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Matthews Town

Matthews Town Hall is located at 232 Matthews Station Street, Matthews, NC 28105; phone: 704-847-4411.

Beginnings [†]

The origins of the area that became the Matthews can be traced to 1874 when the Central Carolina Railroad Company completed its east-west line from Wilmington to Charlotte. Approximately halfway between Monroe and Charlotte, the railroad erected a depot near a post office and stagecoach stop known as Fullwood's Store for its operator, John M. Fullwood. The railroad stop quickly became the focal point of economic activity in eastern Mecklenburg County, and in 1875 the settlement around the depot and store was renamed "Matthews" in honor of Watson Matthews, a member of the railroad's Board of Directors. The depot attracted merchants and other businessmen who established enterprises in the immediate vicinity, primarily south of the tracks. Here, area farmers could obtain supplies and merchandise, both for their own use and to stock country stores that served hired farm hands. Annual business activity peaked in the fall when cotton, the region's principal cash crop, was sold and prepared for shipment to distant markets. The fact that the depot soon became a stop for five passenger and eight freight trains daily attested to Matthews's economic importance. When the Town of Matthews was incorporated in 1879, the settlement had grown to approximately 200 residents. [1]

One of the most successful businessmen to establish himself near the depot in the town's early years was Ellison James Funderburk (1836-1916), who migrated soon after the end of the Civil War from South Carolina to eastern Mecklenburg County where he became a prosperous farmer. Funderburk purchased his first parcel of land in Matthews in 1878 and in the 1890s was joined by three of his five sons — Benjamin DeWitt Funderburk, Thomas Lee Funderburk, and Ellison Albertus Morgan Funderburk. By the turn of the century the Funderburks operated a complex of enterprises concentrated in brick buildings on the west side of the 100 block of North Trade Street, including a blacksmith shop and grist mill in a building facing an alley and a general merchandise store at 159 North Trade. A cotton gin stood just north of the tracks. The younger generation expanded their interests beginning with construction around 1901 of a livery stable immediately south of the Matthews Commercial Historic District and the dry goods store building at 157 North Trade Street. The latter project was undertaken by Benjamin DeWitt Funderburk, who had acquired his father's general merchandise store at 159 North Trade Street in 1898. He worked closely with his brother Thomas in establishing new enterprises, including the Bank of Matthews and a second dry goods store for which a two-story brick building was erected in 1909, also immediately south of the commercial historic district.[2] The third brother, Ellison Albertus Morgan Funderburk, was a cashier at the Bank of Matthews until his death in 1937.[3]


  1. Dan L. Morrill, historical sketch prepared 22 February 1978 and subsequently incorporated in "Survey and Research Report of Funderburk Brothers Buildings," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, 1991, p. 3. The account of the Funderburk family's enterprises also is based upon this report.
  2. A fire in 1918 destroyed most of the livery stable and another fire in 1958 destroyed the second story of the 1909 bank and dry goods store building. In 1978, Branch Banking and Trust Company, which had recently acquired the Bank of Matthews, razed the remainder of the two buildings in order to build a new bank on the site. The cotton gin had been removed at an earlier, undetermined date.
  3. Of the three brothers, Benjamin DeWitt Funderburk is cited in the Charlotte-Mecklanburg Historic Landmarks Commission's survey and research report on the Funderburk Brothers buildings as the most prominent, having remained a member of the Bank of Matthews board of directors from 1909 until his death in 1954 and having been widely known for his three terms of service (1909-13, 1915-27, and 1935-49) on the Mecklenburg County Board of Education.

† Claudia R. Brown, North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office and Richard L. Mattson, Mattson, Alexander & Associates, Matthews Commercial Historic District, Mecklenburg County, NC, nomination document, 1996, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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