Photo credits: Top, Scott Lewis, print by Jim Brown, Cam Art Studios (circa 1955). Bottom, The County of Gaston: Two Centuries of A North Carolina Region by Robert F. Cope and Manly Wade Wellman, published by The Gaston County Historical Society, 1961.
If you are connected to dear old Uptown/Downtown Gastonia with your heart or head or both, you might have participated in the discussions that took place place regarding the city's Gastonia 2020 Comprehensive Plan.
Under "The Key Guiding Principles" section of the Executive Summary of the plan, it was stated that, "...the center city will become the primary location for new amenities within the city, featuring a variety of retail destinations, cultural and civic activities, and quality housing opportunities and will evolve into an energetic destination for our growing population."
The draft copy of the 2020 Plan plainly stated that the Garrison Boulevard main library facility was inadequate and needs replacement. It went on to say that the Union Road Branch receives some of the library system's heaviest use. It does not take a genius to deduce the next step. The Union Road Branch will be enlarged to become the main library, leaving the older parts of the city even more deprived of library services than they were in 1978 when the Garrison Boulevard building opened. This is standard suburban thinking, which goes contrary to recent efforts to revive the center city.
"A Plan for the Center City" portion of the 2020 Executive Summary stated that , "Without a strong and vital Center City, the City of Gastonia would be just another sprawling amorphous suburb of Charlotte."
The 1931 Gastonia Public Library building, used as the Gastonia Police headquarters since the library relocated to Garrison Boulevard in 1978, has sat vacant since the new Police headquarters opened on Long Avenue. What better reuse for a wonderful, memory-filled piece of Gastonia history than for its original purpose. Since much of current library use has shifted to technology and group meetings, the old Main Library could become a traditional book-filled location and a wonderfully appropriate setting for the North Carolina Room, which houses materials for historical research. (The old Number 1 Fire Station next door could even become a technology facility.)
This is an idea that makes sense!