“The Roddey Building is one of the handsomest that can be found anywhere in the South; it is, in fact, the largest building of its kind north of Columbia in the State. The average depth of the stores is about 125 feet and the width about 50 feet, and as a rule they are only two stories high.”
City Directories and History: Scrap B. Eastern Portion—this lot measuring 103’ by 212’ was
sold by A. T. Black on November 22, 1853, to ‘Squire John Roddey, for $250. Since ‘Squire Roddey was the surveyor who laid off Black’s twenty-three Main Street lots in 1851, it is probable that he had his choice of lots before anyone else was notified that they were for sale. The lot he chose was scarcely a hundred feet from the railroad right of
way and was, therefore, a likely place for commercial traffic on Main Street. Within three months he had sold the land to Roddey, Wylie and Moffatt, merchants, who erected thereon a frame store house and soon opened a mercantile establishment that was to last for the next seventy-five years. ‘Squire Roddey certainly had an eye for a valuable piece of real estate.
Because the Roddey family owned and/or controlled the businesses that were operated on this half-acre lot, it seems appropriate to trace the history of these firms by recording the names of the various family members who were involved in their operation. ‘Squire John Roddey was married to Mary Grier (“Polly”) (Wylie) Roddey, whose brother Joseph Wylie was one of the leading merchants in Chester County, S. C. David C. Roddey, William Lyle Roddey, and Thomas E. Roddey were sons of Squire John and Mary Grier (Wylie) Roddey. The Roddey entrance into the mercantile business began in Chester District (or County). Here is what we know of their efforts.
Yorkville Enquirer, Thursday, October 24, 1861: Thomas E. Roddey died
Advertisement: Tribute of Respect dated October 19, 1861 from M. A. Moore, Chairman and J. A. May, Secretary, for the Yorkville Enquirer and the Due West Telescope (on motion of Lt. R. M. Kerr) for the death of Thomas E. Roddey, Orderly Sergeant of the Indian Land Guards. The meeting was held “immediately upon the reception of the sad intelligence of the death. . . .” Lt. F. A. Erwin moved that a committee of twelve be appointed to draw up resolutions.
At the age of fourteen years, Joseph Wylie, who was born in York District in February, 1824, to Thomas Wylie, venerable ruling elder of Neely’s Creek Associate (Presbyterian) Church, moved to Lewisville, Chester District (near present-day Richburg), where he was a clerk in the store of William Moffatt, then the wealthiest man in all that section. He held the clerkship until 1846, when he and his brother-in-law ‘Squire John Roddey bought the Moffatt business, calling it Wylie & Roddey. They remained partners until 1851, when Thomas Henry Moffatt bought the John Roddey interest, the firm being called Wylie & Moffatt.
At this juncture ‘Squire John’s oldest son, David Clarkson Roddey, joined the firm, the name being Roddey, Wylie, and Moffatt, Merchants (usually called “Roddey and Co.”). As given above, they opened a highly successful store in the infant village of Rock Hill in 1854. On January 1, 1858, D. C. Roddey and his brother Thomas E. Roddey joined as partners in D. C. Roddey & Brother at Rock Hill. There were now two different mercantile firms located on the lot in question at Rock Hill: Roddey & Company and D. C. Roddey & Brother. The Civil War began in 1861 and Thomas E. Roddey died in 1861 while in Confederate military service. His wife was Mary G. Brice.
The poor economy brought on by the War soon caused the surviving partner D. C. Roddey, to file for bankruptcy. His health had collapsed in 1865. He died in the summer of 1886, a broken man. He and his brother had borrowed large sums of money to operate their business of merchandising at Rock Hill. One of their principal creditors was their uncle Joseph Wylie. As security for his debts D. C. Roddey had made over one third of the D. C. Roddey & Brother and his one-third interest in Roddey & Company to his uncle. But just before his death D. C. Roddey made a deed of assignment of all his estate, real and personal, to Joseph Wylie, to include all the assets of D. C. Roddey & Company and his one-third interest in Roddey & Company. It is clear to see that any remaining assets after the settlement of his estate were the property of Joseph Wylie.
Let us go back now to the formation of the firm of Wylie and Moffatt (see paragraph 3 of this section). In the year 1859 William Lyle Roddey, third son of ‘Squire John Roddey, bought one third of the business, now known as Wylie, Roddey & Company. This firm was dissolved during the Civil War, when W. Lyle Roddey entered Confederate service as captain of Company H, 24th South Carolina Volunteers, an outfit that was organized at Richburg, S. C., in 1862.
After the cessation of hostilities Captain Roddey returned home and re-entered business with his uncle Joseph Wylie at Lewisville. The next year, 1866, Wylie and Roddey opened a branch store at Rock Hill. 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
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. 28 In 1885 Agurs retired and Joseph Wylie & Company was organized at Chester.
The Rock Hill store became W. L. Roddey & Company, which was eminently successful and which lasted until 1893, when a new partnership was created by these men: W. L. Roddey, A. Fletcher Ruff, J. Edwin Roddey (Captain Roddey’s nephew and son of D. C. Roddey), James F. Reid, Samuel L. Reid, and Rufus E. Sadler, using the name Roddey Mercantile Company. After a number of years, a new arrangement was made and the business was called Roddey-Poe Mercantile Company, a firm which lasted well into the twentieth century. In addition to his mercantile interests, Captain Roddey also owned a bank, an insurance company, and a large hotel. The thing to remember is that all these enterprises were operated from the property in question. Again we must commend the foresight of ‘Squire John Roddey. Following the great fire of 1887, which destroyed all the buildings in the first block of Main Street to the east of the railroad property, Captain Roddey erected on his property a large, three-story brick structure, which housed most of the businesses cited above. After the Roddey family lost control of the property at the time of the Great Depression there were innumerable businesses which occupied the site until the Rock Hill urban renewal program of the 1970’s and 1980’s caused the razing of the late Captain Roddey’s headquarters building. The writer recalls the old building well and remembers that the numerals 1 8 8 7 were cut in stone in bold relief at the top of the structure. Tracing the owners to the Roddey lot has not been particularly difficult, since for the most of the years there was only one owner—the Roddey family. The last owner of the building that the author remembers was the late F. D. Marshall, Sr.
RODDEY BUILDING AND CAROLINA HOTEL – Contributed and written by Paul M. Gettys
One of the original lots on Rock Hill’s Main Street was sold by Alexander Templeton Black to John Roddey on November 22, 1853. Since Roddey was the surveyor for the first plat of Main Street, it is possible that he took the lot in payment for his services. Within three months of the purchase, a store opened on this lot, known as Roddey, Wylie and Moffatt. John Roddey, known as “Squire” Roddey, also operated a store at Coates’ Tavern in eastern York County. By 1858, two of John Roddey’s sons, David Clarkson and Thomas E. Roddey were operating the Rock Hill store under the name D. C. Roddey & Brother. Another brother, William Lyle Roddey, bought into the firm in 1859. The Civil War had a great impact on the family, as Thomas E. Roddey died during the war, William Lyle Roddey was severely wounded, and David C. Roddey died shortly afterward in 1866. After his recovery, Capt. William Lyle Roddey resumed the mercantile
business and operated with a number of partners and under a number of names, including W. L. Roddey & Company, Roddey Mercantile, and Roddey-Poe Mercantile.
All these stores operated on the same site. Little is known about the store buildings. Presumably, the original store was enlarged over the years into a larger wood frame building. William Lyle Roddey became one of the leading entrepreneurs of Rock Hill, investing in real estate, banking, textile mills, and civic improvements. At some point, the Globe Hotel was created at the Roddey Mercantile building, along with offices for some of his other enterprises.
A great fire swept through the south side of Main Street in 1887, taking with it the entire Roddey complex. After the fire, Capt. William Lyle Roddey erected a new building on the same lot in 1888. An article from the Yorkville Enquirer described the new building. Erected at a cost of $18,000, it was a three-story brick building which housed a number of enterprises. On the first floor, the W. L. Roddey & Company store was one of Rock Hill’s leading mercantile establishments. Also on the first floor were the First National Bank offices, the post office, the Enterprise Telephone Company office, and the Carolina Hotel reception area and office. The Carolina Hotel occupied the upper floors, and featured 32 rooms complete with all modern amenities, such as electric call bells, speaking tubes, and baths. The article deemed that the Carolina Hotel “compares favorably with any hotel in the state outside Charleston.” Mr. Howell Cobb was the proprietor of the hotel. Mr. Roddey acquired hunting rights on 12,000 acres of land for the use of the hotel’s guests.
The Yorkville Enquirer of Nov. 9, 1887 stated, “The Rock Hill Post Office was moved last week from the depot to the Roddey Building at the entrance to the Globe Hotel.”
The Charleston News and Courier of June 7, 1890 stated – “Another very prosperous institution is the Southern Loan and Investment Company. It was organized in 1888 and the management is under the following officers: Capt. W.L. Roddey, Pres., W.J. Roddey, Manager and Treasurer., and directors: W.L. Roddey, W.J. Roddey, S.L. Reid, J.E. Roddey, J.R. Miller, and J.F. Reid. The office of this company are in the Roddy Building.”
The Herald reported on Feb. 1, 1893 – “The firm of W. L. Roddey and Company is being dissolved and subscriptions are open for stock in a new company which will replace it, to be known as Roddey Mercantile Company. J. F. Reid and S. L. Reid will hold the same positions held in the old firm.”
The Yorkville Enquirer on Feb. 15, 1893 reported on a fire in Rock Hill. People who were skating in Roddey’s Hall noticed smoke coming from one of the store rooms below. Hope and Evans was seriously damaged and the fire was destroyed in the oil room in the rear of their store. Also damaged were J.W. O’Neal and Company and T. P. Roddey, whose stocks were damaged by water.
The Herald reported on July 15, 1899 – “The Roddey Mercantile will renovate and reconstruct their mammoth store building. The National Union Bank will take possession of space in Capt. Roddey’s new building on the corner across the street. When that move is complete, contractors will begin work on reconstruction of the old Roddey Building. The space once used by the bank will become part of the mercantile company. There will be new skylights and the entire storefront will be remodeled in a modern manner giving ample windows for show purposes.”
The Herald reported on Jan. 30, 1901 – “The Rt Rev. George Wylie Clinton, the Bishop of the AME Zion Church with residence in Charlotte, was a citizen of Rock Hill some twenty years ago and at that time he was a porter in the store of W.L. Roddey and Company. He is now one of the leading colored men of the South.” (Note the W.L. Roddey donated much of the land on which Clinton College was constructed.)
The Herald reported on July 23, 1902 – “Architect H.E. White is completing plans for a complete remodeling of the store of Roddey Mercantile Company. There will be a vestibule running the full width of the store and a front of plate glass with large show windows.”
The RH Record reported on Oct. 15, 1908 – “There was a fire in the kitchen of the Carolina Hotel last night. The fire company came and quickly had it under control. The Roddey Mercantile Store was filling with smoke and had some water damage.”
The Rock Hill Record reported on Nov. 5, 1908 – “Work of remodeling the Carolina Hotel is underway. J.J. Keller and Co., have the contract to build new rooms, move the kitchen and dining room down stairs and add fourteen rooms upstairs. Mr. Parks is the Manger.
An article in the Evening Herald (May 3, 1952) describes the later history of the Carolina Hotel. In 1895, it was operated by A. H. Greene, and Gib Greene was the room clerk. The Carolina later became known as the Southern Hotel, and J. K. Scoggins, Jr. was a well-known manager. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Roddey family lost control of the property. In 1941, the hotel was bought by F. D. Marshall, Sr. It was later owned by his son Robert Marshall and was known as the Hotel Robert Marshall. It was leased and operated by Herman Baruch and later W. T. Kincaid. In 1952, Theodore A. Baker took over the management and began remodeling the hotel. The urban renewal program undertaken by the City of Rock Hill resulted in the demolition of the Roddey Building, one of Rock Hill’s landmarks.
The SC Architects: 1885 – 1935, Wells and Dalton, 1992 states, “a remodeling project was undertaken on the hotel in 1901 by architect Frank C. Walter, of the Firm of Walter and LeGare.”
The SC Architects: 1885 – 1935, Wells and Dalton, 1992 reported “a remodeling project was taken for the Carolina Hotel in 1911 by Architect Charles C. Hook at a cost of $10,000.”
The Rock Hill Herald reported on May 2, 1896 – “On the meeting of the stock holders of the People’s Building and Loan Association, which was held to complete the organization of the association and to elect a board of directors. Elected to the board were: Thomas L. Johnston, W.J. Roddey, John A. Black, V.B. McFadden, J.E. Roddey, W. J. Rawlinson, J.B. Johnson, Julius Freidheim, and J. H. Miller. Officers are; W. J. Roddey, Pres., Thomas L. Johnston, V.P., J. H. Miller, Sec – Treas. and W.B. Wilson, Solicitor.”
The RH Record on Nov. 21, 1907 – “Mr. H.E. White, architect, is moving his offices from the White Building to the rooms over the Roddey Mercantile Co. In the White Building lumber is being placed for repairing the hall for use as a lodge room for some of the lodges of the city.”
The Record reported on July 2, 1908 – “Mr. Parks, Manager of the Carolina Hotel, has rented the new residence erected by Mr. Ed Barron in the Hutchison Grove, and will move his family in this week.”
The Record reported Aug. 31, 1908 – “Mr. Parks, who has been managing the hotel here, under the name Gresham and Parks, has bought Gresham’s interest and will manage by himself. Mr. Parks has been here about eight months.”
The Rock Hill Record contained an add on Jan. 3, 1927 for the Carolina dining room under the management of Mrs. R.H. Moore, “Breakfast for .50, diner .65, and super for $.75.”
The Record reported on Jan. 31, 1927 – “That the Carolina Hotel will change its name to the Southern Hotel. The interior has been renovated. The Rose and Tearoom will move from Caldwell Street to the Hotel and will continue to be operated by Ms. Anna Poe and Mrs. Rose Renfro.
The Record reported on April 16, 1923 – “W.W. Marmaduke, proprietor of Hotel Carolina, left today for Jacksonville Florida for the state convention of Florida Hotel men.
The Herald reported Jan. 2, 1926 – “That the Belk Company opens a store in the former Roddey – Poe Building.”
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* Reprinted from South Carolina in the 1880s: A Gazetteer by J.H. Moore, Sandlapper Publishing Company – 1989
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