Remembering Charlotte’s once-famous Double Door Inn

The Double Door Inn was open on Charlottetowne Avenue from 1973 until 2017.
The Double Door Inn was open on Charlottetowne Avenue from 1973 until 2017.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 7:45 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Personal passages connected to a converted old two-story house that for decades defined Charlotte’s music scene.

“The oldest Blues venue east of the Mississippi stripped to its bones. Would those bones be brought to life? No, they wouldn’t.”

Those are the written observations of author Stephen Copeland’s printed and spoken words which fuel a flurry of memories by chronicling the final years of the Double Door Inn in his new book titled “In The House of Rising Sound.”

“I got hooked on going to the place and every time we went to the place I felt like I experienced something that just moved me on an internal interior level,” Copeland said.

Engaging sounds emerged as the magnetic drawing card, and one of the regular performers was saxophonist Ziad Rabie.

“It was people from all walks of life. Corporate executives, people from the service industry,“ he said. “They were all unified under one roof for this musical experience that was authentic.”

10 years ago, in 2013 when the Double Door turned 40, owner Nick Karres offered us a tour down memory lane complete with publicity photos from artists who performed there.

Karres said, “There was a lot of folks. We had a lot of people in there. It’s hard to believe really.”

Flashbacks mounted on a wooden wall from past musicians illustrate an incredible soundscape, but one revered image lived in obscurity for quite some time.

First came the 1982 headline, then a portrait, and years later a snapshot emerged of the legendary Eric Clapton playing for one night only at 1218 Charlottetown Avenue.

“It put us on the map. People knew there was a Double Door somewhere,” Karres reflected.

Local photographer Daniel Coston cherishes his treasure trove of pictures from this place that Nick and his brother Marvin Karres opened in 1973.

46 years later, the music died at the Double Door in 2017.

Coston told WBTV, “These people were speaking to me and I was speaking to them through the camera and I hope those photos still speak to that.”

Uptown expansion of Central Piedmont Community College swallowed what started as an old house and evolved into a well-respected home for music.

Recalling a profound line from a Joni Mitchell song that says “They’ve paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Once known as paradise, the site of the old Double Door Inn now has a parking lot behind it.

During its heyday, Karres admits there was little downtime.

“We did entertainment a lot of times seven nights a week,” he said.” So we had something going on all the time.”

And Stephen Copeland’s assessment from such a cherished space lays the foundation for this parting shot from his book.

“There would be no renovation, no preservation, no museum, no historical monument, not even a humble headstone.”