While Tom and I were in South Carolina, we spent some time in Shelby, North Carolina. We went to church in Shelby every Sunday at Aldersgate United Methodist and our favorite restaurant, Fatz Cafe, was in Shelby. Shelby had the closest Walmart, and we divided our shopping between Shelby and Kings Mountain.
Shelby, North Carolina, is an unpretentious city as noted by its motto: City of Pleasant Living. I love that! No claims to perfection or any superlatives. Shelby doesn’t even claim to be the pleasantest city in North Carolina. Whenever I read the motto, I envision Shelby as a nice place to raise a family, a place people can be happy if they chose to be, a place to have a pleasant life.
Shelby was founded in 1841 as the county seat of Cleveland County, a county that has never lost its agricultural roots. The town was named after the Overmountain leader, Isaac Shelby, who fought at the battle of Kings Mountain. Cleveland County was named after another one of the leaders at the battle of Kings Mountain. Of course, most things in this area of North and South Carolina are named after someone who fought at the battle of Kings Mountain.
Shelby, North Carolina, has a lovely historic downtown area. There are restaurants and interesting one-of-a-kind shops. The County Courthouse, built in 1907, became a museum in 1974 and then the Earl Scruggs Center in 2012. The Courthouse dominates the town square with four large churches clustered around it: Presbyterian, Baptist, United Methodist, and Episcopalian. Many of the downtown buildings are on the national register of historic places.
Shelby was untouched by Civil War battles, aside from the local boys who fought to support the Confederacy, but it was a rural county seat until the 1920’s when a cotton boom established Cleveland County as the largest cotton producer in North Carolina. Several mills were built in Shelby and people could earn a good living here.
Today Shelby has 20,000 people, a good school system, a carousel, fairgrounds, lovely residential neighborhoods and everything you want in a city. It has the biggest hospital between Asheville and Charlotte. Shelby has every kind of store you want to visit, a movie theater, a lively arts community, and plenty of parks. All of this with a view of the Smoky Mountains in the distance.
If Tom and I were to settle in North Carolina, we wouldn’t stay in Asheville or along the coast: too many tourists. We wouldn’t live in Charlotte: too big with too many people. We would live in the City of Pleasant Living – Shelby, North Carolina.