The first home (and namesake) of Docklands was a giant brick warehouse complex in NoDa Charlotte,NC. The General Fire Extinguisher Company built a huge brick factory the 1900's to support the three North Charlotte textile mills. More buildings followed as the New England Waste Company (Newco) took over to recycle and ship cotton fibers by train. The warehouses and factory were mostly abandoned until the 1990's when NoDa's artist community started to move in.
By the end of it's life, our group of artists, musicians, crafters, tinkerers, hackers, freaks and geeks were calling the derelict warehouses Docklands. Named after the courtyard and loading docks in the center of the U-shaped warehouses where everyone would throw parties, the forgone building had no heat or facilities, very limited power and safety, but incubated a creative wave.
The original two story building ran along 36th Street. The buildings were always cold and dark. Great brick arches and steel fire doors were bricked up turning the belly of the complex into a windowless bunker last housing the Charlotte Roller Girls. The payroll office crumbled in the middle of the U, taking with it the story of a century of workers, and the historic markings of everything from segregated bathrooms to the community picnic tables.
We knew our building would eventually be demolished to make way for an extension of Charlotte's Light Rail. Crescent Developers, Vignette Design, and Greystar Communities have done a great job of acknowledging the past, and covering the new buildings with murals, art, and this series of Historic/Archival photos from Docklands past. New residents at Novel NoDa receive one of these photos in a frame, ready to hang in their new apartment. There is a permanent installation wall in the complex to remind people that we are all on a journey together.