Discover the History of Mooresville, NC

The Town of Mooresville began taking shape in the mid to late 1800s when farmers and their families began moving into the area from neighboring towns, including Charlotte and Salisbury. In 1873, John F. Moore and five other men applied for a Town Charter. On March 3, 1873, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the charter for the incorporation of the Town of Mooresville, changing the name from The Village of Moore.

What started out as a small one-mile town has blossomed into a fast-growing and diverse community that offers families a place to live, work, and play. The railway that runs through Downtown Mooresville played a significant role in Mooresville’s growth from the start. Originally, it transported the large amount of cotton produced in Iredell County in the 1800s. An economic boom in the 1890s led to the Mooresville Cotton Mills, Lorne Cotton Seed Mill, Big Oak Rolling Mill, and the Mooresville Creamery. By the start of the 20th century, Mooresville was home to several more textile, sawmills, cotton gins, lumber yards, and a foundry.

In 1959, crews broke ground on Lake Norman, propelling Mooresville into a new phase of its history. It took four years to build and another two years to fill the lake itself. Lake Norman has changed the economic and recreational landscape for Mooresville over the last 60 years as wealthy people bought homes on the lake, businesses moved here, and people spent money in the Town after a day on the lake. Today, people can boat, participate in watersports, and fish on Lake Norman. Cowans Ford Dam, named after former Duke Power President Norman Cocke, serves as a peaking power plant for Duke Energy. The Dam along Lake Norman provides electricity when there’s high demand, such as hot summer days and cold winter nights.

In the 1990s, mills and other businesses began closing in Mooresville. Former Mayor Joe Knox and the Board of Commissioners began laying a new foundation as the old foundation of mills crumbled. They worked with Iredell County officials, State Representatives, and others to build Mazeppa Park, add a business district/ industrial park, and bring in NASCAR with tax incentives. If you take a lap around Mooresville, you’ll notice the large impact NASCAR has on the Town, dubbed Race City USA. It’s home to several NASCAR drivers and teams, Indycar drivers and teams, racing technology suppliers, and the NASCAR Technical Institute.

Growing from its mill town roots, Mooresville is home today to a wide array of businesses and corporations today, including Lowe’s, NGK Ceramics U.S.A., Corvid Technologies, and Randy Marion Automotive Group. Economic development partners work to keep the area an attractive place for innovative and international companies to call home, ensuring Mooresville is making history for years to come.

History Fast Facts

  • J.R. McNeely was appointed the first Mayor and M.M. Culp was appointed the first Town Clerk.
  • The first Town Board election was held on the first Monday in May 1873, at which time Isaac Harris became Mayor.
  • The Town limits were marked off in a one-mile radius from the Depot and James Kerr was hired to “lay off and make a plot of the place.”
  • The first two named streets were Public Road (now Main Street) and Main Cross Street (now Center Avenue).
  • The fire department began operating in 1885 with a small group of volunteer firemen and equipment purchased by the Town.
  • The police department was started in 1887 when the Town hired two policemen to patrol at night.
  • The first Town Hall was built around 1910.
  • Some of the earliest businesses include D.E. Turner Hardware, Templeton and Williams Ginnery, Lorne Cotton Seed Mill, Big Oak Rolling Mill (now Bay State Milling), Mooresville Cotton Mills, and Mooresville Creamery. Of these businesses, only D.E. Turner’s and Bay State Milling are still in operation.

Local History & Archives

Mooresville Public Library

Local History of Mooresville, NC 

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The Mooresville Museum

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1937 Mooresville

1940's Mooresville