Feed aggregator

Masterful American Artist, Romare Bearden of Charlotte

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 01:00

On September 2, 1911, Romare Bearden, one of the 20th century’s most important African-American artists, was born in Charlotte

Bearden studied at the Art Students League in New York City, Columbia University and the Sorbonne. For 30 years, he worked on his art at night and on weekends while employed as a social worker in New York City.

Bearden’s first solo exhibition was in Harlem in 1940. His collages, watercolors, oils, photomontages and prints depict black culture in a style derived from Cubism. Bearden also was a songwriter and book illustrator, and designed sets for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company.

An advocate for young emerging artists, Bearden had close associations with distinguished artists, intellectuals and musicians including James Baldwin, Stuart Davis, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, Joan Miró, George Grosz, Alvin Ailey and Jacob Lawrence.

Although his family moved north when he was only four years old, he said of his home state,

Most artists take some place, and like a flower, they sink roots, looking for universal implications. . . . My roots are in North Carolina.

Indeed, many of his paintings and collages were drawn from memories of his time in North Carolina.

Throughout his career he received a host of honors, including the Mayor’s Award of Honor for Art and Culture in New York City in 1984 and the National Medal of Arts in 1987.

Bearden died in New York City in 1988.

Visit: The N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh, Mint Museum in Charlotte and N.C. Central University Art Museum in Durham all have works by Bearden in their collections.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Mile-High Swinging Bridge Dedicated

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 01:00

On September 2, 1952, gubernatorial candidate William B. Umstead dedicated Grandfather Mountain’s Mile-High Swinging Bridge near Linville, and became the first person to cross it.

Earlier that year entrepreneur Hugh Morton had inherited Grandfather Mountain, whose craggy features and high vistas had made it a popular tourist attraction since the 1890s. Morton envisioned building a bridge between Grandfather’s Convention Table Rock and Linville Peak to improve visitors’ access to the best scenic overlooks.

Designed by Greensboro architect Charles Hartmann, Jr., and fabricated by Truitt Manufacturing Company in Greensboro, the 228-foot suspension bridge was reassembled in three weeks at Grandfather Mountain by Craven Steel Erecting Company. The total cost was $15,000.

In 1999, the mostly wooden bridge was rebuilt using galvanized steel at a cost of $300,000.

Former state tourism director Charles J. Parker coined the name “Mile-High Swinging Bridge” at the 1952 dedication. While the bridge’s elevation is slightly more than a mile above sea level, it actually hangs only 80 feet above the ground.

And while suspension bridges can swing, especially in high winds, thick cables anchor Grandfather Mountain’s bridge to the ground, limiting its movement.

Visit: Grandfather Mountain, now part of Grandfather Mountain State Park, is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

“Human Spider” Inspired Classic Harold Lloyd Film

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 01:00

On September 1, 1896, Bill Strother, who became nationally acclaimed as the “Human Spider,” was born in Wayne County.

Strother acquired his nickname in Kinston in 1915. Frustrated that handbills he ordered to advertise a real estate auction he was organizing did not arrive in time, Strother indicated to a fellow diner at a lunch counter that he’d now have to climb the courthouse walls to advertise the sale. The diner, who happened to be the editor of the Kinston Free Press, published a story about the proposed climb and thousands showed up to watch.

The PR stunt worked, and that day Strother sold a fortune in real estate, while also unknowingly launching his career as the Human Spider. For a while Strother only climbed buildings to advertise real estate sales, but in December 1917 he began climbing just for climbing’s sake.

In 1922, silent film star Harold Lloyd saw Strother climb a building in Los Angeles. The chance meeting resulted in movie called Safety Last!, in which Lloyd’s character climbed a building to win over a girl. Strother played Lloyd’s friend “Limpy” Bill in the 1923 release. He continuing climbing buildings across the country before retiring after a fall in 1930.

Strother died in a car accident in 1957.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Freedom Fighter Abraham Galloway of Southport and Wilmington

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 01:00

On September 1, 1870, African-American activist Abraham Galloway died in Wilmington.

Born in 1837 in what is now the town of Southport, Galloway was the son of a white ship’s pilot and a slave. He escaped to the North by ship in 1857 and became active in militant abolitionist circles.

During the Civil War, Galloway led black recruitment efforts in the federally occupied northeastern portion of the state to fill the ranks of what would become Gen. Edward Wild’s African Brigade. For the volunteers, he secured pay equal to that of the Massachusetts regiments, educational opportunities for soldiers’ children and support for their families, most of whom were destitute.

As the war waned, Galloway began shifting his focus to the political struggle for equal treatment and organized the Equal Rights League, which lobbied for rights for freed slaves, including education, protection from violence and the right to vote.

Galloway and the league organized the state’s first freedmen’s convention, held in Raleigh in September 1865, to represent the interests of the state’s black population as the constitutional convention convened across town.

The apex of Galloway’s political career came in 1868 when he was among the first black men to be elected to the state senate. He would serve there until his death.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Opening Volley in North Carolina’s Tory War

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 01:00

On September 1, 1781, Tory forces under Colonel David Fanning skirmished with the Patriot command of Colonel Thomas Wade. The clash is variously known as McPhaul’s Mill, Little Raft Swamp, Drowning Creek and Bettis’ Bridge.

McPhaul’s Mill was located on Little Raft Swamp near modern Antioch in Hoke County. Fanning arrived at the mill in late August. He received word that Loyalists under Colonel Hector McNeill were nearby, pursued by Wade’s Patriot force. The two Tory commanders agreed to cooperate to trap Wade. They met at Bettis’ Bridge on the morning of September 1. The exact site of the bridge is unknown.

Wade’s camp was on a hill between Drowning Creek and Little Raft Swamp. Although badly outnumbered, Fanning decided to attack.

McNeill would block Wade’s escape across Bettis’ Bridge. Fanning’s presence was given away when one of his men accidentally discharged his firearm. Wade’s men quickly organized and opened fire. Wade withdrew after a fight of nearly two hours. As McNeill posted only a small force at the bridge, Wade’s men were able to escape.

Afterwards, Fanning left McNeill and moved to the Deep River, setting the stage for his raid on Hillsborough and capture of Governor Thomas Burke on September 12.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Carl Schenck and the Cradle of Forestry

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 01:00

On September 1, 1898, Carl Schenck opened the nation’s first school of forestry.

The school has its roots in 1895 when George Vanderbilt, who had just completed the Biltmore House, hired German-born Schenck to manage and restore his vast woodland properties.

Students who enrolled in Schenck’s school used Vanderbilt’s forests as a campus, splitting their time between classrooms and fieldwork. Combining theory with practice, they gained experience in the care of nurseries; the transplant and cultivation of seedlings; timber selection; felling; logging; and sawing.

Schenck had a disagreement with Vanderbilt and left the estate in 1909, establishing the school’s winter headquarters in Germany. He struggled to maintain the school as a traveling entity in America, and enrollment dwindled as new forestry schools emerged. Schenck’s final class graduated in 1913, and most of the school’s alumni (who numbered more than 300) became actively employed in the field. In 1914, Vanderbilt’s widow sold more than 80,000 acres of her holdings to the U.S. Forest Service. The acquisition was incorporated into the Pisgah National Forest.

In 1968, the federal government established the Cradle of Forestry on the site of Schenck’s school to commemorate the beginning of forestry education and conservation in the United States.

For more on the school, check out it’s National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form from the State Historic Preservation Office.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.