Introduction to Church Street
City Directories and History:
Since the mid 1980’s, Church Street has become mostly parking lots, parks, and sidewalks on the blocks between South Murray Avenue and South Main Street, and South Main Street and South McDuffie Street. Sadly, many of the businesses had been abandoned and the buildings were beyond repair. Most of the buildings would not meet current safety standards and had to be razed.
Gone are the businesses that were once the center of African-American life in downtown Anderson but their memory lingers on. Two small monuments were placed on either end of Church Street to honor the businesses and people of East and West Church. A new memorial park is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016 on East Church in honor of the African-American businesses, and a time capsule will be opened with ceremony on February 14, 2036.
Like many of the east-west streets that intersect with Anderson’s Main Street, Church is divided into two sides. West Church was the less populated side. From Main to Murray, there were only three storefronts. The lot they had occupied was previously the home of a large residence. The three buildings on West Church were razed after 1986 to make way for additional downtown parking.
117 West Church: H.G. Johnson & Sons Building/W.H. Harrison Grocery (1912). Originally housed H.G. Johnson & Sons, a vehicle sales and repair shop, until 1920. Was used as warehouse until 1927, when W.H. Harrison Grocery moved in and stayed until 1942. From 1945 to 1960 was a furniture warehouse; 1961 to 1970: Carolina Lunch; 1970 to 1975: Ideal Pawn Shop; 1975-1980: boarding house.
Rectangular in shape, 54′ wide by 64′ long. First floor divided into equal parts by wall lengthwise. Second floor had central room surrounded by hallway which opened into small rooms around perimeter. Originally listed as a contributing structure in the Anderson Downtown Historic District and described as “early 20th century, two-story, brick, paired 1/1 windows with arch.” Razed in 1980’s. Building was abandoned and did not meet current building standards.
119 West Church: The Victor Theatre (Ideal Pawn Shop) (1922). Built in 1922 to house the Victor Theatre. Vacant from 1925 to 1929. From 1929 to 1976 it housed various furniture companies. From 1976 to 1980, the Ideal Pawn Shop. Vacant after 1981.
Rectangular in shape, 55′ wide by 104′ long. Two identical floors. Open plan with wooden posts. Arched windows. Ornamental ceiling tiles on first floor. Originally listed as a contributing structure in the Anderson Downtown Historic District and described as “early 20th century two-story, brick, 2/2 windows.” Razed in 1980’s. Building was abandoned and did not meet current building standards.
123 West Church: Tolly & Sons (1930). Built in 1930 but vacant until 1936 to 1938 when the U.S. Soil Conservation Service used it as warehouse and garage. 1940 to 1942: C.C. Reynolds Skating Rink; 1942 to 1944: Sears Warehouse; 1945: Gordon Sherrard Motor Company; 1947 to 1952: Electrical Wholesalers; 1955 to 1985: various furniture stores and warehouse space.
At the time they occupied the location, Tolly & Sons was one of the oldest family firms in Anderson, and the oldest furniture store in South Carolina. The family business had been founded by George F. Tolly, a Prussian emigrant who became a noted Anderson businessman. Tolly business began his business as a cabinet maker. After the Civil War, Tolly returned to Anderson and cabinet making. Before long, he branched out into the fields of ready made furniture and undertaking. It was possible to purchase a bed and a coffin from Tolly. Another building associated with the Tolly family furniture business in Anderson was marked in 1976.
Originally listed as a contributing structure in the Anderson Downtown Historic District and described as “early 20th century, one-story, brick, parapet, company is one of the oldest businesses in Anderson.” Razed in 1980’s. Building was abandoned and did not meet current building standards.
125 West Church: Anderson County Jail (1898). The building shown was the second Anderson County Jail built on or near the site. The first was a two-story brick structure erected around 1875. When it was razed, the bricks were bought by J.S. Fowler and used to build his livery stable.
The second county jail was built using surplus money left over from the construction of the county courthouse in 1898. The plans for the jail were second-hand plans purchased in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by County Superintendent William P. Snelgrove. Around $9,000 was left from the courthouse’s construction and used on the jail.
In 1909, the county jail was described by the Chamber of Commerce as a “nice residence, presenting a good appearance to the street.” The “street”, of course, was Church, and, in fact, the sheriff and his family did occupy the front part of the jail, and were responsible for seeing that the prisoners were fed. The building was abandoned in 1956, in favor of more modern facilities. The old county jail was demolished in 1960.
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