Travel Guide: Shelby, North Carolina

Does the town of Shelby, North Carolina, feature the greenest courthouse square in the Carolina Piedmont?  

I’m thinking Yes!  

To be precise, the old Cleveland County courthouse is a 1906 Beaux Arts gem . . . surrounded by green expansive lawns on all four sides.  And true, it helps that the building no longer serves as the courthouse . . . so less traffic (and fewer serious or scowling countenances).  Beyond the lawns of the old courthouse are towering trees, right on the square; and tree-lined streets radiating out from the square itself.  The “green effect” makes Shelby one of the most attractive (and explorer-friendly) small cities in the Carolinas.

Today’s make-over of the old courthouse celebrates one of Cleveland County’s favorite and most musical sons:  Earl Scruggs — legendary banjo meister.  The site is officially called the Earl Scruggs Center:  Music and Stories from the American South. 


A Day Out in Shelby

Shelby strikes gold as an off-the-beaten-path gem of a small city.  And that’s due to the realities of the map.  When Interstate 85 grew into the artery (and snarl) that it has become, connecting Charlotte to Atlanta, and putting Greenville and Spartanburg more on the map . . . it routed traffic away from US 74, connecting Gastonia to Asheville.  Shelby lies directly on that route.  So while the city of Shelby is important as a regional medical center, manufacturing center, and county seat . . . it lies beyond Charlotte’s and Greenville’s long shadows.  And thrives in its calm, cool, and collected persona!

Take a look at our March Explorer’s map . . . and get thee to Shelby!  There is the unique Earl Scruggs Center:  Listen to music; learn the stories of southern musicians and their roots; enjoy features about other area musicians (the current exhibit, lasting through Labor Day, spotlights the Avett Brothers) . . . and let the pleasant “green” vibe of the courthouse square and radiating streets take you away.  Restaurants, a wine shop, antiques, and specialty boutiques.  What’s not to love?!  Away from the square, you can drive one of several historic neighborhoods, like the West Warren Street Historic District (near Clegg and Graham Streets, indicated on your map). 


If you just click on a dot (on the map) or the name of a place (side of the map or “legend”), you’ll get the website, street address, and telephone number of the place.  Remember, quirky hours abound – so give a call before you venture out.