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Thad Tate & Family
A prominent African American businessman and civic leader, Thaddeus (Thad) Lincoln Tate made a significant contribution to the Charlotte community in the early to mid twentieth-century.
Thad Tate moved to Charlotte in 1877. From the 1890s to the 1940s, Tate operated the Uptown Barber Shop in the Central Hotel at Trade and Tryon Streets in Charlotte. At the time, most barbers in the white communities of the south were African American and barbers often played important roles in the African American community. Tate’s customers included prominent local civic leaders such as Governor Cameron Morrison, the store owners William Henry Belk and J. B. Ivey, and the neighborhood builder Edward Dilworth Latta.
Tate and his family lived in an elegant Victorian-style brick house at 504 East 7th Street in Charlotte. Tate built the house in the 1880s in what was then an integrated neighborhood. Friends called Tate and his wife Mary and their ten children the “dozen family.” Tate helped found the Grace A. M. E. Zion Church that was built in 1886 on South Brevard Street. The church played a notable role in the African American community in Charlotte at the time.
Thad Tate & Wife
Tate and other African American leaders created the Afro-American Mutual Insurance Company that operated from 1907 to 1927. The company hired African Americans and catered to people largely ignored by white owned companies.
Together with J. T. Williams and other local African American leaders, Tate was a director of the investment company that in 1922 built the first office building in Charlotte for African American businesses and professions: the Mecklenburg Investment Company Building. The building is located at 3rd and Brevard Streets. On the first floor of the building there was a pharmacy, on the second floor offices for African American doctors and lawyers, and on the third floor a meeting hall for African American Masonic lodges.
A sign from Tate’s barber shop is preserved in the Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers exhibit at the Levine Museum of the New South.