The Herald on April 18, 1922 reported – “The old house on Main Street, on the lot adjoining the building occupied by the Roddey Reid Garage, is being removed, and business houses will be erected there later.”
City Directories and History: 1908 – John N. McElwee, Katherine, (Grocery and Baker at 116 – 118 E. Main and Manager of RH Opera House) also Russell McElwee, Manager of of J.N. McElwee, J. Russell McElwee (student), and (#232 East Main Street) E.F. Bell, 1922/23 – J.N. McElwee (#224 East Main Street), 2016 – First Citizens Bank, Spencer and Spencer.
“Next east to the Kimball house was a frame house built by Mr. Tom Johnston and then sold to Mr. John McElwee. It was a two-story frame house. Right next door was the old house of Mrs. Margaret Nelson Russell. There had once been a really old house here, but Mrs. Russell razed that house and built a spacious cottage there about 1887.” [Robbins – White Tour History]
Lot 11 South—as laid off in 1851, this was one of the larger lots measuring approximately 208’ in front by 212’ in depth (a one-acre lot). For
$134 A. T. Black sold the lot to Mary A. Sneed of Charlotte, N. C., heir of John J. Sneed, deceased, on January 7, 1864. But we must point out here that the lot had previously been conveyed before 1858 to Hugh Simpson, who probably did not live on the property. We know that Simpson acquired another lot from Black; therefore, it is logical to assume that Black and Simpson swapped lots, thus returning Lot 11 South to Black. There was a small house on this lot as early as 1854, as shown on an 1854 map of the village of Rock Hill.
In July, 1865, Mary A. Maxwell (formerly Mary A. Sneed), sold the one-acre lot to Makemie Wilson Russell, who had for several years been acting as depot agent for the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad Company at Rock Hill. He was, as stated above, a native of North Carolina. The deed to Russell mentions “the buildings thereon.” The consideration was $400. The lot was bounded by lots of R. M. Kerr and Robert Patton, A. T. Black, the Presbyterian Church, and by Main Street. The Russells lived for many years in the frame structure on the premises. Finally, about 1887, after Mr. Russell’s death, Mrs. Russell built a new and larger residence on the lot; and it is this house that the writer remembers so well and pleasantly as the residence of John M. Russell, who sang in the choir of the First Presbyterian Church of Rock Hill for fifty years, during part of which time the writer was organist of the same church.
On November 10, 1873, M. W. Russell sold a 100-foot section off the western side of the lot to Captain A. D. Holler, for $485. Captain Holler bought the lot for speculative purposes. He built a six-room cottage there and then sold house and lot to Thomas L. Johnston, M. D., an early Rock Hill physician, for the sum of $1,200 on October 7, 1874.70 Johnston rented the property. In 1894 (May 1st) his widow, Mrs. Dorcas Aveline (Luckey) Johnston, sold the place to a son-in-law of M. W. Russell, Jonathan N. (“John”) McElwee, who later operated a grocery store, a restaurant, and Rock Hill’s first movie theater, so the writer has been informed.
In the 1920’s W. G. Reid and Son, furniture dealers and funeral directors, bought the McElwee house and lot. They razed the house and erected a large brick structure for their various commercial enterprises. But before they could start on this building, the Rock Hill city council decided to extend Oakland Avenue from Main Street south to East Black Street. This called for the acquisition of land from both the Reids and from S. J. Kimball. After a good deal of dickering, an agreement was reached. The Reids agreed to move their proposed new building 10 feet to the east so that the City of Rock Hill could have enough land for an extended Oakland Avenue. All this took place in the spring of 1929. The Reid building was later the home of Maxwell Brothers and Mayfield, furniture dealers.
In the period from 1948 to 1952 the city council and the city planners made every effort to provide additional public parking in the downtown section. Accordingly, they bought the old Russell house and lot, tore down the house, and paved the lot for parking. On the other side of Saluda Street stood the Friedheim mansion, with a very large lot. The city council bought this property also, razed the magnificent residence, extended Elizabeth Lane from Main to Black Street, and paved the remaining portion of the Friedheim lot for parking.
In the late 1980’s the writer, in company with Richard S. Spencer, Jr., measured the front footage of all the lots in the old downtown section of Rock Hill. At that time the city parking lot (the old Russell house lot) measured 112’ on Main Street. On what was once the McElwee lot (formerly Russell) stood Liberty Loans and Anderson Company, 30’ 4”; Maxwell Brothers. 40’ (formerly Reid property). The sidewalk adjoining the western side of the Maxwell Brothers building was 5’ wide; Oakland Avenue measured 39’. The recently erected Rock Hill National Bank building stood on a lot (formerly Kimball) that measured then 100’.
The parking lot immediately adjoining the Presbyterian Church lot on the west is still there today. The former Home Federal Savings and Loan Association building, currently the First Citizens Bank, stands on the remaining portions of the old Russell and McElwee lots.
The writer feels compelled to relate an incident concerning the Russell house built next to the Presbyterian Church about 1887. It was told that the bachelor owner of the property, John M. Russell, aforesaid, lived there with his sister-in-law and his niece. Mr. Russell, tight-fisted with money, listened carefully to the pleas of his in-law and his niece, who complained that the old wood-shingled roof was leaking badly and needed to be repaired. In due course, Mr. John Russell hired a roofing man and had the roof over his room covered with asphalt shingles. The writer vividly remembers looking out the windows of the second-floor choir room of the Presbyterian Church and seeing the large expanse of wood shingles on the Russell house, interrupted on the eastern side by one patch of green asphalt shingles, directly over the bedroom of the choir’s elderly, revered bass soloist, John M. Russell. The Scottish genes of the old man were once again tangible.
[Information provided via Along the Land’s Ford Road – Vol. I, 2008 by William B. White, Jr.]
The Herald reported on July 12, 1902 – That Frew’s Machine Shop and Foundry has been leased and will be reopened. Mr. Edward R. River’s of Beaufort, S.C., has leased the plant of Mr. S.T. Frew. It is well located and it is Mr. River’s intention, to use the machines now in place and install new ones as soon as possible. Mr. Rivers was a machinist for the Coosaw Manufacturing Company for a number of years. He will bring with him two machinist and and foundry man. Mr. Rivers, his wife and three daughters have rented the Russell house on Main Street.
The Record reported on Jan. 28, 1907 – “Manager McElwee had three good shows at the Opera House last week.”
The Record reported on Aug. 31, 1908 – “Mr. John T. Taylor, one time of the Crawford – Taylor Grocery., Co., will open a green grocer and meat market in the building now occupied by the Lyric Theater. The Palace Market will be consolidated with Taylor’s new market and Mr. Smythe of the Palace will be in charge of the meat section of the new store.”
The Record also reported on Aug. 31, 1908 – “The Lyric Theatre will be consolidated with the Passtime Theatre and Manager McElwee will continue operating it.”
The Rock Hill Record of June 27, 1910 – “J.E. McElwee, the pioneer picture show man in Rock Hill, has acquired the interest of Mr. T.A. Crawford (M.D.), in the Airdome. He has also bought the licence under which the Elite was run until it was suspended. He intends to run all of his night shows at the Airdome, as long as the good weather permits. In case of rain, shows will be held at the Passtime.”
LETTER FROM ROCK HILL, May 1, 1876 (We wish we knew the name of the talented writer who called himself “Lux” in his weekly correspondence printed in the Yorkville Enquirer.)
I note with pleasure the repairing of the old store house of J. N. McElwee, Jun. The appearance of the building is respectable and imposing. It is now occupied by our young friend, R. T. May, who moved in from his old stand, and has a nice and attractive stock of goods. . . . The cellar beneath the store is being nicely walled up. It has been for years declared a nuisance, being continually filled with water. It was feared a local cause for disease would thereby spring from it to the town. However, it supplied us with water, the night of the fire, by which means alone the flames were checked. I am glad to say that the guard-house has had no boarders for several days. The present Council are very punctual and strict in enforcing the laws of the town. The efficient Marshall has turned his attention to repairing the streets and has improved them greatly. We have quite an enterprising set of young men here. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
Explore history, houses, and stories across S.C. Your membership provides you with updates on regional topics, information on historic research, preservation, and monthly feature articles. But remember R&R wants to hear from you and assist in preserving your own family genealogy and memorabilia.
Visit the Southern Queries – Forum to receive assistance in answering questions, discuss genealogy, and enjoy exploring preservation topics with other members. Also listed are several history and genealogical researchers for hire.
User comments welcome — post at the bottom of this page.
Please enjoy this structure and all those listed in Roots and Recall. But remember each is private property. So view them from a distance or from a public area such as the sidewalk or public road.
Do you have information to share and preserve? Family, school, church, or other older photos and stories are welcome. Send them digitally through the “Share Your Story” link, so they too might be posted on Roots and Recall.
User comments always welcome - please post at the bottom of this page.