by Andy Poore, Curator, Special Collections, Mooresville Public Library
The Central Hotel occupied what is now the last two buildings of the D.E. Turner Hardware row and the park area that is beside the last building. The fence that is displayed in the park is from the original home of Mr. Cyrus Alexander Johnston. Mr. Johnston’s home faced Church Street with its back to Main Street. Starting in the late 1880’s, in the home of Mr. Cyrus Alexander Johnston, The Central Hotel was Mooresville’s finest hotel and gathering spot for many years.
The Central Hotel stood at 125-129 Main Street. Because Mr. Johnston’s house was directly across from the depot, people would come to his home, looking for a meal or a place to stay, as they thought it was a bed and breakfast. Mr. Johnston’s daughter, who married John A. Melchor, returned home after Mr. Melchor’s death in 1890. She started serving people who were coming to the house looking for a meal or a place to stay. Mr. Johnston quickly decided to expand his service and built an 8-room brick building on the back of his house. The building housed rooms, a dining room, a larger kitchen, and a porch and balcony area for guests to sit and relax. The family continued to live in the house portion of the hotel. In addition to the café in the hotel, there was also a school on the second floor.
If you stand in the park and look to the right, the second building was home to several stores, including a barber shop, whose walls were lined with mirrors, and whose floors can still be seen at the entrance of the building today. By the 1930’s, the building was home to a movie theater, which was named The Central Movie Theater in honor of The Central Hotel. The movie theater set parallel to Main Street. The two ends of the hotel were built at an angle with the one on the right side bearing a large sign that was pointed toward the depot so that people arriving on the train could see the sign for the hotel.