Albemarle is the county seat of Stanly County, recently sharing the spotlight with the American Idol star, Kelly Pickler. Albemarle was formed in 1842 when the Hearne family donated their land and it was divided up into plots for the new town. Too many people only know of the Albemarle along 24/27, the Albemarle Road to Charlotte. Get off the beaten path and go downtown and you will find a pretty little town that seems to have made all the right planning choices. Their streets are wide with minimal traffic. There is plenty of parking and the shops that line the streets are locally owned.
Downtown is clean and offers everything from dress shops to music stores to a number of beautiful churches. The difference between what is developing along the main route of 24/27 and the main street of Albemarle is like night and day. The city fathers did the right thing when they kept all the strip malls and big box stores outside of town.
Following highway 73 west out of Albemarle, the town is in the process of building City Lake Park. Now, it only has picnic areas, fishing and paddle boat rentals. But a visit to this large green space shows areas being cleared for new development. On the other side of town, just off the Albemarle road on Highway 52 is Rock Creek Park. Here there is a large public swimming pool, tennis courts, picnic areas, skateboarding and running trails among the many features offered for the people of the area.
Stanly County formed in 1841 after being split from Montgomery County has an interesting history. In 1835, the Montgomery County courthouse burned and the two parties fought over where the location of the new courthouse should be. The North Carolina General Assembly settled the dispute, King David style, by splitting Montgomery County in two. This way, each party could put a courthouse in a location they choose.
The county was named after John Stanly of New Bern. However, Stanly never stepped foot in the county that was named after him. Although Stanly was a son of privilege and served as a Federalist U. S. Congressman, he shot and killed the NC Governor Richard Dobbs Spaight in North Carolina’s last legalized dual.
Yet, the history of the area goes back 10,000 years. Indian sites have been found and excavated in these parts. There are 175 prehistoric and historic archaeological sites in Stanly County, two sites, Colson’s Ordinary and Morrow Mountain have received grants. BTW, this is a view from the top of Morrow Mountain in the Uwharrie National Forest. There is camping, boating, fishing and trails available in the Uwharries, some of the oldest mountains in America, created from a chain of ancient volcanoes.
Hunters and gatherers roamed the area, following the herds of buffalo that traversed the region. At the top of Morrow Mountain in the Uwharrie National Forestoutcrops of rhyolite have been found which they used to make spear points.
With all this history and wide open spaces, Albemarle and Stanly County are interesting areas to explore. Offering a little something for everyone and within an hours drive to Charlotte, this area is growing exponentially!