What would you do with a church from the 1700s? The City of Charlotte wants to know

North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – The City of Charlotte is fighting to preserve history in the shadows of a sanctuary. Key parts of Charlotte’s past are hidden among the rows and rows of moss-covered headstones at Steele Creek Presbyterian Church in west Charlotte.

Some date back to the 1700s with Charlotte’s first settlers.

You may drive down Steele Creek Road and never even see it. The Steele Creek Presbyterian Church is among the oldest in Mecklenburg County, dating back to 1764.

“It’s actually a very dramatic setting and it continues to retain that drama,” said Executive Director of The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, Jack Thomson.

Today a locked fence surrounds the historic church and the only people on the church property are those tending to the lawn. The church was bought by the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in March 2019 as the airports footprint continues to expand.

“The challenges that the operation of the airport can be something that’s going to be difficult to overcome,” said Thomson.

The City of Charlotte still sees a use for the old church, while also preserving the history that surrounds it.

Right now city leaders are asking for ideas from the private sector for redevelopment.

“Obviously by its physical nature it’s an assembly space,” said Thomson.

The City of Charlotte has had some success with historic buildings in the past. An old textile mill in Optimistic Park is now Optimist Hall and the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant from 1924 is now part of Camp North End.

“We are not here to save everything and get in the way of all the development we are here to figure out the balance between the connection to the past while allowing our community to continue to thrive,” said Thomson.

Ideas are due to the city and the airport by December 15. If any ideas seem feasible, the city will then reach out to developers for a proposal on how to redevelop the site.

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