Matthews Heritage Archival Gallery
Matthews’ Community Building:
Local Matthews resident Caldwell Russell says that in a town of “500 people you would know everyone,” reminiscent of the old days, he says with a population of “29,000, I feel like I do not know a soul.” The statement by Caldwell highlights how in a small town, there is a greater sense of place and community building, with drug stores, grocery stores, and even cotton farming all contributing to a sense his sense of “knowing everyone.” General Stores sold much of everything one needed, with items ranging from food, clothing and farm equipment.
Caldwell Russell discussed the importance of churches and schools towards further community building in Matthews. During the early to mid-twentieth century, the School of Matthews educated much of the entire populous. Caldwell recalls the whole town going to Halloween Carnivals, and how downtown stores closed during church service hours. Caldwell considered these institutions the glue that held everything together, as everyone took part in community engagement through local churches and schools. This sense of engagement still exists today, yet as Caldwell states, it does not have the same profound influence in a modernizing town of 29,000 as it would in a town of 500.
This gallery in relation to the archive serves to create connections to Matthews’ past. It showcases the importance of various businesses, people and places to the town’s history. Caldwell Russell remembers when he grew up he “could not wait to get away, he left for 34 years and came back to paradise.” To many this statement emobides what the town was and what it continues to be. The site encourages community engagement, so that past, future, and current residents can contribute to the cultural heritage of Matthews. So these residents can supply their own sense of community building to the town, to chronicle what may be to them as well, their own place of paradise.