Waxhaw (population 7,500) began as a Native American settlement called Wisacky by a group within the Catawba tribe known as the Waxhaws. Due to its location along a trading path from Virginia to Georgia, Europeans, mostly Scots-Irish, began settling in the area. This eventually culminated in the incorporation of the community in 1889, making it the third-oldest town in Union County. President Andrew Jackson grew up in the Waxhaw region and is believed by some to have been born not far outside of the present-day town limits.
The town's first boom came with the creation of a textile mill on the east side of town in the late 1800s. The mill remained the primary industry in Waxhaw until its decline in the 1940s. It wasn't until the 1960s that the community experienced a rebirth with the establishment of several antique shops. Though the town remained relatively small and rural, Waxhaw became known as a "hidden" shopping destination. Due to growth pressures from the Charlotte region and the rise of the banking industry, the community experienced another boom in development and population beginning in the early 2000s.
In 1991, the town of Waxhaw was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its downtown historic district is on track to become a local historic district as well. Waxhaw is a North Carolina Main Street Community, and is working to blend its historic downtown core with the new development occurring on the outskirts of town.
In 1996, North Carolina's largest presidential museum opened, the Museum of the Waxhaws. Located just outside Historic Downtown Waxhaw, it is both a regional history museum and a memorial to the nation's seventh president, Andrew Jackson. The museum's exhibits trace the history of the region from its Native American roots to the turn of the 20th century. An important cultural resource, the museum also serves as the meeting place for most of the town of Waxhaw's public meetings.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2010.