Three publications from early versions of the Statesville Chamber of Commerce have now been made available for online viewing by the Iredell County Public Library. The library’s Flickr page contains these publications as well as the Stimson Photograph collection and is online at the library's Flickr page.
The first attempt to create a Chamber of Commerce in the Statesville area occurred in 1889 when J. P. Caldwell and J. L. Scales of the Richmond & Danville Railroad created an organization to compete with Mooresville for the Midlands Railroad and to calm rebellious farmers by promoting an agricultural fair. The main accomplishment of this early Chamber was the publication of the “Trade Edition of the Landmark.”
“The Trade Edition” was a special 24-page edition of “The Landmark” newspaper that was published on May 22, 1890. The publication gives an excellent picture of Statesville as it moved from a trading town to an industrial city. The “Trade Edition” was the first of what would later be called “Progress Editions” published by the Landmark. The paper it was printed on was of much better quality than what is used today and several copies of “The Trade” edition still exist in Iredell County.
This first attempt at a Chamber of Commerce soon dissolved, but in 1899 a second Chamber of Commerce was formed as the first furniture factories were being built. This attempt also soon disappeared, but in 1905 a third type of chamber began with the creation of a social club called “The Commercial Club.” In 1910 this club was taken over by local business interests who wanted to advertise Statesville as “The Best Town in North Carolina.” Statesville got the slogan from Captain Tom Rowland, the conductor on the A.T. & O railroad who would call out, “Statesville, the Best Town in North Carolina” as the train entered town.
In 1914 - 1915 “The Commercial Club” published two brochures to help promote Statesville. “Attractive Statesville” featured pictures by photographer T. W. Ellis and descriptions of the town showing Statesville as it looked at the turn of the century. The second brochure was called “Statesville: North Carolina Manufacturing Farming” and focused on the area’s manufacturing and farming development.
By 1920 The Commercial Club began to disappear as most of its social features were taken over by other organizations. A new Chamber of Commerce was organized to represent industry in Statesville. C. A. Hope, who had previous experience as the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce at Natchitoches, Louisiana, was hired to be the secretary. This Chamber was chartered by the state in 1927 after gaining tax support from the people in an election. This organization also faltered in the Great Depression, but by 1932 the Merchants Association, the American Legion, and other clubs of the day revived it and it continues to this day as the “Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce.”
The Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce is located at 121 N. Center Street, Suite 101, Statesville, NC 28677. Reach them by phone at 704-873-2892 or visit their web page at www.statesvillechamber.org.
The Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce is located at 149 E. Iredell Avenue, Mooresville, NC 28115. Reach them by phone at 704-664-3989 or visit their web page at www.mooresvillenc.org.
Since the library’s Flickr page went online in March it has had over 132,260 views. In addition to the online images, copies of “The Trade Edition,” “Attractive Statesville,” and “Statesville: Manufacturing Farming” are available for viewing in the Local History Department at the Iredell County Public Library in Statesville. For more information contact the library at 704-878-3093 or firstname.lastname@example.org.