In 1952, when the Excelsior opened, it was the first black nightclub in the Charlotte, North Carolina, and its exclusive membership list included a who’s who of Charlotte’s black professional middle-class: doctors, lawyers, educators, ministers, businessmen, and political leaders that lived on the West End and in the vibrant Brooklyn community downtown.
Candidates for membership were carefully screened and had to be recommended by a member, and it became the place to see and be seen among the chosen few.
When the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission announced it would seek approval from the City Council for an option to purchase the Excelsior Club at 921 Beatties Ford Road, people on the city’s westside breathed a temporary sigh of relief; it was the first step in restoring a jewel in the crown of Charlotte’s African American history and keeping it from the wrecking ball.
Weeks later came the unfortunate news that the Council had not approved the purchase, and the fight to save it would have to continue. With the West End threatened by rising rents and taxes and the looming specter of gentrification, the historic African American communities that surround the club are no strangers to facing such threats.
They fear that they are losing hold of the symbols of their history and, as everyone on that side of town will tell you, there are very few places that define that history like the Excelsior.
For more information contact: Friends of The Historic Excelsior