mecklenburg County.  The original site of the Battle of Cowan’s Ford lies under Lake Norman.  A memorial to the battle and General William Lee Davidson is located across from Duke Energy’s McGuire Nuclear Station, just east of the Catawba River bridge and Lincoln County line.   

General William Lee Davidson - Revolutionary War officer who was killed at the Battle of Cowan's Ford. He is buried at Hopewell Presbyterian Church (see marker).

Rural Hill - Rural Hill is a Historic Site, Nature Preserve, Field Trip Destination, Cultural Events Site, Farm, and all around great place to get away from one’s daily stresses in life.  Settled in 1760, it is the oldest and largest publicly owned historic site in Mecklenburg County.  Historic Rural Hill farm is the 265.3 acre remnant of the homestead of Revolutionary War Patriot Major John Davidson. His plantation, Rural Hill, was the jewel of the Catawba River plantations. On June 2, 1761, Major Davidson married Violet Wilson (1742-1818), the daughter of nearby plantation owner Samuel Wilson. It is believed that the newlyweds received their homestead through a gift of land split off from Samuel Wilson's holdings. Rural Hill features three home sites that were occupied by six generations of the Davidson family for more than 230 years. The hopes, dreams, sacrifices and contributions of these families illustrate the rich cultural heritage that played such an important role in the development of the Carolinas. Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information.  

Hugh Torance House and Store - Experience antebellum life in Mecklenburg County at the oldest standing store and connected house! The Historic Hugh Torance House and Store is Mecklenburg County's oldest standing store. Hugh Torance purchased the property in 1779, and the log portion of the attached house dates from that time. The Store was operated from 1805 to 1825 by Hugh's son, James. This historical attraction allows visitors to experience antebellum life and is open to tours. Please contact 704-875-3271 to schedule one, or come out on the 3rd Sunday of each month, May-October.  Location: 8231 Gilead Road, Huntersville, NC 28078.  Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information.  

Cedar Grove - Cedar Grove is one of the premier Greek Revival houses remaining in the county and the Piedmont.  Together, Cedar Grove and Hugh Torance House and Store offer a unique picture of agricultural life in Mecklenburg County from the settlement period through the antebellum era.  The two houses, and their various construction campaigns, illustrate clearly the evolution of residential architecture in the county during early periods, for which little remains.  Both houses are remarkably intact, retaining important characteristic interior and exterior features, including original floor plans, decorative elements, hardware, and woodwork. Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information

The ruins of the Torance Mill, which provided the lumber that built Cedar Grove remain at the site off Gilead Road.  According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission this the most imposing ruin of an antebellum mill which survives in Mecklenburg County. Second, the mill constituted a portion of one of the most substantial antebellum plantations in Mecklenburg County. Third, the property has associative ties with a family of local prominence.  Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information.  

Historic Latta Plantation Historic Latta Plantation is a 52-acre plantation that offers a very personal glimpse into the life of a merchant (James Latta) and his family in rural Mecklenburg County in the early days of our republic.  Acknowledged on the National Register of Historic Places, Latta Plantation (circa 1800) consists of the original home and smoke house, fields, farm animals, a garden and interpreters in period clothing.

Historic Latta Plantation is located within Mecklenburg County's 1,290-acre Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. In addition to the Historic Plantation, the preserve provides a nature center, hiking opportunities, fishing, horseback riding, Carolina Raptor Center and picnic areas with lovely lake and forest views.

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information.  

Holly Bend - Robert Davidson built Holly Bend (called Hollywood in the twentieth century) between 1795 and 1800 on 420 acres which his father, John Davidson (early settler and revolutionary war figure of Mecklenburg County), gave him in 1795.

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information.  

Ingleside - Local tradition holds that the house known as Ingleside, Scottish for "fireside," was erected during the years immediately following the Civil War. It was the home of Dr. William Speight McLean Davidson (1817-1873) prominent physician and planter of northern Mecklenburg, who was a grandson of Major John Davidson, the 18th century industrialist and planter who had constructed the magnificent plantation house at Rural Hill on the Catawba River. One of ten children born to John Davidson and Sarah Harper Brevard Davidson, Dr. William S. M. Davidson received his B.A. from Davidson College in 1840 as a member of the first graduating class of that institution. Having acquired his M.D. from the Medical College of South Carolina at Charleston in 1842, he returned to Mecklenburg County and established a medical practice which extended from Long Creek to the Iredell County Line. His first wife was Jane Torrence. Dr. Davidson's only child, James Torrance Davidson, was born to this union and died in young adulthood. Following the death of his first wife, Dr. Davidson married Rebecca Reed, a native of Alabama, whom he also outlived. His third wife was Mary Johnston. Dr. Davidson died in 1873 and was buried in the graveyard at Hopewell Presbyterian Church.

Alexandriana - Site of monument to signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, May 20, 1775, and homesite of John McNitt Alexander, secretary of the committee that drew the Mecklenburg Declaration and the Mecklenburg Resolves before the American Revolution.

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information.

Hopewell Presbyterian Church - Hopewell Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest Christian congregations in Mecklenburg County. Indeed, religious services began as early as the 1750s, when itinerate ministers from the Presbyterian Synods of Philadelphia and New York, as well as an occasional evangelist from the back country, preached to the Scotch-Irish settlers. Attracted to the region by the fertile bottom land along the Catawba River, the farmers of Hopewell developed a cotton economy of considerable size and vigor. Coming to Hopewell to worship in its first century were such leaders of the local gentry as John McKnitt Alexander, Major John Davidson and Alexander Caldwell. The burial ground at Hopewell contains the graves of four signers of what according to local tradition was the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information.

McAuley Road Farmland - According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, the McAuley Road Farmland represents the best preserved and most intact rural/agricultural landscape in Mecklenburg County.  With the phenomenal growth of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County during the 20th Century, the McAuley Road Farmland is the last large area of the county that accurately depicts for the public, the once dominant late 19th century and early 20th agricultural character of Mecklenburg County.  Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information

Oak Lawn - The property known as Oak Lawn is located on the northern side of McCoy Rd. to the southwest of the intersection of McCoy Rd. and Gilead Rd. in the northern portion of Mecklenburg County.

The traditional building date for Benjamin Wilson Davidson's house, later called Oak Lawn, is 1818, the year Davidson married Elizabeth (Betsy) Latta. The property on which the house was built, however, was not acquired from his father, (Astor John Davidson, a participant in the American Revolution) until April 14, 1819. Furthermore, purchases from Charleston in Davidson's account with his father-in-law, James Latta, in 1821, are of the type and quantity to indicate the building of his house at that time. Tradition holds that Davidson was called "Independence Ben" by his father because he was born on May 20, 1787, the twelfth anniversary of the controversial Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Davidson lived the life of a prosperous cotton planter as a member of the numerous and locally prominent Davidson family. Davidson died relatively young in 1829, leaving his widow with six sons.

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information.  

Erwin-Oehler House - The property known as the Erwin-Oehler House is located at 14401 Huntersville-Concord Road, Huntersville, N.C. 28078.  According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, the Erwin-Oehler House is a tangible reminder of the agricultural economy that shaped life in largely rural nineteenth-century Mecklenburg County.  The Oehler family figured prominently in the social and religious activities around the Ramah community in northeast Mecklenburg County.  The Erwin-Oehler House is a rare example of farmhouse architecture in Mecklenburg County, and reflects the melding of European building practices with local and regional vernacular architecture.  The Erwin-Oehler House also retains its pastoral setting, recalling the rural landscape of pre-twentieth century Mecklenburg County.  

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information

Ramah Presbyterian Church - The property known as the Ramah Presbyterian Church is located on Ramah Church Rd. east of Huntersville, NC, in the northern section of Mecklenburg County. Per the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, the founders of Ramah Presbyterian Church belonged to the heterogeneous aggregate of pioneers who began to settle the Carolina backcountry in the mid-1700's. Like their counterparts at such places as Hopewell, Sugar Creek, Rocky River, Providence and Steele Creek, these Scotch Irish immigrants faced the enormous challenge of bringing order and structure to the Piedmont frontier. Because their collective identity sprang largely from religious convictions, the yeomen who secured land in the vicinity of Ramah Creek moved quickly to establish a place of worship. Although the initial session house, a log structure, was not completed until ca. 1783, local tradition holds that services were held in a brush arbor at Ramah Grove several years prior to this date. The records of the Mecklenburg Presbytery reveal that the congregation was officially organized in 1795.  The burial ground, situated immediately across Ramah Church Rd., contains a metal entrance gate with flanking granite posts, most probably dating from the mid-1800's, with several gravestones from the early nineteenth century.

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information

The Bradford Farm and Store - The property known as the Bradford Farm and Store is located at 15908 Davidson Concord Road in Huntersville, North Carolina.  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission judges that the property known as the Bradford Farm and Store possesses special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  The Bradford Farm and Store are tangible reminders of the robust cotton economy that characterized Mecklenburg County in the last half of the nineteenth century. It also served as an integral part of the Ramah Community – in addition to his store, William Bradford ran a cotton gin, a blacksmith shop, and a sawmill on his property.  William Bradford also served three terms as county commissioner during the 1910s.

The Bradford Farm is a well-preserved example of a sprawling post-Civil War farmstead.  The farmhouse itself is an excellent example of a gable-front-and-wing variation of Mecklenburg County’s most popular rural vernacular form—the I-house.  The farm complex as a whole characterizes the diverse, self-sufficient nature of life in rural Mecklenburg County during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.   The Bradford Farm contains three unusual examples of early twentieth century concrete construction—the Bradford Store, along with two outbuildings close to the house, all completed in the early to mid-1910s, are rare rural examples of this new building technology in Mecklenburg County.

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information

Blythe Homestead - The property known as the Blythe Homestead is located at 16001 Beatties Ford Road, Huntersville, North Carolina. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission judges that the property known as the Blythe Homestead possesses special significance as it is an intact homestead dating back to the land acquisition by Samuel Blythe in 1772.  The house located on the Blythe Homestead is architecturally significant as an intact and finely preserved example of rural, vernacular architecture constructed in the mid-19th century.  The setting of the Blythe Homestead with its pastoral vista is also a reminder of Mecklenburg County's farm past.  The outbuildings of the Blythe Homestead represent traditional forms and a variety of construction techniques including a log outbuilding; and 5) the Blythe Homestead, still owned by descendants of Samuel Blythe and including the house, outbuildings, and fields, provides valuable insights into life for early settlers and yeomen farmers of Mecklenburg County.

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information

Caldwell Station School - The property known as Caldwell Station School  is located at 17616 Caldwell Station School Rd, Huntersville, N.C.  The Caldwell Station School is a well preserved example of early 20th century rural school architecture in Mecklenburg County.

The Caldwell Station School demonstrates the rapid evolution of rural schools in Mecklenburg County in the first half of the 20th Century from widely scattered small schoolhouses into larger "union" schools located in the county's towns.  The Caldwell Station School is the most substantial surviving building associated with the place known as "Caldwell Station" a small rural commercial and transportation center with origins that can be traced to the 1850s.  The Caldwell Station School is important for understanding the history of Mecklenburg County in that it vividly demonstrates the nature of rural schools in the county during the first half of the 20th Century

Today it operates as The Children’s Schoolhouse, a pre-school serving area families. 

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information

Torrence-Lytle School - The property known as the Torrence-Lytle School is located at 302 Holbrooks Road in Huntersville.

The Torrence-Lytle School represented the first opportunity for African-American residents of North Mecklenburg County to attend a public high school in the region where they lived.  The Torrence-Lytle School is one of the older remaining African-American school buildings in Mecklenburg County and is, therefore, important in understanding the broad patterns of the county’s history.  The Torrence-Lytle School is representative of a movement in the 1930’s to bring high school education to rural blacks in Mecklenburg County.  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission views it as a significant as an important example of early 20th-century school building architecture

Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission for more information

More Local History

The Charlotte- Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission provides a driving tour the history of North Mecklenburg County, which sections of Charlotte, Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson: