The History of Alamance County
Ideally situated between the heart of the Piedmont Triad and the Research Triangle areas of North Carolina, Alamance County is an area growing beyond it's manufacturing roots. The county, served by I-85 and I-40, is home to 9 municipalities, including Burlington, the largest city, and Graham the county seat.
Alamance County has a proud history, which includes the Battle of Alamance - a pre-Revolutionary War battle fought in 1771 against the British. Alamance Battleground tells the story of the War of the Regulation. Also of interest is the Snow Camp Historic Site, which houses an amphitheater where dramas are showcased every summer. Two regular shows are the "Sword of Peace," which tells of the Quaker struggles during the Revolutionary War; and the "Pathway to Freedom," an account of the heroic Underground Railroad.
The history of this area is also found in the charming historic districts of Burlington, Graham, Mebane, and other cities. Homes dating back to the mid-1800s and main streets that have been carefully preserved and/or restored give you the feeling that time moves more slowly here.
If modern living is more your style, worry not. Like it's Triad neighbors, Alamance County offers diverse housing opportunities, including new communities ranging from those developed especially for first time buyers to higher end golf course communities. There are a number of mature neighborhoods as well with homes of every shape and style. Alamance prides itself on its quality of life and low cost of living.
In the business world, Alamance County is best known for its manufacturing industry. In fact, over 300 diverse industries operate here, and many of the cities were founded for just such industries. Manufacturing companies employ over 20,000 residents, including 12,000 in textiles alone. However, the area is also home to a strong agricultural component, as well as numerous hi-tech industries. LabCorp, the world's largest clinical laboratory company, is headquartered in Burlington and is the county's largest employer.
When you're not on the job, you'll find an of abundance of entertaining activities in Alamance. For those who enjoy a bit of outdoor recreation, the area is home to four lakes, each with a public park and marina. Parks of all kinds abound, the largest being 414-acre Cedar Rock Park. At Cedar Rock visitors enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing or camping. In Burlington's City Park, the centerpiece is the historic Dentzel Carousel, which dates back to before 1910. The Carousel, one of only a handful of existing Dentzel's in the world, features hand-carved animals with real horsehair tales on the stallions. The park's 75 acres include the amusement area, tennis and aquatics complex, a senior center, athletic fields and a picnic area.
The county is also home to over a dozen golf courses of varying difficulty. Most are open to the public.
For those who prefer sports of the spectator variety, Alamance offers something for everyone. The ACE Speedway features a multitude of NASCAR-sanctioned races. At Burlington Athletic Stadium you'll find the Burlington Indians, a Rookie League team for Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians, playing each spring and summer. Elon University, an NCAA Division I school in the Big South Conference, offers a chance to enjoy old-fashioned college athletics. For hockey fans, the Carolina Hurricanes, who made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002, play just down the road in Raleigh.
Thanks to the positive work of the Alamance County Arts Council, the cultural life of this area is thriving. The Council headquarters are in the beautifully restored historic Captain White House in Graham. Here you'll find exhibits of works by North Carolina artisans and a gift shop. In Burlington, the Council operates the Paramount Theatre. The Paramount, built in 1928, is home to several community stage groups and also hosts lectures and films in its intimate, 400-seat theatre. In Graham, the annual Arts Around the Square festival has been a favorite for years.
In addition to Alamance Regional Medical Center, a 238-bed comprehensive, state-of-the-art hospital that opened in 1995, residents are close to some of the most renowned health care institutions in the country. The health care centers of Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill are only 45 minutes away.
The Alamance Burlington School System serves county residents. Over 20,000 students attend the 6 high schools, 6 middle schools, 19 elementary schools and 1 alternative school. There are also several private schools and charter schools in the county.
Higher educational opportunities abound in Alamance. Alamance Community College enrolls over 18,000 students each year in a wide range of programs. Elon University, a nationally ranked liberal arts college with a student body of approximately 4,000, offers undergraduate and masters degrees. Also within a 50-mile radius are Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro, North Carolina State University, North Carolina School of the Arts, North Carolina A&T, and Wake Forest University.
For people who like being in the center of things, uptown Charlotte is increasingly becoming a coveted address. The pulse of city life seems to be felt most strongly in the blocks radiating outward from Independence Square and bounded by I-277 and I-77. That's where over 7,500 Charlotteans now live as well as work - some in midrise condos, some in penthouses, some in the quaint Victorian single-family homes that make Fourth Ward so charming. Their numbers may double in another five years.
Nearby Fourth Ward is Third Ward, flanked by Ericsson Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers NFL team, and Bank of America's new Gateway Village with its eventual five blocks of offices, stores, apartments and condominiums.
Johnson & Wales University plans to open a four-story, 145,000 square foot Culinary Art Academic Center at Gateway Center and Gateway Village in the fall of 2004. In Second Ward, The Park condominiums, the city's tallest residential structure at 19 stories, will be topped by a rooftop park featuring trees, ponds and a walking trail. The remaining quadrant of the center city, First Ward, is booming with a mix of new housing that appeals to a variety of incomes. Tying First and Second Wards together will be the Charlotte trolley, a reminder of the city's past that's set to run an uptown route again within the near future.
People who live here are tied by common interests already. Uptown is the acknowledged center of the city's cultural life. It's the home of the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, the Mint Museum of Craft & Design, the McColl Center for Visual Art, Discovery Place science museum, the Museum of the New South, Spirit Square arts education center, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library and private galleries. It's where the Mint Museum of Art, now in the posh Eastover neighborhood, intends to move. It's also the planned site of a new $27.5 million Children's Learning Center, an ambitious joint project of Children's Theatre of Charlotte and the library slated to open in 2005.
And if the symphony, dance and visual arts aren't enough to keep residents enterained, Charlotte is negotiating for a new NBA arena. A whitewater rafting park is also planned, and the Charlotte Knights AAA baseball team, now knocking home runs out of the park in Fort Mill, S.C., wants to move closer to Center City. The Charlotte Knights AAA baseball team, now knocking home runs out of the park in Fort Mill, S.C., also wants to move near uptown.
Some Center City residents just park their cars for the weekend, walking to restaurants, clubs, even the supermarket. The groceries at Reid's Fine Foods in the Seventh Street Station, a colorful parking garage, are augmented in summer by an outdoor farmers market. Just as the Charlotte trolley is being resurrected as both a convenience and a historic reminder, some of the city's venerable buildings are being put to 21st-century use. The 94-year-old N.C. Medical College building in Fourth Ward is being incorporated into a condominium complex called Settlers Place. And Wachovia, in building a new, 32-story office tower on South Tryon, also saved a 1929 landmark.
You can get your exercise just walking around gawking at all the new construction - including the 46-story Hearst Tower being built by Bank of America on Tryon Street, or the new fellowship hall at historic First Presbyterian Church on West Trade, a tree-shaded oasis in uptown's heart. For those craving more vigorous exercise, Gateway Village will contain a new YMCA, or you can join the joggers who set out regularly for early-morning runs. The Center City's broad array of activities has something for nearly any taste. And its mix of housing - old, new, spacious, compact - suits nearly any lifestyle. If you want to experience city life to the fullest, Center City may be the place for you.