A Drive Down Memory Lane in Mooresville
Are you in the mood to stroll through a quaint Southern town known for its remarkable architecture, friendly atmosphere and eclectic shops? If so, consider an excursion to downtown Mooresville, tucked between Davidson and Statesville, just shy of Lake Norman.
Mooresville traces its roots back more than 140 years, when it served as a depot for unloading cotton. Today, the town known as “Race City USA” offers a delightful mixture of historic storefronts, assorted boutiques and eateries, hand-painted murals, a one-of-a-kind hardware store, plus the N.C. Auto Racing Walk of Fame.
“Downtown Mooresville is the perfect place to discover Southern charm,” says Kim Atkins, executive director of the Mooresville Downtown Commission. “You can shop in a 116-year-old hardware store and purchase a cast-iron skillet, and oh-so much more. You can enjoy ice cream from Mooresville Ice Cream, which has been making ice cream in downtown Mooresville since the early 1920s. In addition, you can find the latest fashion trends, worldly menus, retro candy and gourmet olive oil, all highlighted by historical architecture and friendly service.”
The wide Main Street offers a blast from the past, complete with plenty of on-street parking – and don’t be surprised to see a few classic and exotic cars cruising past, from 1957 Chevys to the occasional Lamborghini. Grab a cup of joe from HEbrews, an old-school grilled cheese from Bob’s Grill, or a burger and soda from Whataburger, complete with that 1950s “sock-hop” ambiance.
History buffs won’t want to miss a trip to D.E. Turner Hardware Co., which remains largely unchanged since opening in 1899. Peer into the large, wide windows to truly go back in time.
Don’t miss the chance to meet owner Jack Moore, who has worked at the store since 1946, when he was just 15 years old. A true card and Southern gentleman to boot, you’ll be charmed after just a minute’s conversation with Moore.
“I’m the oldest person working on North Main Street,” says Moore, who has owned the hardware store for more than 35 years and works from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. “But I’m not old. I’m only 83.”
Moore loves visitors, but he jokes that, “the only way I stay in business is by selling things.” His wares include an intriguing collection of products, from White Mountain ice cream makers to Radio Flyer tricycles and Red Ryder BB guns.
While in town, consider a trip to Mooresville Arts, a nonprofit that operates out of the Depot at the corner of Main and Center. “Though not the original structure,” Atkins notes, “it is where Mooresville began and where the trains unloaded cotton.”
While in town, race fans can get a thrill from commemorative squares along the sidewalk, featuring many of NASCAR’s legends, including Lee and Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts, and Cale Yarborough. Any true racing fanatic must make a pit stop at Memory Lane Motor Museum.
For the young at heart, satisfy your sweet tooth with a trip to SugarPop’s Candy and Soda Shop, home to nearly 200 types of candy and a variety of sodas. The company also caters candy-themed parties, weddings and corporate events.
SugarPop’s owners Jennifer and Sean Colas celebrated their third anniversary last fall. Sean Colas says they opened the store in order to help families build happy memories. “We completely enjoy making friends at the shop,” he says.
Colas says downtown Mooresville offers a fun array of shopping experiences and was a no-brainer when the couple decided to open up a retail shop.
“We thought downtown Mooresville was a vibrant, growing community and wanted to a part of that,” he says. “Over the past three years, we have seen downtown Mooresville increase its offerings with great shopping and things to do throughout the year.”
Whether in town for a seasonal festival or concert, or simply to stroll along the picturesque Main Street, Mooresville offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of big-city life. One caveat: In keeping with the past, much of downtown Mooresville closes on Sundays, so check each business’ website for availability.
“Mooresville is a friendly town, where Southern hospitality truly shines,” Atkins says. “To visitors and residents alike, Mooresville’s historic charm provides a wonderful backdrop for our tapestry of locally owned boutiques and restaurants.”
– Karsen Price