Monroe is a planned city built to serve as the county seat of Union County in North Carolina. The city was named after the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe. After 177 years, it remains as the center of trade and governance for the whole county, like how it used to be back in the day.
As a dental provider in Monroe, Dr. Roy Jennings Dentistry has built great relationships within the Monroe community. As the city continues to grow, we would like to share the humble beginnings of Monroe, its contribution to the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and its part in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill metropolitan area.
As soon as the North Carolina General Assembly decided to build Monroe in 1843, it was immediately registered as a city on December 24, 1844. Union County was formed from parts of Anson and Mecklenburg county. The name Union is used as a compromise between the conflicting suggested names of the county members such as Whigs, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson.
As the center for local governance, the city also became the center for trade for regional agricultural produce. Many farmers and merchants traded their produce for manufactured products. Back then, tobacco was among the cultivated crops in the Piedmont region that helped increase the local commerce in the area.
With the transportation development of the Carolina Central Railway across the state, the population in Monroe exponentially increased. New settlers came to the city like the railroad workers known as the Railway Men. Merchants also started to flock like the Knights of the Grip, who were the sales agents traveling from north to south of North Carolina.
Civil rights leader Robert F. Williams marked Monroe in US history as one of the focal points of the civil rights movement. He was the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Monroe that helped end the exclusion of the black community in public libraries and swimming pools in the 1960s.
Robert Williams and Conrad Lynn also helped defend two black adolescents that were involved in the Kissing Case that reached national attention in 1961. The local NAACP and the black community also aided the Freedom Riders in their advocacy to end the segregation of the black community when riding the interstate buses.
Today, Monroe thrives as the hub for industrial, aerospace, and commercial development in Union County. The agricultural trade is now blended with the high-tech manufacturing industry of the modern-day Monroe. With the new developments in the city, it’s now part of the fast-growing Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC Metropolitan area.
The downtown Monroe that most residents grew up in is also being redeveloped. In line with the government’s revitalization project, the Monroe Theatre is in the works for renovation. The new Monroe Science Center is also another project that will open to the public early next year and is expected to open new fun things to do in Monroe for kids and families alike.
A hundred years have passed, but Monroe remains one of the focal points of commerce near Charlotte. With the new projects coming to its downtown, the fun memories of the old downtown will surely add up to the charm of the newly developed city.