Welcome to this guide to living in Matthews NC. Here you'll find 11 things you can do in this quaint small town.
The focal point of Matthews is its historic downtown where a number of turn-of-the-century buildings have been preserved and are now occupied by quaint shops, restaurants and offices. Ten of these buildings were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Everyone living in Matthews NC loves a casual walking tour of this unique area where you can explore an old-time hardware store, a history museum, unique shops and a variety of restaurants.
Matthews displays its early beginnings in the renovated train station and caboose adjacent to the Town Hall. The town began in the early 1800s as a small village surrounded by a farming community. It was first named Stumptown for all the stumps left by farmers clearing the fields. Later it was called Fullwood after the first postmaster who established a post office and Pony Express office in the village. In 1874, the railroad came through the town and the train station was built. The town's name changed again to Matthews in honor of one of the railroad directors.
The Matthews Town Hall is a two-story colonial building in the heart of downtown. A gem of a library is found on the first floor of this building. The beautiful Craftsman style interior of the library makes you want to linger awhile. A beautiful fireplace enhances cozy seating for reading. Handsome craftsman style columns separate the book stacks. A train, the centerpiece of the children's department, harkens back to earlier days in Matthews.
History is important in Matthews. A dedicated group of volunteers has worked for many years to preserve historic buildings in the quaint downtown. In 2013, the Matthews Heritage Museum opened in the restored Massey-Clark house downtown. This museum explores town life from the 1800s into the 1940s. Whether you are a town resident or a newcomer, the museum is a great place to learn about the early days of the town.
Is your mouth watering for a home-grown tomato? Or locally grown vegetables? The Matthews Farmers Market is a popular Saturday morning destination in downtown Matthews. It is open every Saturday spring through fall and every other Saturday in the winter. Established in 1991, the market offers produce from farmers and other vendors with 50 miles of the town.
There's more to enjoy at the farmers market than fresh produce. Chefs from local restaurants offer cooking demonstrations each Saturday. You’ll also enjoy local musicians and special events. In the early spring, the market hosts a cookbook exchange. When the tomatoes are ripe, you can sample the offerings of various farmers and choose your favorite. There's always something new at the market.
Outdoor activities are very much a part of living in Matthews NC. The town is a Certified Wildlife Habitat, a certification earned by only a few North Carolina towns. The certification campaign was called Matthews Naturally . Points were earned by having a certain number of private yards designated as Backyard Wildlife Habitats, creating Schoolyard Wildlife Habitats, and from environmental projects and programs.
The Town of Matthews has created a number of parks. Smaller parks near neighborhoods have playgrounds and spaces for relaxation. A group of larger parks are jewels for residents. The town parks and recreation department also has active recreational programs for all ages.
Stumptown Park, a genuine treasure in the heart of downtown, hosts community activities all year long. While the Matthews Alive Festival brings the most people to the park, other festivals there include a beach fest and music and movie nights. The park, enclosed on three sides with a decorative brick wall and wrought iron fencing, has a large open space for lawn seating, an attractive band shell, a small playground, and a Veterans Memorial tucked into one landscaped corner. It's located near the main intersection of downtown Matthews and is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, the farmers market and the library.
Most days, the Matthews Greenway is filled with walkers, joggers and bicyclists. The greenway is a two-mile paved path along Four Mile Creek that goes from South Trade Street near Matthews Elementary School to East John Street. It’s a wonderful addition to the walkability of downtown Matthews.
A sewer line with manholes and standpipes follows the same path along Four Mile Creek as the Greenway trail. The town created a program for local artists to creatively use the sewer line structures for public art. A pair of giraffes created from adjacent manhole covers with standpipes was the first artwork to be finished.
Squirrel Lake Park near downtown is the perfect spot for walking, fishing and just enjoying wooded views. This 29-acre park is tucked between two Matthews neighborhoods on Pleasant Plains Road. The Matthews Greenway ends at the back.
The entrance reminds you of a drive down a country lane where open fields and surrounding woods invite you to explore. Once you reach the middle, you'll find a pretty view of the lake where benches invite you to relax and enjoy the quiet activity around the lake. Or you can bring your pole and tackle for fishing in the lake. A picnic shelter also overlooks the lake.
Not all activities at Squirrel Lake Park are passive. The park includes a 12-hole disc golf course and a small playground for children. Recent renovations added a second picnic shelter, horse shoe pits and a fishing pier.
The Mecklenburg County Sportsplex at Matthews is designed to provide playing fields and spectator facilities for weekend tournaments, weekday practices and league play for local teams. The Sportsplex hosts soccer, rugby, lacrosse, football and field hockey. When Phase II is complete in early 2017, there will be eleven fields including four synthetic turf multipurpose fields, two grass multipurpose fields, a 2700 seat grass stadium, locker rooms and a 100 person conference room.
Do you enjoy community festivals? You can find community events throughout the year in Matthews. The biggest of them is Matthews Alive, the largest Labor Day weekend celebration in the southeast. Thousands of people descend on downtown Matthews every year for this festival.
What are some of the fun things to do at Matthews Alive? Take the kids on carnival rides. Eat your favorite carnival food. Stroll through the Arts and Crafts Pavilion. Watch a real home town parade. Let the kids enjoy making crafts. Take a break from the heat in the Matthews Community Center where there are music performances and a quilt show. Bring your lawn chairs to enjoy outdoor performances on two stages. See classic cars and motorcycles at the Matthews Auto Reunion on Labor Day.
Other community events during the year include the May Beach Fest in Stumptown Park and the Fine Art and Master Craft Show in October. The beach fest brings the Carolina coast to town with live beach music, shag dancing, carnival rides, arts and crafts, the Sandy Feet 5K run and a cruisin' car show. The art show is a juried show showcasing fine artists and craftsmen.
Painting? Dance? Theater? Living in Matthews NC gives you the opportunity to participate in small town arts groups and classes. The town is developing a cultural arts district along S. Trade Street that includes the McDowell Arts Center, the Matthews Community Center and Stumptown Park.
Converted from a former 1920s school agriculture building, the McDowell Arts Center provides gallery space for fine art as well as class room space. It also is the home of the Matthews Artists Guild which has meetings and several art exhibits there every year. KidzArt offers children's classes at the facility as well.
Are you old enough to remember a school room with creaking wood floors and big dusty blackboards? How about tall windows reaching to the ceiling? Wooden stairs carrying students from floor to floor? If you can picture your school days in a building like this, you’ll want to step back in time at the Matthews Community Center.
Built in 1907, the Matthews Community Center was the second public school in Matthews. It replaced a three-room school that quickly became too small for the rapidly growing town. The new school was considered a modern facility. Built of brick, it had three classrooms on the first floor and an auditorium on the second floor. The first graduating class was in 1911. The school was expanded in the 1920s and in 1924 became Matthews High School.
By the 1990s, the Matthews Community Center faced demolition. It was taken over by the Town of Matthews and restored. The beautiful classrooms once again hold classes for the Matthews Parks and Recreation Department and community groups. The restored auditorium at the back of the building houses the Fullwood Theater. A two-story entrance to the community center welcomes everyone to the facility.
The Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts provides theater education and opportunities for young people. It offers several productions each year for the public as well as summer camps for youngsters.
With a population of approximately 27,000 people, Matthews has many restaurants. You can find a fine dining restaurant, a barbecue place, a Thai restaurant, a coffee shop and a tavern in the downtown area. A number of sandwich shops offer quick meals in the business areas that surround the downtown. Familiar fast casual restaurants line Independence Boulevard which bisects the town. Walking or driving, you won't go hungry in Matthews.
Like food truck cuisine? Matthews has its own Food Truck Fridays every week from the beginning of March to the end of September. You can relax to live music and hang out at Stumptown Park while enjoying a variety of food and desserts from the trucks.
You don't have to leave Matthews to shop. Windsor Square, Matthews Festival and Sycamore Commons are filled with shops and big box retailers. You can find your favorite stores including Target, Costco, Lowes, Best Buy and Home Depot.
If you prefer unique stores that remind you of living in Matthews NC in days gone by, try Renfrow Hardware. In business for over a 100 years, Renfrow's offers everything you would expect from an old-time hardware: wooden floors, a pot-bellied stove and shelves loaded with items you've haven't seen in many years.
Where will you shop for groceries? A home-grown company, Harris Teeter is the most popular grocery store in Matthews. You can also find Food Lion and Aldi in the town.
Living in Matthews NC means that you can find an affordable home whether you are looking for single family home on a generous lot or a townhome. The current median home price in the town is $238,000. In the 1970s, Matthews was a village with small homes near its downtown and larger homes on estate-size lots along its country lanes. Growth in the 1980s was explosive. Many single family neighborhoods were built on third acre and larger lots. Townhome development in the downtown began in the 1990s and continues today. You can find homes at or below the median price in all these areas.
Want luxury living in Matthews NC? You can enjoy a luxury life style in Matthews. Luxury neighborhoods within town limits (28105 zip code) tend to be smaller infill communities. If you like golf, there are several golf course communities in the Matthews 28104 zip code. In this zip code, you will find a number of larger newer neighborhoods with rich amenities. While gated communities are not common in the area, there are some available.
Baby boomer, active adult, over 55 or senior? No matter how you describe yourself, living in Matthews NC is perfect for your active adult lifestyle.
What makes Matthews so attractive to seniors?
Where is the closest hospital? It's an important question for those new to living in Matthews NC.
Novant Matthews Medical Center is located in the heart of Matthews. Built in 1994 on an attractive campus, this hospital has 102 private patient rooms, intensive care and emergency rooms. The new Womens Center provides health care for women of all ages. A number of doctors have offices in the complex.
Because of the hospital, Matthews has attracted many other physicians' practices. You'll find family practitioners as well as specialists with offices in the town.
I am Carol Fox, a licensed real estate broker specializing in Matthews NC and the surrounding areas. I am the owner of Carolinas Small Town Living, Inc. and associated with Allen Tate Realtors. I hope to help you find the perfect home in the Matthews area. If you need to sell your Matthews area home, I can help you get the greatest reward from your investment. Give me a call at 704-905-3935 or email me today.