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For the county of the same name, see Davidson County, North Carolina.
Davidson, North Carolina
Main Street
Main Street
"College Town. Lake Town. Your Town."
Location of Davidson, North Carolina
Location of Davidson, North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°29′28″N 80°49′58″W / 35.49111°N 80.83278°W / 35.49111; -80.83278Coordinates: 35°29′28″N 80°49′58″W / 35.49111°N 80.83278°W / 35.49111; -80.83278
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
 • Total6.0 sq mi (15.5 km2)
 • Land5.8 sq mi (14.9 km2)
 • Water0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)
840 ft (256 m)
 • Total10,944
 • Estimate 

Davidson is a town on Lake Norman in northern Mecklenburg County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population was 10,944 at the 2010 census,[4] and in 2016 the estimated population was 12,452.[1] The town was founded in 1837 with the establishment of the Presbyterian Davidson College, named for Brigadier General William Lee Davidson, a local Revolutionary War hero. The land for Davidson College came from Davidson's estate, a large portion of which was donated by his son.


John Davidson, described as "a prosperous Ulster merchant", was a member of the Davidson family who migrated south from Pennsylvania. Davidson's Creek was the westernmost settlement in North Carolina at the time, and according to Robert Ramsey's Carolina Cradle, it "became the nucleus of the Centre Presbyterian Congregation.”[5] John Davidson's son William went on to serve in the American Revolution, eventually becoming a major.[5] Maj. William Davidson was a cousin of Col. William Davidson, the first state senator from Buncombe County, North Carolina, who in turn was a cousin of Gen. William Lee Davidson, for whom Davidson College was named.[6] Gen. Davidson's son William Lee Davidson II sold 469 acres (1.90 km2) to the Concord Presbytery to start Davidson College.[7]

The history of the town of Davidson is inextricably linked to Davidson College, which predated the surrounding community and influenced its development. Although Davidson's growth in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries typified small railroad towns throughout the Piedmont, the presence of the college created a unique village. The tree-shaded campus filled with classically inspired architecture distinguished Davidson from other communities. The sway of the school also extended beyond the campus to the entire town, influencing commerce, culture, and the character of its architecture. The 1869 Branson's business directory recorded four dry goods merchants in the town as well as a cabinetmaker, a miller, and three physicians.

Soon after the arrival of the railroad, Davidson became a shipping point for cash crops, especially cotton, and a service center for farmers. In common with other railroad towns in the region, textile investors constructed cotton mills and mill villages along the rail corridor. The Linden Cotton Factory, erected in 1890 on Depot Street, was the first textile plant in Davidson, and in 1908, the Delburg Cotton Mills was constructed nearby. Two thousand bales of cotton were sold at Davidson annually in the early 1900s.

In 1891, the name of the town was changed from "Davidson College" to "Davidson", emblematic of the community's expanding roles for town and gown alike. Davidson's cotton mills spurred the growth of the town, and by 1910 the population of Davidson had reached 500 residents, climbing to 1,500 by the 1920s. Between 1900 and the Great Depression, the business district evolved from a commingling of stores and residences into contiguous rows of one- and two-story, brick commercial buildings. The heart of downtown – opposite the college – contained a full complement of small-town stores and services, including four general merchandise stores, a drug store, a laundry, tailor shop, two barber shops, a hardware store, a post office, a bank, and several restaurants. Physicians, building contractors, and milliners also had Main Street addresses. Behind Main Street along the railroad tracks stood the small 1897 Southern Railway Depot, a livery, flour mill, sawmill, cotton gins, a cottonseed oil company, a blacksmith shop, and a buggy manufacturer.

The demise of cotton farming and decline of other agricultural pursuits in the region effectively ended the town's role as a farming service center. Meanwhile, improved highways and the advent of I-77 encouraged residents to frequent larger department stores in the cities, especially Charlotte, 22 miles (35 km) to the south. In more recent years, the emergence of suburban shopping centers around Davidson accelerated the town's status to an all-purpose retail market.

Today, the tremendous development around Charlotte has stimulated Davidson's growth to its current population of more than 10,000 people. Local downtown businesses, now characterized by restaurants and specialty shops, cater to this new market. Prestigious, nationally known Davidson College has made the town an intellectual and cultural center, drawing into its orbit a sizable professional class.

Beginning with the General Plan in 1993, continuing through the Land Plan of 1995 and the Planning Ordinance of 2001, the town has advocated for and implemented smart growth principles, including pedestrian orientation (resulting in a ban on drive-thru's), mixed-use development, affordable housing, open space preservation, and connectivity. An emphasis on design has been a consistent theme in each resulting regulatory document. Additionally, the town of Davidson received National Register Historic District status in 2009 for the historic core of the town, which includes downtown.



A view of Lake Norman in the spring

Davidson is located in the Piedmont of North Carolina at 35°29′28″N 80°49′58″W / 35.49111°N 80.83278°W / 35.49111; -80.83278, in northern Mecklenburg County, north of Charlotte.[8] A portion of the town extends north into Iredell County. The western edge of the town follows the shoreline of Lake Norman, a large reservoir on the Catawba River. Davidson is bordered to the south by the town of Cornelius.

Interstate 77 passes through the west side of Davidson, with access from Exit 30. I-77 leads south 21 miles (34 km) to Charlotte and north the same distance to Statesville. North Carolina Highway 115 is Davidson's Main Street; it leads north 7 miles (11 km) to Mooresville and south 6 miles (10 km) to Huntersville.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 6.0 square miles (15.5 km2), of which 5.8 square miles (14.9 km2) are land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km2), or 4.12%, are water.[4]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
Est. 201612,452[1]13.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

According to the 2010 census,[10] there are 10,944 people and 4,253 housing units in the town. The racial makeup of the town is 87.8% White, 6.4% African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 3.8% Hispanic or Latino and 1.7% from two or more races.

There are approximately 2,429 family households out of which 34.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.3% are married couples living together, 7.3% have a female householder with no husband present, 2.6% have a male householder with no wife present, and 33.8% are non-families. 26.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.4 and the average family size is 3.11.

In the town, the population is spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 14.9% from 20 to 29, 21.9% from 35 to 49, 16.2% from 50 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35.7 years. 47.5% of the population is male and 52.5% is female.

The median household income is $83,730, and the median income for a family was $124,045. Males who work full-time and year-round have a median income of $93,833 versus $56,178 for females. The per capita income for the town is $49,065. About 4.8% of families and 6.4% of the population are below the poverty line, including 6.5% of those under age 18 and 3.9% of those age 65 or over.


File:Chambers Building, Davidson College (Davidson, North Carolina).jpg

Chambers Building at Davidson College

Public schools

The residents of Davidson attend the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Elementary schools include Davidson Elementary. Following the shutdown of Davidson IBMYP Middle School in 2011, there currently is no middle school located in Davidson; middle schoolers attend Bailey Middle School in the neighboring town of Cornelius. However, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have proposed expanding nearby Davidson Elementary to a K-8 school. High school students attend William A. Hough High School, also in Cornelius.

Private schools

File:Davidson Public Library.jpg

Davidson Public Library

Charter schools

  • Community School of Davidson

Colleges and universities

Davidson is home to Davidson College, a highly selective liberal arts college located in the heart of town on Main Street. Davidson College has been ranked the third most rigorous school in the United States[citation needed], the top school in the South,[11] is consistently ranked in the top ten best liberal arts colleges in the country, and has graduated 23 Rhodes scholars. Some notable attendees of the college are Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, George Osborne, former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, and current NBA player Stephen Curry.


Davidson is served by a branch of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.[12] The library is located on the Green in Davidson.

Notable residents

See also: List of notable Davidson College alumni

  • John Candelaria, former Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Hayes Grier, Vine personality
  • Nash Grier, Vine personality
  • Will Grier, West Virginia University quarterback
  • Alan Gustafson, NASCAR crew chief
  • Herb Jackson, professor of art at Davidson College
  • Steph Curry, basketball player for Davidson

Notable former residents:

  • William Lee Davidson, a North Carolina militia general during the Revolutionary War and namesake of Davidson College and town
  • Thomas W. Ross, former president of Davidson College and current president of the University of North Carolina system
  • Josef Newgarden, IndyCar driver

Points of interest

Awards and recognitions

  • Fannie Mae Foundation Maxwell Award: to the Davidson Housing Coalition for the Bungalows (2001)<[13]
  • North Carolina Housing Finance Agency Multi-Family Housing Award: for the Bungalows (2001)[14]
  • National Environmental Protection Agency Smart Growth Award for Overall Excellence in Town Planning and Design (2004)[15]
  • Exit 30 Master Plan - Marvin Collins Outstanding Planning Award for Smart Growth (2004)
  • Centralina Council of Government Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life: Best Practices Award for Davidson's Aging in Place Task Force (2006)[16]
  • North Carolina League of Municipalities Green Challenge: Level One Award (2008)[17]
  • Recognition as a National Historic District (2009)[18]
  • North Carolina Main Street Community (2009)[19]
  • Tree City USA (2010)[20]
  • Bike Friendly Community - Bronze (2010)[21]
  • Davidson Police Department - Accreditation by Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) (2011)[22]
  • Comprehensive Plan - North Carolina American Planning Association (NCAPA) Planning Award - Honorable Mention (2011)[23]
  • Affordable Housing - NCAPA Planning Award (2011)[23]
  • Circles at 30 - NCAPA Planning Award (2011)[23]
  • Fit Community - Bronze (2011-2014)[24]
  • Walk Friendly Community - Bronze (2011)[25]
  • Great Main Street Award, North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (2013)[26]
  • North Carolina Land Trust Government Conservation Partner of the Year Award (2014)[27]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  2. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001): Davidson town, North Carolina". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Neufeld, Rob (November 4, 2018). "Visiting Our Past: Attacks on Cherokee part of corn and grist mill history". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  6. "William Davidson Confusion Continues". November 17, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  7. "Welcome to the Davidson Historical Society". Davidson Historical Society. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  8. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  9. "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  10. "UNITED STATES QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  11. "Top 25 Best Southern Colleges 2014". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  12. "Davidson branch of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County". Retrieved 2008-10-25.
  13. "Fannie Mae Foundation Honors Six Nonprofit Agencies With 'Maxwell Award of Excellence'". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  14. "Press | North Carolina Housing Finance Agency". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  15. "Smart Growth | US EPA". 2016-11-06. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  16. "Charlotte_report_final.indd" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  17. "The NCLM Green Challenge - North Carolina League of Municipalities". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-26. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-27. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  20. "Tree Cities". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  21. "Current Bicycle Friendly Communities -- May 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  22. "CALEA Recognizes 64 Public Safety Agencies at its Summer Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio | CALEA®". 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-25. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  24. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-26. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  25. "WFC - Communities Across the Country Earn "Walk Friendly" Status". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-27. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  27. "North Carolina’s Local Land Trusts Present Annual Awards to Conservation Leaders - Conservation Trust for North Carolina". 2014-04-28. Retrieved 2016-11-24.

External links

Portal icon North Carolina portal

Template:Charlotte/Metrolina Template:Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Template:Iredell County, North Carolina