This Building Has History ™
Name: Rock Hill Hardware Company – 114 East Main
Architect: Attributed to A.D. Holler
Builder: Wm. N. Ashe – Brick Manufacturer
In 1858, this lot was sold by A.T. Black, to Major Richard Austin Springs, for the price of $88.69.
At the suggestion of his wife, Jane Bobo Springs, a cottage was built there to serve as a parsonage for recently organized Methodist Church of Rock Hill. The 1860 census shows that the house and lot were occupied by the Reverend Edmund Alexander Price and family.
In 1881, the Herald reported the construction of a drugstore and a furniture store on the lots owned by Captain A.E. Hutchinson, stating, “When completed, the buildings will be large and handsome structures.” The financial collapse of the late 19th century led to the site being sold again, this time to Major A.H. White and his sister, Miss Mary E. White, cousins of the previous owner.
The Charleston News and Courier reported on June 7, 1890 – “Jenkins and Gelzer will open a first class hardware store here in August. This firm is composed of progressive young men of Charleston, S.C., who deserve support of the citizens of Rock Hill. ” The Herald on Feb. 1, 1893 reported, “John Gelzer will soon commence building a dwelling in Oakland. (The RH City Directory reported the home in 1908 as on the corner of Union and Oakland.)
On Feb. 14, 1894 the YV Enquirer reported – “The hardware store of Mr. John Gelzer was closed last week because of an outstanding debt. His stock of goods in worth $8,000. or more, and he is currently attempting to make good on a debt with a firm in Baltimore.”
The Rock Hill Herald of Aug. 26, 1896 reported, “Mr. A.R. Smith, Pres. of RH Hardware Co., having decided to give his entire attention to the cotton business, has sold his interest to Mr. A.A. Barron. Mr. John Gelzer will remain manager, and T.O. Flowers, R.E. Barron, and W.L. Barron will hold places as salesman.”
The Herald on Sept. 12, 1900 reported on a major fire with broke out on Saturday, Sept. 8th. The fire broke out in the Frew Machine Works. It consumed that building and moved southward to the building occupied by Morison’s Laundry, then the wooden buildings of the Rock Hill Wagon Works and the tin shop of J. Westberlund. The fire then moved to the warehouses of the Rock Hill Hardware Co., at that point, the whole of the business section of Main Street was in danger because the warehouse is connected to the Hardware Co., on Main Street. The fire company was able to slow the spread of the fire. The bakery of McElwee and Russell, connected with their store, caught fire. The warehouse of Roddey Mercantile was saved from the sparks however across Black Street, the wagon warehouse of Roddey Mercantile was damaged but not destroyed.”
In 1901, the Rock Hill Hardware Company, one of the city’s oldest family businesses, expanded onto the lot. In August of that year, the Herald reported that, “Mr. Wm. N. Ashe, proprietor of the Rock Hill Brick Works, will supply ‘about 35,000’ to be used in the expansion of the Rock Hill Hardware Store.” A.A. Barron, a successful planter and businessman, was president of the company from 1897 until his death in 1909.
The Rock Hill Record reported on July 30, 1908 – “Someone through a large rock through the skylight over the store room of the Rock Hill Hardware Co., smashing the glass and giving Mr. Ed. Barron a narrow escape from death.”
The store ledger of Jno. McElwee states in 1915 that RH Hardware was an account holder. (W.L. Barron, Sec. Tres, R.E. Barron, Manager) – The highly successful Rock Hill Hardware Co., had extensive business dealings with the textile industry and warehouses full of merchandise. This building was the company headquarters and from this point west, Rock Hill’s urban renewal efforts demolished the famous Carolina Hotel and Ratterree Corner complex, to make room for municipal improvements in the early 1970s. The hardware company closed in ca. 1978.
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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