A Bit of History

In 1841, Cleveland County was carved from existing Lincoln and Rutherford counties and named for Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, Revolutionary War hero at the Battle of Kings Mountain. In 1842, the county seat was established and named Shelby, after another of the Battle's heroes, Colonel Isaac Shelby. James Love and William Forbes donated land for the city. Mr. Love had visited Washington, D.C., and was impressed with its design and wide streets. He encouraged the city planners to adapt the same ideas for the new county seat. Shelby's main streets are named for Revolutionary War heroes. Shelby was home to several important political leaders in the first half of the 20th century. A powerful group known as "The Shelby Dynasty" included brothers James and Edwin Yates Webb, Otis Mull, O. Max Gardner and Clyde R. Hoey. Gardner, elected in 1928, and Hoey, elected in 1936, served the state as governors. Cleveland County is also known for its musical heritage. It is the birthplace of country music legends Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson, whose grave is in Sunset Cemetery. The cemetery is also the resting place of literary legends, W. J. Cash and Thomas Dixon, Jr. The names of many of the community's leaders will also be found here. Two institutions of higher learning are located in Cleveland County-Gardner Webb University, a private four-year institution, and Cleveland Community College.

To get a copy of the Central Shelby Historic District Walking Guide, visit any of the following locations:

  • Uptown Shelby Association, 211 South Trade Street. Open 9 a.m - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday. (704) 484-3100
  • Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce, Corner of Lafayette and Warren Streets at The Square. Open 9 a.m - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday. (704) 487-8521
  • Cleveland County Arts Council, 111 South Washington Street. (704) 484-2787 

View the Central Shelby Historic District Walking Guide and Map