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More Scrapbooks Documenting the Finer Carolina Contest Online

Asheboro Finer Carolina Goals

Asheboro Finer Carolina Goals, 1954

With meticulous layout and hundreds of photographs, the Asheboro community documented its Finer Carolina efforts in four oversized scrapbooks. We’ve just partnered with the Randolph County Public Library, which houses these incredible books, to present them on DigitalNC.

We’ve talked about the Finer Carolina contest in a previous post. Asheboro won the prize 4 times, and these scrapbooks include 3 of those 4 years. Projects are explained in short snippets, and accompanied by before-and-after pictures of schools, cemeteries, and parks “beautified” by community groups. There are many photos of new or improved residences, businesses, and schools. While the Finer Carolina contest brought new industry to towns around the state and often encouraged community pride, the beautification efforts led to the destruction of many older buildings that were deemed to be eyesores. The 1954 scrapbook shows photos of the old Central Hotel and its subsequent removal for a parking lot. The photos below, from the 1956 scrapbook, show the removal of an old residence.

Old Buildings Torn Down, Asheboro, 1956

Old Buildings Torn Down, Asheboro, 1956

While many residents are pictured, there are few names; the emphasis was on documenting the process. The scrapbooks are both an invaluable record of the areas of town dramatically changed by the Finer Carolina efforts, as well as an interesting view into the ideas of modernization encouraged by the contest.

You can view all of the Finer Carolina scrapbooks on DigitalNC.

Finer Carolina Workers, Asheboro, 1956

Finer Carolina Workers, Asheboro, 1956

Early Issues of the Asheboro Courier Now Available Online

Early issues of the Asheboro Courier are now available in the North Carolina Newspapers digital collection. More than 500 issues, ranging from 1884 to 1912, have been digitized.  The Courier was one of the first newspapers to be published in Asheboro, tracing its origins back to 1876.  Unfortunately, few early issues are available.

The Courier, boasting the lofty slogan “Principles, Not Men,” favored the Democratic Party in its coverage and editorials, promoting Democratic candidates at the local, state, and national level.  The local coverage of the paper appears to be excellent, and the long social columns and many letters to the editor suggests that the paper was a true community institution.
The newspaper merged with the Randolph Tribune in 1940 to form the Asheboro Courier-Tribune, which is still being published, making it one of the oldest continuously-published newspapers in North Carolina.
The Randolph County Public Library nominated this title for digitization.

A Finer Carolina

From 1952 to 1959 the Carolina Power and Light Company (CP&L) hosted a “Finer Carolina” contest, in which cities and towns in the CP&L service area vied for cash awards by engaging in community improvements. From a history of CP&L I learned that over the seven years the competition was held 4,600 projects were undertaken, including those aimed at “beautifying residential areas, improving cultural opportunities, upgrading municipal facilities, stimulating business, and attracting new industry.”

Some materials on DigitalNC are evidence of the participation of North Carolina’s communities, such as this 1954 scrapbook from the town of Burgaw documenting their Finer Carolina activities. The year 1954 was a banner year for the contest, according to a front-page article in the February 25, 1954 issue of the Raeford News-Journal. During this year there were 160 entries, including Raeford, N.C., competing for $6,750 in prizes. The Architectural History of Randolph County, N.C., also mentions the Finer Carolina contest, as the city of Asheboro took home the winning prize in 1954, as well as 1955, 1956, and 1958. But perhaps these awards weren’t such a boon for Asheboro after all, as the history describes the city’s improvement projects as resulting in “the nearly total destruction of the city’s nineteenth-century heritage”.

Items featured in this post are shared on DigitalNC by Pender County Public Library and Randolph County Public Library.

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