A History of Gastonia, North Carolina

Gaston County Court House - Gastonia, North Carolina

Gastonia is the county seat and the largest of the fifteen incorporated cities and towns in Gaston County. It is located roughly in the geographical center of the county. Gastonia was incorporated in 1877 and is the third-oldest incorporated city in the county. In 1964, Gastonia was named the All-American City in Look Magazine's annual contest. The city of Gastonia is governed by the Council-Manager system. This system has been in existence for over sixty years. The governing board consists of a mayor and six councilmen. The Councilmen, each of whom must reside in one of the representative wards, are elected at large every two years. The mayor runs at large every two years.

Gastonia was incorporated on January 26, 1877 during the "reconstruction era" with a population of about two hundred. By 1900, Gastonia had six cotton mills and a population of 4,610. The majority of Gaston County voted in 1909 to move the county seat to Gastonia (mainly because the railroad lines ran through this city) and in 1911 the courts, jail, offices and records were moved there as well.

By 1910, Gastonia was a thriving industrial center with eleven mills and a population of 5,759 and within the next twenty-five years became known as the "combined yarn capital" of the world. A bustling commercial district grew along the tracks of the Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line Railway. The commercial district of the city was located primarily on Main Avenue, where many surviving buildings were erected in the 1890s and early 1900s. The commercial district gained added importance with construction of the Gaston County Court House in 1910.

Two major additions to Main Avenue were the First National Bank and Third National Bank, the county's first and only skyscrapers, completed in 1917 and 1923. As the city grows, the question of how to integrate the architectural heritage of a small town into the needs of a city becomes an even greater challenge we must face. Gastonia lost a major portion of its early fabric with growth, placing an even greater significance on surviving structures. While growth is important, it need not be at the expense of our historic structures.

There are fifteen incorporated towns in Gaston County, ranging in size from the city of Gastonia to the village of Dellview. The incorporated/unincorporated population is approximately 54.4% to 46.6%, with 65% of the population living in an urban environment. In addition to fifteen incorporated towns and cities, there are several unincorporated communities such as Hardin, Lucia, Crowders Mountain, Sunnyside, Alexis, Tryon, and North Belmont.

Gastonia was granted a U.S. Post Office on October 24, 1873, and its first Postmaster was Franklin S. Hanna. It has been in continuous operations ever since inception.
Click Here to view several maps of the city of Gastonia provided by the State Highway Commission / DOT.

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