This Building Has History ™
Name: Friedheim’s Department Store
Architect: Hugh Edward White
This lot was first purchased in 1852 by Ira Ferguson, a planter and merchant, for $125. This is the first known sale of a lot on Main Street. Ferguson’s failing health led him to sell the property only a few months later, to Andrew J. Smith. Smith sold the property again in 1853 to Captain Jonathan N. McElwee. McElwee quickly built a frame storehouse and mercantile business on the site. This became a gathering center for the men of the community. The back of the property was a leafy oasis, where the farmers and tradesmen who came into town would tie their horses. The original town well was located just in front of McElwee’s store, in the middle of Main Street.
Captain McElwee suffered financially after the Civil War, and his holdings were put up for auction. From 1866, the lot was occupied by Major John Rutherford London, and used as a mercantile establishment. Captain McElwee stepped in during Major London’s old age, and in 1880, the lot was divided and sold. The sections were bought by brothers Arnold and Julius Friedheim, a well-known Rock Hill druggist named Thomas C. Robertson, and Janie R. Smith, whose portion was operated as the Smith-Fewell Company for many years.
The Friedeims built a department store, but were forced to move and rebuild the business several times, due to devastating fires. Following a fire in 1898, the Friedhiems erected a large and impressive store, and the building survives to this day.
*** Woodworking foreman: Elsey Long, Bricklayers foreman: Howard Agurs, Roofing foreman: J.W. Westerland, Skylights: S.T. Frew, Counters and Tables: W.R. Henry
The Record of March 23, 1908 reported, “The Syleecau Co., has a force at work today erecting a large and handsome awning in front of the big Friedheim Store. The framework is massive construction.”
Roots and Recall LLC, The City of Rock Hill, The York County Arts Council, & The S.C. Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and by a generous award from the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.
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