Charlotte Mayoral Collections

Charlotte’s Alcohol Controversy

May 18, 2010
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Ad promoting ABC stores

Mayor Baxter was a proponent of the city making money off of the sale of alcohol and did not believe in legislating morality. He worked to bring ABC stores into t he state and to eliminate bootlegging. Above is an example of an ad promoting the existence of ABC stores in Charlotte and all the benefits it would bring to the state.  When the issue went to vote, he was successful in his aims, and ABC stores did come into North Carolina, but under strict regulation. However, not to the pleasure of all Charlotteans. Below is a letter from a citizen who  disagreed with the mayor’s acceptance of alcohol and the effect that it appeared to have on the community.


Baxter’s Appeal for a New Auditorium

May 18, 2010
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As Charlotte grew, so did its need for a new, larger auditorium. However, many citizens of Charlotte were against the extravagant cost of creating such a building and vehemently protested its construction. During his term in office, Mayor Baxter began a series of editorials in the Charlotte News called “According the the Mayor” in which he outlined all the reasons for which he believed t here was a need for a new auditorium in the city, among them the deprivation of our children of culture. You can read Mayor Baxter’s reasoning in these two documents from the Charlotte News. Was he justified?

Mayor Baxter and Veteran’s Affairs

May 18, 2010
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In the 1940’s as World War II ended, the growing city of Charlotte was inundated with returning veterans in need of a number of services that the city was struggling to provide for them. Of utmost importance was providing housing for the returning soldiers. In 1944, Mayor Baxter signed a Share the Home law, that asked citizens to share their homes with returning soldiers until the city could provide enough barracks or government housing to accomodate them all.

Baxter initiates Share the Homes week in 1944

In addition to the Share the Home program, the city also planned to help the returning veterans acquire adequate employment so that they would be able to take care of themselves now that they had returned from combat.

Most impressively, however, Charlotte was one of very few cities in the country t hat initiated a program to establish a rehabilitation center to directly focus on the mental health of the returning veterans, knowing that their emotional states had likely been compromised during the war. This step toward mental health truly reveals Charlotte as the progressive city that it was becoming.

Charlotte’s Super Highway controversy

May 18, 2010
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As Charlotte grew and expanded, roads became more and more of an issue for its citizens. As the the city council planned for more roads to be build to make traffic less congested, Charlotteans displeased with the proposed placement of roads began to write to Mayor Baxter in an attempt to dissuade him from placing the roads near homes, businesses, parks, and  gardens. These documents illustrate some of the worries that Charlotte citizens were facing with the potential implementation of a crosstown boulevard during Mayor Baxter’s term in office.

H.H. Baxter, “the Yankee Mayor of Charlotte”

May 18, 2010
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Undated image of Mayor Herbert H. Baxter

Biographical note from UNCC’s Special Collections:

Herbert Hill Baxter was born in Boston on May 31, 1894 to Lucy Hill and Frank Herbert Baxter. He was graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1918. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Army, Infantry Division, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. His training was conducted partially at Camp Greene in Charlotte. After his discharge from the Army, Baxter entered the lumber business in Charleston, S.C. In 1922 he moved to Charlotte, where, in 1925, he organized Central Lumber Company, of which he was president until the company closed in 1958.
Baxter entered local politics in 1935 when he was elected to the Charlotte City Council, on which he served until 1941 and again from 1951 to 1959. In 1943, Baxter defeated E. McArthur Currie to become mayor. He was reelected in 1945 and 1947. He was defeated in 1949 by Victor Shaw. He ran for city council in 1965 but was defeated. Baxter continued to work with city government after his service on the city council, primarily as vice chair the Charlotte Redevelopment Commission.
As mayor, Baxter established a planning board and pressed for careful but progressive city growth. After World War II, he launched the sale of bonds to finance a $12,000,000 “Program for Progress.” During his administration, the city acquired Morris Field from US Air Force for airport expansion; developed and adopted health, housing, and zoning ordinances; expanded city boundaries; liberalized Sunday blue laws; created ABC legislation; authorized construction of a cross town highway; established a veteran’s center and a city employee retirement system employees; and created new city departments, including Traffic Engineering. Baxter promoted funding for an auditorium and coliseum, as well as consolidation of city county governments. [See box 4:11 for a complete list of accomplishments.]
Baxter was also active in many community organizations. He was 32nd degree Mason and belonged to the Lion’s Club. His memberships included Myers Park Country Club, where he served as president (1953-58). He helped found the Charlotte City Club (1947) and served as its president (1948-49). Baxter worked with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Boy Scouts and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Merchants’ Association. He served as president of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and as commander of the Civil Air Patrol’s North Carolina Wing (1950-53).
Baxter was married to Virginia Littlejohn of Spartanburg, S.C. They had three daughters. He died in 1967.”

Posted in H.H. Baxter, Mayors