Saturday, July 02, 2011

Visual ties to the past for the new Harris Teeter store in Plaza Midwood

The cropped photo at the top by the legendary Jeep Hunter shows the old Plaza movie theater on Central Avenue. It stood next to the First Union bank, now Wachovia, and in its place is a parking lot.

The next image is part of an architect’s rendering of the primary sign at the new Harris Teeter at Central Avenue and the Plaza.

The old photo is likely from about 1986. By that time, the theater was showing second-run movies at cheap prices, aimed at kids during the day and older audiences, let’s say, in the evenings. The strategy didn’t work too well.

Architects for the new Harris Teeter grocery store have used the similar marquee styling, and the main sign at the Teeter is one of the details that requires a rezoning exemption from pedestrian overlay classification. Art deco curving details are also part of the store’s exterior design, emphasizing the sometimes-hidden deco details of Plaza Midwood.

At a neighborhood meeting in June, those architects seemed to think the theater was torn down in the 1970s. I’m sharing here just to correct a bit of history and capture the visual details.

The photo comes from the on-site print archives at The Charlotte Observer. The photo is stamped, “Property of Knight Publishing Company.” Jeep Hunter, the photographer, was inducted into the N.C. Hall of Fame for his photojournalism in 2004. His work spans 60 years, and he is a two-time recipient of the prestigious "Southern Photographer of the Year” award, among others.

I believe much of his work is held by the University of North Carolina, and some is held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The uncropped old photo is here too.

(Intent is to further work on neighborhood design and to preserve some history. If anyone would like me to unpublish Jeep’s photo, please let me know.)

More background on the planned new Harris Teeter grocery store.