I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked passed this Pink Eastlake-style house in Fourth Ward and wondered about the story of this home. Part of what makes Fourth Ward in Uptown Charlotte so unique is that most of the older houses in Fourth Ward were moved there as apart of Urban Renewal, which led to the Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood being razed. So was the case with this home on Poplar St, which was originally constructed in 1894 in Brooklyn (Second Ward today) on Caldwell Street and has become known as the Bootlegger’s House. During Prohibition, the possession and consumption of alcohol was illegal so bootlegging became a method of distributing the illegal alcohol. Mary Gross of the Charlotte Agenda toured the house in 2015 and discovered the hidden storage space behind the wainscoting which was used for storing illegal booze.
As an aside, it’s common to find little cutouts and false walls in older, un-restored houses from the 1920’s through the 1930’s throughout the region.
I tried to find out more about the possible original owner of the Bootlegger’s House in the 1928 Charlotte Directory but clearly “Bootlegger” isn’t a title that would have been listed in the directory for a house on Caldwell St. The story goes that this house was sold and moved for $500 in 1970 to a Michael Trent to make way for the new Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center. Caldwell Street was in Phase 1 of the Urban Renewal project and the Government Center facilities border Trade St and 5th Streets. If that checks out, the ghost that’s said to inhabit the home may very well be one of the following:
Maybe the ghost is that of the late husband of Emma Crowell? According to the directory, she was a widow at the time the census was taken.
As for the ghost – the Agenda story details several paranormal incidents that would even have the most skeptical reader believing in ghosts from wet footprints on the stairs to a torch automatically lighting and doors that lock and unlock themselves. Do you think there are any new ghosts out there, like a kid wearing JNCO jeans and listening to Smashmouth’s All Star on repeat on his Sony Discman…but he doesn’t have the anti-skip feature on so the song randomly repeats parts of the song? Also, what if the ghost happened to be outside while the house was being moved? Would they haunt the Government Center instead of the house or was the ghost from nearby Old Settler’s Cemetery?
Anyway, check out the account in Agenda and wave Hi to John as you walk by his haunted house this Halloween.