Nightclub that served black community on endangered list

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina nightclub that served the black community during the era of segregation made the list of the nation's 11 most endangered historic places announced by a nonprofit organization Thursday.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation placed The Excelsior Club in Charlotte on the list, making it the first property in North Carolina to make the list. It's also designated a historic landmark by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

Commission director Dan Morrill said being on the list will help make Charlotte's cultural community aware of the club's significance and help influence future plans for the site, The Charlotte Observer .

"There come moments in the history of a community when it makes fundamental decisions that reflect what it really is," Morrill said. "What Charlotte decides to do with this building is going to be very reflective of what exactly this place is."

Musicians like Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong performed there. Bill Clinton and Al Gore campaigned there, and locals went to the club to celebrate Barack Obama's election as the first African American president.

The club, which opened in 1944, closed in 2016. Last October, Mecklenburg County commissioners voted against a proposal to save the club. The deal would have given the landmarks commission a year to either find a buyer or purchase the property.

In April, the club was listed for sale for $1.5 million. State Rep. Carla Cunningham, who owns the building, has filed paperwork to have it demolished.

Meanwhile, the newspaper reports The Foundation for the Carolinas is spending $40 million to renovate the now-defunct Carolina Theatre in Charlotte. Morrill noted that when the Carolina Theatre first opened, it was segregated.

"Until really, very recently in our history as a community, there were very few places that African Americans could go and feel respected," he said. "What does it say about a place when it's spending millions to renovate the Carolina Theatre, and it's spending nothing to preserve the Excelsior Club?"

Foundation officials weren't immediately available for comment Thursday.


Information from: The Charlotte Observer,

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