Do you remember when...?
Demolition crews working to bring down two aged structures on Williams Street uncovered signs of history as they did so this week.
They crushed the condemned building at 1048 South Williams Street, revealing several signs on the side of the old drugstore building from before the construction of the building that covered them up for more than 80 years.
The signs painted directly on the red brick of the building includes a bold white-on-black title for Pittman’s Drugstore, that according to Morris Hedgepeth of Southside Drug Co., is the forerunner of Southside. It is believed to have been open as early as 1912.
According to Hedgepeth, a Mr. Pittman, possibly an attorney, owned Pittman’s and several other properties, and some receipts referenced a Pittman-Satterwhite entity before the drugstore became Southside. Clarence White obtained Southside in 1926 and ran it for 40 years, with locals knowing it as White’s Drugstore.
“It never was named White’s Drugstore,” Hedgepeth said, “not officially, but he ran Southside from around 1926 up to 1965 when he died.”
Hedgepeth said that he heard about the revealed signs on the old drugstore, and he remembered finding some of the old prescription papers from the Pittman era.
“I have prescriptions back to 1912 when it was Pittman’s,” Hedgepeth said. “There were many of them hanging on an old wire in the back. Prescriptions were done differently back when the mixing all had to be done by hand.”
Hedgepeth said he also has an old advertisement from The Dispatch in 1927 announcing a celebration for White’s first anniversary at the helm of Southside.
According to Vance County tax records, the structure at 1048 South Williams that covered up the old signs, including a well-preserved Coca-Cola sign, went up in 1931.
Locals remember the Grissom family stores, a grocery and dry goods that located there. According to a longtime barber in the area, Lou Pierce of Friendly Barber, the Grissom brothers — Junie, Sidney and Lawrence — had a falling out, and Lawrence Grissom put up a firewall to separate his dry goods store from the grocery.
The other Grissom brothers sold the grocery store to the Edwards family at about that time, and Edwards Grocery ran there under several owners up to the late 1980s, perhaps 1990, according to Pierce.
At points over the years, the drugstore also changed hands.
“Clarence White had bought it from the Pittmans, and then he sold it to Hedgepeth,” Pierce said. “Now the drugstore is located further up Nicholas Street,” about a block away at the intersection with Maple next to the Friendly Barber Shop.
Esther Moss recalls the area of the late 1970s when she moved her Friendly Florist shop into the old Grissom store, the dry goods shop that closed in the early or mid-1970s according to Moss and Pierce.
Moss remembers Grissom for selling shoes.
“I think Grissom had been closed for a while when we came in 1977,” Moss said. “Mr. Grissom sold shoes there forever and ever and ever. There was the grocery store, and the Salvation Army was next to me on the other side when the drugstore moved.”
Friendly Florist stayed only briefly, then moved across the street to their present location in 1979.
“The only things I remember there from before was the old grocery store and White’s drugstore,” she said.
It is the old drugstore building that was still standing late in the week. It has no listed address or year of construction in current county tax records, but it still belongs to the Salvation Army. It is scheduled for demolition.
The Salvation Army and the City of Henderson worked out an arrangement to bring down both buildings at the same time.
Corey Williams, the code compliance director for Henderson, said the city and the Salvation Army both save money having the contractor out at the site once for tearing them down together.
“We had a conversation with the Salvation Army to have the demolitions done at one time,” Williams said. “Their building was not condemned. There was not an order on their building, but it is in pretty bad shape.”
The property at 1048 South Williams is listed as owned by Markise Nicholson of 111 Meridith Lane, Henderson, and had an assessed value of $28,663 according to the most recent tax records available from the Vance County tax office.
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