Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coming up next: add 2 parts history-making-Betty Feezor and 1-part women's rights

Historically a woman's places has been the kitchen, right? Cooking dinner, and cleaning the home... and making history all at once. At least thats what the woman in this week's featured image did. 

Betty Freezor, local WBTV News Chanel Channel 3 Station cook-show host in the late 1950s to 1970s ,is shown baking a cake on her show The Betty Freezor Show. But her recipes weren't the only thing that were well-known. Times were changing and she was blazing the trails for women to be aired on TV. Her show was the third most watched women's show nationwide in 1965, and boy, could she bake a mean pound cake! Check back for more information on her.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

So just where is that truck from? The location of the "truck guy band" image unveiled!

Ever since the beginning of time, humankind has enjoyed creating, listening to and enjoying the simplest of pleasures—music. Whether through small get-togethers, ritual activities or concerts designed to create a profit, people have always had a very close relationship with melodies, rhythms, vocalizations, all traits of music. 

This closeness, while important to all of humanity, is especially dear in the South, a region with a very unique, distinctive musical past. Over the past few hundred years, the rolling hills of the Southern Piedmont, as well as the low-lying farmlands coastal plains and the high-soaring mountains of the Appalachians have echoed with the sounds of local, “homegrown” Southern music. An example lies in this week’s image, seen below.

The "Monks Tabernacle Band."
This image, featuring five musicians in a pickup truck bed, was taken at the Richfield-Misenheimer Fire Department during the annual barbeque during 1972/73. This image was originally published in a Charlotte Observer article and depicts the “Monks Tabernacle Band,” formed in the early 1970’s for Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Richfield, NC. This band consisted of:

— Left Front: Robert Meisenheimer
— Left Rear: Jack Goodman
— Right Front: Warren “Monk” Wagner
— Right Middle: John Leffner
— Right Rear: Jack Ingram

This image will be donated to the Richfield Misenheimer Volunteer Fire Department, located in Richfield, NC, a small town located in Stanly County. We hope to “bring this image back home,” particularly to its place of origin. 

Richfield, NC is located at the small pennant labeled "A."
More information about this institution can be found at the following website: 

Thank you so much for reading and keep following this blog for more information concerning the Virtual Series!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We've been caught blogging... but not on our blog!

That's right! Our museum (and this virtual series) have been featured on Museum Commons, a blog written by a museum professional that critiques and comments on changes in museum culture.

Our guest blog discusses the role of social media to museums, particularly in relation to Levine Museum. Some larger questions are raised, however, such as how a museum should utilize social media. Is there an obligation to share information through this new technological outlet, or should the concept of the "traditional" museum be maintained? 

Please follow the link and look over the post. Think things over and feel free to comment if you so wish. If you would prefer, though, this guest blow is also featured directly below in the post entitled Increasing Museum Transparency Through Social Media at the Levine Museum.


Increasing Museum Transparency through Social Media at the Levine Museum

This is a guest blog featured on

Human beings often attempt to predict the future to no avail. The museum community is no stranger to this inescapable predicament. Despite the lack of definitive answers, we can’t help but ask the seemingly innocuous question: what will happen to the museums in the future? What will a museum look like in twenty years? Two hundred? Will museums remain relatively the same or radically different?

In the Southern cultural context, museums are often critiqued for being resistant to change, yet Levine Museum of the New South is ready to explore new territories of viewer engagement. Levine Museum is ready to confront just what a museum will look like in the future. While I can’t answer this question with certainty (and neither could anyone else, for that matter), I do hope to offer a suggestion.

Often one of the most overlooked assets to a museum is its viewership and consequently, the space in which its viewership is comfortable engaging challenging material. In the 21st century, this forum exists in Cyberspace through various forms of social media. I believe that social media is something of an “uncharted territory” that is just now being explored and utilized. In other words, because society is becoming more and more interactive with social media, museums should follow suit despite objections rooted in nostalgia and a reluctance to change. If patrons demand more accessibility in their digital universes, then museums should provide that opportunity.

That engagement framework—increasing access and flattening the hierarchy usually associated with museums has provided the foundation for a new exhibit that the Levine Museum of the New South has just unveiled—the Summer 2012 Virtual Series. What makes this exhibit unique is the “lack” inherent in its creation: it does not utilize specialized web-design software; it does not require additional help of contractors. Through the utilization of major types of social media, primarily Facebook, Twitter and blogging platforms, Levine Museum’s virtual series has been entirely self-sufficient.

The virtual series was created to feature an in-depth analysis of each of the twelve images that adorn two sides of Levine Museum’s facilities in uptown Charlotte, NC. Inside of these lightboxes are twelve images, all iconic of the New South. These images date from 1865 (marking the end of the Civil War) to the present, and include many influential figures in Southern history. Examples include evangelist  Billy Graham, Nascar Driver Richard Petty, civil rights activist Joseph A. Delaine, entrepreneur Joseph B. Ivey, and a startling image of a Ku Klux Klan rally with a very young girl at the forefront.

It is indisputable that these twelve images were (and still are) very important both to local Charlotte history, as well as the larger history of the Southern region, the United States and the world at large. However, as part of a renovation project, and in order to address questions and controversy that have arisen about some of the images, the Museum has decided to remove them from its fa├žade. Through social media, the virtual series addresses these issues through an in depth analysis of each image and its particular context and relevance in local, regional, and national history.

Through the accessibility of social media, the educational staff (myself included) hope to “extend a hand,” so to speak, welcoming visitors into an easily-accessible forum outside of the traditional “museum” setting. By providing the larger community the opportunity to learn more about their heritage in the comforts of their homes, we hope to spawn increased interest in the “who, what, when, where and how” that has culminated in the creation of the society we live in today.

This of course raises an interesting question: does a museum have an obligation to deliver content into the home of the viewer? If the audience requests greater accessibility, should a museum honor that request? Or does this sacrifice the integrity of the museum space? Does this take away from the value bestowed in such repositories of knowledge? This is an interesting point to ponder, particularly given the obvious benefits of social media.

Increased viewership and accessibility are not the only intentions of this series, though. Through the creation of the virtual series, unexpected connections have been established, all of which have done an excellent job of linking Levine Museum with the surrounding community. Obviously, when each image is removed, it needs a place to go; it needs a new “home,” so to speak. Through this “problem,” we have been at work tracing the origins of each image, attempting to donate it to an organization or group that would be interested in preserving its heritage and significance.

This search has led our museum on an interesting journey, but has provided unexpected and enlivening connections. These “partnerships” are mutual: the receiving party is provided a free 3 x 4 ft framed image; Levine Museum has formed a new “partnership” in the community. Such interactions help foster a sense of community among organizations in Charlotte, NC.

The Charlotte Trolley Museum, for example, is receiving our print of an early 20th century trolley in the First Ward neighborhood of uptown Charlotte. A volunteer fire station in Richfield, NC will be provided with a photograph of a band of musicians sitting in a pickup truck playing during a barbeque in the early 1970s. The former Ivey’s department store in uptown Charlotte (now a business and residential center) has eagerly offered to accept our photograph of Mr. Ivey, the founder of Ivey’s (now Dillard’s.) Each location has volunteered to feature the image, further spawning a sense of connection and community in the Carolina Piedmont. Therein looms an inevitable question: what should be done about particularly offensive images, such as the aforementioned photograph of the Ku Klux Klan rally? The answer, in short, has yet to be determined. Due to the volatile nature of this important, yet undesirable part of Southern history, we have yet to reach a definitive conclusion as to its future whereabouts. We will discuss this picture’s removal and donation towards the end of the summer on our blog and other social media outlets.

This interactive foray into the social media world has generated nothing but positives for Levine Museum of the New South. New connections have been forged; the community has been engaged; history is being brought back to life. Every time our Facebook, Twitter or blog features a new post, more people may be reached, more knowledge can be spread and more interest in New South history can be created. The virtual series, in every sense of the word, is a win-win scenario.

While it is impossible to predict the future of rapidly changing technology, one thing remains certain: social media is a positive investment. It is, for the foreseeable future, the direction that communication is heading. We believe, I believe, that social media is an invaluable means to reach the otherwise unreachable. Whether you believe it is positive or negative, social media allows for near constant connectivity to overcome vast distances and prohibitory barriers. Our virtual series can engage people that live ten minutes from the museum; it can just as easily engage people that live on the other side of the planet.

I won’t pretend to have an answer for the multitude of questions inherent to museums’ use of  social media, but I will suggest this. I believe that, as a collective, Levine Museum is taking small steps to experiment with a new model for community engagement. We don’t know how it will turn out. Despite that uncertainty, I believe that this program may serve as a model for a different approach in engaging the community and fostering dialogue. I would encourage your organizations to try something along these lines because, like it or not, social media will continue to play a significant role in museum culture for years to come.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions. What ways do you engage social media at your museums?

Here are some attached links. You are more than welcome to follow the blog, if interested.

Originally Published on on June 25, 2012 

Monday, June 25, 2012

'Just me and my six-string...'

Music has always been an important part of southern life. So has fellowship, relaxation and socialization. And lest we forget motor vehicles, which have played a substantial role in recent history, particularly in the South. Vehicles have allowed for the expansion of agriculture and greater travel flexibility. As the following image shows, it can also be a site for an impromptu concert!

Any ideas on the whereabouts of the following picture? Or are you left clueless? For more information, please check this blog on Wednesday!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

And that building is... the former Ivey's department store!

Were you wondering what the mysterious building was, which was posted last week? Well that is former department store Ivey's, of course! In the 1980's the Ivey store was bought out by the Dillards Department Stores. Today the building that Ivey’s was housed in still stands on North Tryon, with the name Ivey’s proudly displayed.

By the 1900s, small specialty stores were the thing of the past. It was a time for Department stores to take the stage. Small stores had ruled the roost for centuries, where everything anyone needed was bought and sold at constantly changing prices. This was a problem for some people because many times store owners would price people differently, based on personal bases’. This in itself was a troublesome experience, but it would happen at many stores all over town. Before the time of Department stores, people would have had to buy their shoes at the shoe store, their hats at the hat store, and their stockings at the stocking store! Until the creation of the all inclusive Department store, did people have to spend the entire day running around town.

Once people started moving into towns, with the help of better transportation, was there a need for stores that would carry all goods. Department stores flourished once people realized they did not need to go from store to store for their goods. Today, people wouldn’t even think of going to 10 different stores, for 10 different items!

Joseph Benjamin Ivey, a man from Albemarle Virginia, changed the dynamic of Department stores. Although Ivey did not do well in school, he did do very well in the general store he worked for in the late 1800s. When he moved to Charlotte in 1900, he opened J.B. Ivey and Sons on West Trade Street. He did not like the idea of charging a different amount of money based on his customers and their relationship to him, such as what Belk was doing at the time, and started a “one price system” that set the price per item. He also gave the customer the option to pay for something over time with a little overhead on the price. This was a sort of credit based system that many people loved! Over time, his building would be converted into restaurants, offices, and condominiums.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Can you name that building?

You may have passed by it once or twice, or even every day. One thing remains certain: regardless of how many times you've seen it, walked inside it or even lived in it, you may not know just what it truly is. What is the "it," you may ask? It would be the building that stands tall and narrow at the corner of East 5th and Tryon. 

Here are some pictures of the building, as well as some ways in which you may recognize it.

1.) You may be familiar with this building as the home of the Bojangels, Just Fresh and Qdoba.

2.) You may also know this building for its position in the heart of uptown Charlotte, directly across from the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Founders Hall and the Bank of America tower.  

3.) You may even recognize this building as just tall and tan and on your left (or right) as you process to and fro work. 

Regardless of how/if you remember this building, it is very significant to Charlotte's historical and cultural past. For more information, please check back later. 

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley: a brief look at Charlotte's trolley history.

The LYNX train leaves the 7th Street Station.
During the late 19th century, Charlotte, like much of the United States, experienced an industrial revolution. Different regions of the nation had different types of economic growth—railroads enabled further settlement in the West; steel refining established a foothold in the north; and textile mills reigned in the South. Charlotte was no stranger to expansion, becoming a regional hub for textile manufacture in the southeastern U.S. Located near smaller mill towns, such as Gastonia, Concord ,and Kannapolis, Charlotte became a focal point for the mill industry; both in terms of textile production and textile transportation. With increased industry comes an increased need for workers, most whom settled in the neighborhoods adjacent to the center city. With increased settlement arose the need for the development of a reliable public transportation system that would transport workers to and from their work. This led to the establishment of the Charlotte Trolley line.
The construction of the trolley line came began in March of 1891 and was overseen by the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company, who contracted the Edison Electric Company. Two months later, the first trolley was departed from Independence Square, also known as the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets. From this central location, the trolley not only transported passengers but also ushered in economic growth to the city of Charlotte.

The new Lynx light rail's tracks meander through uptown Charlotte.
With the expansion of the trolley line came the expansion of Charlotte through the construction of "streetcar suburbs," neighborhoods located father and farhter from the center city and accessible only through the streeetcars. Examples of such neighborhoods include Dilworth, Charlotte's first streetcar suburb, as well as the neighborhoods of Myers Park and Elizabeth. The trolley line also led to the creation of features such as Latta Park, originally developed to provide an incentive for trolleygoers to use the new rail lines.
After its establishment, the Charlotte Trolley service provided public transportation to the metropolitan region for roughly forty more years until it was disbanded in 1938. Trolley bells were not to be heard throughout Charlotte for the next fifty years, until the reestablishment of the trolley line in 1981. Due to substantial efforts on the behalf of Dan Morrill and the Historic Landmarks Commission, the Charlotte Trolley line was re-established in 1994 and has continued ever since.
A trolley in First Ward as well as the two crew members responsible for operating it.
This image depicts two trolley worker standing in front of a streetcar that ran through the First Ward neighborhood in Charlotte. This neighborhood has historically been the most economically and racially diverse of Charlotte’s four wards, and has been home to a large percentage of day laborers, including mill employees. Recognizing the need to connect this neighborhood with the larger the Charlottean community, the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company began construction on a trolley line that would run through the streets of First Ward in May of 1901. This line would provide service connecting Charlotte’s northeastern side to the whole.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Out with the old and in with the new!

It's time to kick off the Summer Virtual Series and what a better way to do that than through a simple compare and contrast. There are two images below...

Image #1: 

Image #2:

The first was taken in the early 1900s; the second last Friday. One shows Charlotte's original trolley system in its prime, while the other shows the present LYNX light rail. As these two pictures show, public rail transportation in Charlotte has changed significantly in the past 100 years. While rail transportation used to be the only practical transportation choice for the average Charlottean, it is now viewed primarily as an alternative to the automobile. 

Regardless, rail transit has a lengthy past in the Queen City. If this interests you, please check back for more information about Charlotte's rail history.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Introducing the Summer Virtual Series!

This summer, Levine Museum of the New South is undergoing a facelift! That's right: a renovation is about to be underway and we here at the Museum are incredibly excited. We hope that you are, too.

Before you get too excited, though, it should be said that Levine Museum is not going to become an entirely new building. In other words, it's not as if the present two-story building will become a twenty-story behemoth. Presently, the Museum is lined with a series of window-boxes along both College and East Seventh streets. Each window-box houses an image taken from a different time period in New Southern history. There are twelve photos in total, each taken between the late 1800s to modern times. While it may seem like these photographs have very little in common, all are united in their principal subject—the New South.

These twelve images will be removed over the next few weeks in preparation for our upcoming renovation. Originally, the Museum had planned to remove these pictures immediately before the renovation began, but this did not sit well with us. The thought of tearing down such significant photographs all at once, without any sort of celebration or commemoration, seemed unfair.

Thus was born the Virtual Series, designed to celebrate the images that have been featured on our building for years. Through these blog posts, we will document this important part of our Museum’s past.

The virtual series will tell the untold story of each of these twelve iconic photographs, discussing not only the individuals in the frame, but also the context surrounding them. In doing so, we would like to engage the community, reminding them of their collective past as New Southerners. We hope to connect these images to the day-to-day lives of not only people in the South, but also visitors from other parts of the nation.

We hope these photographs form a bridge between the past and the present, connecting the then and the now. We invite you to take part in this Virtual Series and hope that you gain as much from it as we did in creating it.


Questions? Comments? Feel free to post them here!

Monday, June 4, 2012

What is the New South?

At first, the "New South" appears to be a confusing term. Vague and indecisive at best, the concept of the New South has a remarkable ability to confuse both young and old. Exactly what is the New South, and why does it seem so out of reach? Perhaps what is its greatest weakness is its greatest strength. Maybe the "slipperiness" of this definition suits the term better than any dictionary could.

The New South began with the end of the Civil War. It continues to this day and includes every single aspect of Southern existence since the surrender of the Confederate forces in 1865, marking the end of America's bloodiest conflict. The New South is everything from that year on. It is the Great Depression of the 1930s, the rise of the textile mills in the late 1800s, and the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. It continues to the present, and is made up by everyone and everything in this region. It is the daily commute of a wealthy banker to the center city; it is the financial struggle of a recent immigrant, working to make ends meet; and it is the story of a young child attending school, learning about her past and growing excited about her future. The New South is quite broad, yet incredibly specific. It is you and it is me.

This is our mission here at Levine Museum of the New South. We seek to educate, spread knowledge, build community, create dialogue and unify those who inhabit the New South. We form bridges between the shared past of the New South, as well as the unique aspects of individual lives. The museum promotes the New South in the larger community, helping connect what has happened with what is happening, providing greater light on what will happen. The Museum embraces the past, present and future of the New South.

Hopefully you will join us. The invitation is on the table.

Do you have any thoughts on the matter? What does the New South mean to you? Please feel free to comment and share below!