A Brief History of Camp North End
Long before it was home to Immersive Van Gogh and an eclectic collection of art galleries, retailers, restaurants, community event spaces and corporate offices, Camp North End had another life. Several lives, in fact. Here are a few tidbits to share with friends the next time you visit. They’ll be impressed … or compare you to Cliff Clavin. (That’s a Cheers reference for those too young to know.)
- The Ford Motor Company engaged architect Albert Kahn to design a 240,000-square-foot factory on 76 acres of land. Running on three coal-powered boilers, the plant produced 300,000 Model T and Model A cars until it was shuttered in the early 1930s.
- Camp North End’s water tower, which is still standing, held more than 105,000 gallons of water.
- With the onset of World War II, the U.S. Army moved in and built five more massive warehouses to supply soldiers and training camps with everything from typewriters to cots. Click here for an aerial photo.
- As reported in The Charlotte News, the Army’s Quartermaster Corp. invested $2.5 million to build four new warehouses. The Army’s Engineering Department spent $1.2 million on more space.
- In 1954, the Douglas Aircraft Co. announced it had purchased several warehouses to produce Nike Hercules and Ajax guided missiles. This also gave rise to the name CAMP (Charlotte Area Missile Plant.)
- In 1969, CONDEC (Consolidated Diesel Corp.) established a factory on-site to produce “Gamma Goat,” a “lightweight, one-and-one-quarter ton aluminum, six-wheel vehicle” to “travel over the roughest terrain” and “swim across rivers and streams” as described in The Charlotte News. [NOTE: You can see a Gamma Goat at Camp North End today near the food stalls on Keswick Ave.]
- In 1976, Eckerd (now Rite Aid) purchased two buildings (including the Ford Building where Immersive Van Gogh is) totaling 400,000 square feet to be used as a distribution hub. At the time, they were housing an estimated 8,000 items to supply 228 drug stores and 40 apparel stores. (Anyone remember Wrangler Wranch and Fashion Miss?)
- After decades of use by Eckerd, the 76-acre site and its buildings were purchased by ATCO Properties, the current owners and developers. It was soon rebranded Camp North End, establishing a new identity for one of Charlotte’s most historic real estate chameleons.
The information above was sourced from published issues of The Charlotte News and the Camp North End’s website.
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