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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Independence Building

by Wiley J. Williams, 2006 101 Independence and Bank of America Corporate Center, Charlotte. Image courtesy of Jame Willamor.

The Independence Building, which stood on the northwest corner of "The Square" (the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets) in uptown Charlotte, was the first steel-frame high-rise building in North Carolina and, at 12 stories, is considered to have been the state's first true "skyscraper." The building was designed by architect Frank Pierce Milburn, completed in 1908, and named the Realty Building-a symbol of Charlotte's "New South" image. The building became known as the Independence Building following the founding of the Independence Trust Company in 1912.

Beginning with the Great Depression and continuing into the 1970s, the Independence Building was faced with considerable tenant turnover, as occupants moved to more modern buildings. On 30 Apr. 1976 all floors above the first were closed off, and two years later the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In July 1981 Faison Associates (headed by Henry Faison) bought the property and announced plans to demolish the structure and build Independence Center-an office, retail, and hotel complex-on the site. On a Sunday morning in September 1981, the Independence Building was imploded in seven seconds.


Frank McInnis, "The First N.C. Skyscraper," The State (October 1983).

Lawrence Wodehouse, "Frank Pierce Milburn (1868-1926), a Major Southern Architect," NCHR 50 (July 1973).

Image Credit:

101 Independence Center (left), Charlotte. Image courtesy of Jame Willamor. Available from (accessed September 27, 2012)

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