the Bowers family has watched Charlotte undergo tremendous change since Harry Lee Bowers first started his textile business in 1946. Back then, South Boulevard was a small, two-lane road with no sidewalks but enough pasture for H.L Bowers Co. to keep a small herd of cows onsite. Cotton and other materials arrived by rail car, and the young Bowers boys could buy a ticket to the movies, fresh-squeezed OJ, popcorn, and deep fried peanuts for less than 50 cents.
Back then, Reuben Perry rode his cart and mule to his job at the mill from his Second Ward home. Walter Stevenson picked up the mail every morning at the main post office on Trade Street before cooking lunch every day in the company’s small kitchen because, back then, South End offered little in the way of dining.
Over the next twenty-five years, Harry Lee Bowers added four more buildings as his business expanded, and the young neighborhood grew alongside it. A half century later, South End has evolved into a vibrant community with much to offer. As one of Charlotte’s best-loved neighborhoods continues to grow up and out, the preservation and rehabilitation of Bowers provides it with a strong visual tie to its rich economic and cultural history.
southend may have traded rail cars for the light rail, but at bowers people can still grab a beer, grab a seat, and watch the trains go by.
there’s room in charlotte’s future
for some of its past.