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A Creative Tour of Pinevilleby Amanda Lea on November 11, 2021
This is the eighth installment of an exploration series sponsored by OrthoCarolina, that encourages everyone to go for walks to discover creative communities across the Charlotte region. OrthoCarolina has offices in Pineville, Charlotte and cities across the North Carolina piedmont.
A small but mighty community between Charlotte’s city limits and the South Carolina line, Pineville was once a settlement centered on a stagecoach stop along a wagon road. The collection of meadows and pastures was known as Morrow’s Turnout, since traders would turn out their animals to graze here.
In 1852, the community became a stop for the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad. As with many small towns in the area, the “commercial district” was situated close to the railroad tracks and consisted of the basic necessities — a bank, mercantile and drug store.
With its continued growth, the town was incorporated in 1873 (one of the earliest of the railroad settlements to do so) and named for the plentiful pine trees that reigned over the community.
From Cows to Contractors
By the 1900s, Pineville had a population of almost 600 people — the largest town in Mecklenburg at the time. The population grew even more in 1927 when a bridge was built over the “Big Sugar Creek,” opening Pineville’s downtown streets to neighboring communities.
With the construction of apartment complexes, malls and the Carowinds amusement park just a few miles west of the town’s limits, nearly 2,000 people called Pineville home by the mid-970s.
What was once a mule trading center at the intersection of two major Native American trading routes is now the intersection of South Boulevard and Polk Street. Cows and carts were eventually replaced by dump trucks and cement mixers in transit to nearby landscaping companies and construction sites.
Some locals say the town’s biggest transition from a rural trading community to a thriving south Charlotte suburb was marked by the construction of Carolina Place Mall in the early 1990s, along with the completion of the I-485 connection to I-77.
Today, Pineville’s population of about 8,400 continues to invite neighboring communities to visit its downtown streets and peaceful parks. There aren’t many pastures to graze upon, but there are plenty of experiences to feed your creativity.
Easily Explore, and Return for More
Think of Pineville as a hub, with spokes extending to various pocket neighborhoods within its radius. Downtown Pineville has several (free) public parking lots and some (also free) street parking. The spacious sidewalks make the area pretty walkable, just be sure to use the marked crosswalks. Other businesses and parks mentioned below are easily accessible and don’t require much planning — making Pineville the perfect place to scout out in a day and keep coming back to discover something new.
If you park in the public lot by the railroad tracks, the first thing you’ll see is the interactive “Bubbles of Kindness” mural by Holt School of Fine Art students. You may be inspired to take an imaginative selfie, or sign up for a class to create something of your own. Adults and youth with a strong artistic foundation can sign up for a class or workshop at the Pineville location. (There are also locations in Oakhurst and South End.)
Stop by WeCraft Lab, the “craft supply and hobby enthusiast shop.” Owner Jennifer LaPierre launched the store in 2019 to help creatives, artists and makers like herself have access to high-quality and inspiring products at affordable prices. You’ll find a variety of transfer vinyl and supplies, plus classes, DIY kits and events.
If you’re looking for some trendy tutorials and unique gifts, try AR Workshop. The storefront offers a curated collection of jewelry, home decor and accessories to pair with the creations you make in their one-of-a-kind workshops. “Sunday Family Funday” and “Wine Down Wednesday” are popular options. (Tip: Holiday workshops and to-go kits are available now but may fill up fast.)
This isn’t exactly a creative activity, but seeing cats doing cat things is its own kind of creativity booster. Walk through the alleyway of the Purrfect Paradise cat hotel and take a peek at the kitties in the window. You can also book a tour of the facility if you need a place to board your feline. The themed suites, climbing shelves and interactive toys are a cat’s purr-adise (sorry).
Grace and Grit
A common thread throughout the history of Pinevile’s thriving downtown area is the spirit of entrepreneurship. From banking to mule trading, business owners were eager to make the most of their financial destinies. That spirit is alive and well on the streets of Pineville today.
Carrie Cassidy-Struble, owner of The Flower Diva, has been creating unique flower arrangements in her “fun-funky” Pineville workshop for 17 years. Cassidy-Struble embodies Pineville’s graceful tenacity in challenging times. She’s seen a lot of change during her residence in the area but has weathered the setbacks and enjoys the sense of community and camaraderie.
Shannon Turrell, owner of Cupcake Delirium, is in the same small shopping center as The Flower Diva. Cassidy-Struble says they often take turns patronizing each other’s shops and helping each other out.
Speaking of supporting local business owners, Turrell said she hired local graphic artist Reid Bramhall to design the logo and sign for Cupcake Delirium because utilizing local talent is important to her.
While you’re in the shop checking out Bramhall’s work, try one (or a dozen) of the daily cupcake flavors. Recent flavors include: “Love is like a ROLO-Coaster,” Pecan Pie, Death by Chocolate and Strawberry Fields. Cookies and other treats are also available.
Kevin Devanney, owner of Margaux’s Wine, Pizza & Market, is another Pineville business owner with entrepreneurial chops. Devanney grew up in St. Louis, but has called Charlotte home for more than 20 years.
The building that now houses Margaux’s was built in 1921 and was a general store. (The shelves and floors are original to the building.) Devanney has occupied the building for over 20 years — but hasn’t always been in the pizza business. Devanney’s travel company (Incentive Travel Solutions) formerly occupied the space. When his business was impacted by the pandemic in 2020, Devanney did what many of us have come to recognize as a theme for COVID-19 — he pivoted.
He and his team of globetrotters dreamt up a wine shop to share Old World wines and a market with international finds. In the process, Devanney noticed a lack of pizzerias nearby and decided it was an opportunity to share the unique St. Louis-style pizza he grew up with. The cracker-thin crust is topped with Provel cheese (a St. Louis staple) and baked in a pizza oven imported from Sorrento, Italy.
Named for Devanney’s youngest daughter, Margaux’s is the perfect place to catch up with friends or sip and savor on your own. If Devanney is around, he’ll likely stop by your table and answer any questions. (If he recommends the “Italy” wine flight and the mushroom pizza, say yes and enjoy.)
International Delights and Craft Brew Flights
Pineville has a variety of eateries. Global Restaurant on Main Street serves elevated, international-inspired dishes with an array of dairy-free and gluten-free options. The “Southern Fried Green Tomatoes” with goat pimento cheese and “West India Sweet Potato Curry” are top picks.
The authentic South Indian and North Indian dishes at Sri Balaji Caffe Veg and Vegan are a must-try. Founder Manikandan Raghavan has a passion for cooking and believes “serving people is serving God.” Everything is made fresh with no additives or preservatives. As their slogan says: “Today’s food never sees tomorrow’s sunrise.” Try the Chilli Parotta and the Uttapam.
For lighter fare and a place to knock out some work, pop into Unwind Coffee and Tea by the railroad tracks. The ambiance will help clear the cobwebs in your mind. Grab a cold brew coffee or hot tea and snag a table by the window. Or order an egg and cheese sandwich (on rosemary bread) or a sweet treat (sourced by Sunflour Baking Company) and enjoy the sunshine at one of the sidewalk tables. There’s also an adorable walk-up window on the side of the building if you need to grab-and-go.
Pineville holds its own when it comes to the craft beer scene. Meet up and hang out at Pintville and Kit’s Trackside Crafts on Main Street. Both have that warm and welcoming vibe that makes you feel like everybody knows your name, plus a huge variety of taps and bottles. “Cheers” to that!
Any Old Thing
The town’s relationship with antique stores runs deep. At one point in time, almost every address on the south side of Main Street was home to an antique store.
You won’t find as many today, but there are still several local shops peddling their treasures. Christie’s on Main Antiques Mall, Z Home Furnishings, Fresh Start at Home and Garrett’s Antiques & Indian Shop are the places to go for all the things you didn’t know you needed. Pineville Rug Gallery isn’t an antique shop, but the luxurious selection of Persian and Turkish rugs will tie together all your vintage finds.
Explore Some More
Drive up Polk Street (before it becomes South Blvd.), and you can grab breakfast or lunch at the old-school Dive N diner. The fried chicken platter with sweet potato fries is solid comfort food.
Speaking of sweet potato goodness, try the Cinnamon Sweet Potato Blonde (a cozy 6.2% ABV) at Middle James Brewing Company. Sip your brew and enjoy the views from the patio overlooking Golf Village, or perfect your swing at the family-friendly driving range and nine-hole, par 3 course.
If playing in clay is more your speed, sign up for a class at Carolina Clay Connection. The full-service pottery supply company sells a variety of clays, glazes, kilns, potter’s wheels and equipment. You can also offer open studio time for those who just want to practice.
Feed your creativity by trying out a new recipe (or revisit one of your favorites). Pick up some supplies at India Grocers or Hatoya Mart Japanese Food Grocery. Both offer a wide variety of authentic grocery products from spices to snacks, plus a selection of tchotchkes and novelties.
If you head in the opposite direction on Lancaster Hwy. toward South Carolina, you’ll uncover some more gems.
If you haven’t heard about MJ’s Donuts, stop reading this and go there right now. (Okay, maybe read this first.) It’s the sleeping giant of doughnut shops in Charlotte. One local said the rainbow sprinkle donut is “life-changing.” (Okay, it’s me. I’m the local.) You’ll get some doughnut holes thrown in the bag too, and good luck not devouring those by the handful.
Luckily, MJ’s is right by Pineville Ice House, so you can skate off some of those unregrettable calories. The rink has served the community since 1995 (many of us remember going here for awkward preteen birthday parties). Pick-up hockey, skating lessons and clinics are offered here. If you just want to go for the “public skate,” check out this helpful info before you go. (Hint: Wear layers. It’s cold inside, but you’ll warm up as you move around.)
While you’re in the area, peruse some of the cheerful treats at Triveni Supermarket. In addition to fresh fruits and veggies, you can find some of the best ground, blended and whole spices at this South Asian market. Halal meat, an in-house bakery and a food court offer unique delicacies to take home and enjoy.
Go a little further south and you’ll find Waldhorn Restaurant German Cuisine (pronounced “Vahld-horn”), known for its infamous Oktoberfest celebration.
The husband-and-wife team, Thomas and Gitta Maier, opened Waldhorn in 1999 and named their restaurant after Gitta’s parents’ restaurant in Germany.
Thomas attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York and Gitta grew up in Germany and studied culinary arts near Stuttgart. They met while working together as chefs in a 4-star restaurant. Visit the restaurant for lunch or dinner and enjoy some of the traditional German fare, such as the Sauerbraten (braised marinated beef served with spätzle and red cabbage) or the Gemüse Strudel (grilled vegetables wrapped in puff pastry and served over rice with a roasted red pepper sauce).
Parks and Presidents
There are two main parks in Pineville. Pineville Lake Park is nestled in a residential area behind Main Street. With three playgrounds, a walking loop around the pond, a stage for performances and events and the Canine Commons Dog Park, this park truly has something for everyone. The park also hosts seasonal events, like the Rockin’ and Reelin’ summer concert series and the most recent Fall Fest. It’s adjacent to Belle Johnston Community Center which has space to rent as well as community art, fitness and dance classes, summer camps, and pickleball.
Just over the tracks off Main Street, Jack D. Hughes Park hosts a variety of athletic practices and tournaments that fill the grandstands year round. In addition to the multipurpose field, softball field, batting cages and baseball stadium, the park also offers a playground, picnic shelters and a walking trail.
Hit the trails and explore the newest section of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. Marsh Park is a little oasis along the paved trail with a natural wetland and scenic overlooks. One bike rider remarked he once saw the largest turtle in his life at this overlook. Take a seat on one of the benches and do a little bird watching (blue herons frequent this spot), or take in the wood sculpture that lets the sunlight shine through.
The greenway trail ends at the James K. Polk historic site (you can also access it by car from Lancaster Hwy). James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States, was born in 1795 on the site.
A museum and historic cabins now sit on 21 of the original 150 acres owned by President Polk’s father, Samuel. There are two reconstructed log cabins, the main house, a cookhouse and a log barn, all representative of the ones built in 1790.
Up and Coming
Local residents and tenants say they are looking forward to some of the upcoming developments in the town, including the construction of the new library and town hall. Anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2022, the two-story, 43,088 square-foot building will be located on Main Street, (just past the railroad tracks going toward South Carolina). The top floor will house Pineville’s town services. The first floor will be the home of the new Mecklenburg County Library — the only library within Pineville’s town limits.
The town recently added a new splash pad to Pineville Lake Park, and plans to add several pocket parks for more community activities and events in the coming years.
Did We Miss One of Your Favorites?
If you have a favorite creative location in Pineville that we didn’t include in this story, let us know at email@example.com. Please send a description and a photo. We may add it to the story as a reader suggestion.
Be sure to check out the other creative excursions we’ve shared in this series:
- Creative Tour of Belmont
- Creative Tour of Matthews
- Creative Tour of University City
- Creative Tour of Mecklenburg County Public Art
- Creative Tour of Rock Hill’s Mural Mile
- Creative Tour of Boone, N.C.
- Creative Tour of Fort Mill & Indian Land