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TEN YEARS ON THE INTERNET!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED INTEREST IN THE THINGS OF OLD GASTONIA.
--TRENTON CREATIVE ENTERPRISES
T&T Supermarket (Tatham and Treadway) was an anchor of the Firestone Square (Greasy Corner) business district from the 1940s until the 1970s. Located on the southwest corner of West Franklin Avenue and South Vance Street in a building previously occupied by the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P--until it relocated to the present site of the Sav-A-Lot Supermarket), T&T was the last (along with A.D. Blanton and Sons) of the several grocery stores that operated in the populous and busy old West Gastonia from the time of the Loray Mill's construction in 1900-1901. (The circa-November 1952 Gastonia Gazette article appears courtesy of Gail Treadway Elmore, T&T proprietor G.M. "Spoon" Treadway's daughter.)
Franklin Drug Store was established a short distance west of Loray Square/Firestone Square/"Greasy Corner" in West Gastonia at 1343 West Franklin Avenue next door to a McCoy Gas Station around 1920. In 1941 it was purchased by Mr. Henry C. Bell, a local pharmacist who had received on-the-job experience following graduation from the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy. He moved the business across the street to 1402 (currently the location of an automotive paint business) in the mid-1950s where it remained until it closed in the 1970s.
When on-street parking was eliminated on Franklin Avenue in the late 1960s (when it became "Franklin Boulevard"), much of the human scale and walkability of Gastonia's central traffic artery was replaced by what amounted to a six-lane freeway. If life is ever to return to the abandoned storefronts and under-utilized structures all along Franklin, on-street parking must be re-established. This is now possible due to the existence of three crosstown highways (Long, Garrison, and Hudson) that did not exist or did not exist as high-volume arteries when Franklin parking was eliminated. The City of Gastonia Planning Department has developed an interesting draft plan for the Loray Village area that includes reclaiming Franklin Boulevard as a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare.
(The picture of the Franklin Drug Store is from a c.1948 Gastonia Gazette article and was furnished by Mr. Bell's son-in-law Gary Dellinger. The link to the draft plan for the Loray Village area was used with permission.)
THE END OF AN ERA
On Wednesday March 23, 2016 Smith Drugs closed its doors. Its passing marked the end of Old Gastonia's retail history on West Main Avenue. This picture was taken from a series recorded just before the beginning of the removal sale of Matthews Belk department store on June 23, 1976 and appears in A Glimpse as It Passed: Scenes from A Vanished Gastonia, North Carolina, 1972-1992 published by Trenton Creative Enterprises ©
Gastonia, North Carolina was established at the intersection of two railroads in 1877. The textile industry was planted in the city in 1887 and found fertile ground for its flourishing with the rapid growth of many mills and their accompanying employee villages. In 1976, with the opening of Eastridge Mall,Uptown ceased to be Gastonia's retail center. The area then endured two major
governmental redevelopment projects: a devastating Main Avenue "beautification" that reduced onstreet parking and drove several struggling businesses out of existence and the lowering of Southern Railway's main line tracks into a ditch that wiped out one-third of Uptown's built environment. The twenty-first century witnessed the demise of textiles as a major industry in the United States. The center city, which by that time had become known as "Downtown" (possibly because of the direction it had taken), continued a long, slow decline as development increased at a fever pitch on the eastern fringe of the city (the Charlotte side). In recent years, there had been growing hope that private development would bring life back to the lightly-traveled streets, and some progress had indeed been made. But then the tentacles of government returned to the arena, bringing attention and controversy back to the heart of Gastonia. Political arrogance once again wreaked havoc, and irreplaceable buildings fell. In their place was raised a monument to narcissism, about which future citizens will wonder. This is where we find ourselves in 2018.
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