City Directories and History: 1908 – 1940 – UN, 1958 – Vacant
Until shortly after the Great Depression, one of Chester’s leading citizens, Mr. Joseph Wylie, operated his Wylie and Company business here on the hill. It is one of Chester’s oldest and best known stores. Joseph Wylie was highly influential and the uncle of several of Rock Hill’s merchants with whom he did business and owned stores in
partnership. After the cessation of hostilities at the end of the Civil War, Captain W.L. Roddey returned home and re-entered business with his uncle Joseph Wylie at Lewisville, S.C. The next year, 1866, Wylie and Roddey opened a branch store at Rock Hill. (See note of sale to the White Family by the company listing their Rock Hill location in 1869, under the MORE INFORMATION link.)
The Lewisville community’s country store; Moffatt’s was highly influential in the teaching of these young merchants. Read more about their training at: Moffatt’s Country Store. Captain W. L. Roddey and his wife moved to Chester and added Captain J. L. Agurs to the firm, now called Wylie, Roddey and Agurs, with stores at Lewisville, Rock Hill, and Chester, S.C. In 1871 the Lewisville store was sold to Whitesides and Marion. Next, Captain Roddey bought out his partners in the Rock Hill store and sold his interests in the Chester store to Wylie & Agurs. In 1885, co-owner, A.L. Agurs retired and Joseph Wylie & Company was organized at Chester.]
Today it houses the Kimbrell’s department store. For generations farmers and local citizens honored Mr. Wylie with their continued business where he sold them whatever was needed from clothing, shoes, ironware, farm implement and groceries. His business practices where similar to those of many of his generation and he fought hard to maintain Chester as a business center during a period in which more and more business was going to
ward Rock Hill’s ever expanding cotton market.
Architecturally the structure is outstanding and boasts beautiful brickwork and attractive features to foster an atmosphere of success. It was designed by Rock Hill and Lancaster, architect Hugh E. White with changes in 1897 allowing him to expand his business to several adjoining structures and installed modern conveniences such as an elevator in circa 1897 as a result of these changes. The storefront window photograph May 1912, here is the listing of peoples names, Left to Right,W.G.White, Jason S. Hardin, Marjorie Johnson, Edgar Alexander, Tom West Patrick, Samuel Colvin, ___Woods, Erwin Dunbar, ___Jones, C.B. Betts, Hattie Bradford, Cleo Vaughn, William Vaughn, John G. White, John Wood
The Joseph Wylie Company store was remodeled by Architect, Hugh Edward White (1869 – 1939), born in Fort Mill, S.C. he attended Fort Mill Academy and started his practice in about 1894. Remained in Rock Hill until about 1903 and later returned to work. In the 1890’s he worked in an architectural firm in Atlanta. Between 1903-1918 he was a field supervisor of the Supt. Architect Dept. of the Treasury. For about three years 1918-21, he was employed with Charles Coker Wilson in Columbia or Gastonia, N.C.
The Herald reported via the Chester Lantern on Sept. 21, 1901 – “Completion of the Joseph Wylie Co., store renovations has been delayed by the breaking of the immense plate glass window, in the hands of the Southern Railway, after it had arrived. This will cost the railroad $500. and they have fired an employee.”
An early occupant of this approximate space was reported to be Josiah Gore, a tavern keeper. [Recollections of Chester – D.S. Mayes]
The Rock Hill Record reported on March 22, 1909 – “A fire in Chester on Tuesday night (March 18), originated in the cotton warehouse of Joseph Wylie and Co., and destroyed the building and between 350-500 bales of cotton. Other losses were the Wylie and Co., stables, the platform and sheds, and a number of wagons of hay. The fire also burned the stables of S.M. Jones and Co., the city’s stables, and several houses belonging to E.C. Stahn,….”
The Chester News of July 14, 1916 contained an ad for Joseph Wylie and Co., offering “straw hats at half price.”
“The amount of business done here during the past commercial year was about $700,000, of which S.M. Jones & Co. and Joseph Wylie & Co. did about $100,000 each. In addition to these two large firms, we have the prominent firms of W. Holmes Hardin & Co., W.T.D. Cousar & Son, Culp & Irwin, Crawford & Blake, R. Brandt & Son, J.J. & T.B. Stringfellow, Gregg & Means, J.S. Calvin, Hafner Bros., J.D. Ratterree, W. H. Rosborough, E. C. Stahn, L. Samuels, Gunhouse & Co., Fishel & Walker, A. H. Davega, S. B. Massey & Son, and several smaller firms.”
Reprinted from South Carolina in the 1880s: A Gazetteer by J.H. Moore, Sandlapper Publishing Company – 1989
Informative link: National Register, and click on the More Information link, found under the primary picture for added information.
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