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  • Charlotte Museum of HistoryCharlotte Museum of History Charlotte, North Carolina
    The Charlotte Museum of History and the Hezekiah Alexander Home site sit on an eight acre site east of downtown, which is the oldest structure in the city and the main reason why the museum has been located here. The Alexander House is a 5000 square foot rock house and is the oldest surviving house in Mecklenburg County, since it was constructed in 1774 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A marvelous reproduction of a log barn, kitchen and two story springhouse have been added to show what life was like in those early days of our country. The beautiful old stone house was picked up by the Methodist Home in the 1940s, and in 1949, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) leased the house and property so that they could restore the house. In 1969, the committee started the Hezekiah Alexander Foundation, Inc. and raised more than $200,000 to bring the wonderful house back to its original condition. The foundation ran into some trouble trying to find money to build a welcome center for the reconditioned house, so the city cooperated with the Mint Museum to finish the work and opened the house to the public as the Mint Museum of History in June, 1976. They would manage the site until 1987 when the responsibility was transferred to the parks and recreation department, and renamed the Charlotte Museum of History. All through the many changes, the foundation supported the property and museum programs. Then, in 1990, the foundation was able to regain control, although the city said that the foundation must come up with $2 million to take care of the operation and maintenance of the fantastic estate, which they did and then some, raising more than $3 million. In 1996, the foundation started looking at the possibility of replacing the present museum with a bigger one that would better meet the needs of the community and what they would like. So, three years after the fact, a brand new facility, measuring 36,000 square feet was put up after the foundation raised another $7 million. Now the museum had three marvelous galleries that would tell the history of the city from the 18th century to the 20th with a rotating exhibit on the second floor, and the grand opening was in 1999. On December 31, 1999, the American Freedom Bell was rung for the first time after it had been moved here in the fall. In 2002, the foundation officially changed its name to the Charlotte Museum of History, Inc.  The house was the home of Hezekiah Alexander and his wife, as well as their ten children. The furniture and furnishings have been meticulously chosen to complement the gorgeous stone house with a excellent collection of southern 18th and 19th century pieces. During the early 21st century, members of the museum became concerned about the lack of continuity between the house and museum, so they came up with a unique idea to connect these two marvelous venues, with an interactive exhibit called "Solving the Rock House Mysteries". There are tours with guides that dress up in period attire and will ad lib history and stories about the city, region and the wonderful rock house visitors come to see and enjoy. At the back side of the museum, you will come into a park-like setting that starts the living history exhibits, and various encampments. Going up the stone path, you come into a Native American garden, then cross over a stone bridge that sits over a spring fed creek and go up a steep grade to the home site. The entrance, was some kind of office for Hezekiah, since he was the county magistrate, with plain but antique furniture, a desk, window bench and grandfather clock. On one side is the master bedroom and beyond that is a great dining room, that contains a big table by a hearth, built in cupboards and buffet that would take good care of the family of a dozen. Stairway to the upper floor where the three bedrooms are located, one of the bedrooms was for the three daughters, with beds and spinning wheel and the other two bedrooms for the seven sons. A rope bed is available for perusal and to sit on to discover what comfort, if any, could be gotten from a night on it, as well as folk toys to touch and hold. In the cellar, there are quill pens that can be used to see how difficult it would be to write. You can visit a replicated log kitchen that was constructed in 1983 and set up with the kinds of utensils that were used in the period. There is also a place for folks to try their hand at starting a fire with flint and steel. An herb garden is before the springhouse, where the water was gotten, but the Charlotte Herb Guild has put up small signs that tell what herb was used for food enhancement or for healing. It is a special place for families of all ages, allowing us all to see and visit a homestead that was used more than two centuries ago, with our ancestors.

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  • Hendrick Motorsports ComplexHendrick Motorsports Complex Charlotte, North Carolina
    The Hendrick Motorsports racing complex is in Charlotte, North Carolina, close by the Lowe's Motor Speedway, with special facilities that are used to design, test, and build cars and motors for all types of race teams. Hendrick race cars are built from the ground up to completion on the 100 acre complex, with over 550 engines constructed on the site every year. Hendrick leases many of the beefed up engines to NASCAR teams with 500 employees available to work on whatever project you might have or need. The complex allows visitors every day from 10AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday, but it doesn't have guided tours, you are able to come and watch the outstanding race shops in work. At the present time, you can come and see the Mark Martin GoDaddy.com shop, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s AMP Energy/National Guard Racing Shop and Jeff Gordon's DuPont Motorsports Shop. The complex also contains the 15,000 Hendrick Museum which you can explore for free, full of twenty years of Hendrick racing memorabilia. After 26 years of competition, the Hendrick complex has won 9 NASCAR Sprint Cup series championships, 3 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles and 1 NASCAR Nationwide Series crown, which used to be the Busch Series. All these wins have contributed to this organization being one of the top organizations in stock car racing. Rick Hendrick is the second team owner in NASCAR's history to earn over 185 cup series wins. The four full time Sprint Cup teams of the complex are, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolets, Mark Martin in the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolets, four-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolets, and four-time champion Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolets. For those of you that love NASCAR and team racing, this is the premier place to visit and learn all you can about the wonderful world of car racing, engine building and spectacular motorsports.

January 11, 2011