Excelsior Club may soon face date with destiny

Time running out for Charlotte's Excelsior Club

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - For more than a half century, the aging white two-story building at 921 Beatties Ford Road has been a place responsible for memories.

Withering on the vine perhaps describes the status of Charlotte’s once well-revered Excelsior Club.

Dr.Dan Morrill heads up the commission that preserves historic locales, and he showed up with camera in-hand months ago after learning changes were on the way.

“There’s been a certificate of appropriateness issued by the historic landmarks commission,” Morrill said.” That will allow the owner to tear down the building on or after June 12, 2019.”

Charlotte attorney James Ferguson was the Excelsior’s last proprietor.

The popular night club’s downfall resulted from a spiral of unfortunate mishaps stemming from foreclosure to delinquent back taxes and a litany of building code violations.

Those pressures left Ferguson little choice but to pull the plug.

“The challenges of renovation and upgrading proved to be too great for the resources available to us,” Ferguson said at a press conference several months ago.

In its heyday, the club was a showcase for live entertainment and political conversations initiated by its founder Jimmy McKee, but the properties current owner state representative Carla Cunningham who inherited the land and rights to the business from her late husband Pete Cunningham decided many months ago it was time to stop the financial bleeding.

“For the best interest of my family and the community, I felt it was time to proceed with the judicial system,” Cunningham told WBTV.

The once popular destination found its place in annual editions of the much-heralded Negro motorist guide to travel guide known as the Green Book.

The renown gathering spot that opened in 1944 appeared to be on track to celebrate its 75th anniversary before the end of 2019, but the doors have been closed for the last two years.

Meanwhile, experts who study historic sites contend there is no middle ground in saving this location that contributed to this community’s diverse tapestry.

Morrill said, “Unless a preservation solution is found. The building will be destroyed.”

Several closed door meetings have been held regarding the buildings future, and sources tell WBTV that offers have been made on the property.

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