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"Stood a few feet southwest. Operated 1837-61, 1867-1913. Razed, 1933, and rebuilt as art museum three miles east." Discovery in 1799 of a seventeen-pound nugget by John Reed in Cabarrus County secured North Carolina’s place as the epicenter of the nation’s first gold fever epidemic. Since miners in North Carolina supplied almost all of the gold sent to the United States Mint in Philadelphia up until 1828, residents of Charlotte (est. 1755) were determined to attract the first branch office of the United States Mint. Gold mines in the area included the Barringer mine and others in the Gold Hill Mining District. After a lengthy period of courting federal officials, construction of a branch United States mint began in 1835 and was completed in 1837 on West Trade Street in Charlotte. Like a similar branch facility in Georgia, the Charlotte mint only produced gold currency.
Architect William Strickland designed the mint in the Federal style, popular from the beginning of the national period to the first quarter of the nineteenth century, especially so for public and government buildings. The style combines the austere Roman architectural style with the subdued detail of the neoclassical style. A large rectangular structure adorned with rows of plain windows with the main entrance underneath a columned patio in the center of building, the Charlotte Mint showcased a robust elegance of power and perseverance.
After the building’s completion in 1837 and extending up until North Carolina’s secession from the Union in 1861, the Charlotte mint processed over five million dollars of gold currency in $1.00, $2.50, and $5.00 denominations. After joining the Confederacy, the state converted the structure into a Confederate hospital and command center. Three years after the war’s conclusion, the mint reopened as an U.S. Assay Office until 1913, where precious metals and minerals were tested for public quality assurance. When the expansion of a post office threatened the mint, Charlotte patron Mary Myers Dwelle led a group of citizens in financing the meticulous relocation of the mint to the exclusive Eastover area, between Eastover and Randolph Roads. In 1936 the mint underwent extensive renovations. It opened on June 1, 1936, a century after its original dedication, as part of the Mint Museum of Art.
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)—sketch by Bruce E. Baker
Bea Quirk, Charlotte: City at the Crossroads (1989)
Clair M. Birdsall, The United States Branch Mint at Charlotte, North Carolina: Its History and Coinage (1988)
Richard F. Knapp and Brent D. Glass, Gold Mining in North Carolina: A Bicentennial History (1999)
The Mint Museum, “General Information: History”:
Blanchard and Co., “The Charlotte Branch Mint”:
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.