This self-guided walking tour in Shelby spotlights historic structures dating back to the 1850s. Highlights include Webbley, a national historic landmark and house of O. Max Gardner; a 1907 Classic Revival courthouse which now houses the Earl Scruggs Center: Music & Stories from the American South; the Cleveland County Arts Council located in a 1916 Classical Revival Post Office; Mason Square, a 1923 Egyptian-Revival mixed use office and apartment complex; and Lafayette Place, a commercial historic tax credit project. Start and end on Uptown Shelby’s picturesque Court Square.
For an extended tour, the last stops in this tour are “Beyond the Square”. These are recommended as sites to drive or cycle to. These include: Shelby City Park Carrousel and Rotary Train, Sunset Cemetery, The Banker’s House, Clyde R. Hoey House, McBrayer House, El Nido and The Blanton House.
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.