Monroe City Hall is located at 300 West Cromwell Street, Monroe, NC 28112; phone: 704-282-4500.
Prior to Christmas Eve, 1842, the day the state chartered the City of Monroe, the approximately 10,000 people living a mostly agrarian existence in what is today known as Union County coped with long routes of travel to Charlotte or Wadesboro for the needs of the farm, family, and even legal matters of the day. Barely a year later, a log courthouse was erected near the center of a 75-acre parcel that the new county purchased for $1 an acre. Although there were structures that had previously been constructed in what we now know as downtown Monroe, it was the small, humble log courthouse that made the new city a destination point for citizens in the new Union County. In 1849 the community replaced the log courthouse with new brick construction. It served as both court and jail until the city purchased the building in 1892. For almost the next 80 years, the building served as Monroe's City Hall.†
Like every community in the American South, Monroe's fortune declined during the war years of 1861 to 1865. The cotton economy was forever changed by the Civil War, when large-scale production possible due to slave labor ended, and the post-war years gave way to tenant farming on much smaller parcels of land. Several tanneries, buggy factories and a shoe factory were among the commercial operations that served customers from establishments in downtown Monroe.†† For the overwhelming majority of the citizens in Monroe and Union County, farming was the only real option to feed and clothe their families.
That began to change in 1874 when the railroad came to Monroe. Instantly, the city gained access to new markets for agricultural and other commercial products. So too, did outside sales and marketing concerns have access to Monroe. A new era of prosperity began, and during the decade between 1870 and 1880, the population of Monroe nearly tripled to 1,300 people.††† The first bank in town, the People's Bank of Monroe, was founded the same year as the railroad arrived. In 1887, construction of the Georgia, Carolina & Northern Railway was underway. Completed five years later in 1892, it connected Atlanta with important markets up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States. The railroad's course was the second rail connection through Monroe, and significantly increased the number of salesmen and visitors who passed through Union County.
† Virginia A.S.K. Bjorlin, Looking Back at Monroe's History, Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, MO, 1995, pp. 5-6.
†† Virginia A.S.K. Bjorlin, Looking Back at Monroe's History, Walsworth Publishing Company, Marceline, MO, 1995, p. 19
††† Ibid, p. 25.