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Levine Museum Launches New Digital Project, ’50 Places in Charlotte’

A white building with The Excelsior Club written in black, as featured in the Levine Museum's 50 Places in Charlotte
The Excelsior Club in its current state, though it has since been surrounded by fencing in preparation for redevelopment. (Photo courtesy of Levine Museum/Dan Morrill via The National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Levine Museum of the New South this week launched “50 Places in Charlotte,” a digital experience journeying iconic places in Charlotte’s history on its website. The project shares local knowledge through a composite map of Charlotte, its communities and the people and places that have shaped the Queen City.

“Charlotte’s history is rich, important, and too often buried,” stated Levine Museum’s digital projects manager Cliff Whitfield in a press release announcing the project. “We wanted to help people learn how places have helped shape Charlotte’s history, and how the people who built and used those places interacted with them.” 

Each new featured place will be revealed on a weekly basis, telling a new story of historic Charlotte places remembered through personal narratives and multimedia storytelling.

The first ‘Place,’ an historic Black social club called The Excelsior Club on Beatties Ford Road, was revealed on the Levine Museum’s website, with new releases scheduled for Wednesday each week. 

The entry for the Excelsior Club includes an in-depth history of the venue and its importance to Charlotte’s Black community, complete with historic photos, newspaper clippings and a PBS documentary about the site. 

The club was purchased in 2020 and will eventually be redeveloped into a boutique hotel and event space that pays homage to the historic impact of the venue that still stands there today, though the project has hit significant delays due to the pandemic. 

A jazz band performs onstage in front of a banner advertising Ballantine beer.
The first Excelsior Club Band in the late 1950s. (Photo courtesy of Levine Museum/The Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library)

“‘Fifty Places in Charlotte’ is a digital history project that tells the city’s story through a glimpse of 50 places throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area,” added Levine Museum director of programs and digital production Alexander Piñeres. “‘Places’ represents the past and the present through existing sites and long-demolished structures, and travels through time from Charlotte’s early history to today.”

Funded by the Knight Foundation and The Infusion Fund’s grant, a team compiled the 50 places to be featured in the project based on internal research of significant places, staff suggestions and public feedback from the museum’s Charlotte by Charlotte survey, according to the press release. 

“This project is another way we can make history accessible for everyone, and to share everyone’s stories and show how significant places and the people behind them shaped and continue to shape the city and region,” Levine Museum chief content strategist Franky Abbot stated in Thursday’s release. 

“We anticipate revealing new information about some favorite places in Charlotte, and creating an opportunity for all to discover new histories through places that might be unfamiliar to many.”

The new project is the latest in a string of digital ventures by the museum that has included the use of augmented reality both in its former space on East 7th Street and in an app to be used around Uptown. 

Learn more: KnowCLT App Turns Former Streets of Brooklyn Into a Museum

After selling its longtime home on 7th Street, where it had operated since 1996, in June 2021 and moving out in May 2022, the museum moved into its new 6,000-square-foot space next to The Green on South Tryon Street in the fall of that year.

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