Community Organizations built Mint Hill

Quillen and Mint Hill sign
Quillen and Mint Hill sign

Following each major war of the 20th century, native sons returned to Mint Hill to begin their lives anew. Many did so by organizing and/or participating in community organizations. Working with friends and neighbors not only made Mint Hill a better place, it provided a social outlet for families.

The Earp-Williams Post # 4059 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was one of the first community organizations to spring up after World War II. Located on Bain School Road, the post continues to serve returning veterans and over the years has received numerous state and national awards. James H. Black and Ralph S. Ross not only served as post commanders but state commanders as well, while Anne D. Davis became the state president of the Women’s Auxiliary.

Earp-Williams VFW Post
Earp-Williams VFW Post

The same residents who were active in the VFW also saw the need for the establishment of a volunteer fire department. In 1952, the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department was chartered. With some backing from Mecklenburg County and many fundraisers, the new organization purchased the first firetruck and built the first firehouse. The present firehouse, named for Robert B. Long, replaced the old one in 2013. Led initially by J. Ranson Lee, the volunteer group provided excellent fire protection for Mint Hill and eventually added a rescue squad. Today the highly-rated Mint Hill Fire Department has a paid professional staff.

The Piedmont Area Development Association (PADA), sponsored by the Agricultural Extension Service of North Carolina State University, was a vibrant organization that boosted the Mint Hill community. As Bain School’s agriculture teacher, Robert W. Quillen led the movement to get the Mint Hill community involved in the PADA and served as its first president. The PADA laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Town of Mint Hill in 1971. During the PADA era Mint Hill had an active 4-H Club for youth and a Home Demonstration Club for homemakers.

When the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library decided to discontinue bookmobile service to the Mint Hill area in the early 1950s, volunteer Sara Higgins made a strong case for the establishment of a branch library. The main library agreed to set up the first branch in rented space in an old store building near the town center. The branch then moved to a building vacated by the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department and a few years later to a space that had served as a dinner theater in the McEwen Shopping Center. In 1999, the Mint Hill Branch moved into its own building on Matthews-Mint Hill Road.

As the town of Mint Hill grew, the need for business organizations was recognized. The Mint Hill Junior Chamber of Commerce, led by Lauren Quillen, promoted idea of forming the Town of Mint Hill. The Mint Hill Business Association, under the early leadership of Zebulon Morris and Leslie Anderson, also did a great deal for the town. One of its crowing achievements was the establishment of the ever-popular Mint Hill Madness, an annual community festival. Today the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce serves local businesses.

The Mint Hill Athletic Association was organized in the 1970s by Charles Jones, Jerry Mullis, and Jim Freeze. Today it provides endless opportunities for young people to play baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and other sports. The MHAA Sports Complex is located on Brief Road.

The Mint Hill Historical Society was chartered in 1985, with Carol Timblin as the first president. The McEwen family’s donation of land on Hillside Drive made it possible for the organization to move historic buildings to the site and eventually create what is today called the Carl J. McEwen Historic Village. The first building to be moved to the site was Dr. Ayer Whitley’s office, now the Country Doctor’s Museum. Next came the Ferguson Country Store, Ashcraft School, Surface Hill Gold Assay Office, and various outbuildings. The village, which focuses primarily on the rural life of the Mint Hill community around the turn of the 20th century, welcomes visitors year-round.

Mint Hill Arts was organized several years ago by a group of artists in rental space on Matthews-Mint Hill and then moved to its present location on Lawyers Road. It operates a gallery with rotating art exhibits and public receptions, offers classes for all ages, sponsors various artistic competitions, and shares art at the Mint Hill Town Hall. Pottery 51, originally a part of Mint Hill Arts, offers studio space, classes, and public receptions at its location on Matthews-Mint Hill Road.

Correction for last week’s column: Jim Black (not John) currently holds the Bain Cane.