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The History of Belmont

Settlement in the Belmont area began around the colonial-era Fort at the Point, built in the 1750s by Dutch settler James Kuykendall and others near the junction of the South Fork and Catawba Rivers. The fort was built because of ongoing hostilities with the Cherokee, but it was apparently never attacked.

The South Point Community, located about 2½ miles south of present-day downtown Belmont, was the site of Stowesville Mill. Founded by Jasper Stowe and Associates in 1853, it was one of the first three cotton mills in operation in Gaston County.

Abram Stowe (1842–1897) returned to the area after serving in the Civil War. He built a Greek Revival home (still the oldest known structure in Belmont) and opened a small mercantile store. He later became postmaster and town depot agent for the new Atlanta and Richmond Air Line Railway, which was constructed in 1871. Additional stores were soon built near the community's railroad stop, Garibaldi Station. The station was named for John Garibaldi, who had supervised construction of a water tank near the new railroad. Existing settlers in the South Point community moved north to be closer to the railroad.

In 1872, Father Jeremiah O'Connell, a Roman Catholic missionary priest, purchased a 500-acre (2.0 km2) tract known as the Caldwell farm, less than one mile (1.6 km) north of Garibaldi Station. The land was then donated to the Benedictine Monks of Saint Vincent's Arch-abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for the establishment of a religious community and school. Belmont Abbey, officially named "Mary Help of Christians Abbey," was founded in 1876 by Bishop Leo Haid, and still functions today. The Abbey operates Belmont Abbey College, a liberal-arts college. Bishop Haid is said to have been the one who suggested changing the name of the town to Belmont.

In 1883, the name of Garibaldi Station was formally changed to Belmont. In 1895, by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly, an area within a 1/4 mile radius from the intersection of Main Street and the railroad was incorporated as the Town of Belmont.

In 1887, the Sisters of Mercy established a convent and school for girls nearby. Belmont Abbey College (formerly St. Mary's College) now maintains an active enrollment of over 1500 students with both traditional and nontraditional courses in the liberal arts and humanities. Sacred Heart College (formerly, Sisters of Mercy girl's college) closed in 1984 and reopened in 1994 as the Gaston Christian Middle and High School. The remainder of the Sisters of Mercy campus has been dedicated to Holy Angels, a nonprofit health care facility which includes an Aids Hospice, P.U.S.H. and Catherine's House, a facility for homeless mothers.

Belmont was still a small town at the turn of the century, with a population of only 145. The organization of Chronicle Mills in 1901 marked the beginning of Belmont's development as a textile center. It was founded by Robert Lee Stowe Sr. (1866–1963), his brother Samuel Pinckney Stowe (1868–1956), and Abel Caleb Lineberger (1859–1948, son of Caleb John Lineberger, who had founded Gaston County's second textile mill, the Woodlawn, or "Pinhook," Mill in Lowell, North Carolina in 1852). Chronicle was the first of the nearly twenty mills built in Belmont through 1930, expanding the town population to 3,793.

Generally credited with the birth of the textile industry in Belmont, Robert Lee Stowe Sr. was involved in all aspects of the town's development for over a half-century. Stowe (1866-1963) was born in Southpoint Township, eldest child of Charles T. Stowe. In 1899, he and his brother-in-law W.B. Puett opened a mercantile store in Belmont. When Puett withdrew from the business, Samuel Pinckney Stowe (1868-1956) joined his older brother to form Stowe Brothers. Known as the Stowe Mercantile Company, the store continues to stand on Main Street in its second location, which was constructed in 1904.

Abel Caleb Lineberger (1859-1948) was born near Lowell, North Carolina. His father, Caleb John Lineberger, was the founder in 1852 of Gaston County's second textile mill, the Woodlawn, or "Pinhook" Mill. A.C. Lineberger gained experience in the textile business first with his father's company, then with the Tuckaseegee Manufacturing Company near Mount Holly. When R.L. and S.P. Stowe asked Lineberger to join them shortly after the organization of Chronicle Mills, a long and successful partnership was formed.

The architecture of Belmont reflects both the growth of this empire and the success of its leaders. The Bank of Belmont, organized by R.L. Stowe in 1906, was housed originally in the Belmont Hotel, as was the office of R.L. Stowe.

Mills and mill villages extend east of the commercial district. Chronicle Mill is nearest to the center of town. Its mill village homes laid out on a grid are representative of mill housing at the turn of the century. In contrast to the earlier grid of houses extending away from the mill, villages of the Sterling Spinning Company, built about 1919, were comprised of hip-roofed, engaged-porch houses built on two streets curving around the mill.

The homes of Belmont's textiles and business leaders were built for the most part on or near North Main Street, north and west of the center of town. Shaded by large trees, North Main Street is lined with large houses reflecting the variety of styles popular between 1910 and 1930. The two houses of A.C. Lineberger--built ca. 1909 and 1919-1921 illustrate the economic success of Belmont's industry.

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Education in the Belmont Area

Education in the Belmont area is of prime importance to the citizens of Belmont.  Below is listed some of the schools that a child in the Town of Belmont may be assigned and their school reports, for private schools click here.  The first link is to the school's website and the second is to the school report card.



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