Historical marker with information on the Plato Price School.

Building a thriving neighborhood where a segregation-era school once stood

The 2023 Carter Work Project volunteers lend a hand to the Charlotte community’s work

In 2018, the city of Charlotte donated a vacant, 9-acre plot to Habitat Charlotte Region. The plot is historically significant and holds a special place in the heart of the Charlotte community, as the land was once home to an all-Black, segregation-era school called Plato Price.

This small place spawned dreams, launched careers and added to the good of a nation. 

Dr. Eddie L. Hoover, former Plato Price student and retired cardiothoracic surgeon

Alongside partners, Habitat Charlotte has been working to transform the once-empty plot into an affordable, vibrant neighborhood with 39 single-family homes, walking paths, dedicated nature areas and a community meeting space.

Carter Work Project banner on empty plot that has been prepared for construction

This October, hundreds of volunteers from across the U.S. will join the Charlotte community to help build 23 homes alongside future homeowners as part of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, which is resuming after a three-year hiatus.

With the Carters retired from public life, fellow Habitat Humanitarians and country music superstars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will host the Charlotte build and continue the Carters’ legacy.

Plato Price’s history in the Black community

Founded in 1915, Plato Price closed in 1961, though it temporarily continued as a junior high before closing for the final time in 1966. While the school was the poorest in the county, many former students went on to become renowned doctors, judges, artists, professional athletes and even a congressman.

After the city of Charlotte took over the property two decades later, the school building was demolished, leaving an empty field.

But it’s not empty anymore.

A banner shows the proposed site plan for the Meadows at Plato Price

When Eddie Hoover returned to Charlotte in 2013, he visited the barren site of his former school. “I talked to some of the politicians in Charlotte, and I said, ‘That land can’t just sit there and do nothing,’” Eddie says.

Habitat Charlotte broke ground on the first seven homes in the new neighborhood in September 2021, and the first round of homeowners moved into their homes in the summer of 2023.

To better understand the history of the community, Habitat Charlotte reached out to past Plato Price students like Eddie, who continue to honor and celebrate the profound impact Plato Price had on their formative years. With its roots in mind, the neighborhood was called Meadows at Plato Price, and its streets are named after educators from the school.

Eddie Hoover sitting with Laura Belcher

Eddie Hoover, left, speaks with Laura Belcher, right, during the Meadows at Plato Price groundbreaking event.

Eddie’s longtime friend, Nellie Ashford, was a member of Plato Price’s final graduating class in 1961. Raised by formerly enslaved grandparents, Nellie is now an acclaimed folk artist with works showcased in Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which sits less than 3 miles from where Plato Price once stood.

Nellie, who often expresses her cherished memories at Plato Price through her paintings, says the culture of the school helped the students believe in themselves and dream big.

“The students were so close,” she says. “The school gave us the feeling that you can do anything, no matter what.”

Supporting Black families on their path to homeownership

Laura Belcher, Habitat Charlotte Region president and CEO, says it’s important to honor the rich history of the neighborhood as they work to expand affordable homeownership opportunities in a historically underserved area.

While the West Charlotte area was once a thriving African-American neighborhood, today many community members struggle to secure affordable housing.

Line of people holding shovels at groundbreaking ceremony

Habitat Charlotte Region President and CEO Laura Belcher, wearing blue, takes part in the Habitat groundbreaking ceremony for Meadows at Plato Price along with alumni of the school, Nellie Ashford, third from right, and Eddie Hoover, far right. 

“This is a part of town that has a particularly low homeownership rate,” Laura says. “We wanted to bring affordable homeownership to the table to anchor families into this community. We want the Meadows at Plato Price to have a sense of place and a sense of neighborhood.”

Most of the homeowners at Meadows at Plato Price will be Black, in a part of West Charlotte where the average rate of homeownership is just 26%, more than 30 percentage points lower than elsewhere in the city.

“When we talk about the Meadows at Plato Price and what we’re building, we see movement from rental to homeownership in a place that’s historically very significant to the African American community,” says Vi Lyles, Charlotte’s mayor. The stability that comes from an affordable home positively impacts health, education and intergenerational wealth.

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Future homeowner Brianna tours the neighborhood

Brianna tours the neighborhood that will soon be home to her family.

Future homeowner Brianna and her two children, 8-year-old Jordan and 7-year-old Joi, are among the young families who will soon call Meadows at Plato Price home. Brianna’s home will be one of the 23 homes worked on as part of this year’s Carter Work Project.

Brianna is legally blind and says living in a safe neighborhood where she knows her neighbors will bring her peace of mind. “My son and daughter love to roller skate, scooter and bike,” Brianna says. “Knowing that I’ll be in a cul-de-sac and know my neighbors, I’m going to feel much safer.”

There won’t be people moving as much because they’re homeowners. We’ll have stability. 

Brianna, future Meadows at Plato Price homeowner

Nellie is excited for the new era of Plato Price and says seeing families thriving in their new homes will bring her joy.

“I know that my heart shall beat differently when I see new families living there and enjoying themselves,” Nellie says. “I’ll feel good knowing that this is going to be a new tomorrow for Plato Price. It’s hard to have a good tomorrow without a place to call home.”

Check out our progress updates to see the incredible work accomplished at the 2023 Carter Work Project in Charlotte.

  • President Carter working with a child to hammer on his address number.

    The 2023 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project took place in Charlotte, North Carolina, from Oct. 1-6, 2023. Take a look at some of the most memorable moments from the week as homeowners and hundreds of volunteers worked to build 27 single-family affordable homes.

  • President Carter painting a porch roof, wearing a cap and red bandana.

    From painting walls to framing houses, the Carters have always been ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work alongside fellow volunteers. Journey through these memorable build site moments with two of Habitat’s greatest supporters and hands-on volunteers.

  • Aerial view of houses in a neighborhood

    Discover the ongoing impact the Cost of Home campaign on improving home affordability: explore policy successes supported by local and state Habitat organizations, strategies for advocacy practitioners to effect policy change and a policy assessment report by the Urban Institute.