“Three floors housed the National Union Bank, the Equitable Assurance Agency and many of Rock Hill physicians offices.”
City Directories and History: 1917 – National Union Bank, First Trust & Savings Bank, Sanitary Barber Shop, (103.5) Dunlap & Dunlap, Equitable Assurance Society, W.J. Roddey, and Company, 1946 – Barry’s Jewelry, Rock Hill Newsstand, Phillips Building: County Health Department, US OPA, Wallace W. Fennell, Gaston N. Quantz, Clarkson W. McDow, Wm. R. Blackmon, W. Frank Strait, 1963 – Baker & Myers, Paul M. Pittman, R.L. Youngblood, York County Girl Scout Council, Wm. R. Blackmon
The Herald reported on Sept. 3, 1902 that a new law firm has been formed as Spencer and Dunlap. C.R. Spencer and C.W.F. Spencer will welcome Walter M. Dunlap, the son of Major W.B. Dunlap. Mr. Dunlap will be in the Rock Hill office with C.W.F. Spencer. (This is at the Roddey Building also called the Equitable Building).
The Rock Hill Record reported on March 11, 1907 – “The Catawba Real Estate Company will be reorganized with J.M. Cherry as Pres., and James S. White as Sec. Treasurer. The offices are on the second floor of the National Union Bank Building in rooms #1 and 2. The company has been organized for five years but is now entering a higher level of business.”
The McElwee Store ledger recorded the account of Walter M. Dunlap and Lillian at their store. Mr. Dunlap was a partner at this location of Dunlap and Dunlap.
The Rock Hill Record reported on Feb. 15, 1912 – Improvements have been made to offices in the National Union Bank Building. The Equitable Assurance offices will move to the space previously occupied by Miller and White, Engineers and Surveyors, and that company will move to the rooms formally used by Catawba Real Estate Company.
The Herald reported on April 11, 1925 -” Peoples National Bank had assets of $2,743,867., the National Union Bank has assets of $2,200,654. and Citizens Bank and Trust has assets of $1,002,576.”
Also see Lot #1 – North
The City of Rock Hill began their urban renewal project to transform the city in the late 1960s and it continued into the early 1970s. It involved the demolition of hundreds of homes and private businesses in the African American area as well as the East Black, West Black, Johnston, Hampton, and Trade Street corridors were all affected. Within a short span, nearly 40% of Rock Hill’s older downtown buildings were destroyed to provide economic opportunities, benefiting a few businessman. As part of this action, the railroad lines were moved and a new bridge crossing over Black Street was built to also alleviate traffic jams created by trains but in doing so, the old Rock Hill Depot building was also razed.
But the most transformative aspect of the move was to add municipal buildings to the landscape; the Rock Hill City Hall, the Center for Aging, the Library and the Rock Hill Police Department buildings.
ROCK HILL’S FIRE OF 1898 – by Louise Pettus
The north side of Rock Hill’s main street lay in ashes after an early Sunday morning fire that burned for four and a half hours on April 3, 1898. Drunken loafers in a barber shop were blamed for the disaster. It was not Rock Hill’s first major fire. In 1878, 20 Main Street buildings had burned. In 1883 one-half of the west side of Main was lost. In 1887 half the town’s businesses were lost and the post office was torn down in order to prevent the fire from reaching the town library. Merchants built back and two years later fire almost destroyed the entire business district.
In 1898, five of the town’s largest buildings and several smaller shops went up in flames. All of the buildings were brick and only 11 years old. Roddey’s Hall was a two-story brick with O’Neal’s general merchandise store on the first level and an opera house on the upper level. Next door, Andrew J. Evans’ drug store burned along with J. H. Milling’s grocery. The offices of The Rock Hill Messenger also went up in flames.
Capt. W. L. Roddey, besides losing his opera house, lost a building he rented to J. B. Johnson & Co., druggist, and the offices of Simpson & Son, Dentists and Dr. Wallace Fennell’s medical office.
A. Friedheim & Bro, a general merchandise store with the Masonic Hall on the upper floor, was lost. The fire was stopped by an alleyway after destroying A. E. Smith’s building. The A. E. Smith building housed about 10,000 military cartridges and a large quantity of fireworks. All of the bullets and fireworks went off waking the town. It was a blessing that the bullets and fireworks exploded before the firefighters and onlookers arrived on the scene.
Later, there was an explosion at the Johnson drug store which blew out the windows and left a number of people cut by flying glass. Then, at Friedheim’s, the last store to go, the fire set off a goodly amount of gun powder, causing the whole building to collapse. It was obvious that the Rock Hill fire department would not be able to contain the fire without assistance. They telegraphed to Chester and Charlotte for help. Charlotte sent a fire engine by train but it was too late to help. Across the street a number of stores were damaged by the explosions and the heat. The heroes of the day were Herbert M. Davis and Manlius Owens, young firemen who wrestled water hoses to the top of the A. E. Smith building but were thwarted by low water pressure from the fire department’s steam engine. The steam engine was named “Marian Jones” for the fire chiefs daughter. There were no water mains or hydrants.
The total financial loss totaled about $175,000 with approximately $110,000 in insurance. There had been a fire in the spring of 1887 which had destroyed all of the opposite side of the street. In the 1887 fire all losses were covered but the insurance rates had risen as a result and in 1898 not everyone carried adequate replacement insurance. The Rock Hill Messenger carried no insurance and ceased publication. Spectators had carried out much of the merchandise from the burning stores. Left in the street, much of the rescued goods was stolen. Capt. W. Lyle Roddey decided to not rebuild the opera house. The old one was not a money maker, largely because traveling entertainers came infrequently. Also, Roddey was expected to offer the auditorium free for numerous charitable causes. The space would have been much more profitable if it had been used for offices or shops.
The first merchant house to rebuild was Friedheim’s Store, now the oldest building in downtown and occupied by First Union Bank. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
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