Monday, March 20, 2017

Rice Furniture Has Been here the Longest

Rice Furniture opened on June 1, 1968 making it the longest running current retail business in downtown Brevard.  Edwin Rice began in the business as a delivery man for Pearlman's Furniture in Asheville in the late 1940s.   After serving in the Army and working in other businesses he went back to work at Pearlman's Canton store in 1961.  In 1962 he took over as manager of their Brevard store.

Pearlman's Furniture store opened on the corner of
E. Main and Gaston streets on August 25, 1950.
Pearlman’s had opened their Brevard store in 1950.  In 1956 they renovated the former Wheeler Hosiery building on the corner of W. Main St. and Caldwell.  They also used the building behind them on Caldwell St. as a warehouse.

When Rice purchased Pearlman’s he continued to use all three floors for displaying and selling living room and bedroom furniture.  The Caldwell St. buildings behind the main building carried dining and kitchen furniture, as well as appliances.  In addition they carried children’s furniture, televisions and stereos, carpeting and vinyl flooring, and home accessories.

Prizes displayed in Houston Furniture's window for their Formal Opening
included a range, a kitchen cabinet, a chifforobe, and more.
Houston Furniture Company was one of the earliest furniture businesses in Brevard.  A.M. Houston opened his first furniture store in 1906.  His first Brevard store was located on S. Broad St. and opened in 1926, fifteen years later they relocated to E. Main Street.  Although fire nearly destroyed the business in 1953 they recovered and continued to grow.  After Mr. Houston's death his nephew, Herman Turner who had long been a partner in the business took over.  Larry Turner followed in his father's footsteps, operating the store until it closed in 1990.


DeWitt Abercrombie ran a furniture store downtown beginning in 1938.  In 1949 he build a large four-story building on N. Broad St. just below the present day Transylvania Times.  Apartments were on the top floor and the basement was used for storage, leaving the other two floors for the retail business.  In 1969 Ed Mims and Charlie Lyday purchased the store.  Mims bought Lyday out in 1971 and operated the store until 1978.

The mezzanine level of Houston Furniture was added in the early 1960s.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.  Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs.  For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at marcy.thompson@transylvaniacounty.org or 828-884-1820.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Brevard Department Stores Were Popular

This week Picturing the Past will look inside a few of Brevard’s former department stores.  General stores had been popular in most communities in the 1800s.  They were normally small structures and carried a wide array of goods.  Department stores developed as consumerism grew.  These larger retail stores also carrying a variety of items but were organized by department.

Trantham’s was one of Brevard’s earliest department stores.  T.E. England opened it as a general store in 1885.  In 1915 his son-in-law, B.W. Trantham, became a partner in the business and soon transformed it into a department store.  Beverly English Trantham had begun working with her father as a teenager.  Their sons, Tony and Jack followed in the family business.  They sold toys, notions, piece goods, clothing, and shoes.  Later they would specialize in men’s clothing and shoes.  In 1939 the store relocated from W. Main to the corner of E. Main and Gaston streets, beside the new Belk’s.  Tony retired in 1970 and Jack closed the store when he retired in 1976.
S.F. Allison was the manage of Plummer's Annex.


Another early department store in Brevard was Plummer’s on W. Main St.  Henry Plummer opened the store as Johnson and Plummer, later it became Plummer and Cobble, and then The Plummer Company.  In 1932 his son, Robert took over the business.  It operated until 1970.

Alex and Bessie Patterson had worked in various department stores before opening their own store in 1940.  Mrs. Patterson was from Brevard and they thought the growth of the town with the opening of Ecusta would provide their business plenty of customers.  When Alex died in 1952 the Patterson’s son, Ben took over management.  Over the years the store expanded until it consisted of about 7500 square feet.  They had separate entrances for the men’s department (on S. Broad St.) and the women’s department (on W. Main St.) but it was all one store.  Patterson’s closed in 1989.

The women's department at Belk offered chairs
and even an ashtray for customers.
Brevard’s first Belk Department Store was located on W. Main St. in what would become Patterson’s.  After just a couple of years they built and opened a new store on E. Main St.  The new store had a mezzanine level in both the front and the back.  The women’s department was located on the upper level in the back and Ruth’s Beauty Shop was on the upper level in the front.  There were two sets of double doors to enter on the front of the building.  On the interior, wide open stairs went up from the center in both the back and front.  In 1993 Belk’s moved out of downtown to the new Walmart plaza at the intersection of highways 64, 276, and 280 in Pisgah Forest. 

Next week Picturing the Past will reveal the downtown Brevard store that currently has the longest run in the same location.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.  Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs.  For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at marcy.thompson@transylvaniacounty.org or 828-884-1820.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Beauty Shops focused on More Than Hair

Last week’s Picturing the Past mentioned that Smith’s Barber Shop also had a women’s department.  According to Smith’s obituary, Dock Ramsey’s wife managed that part of the shop and “did the first hair bobbing in Brevard, clipping tresses in the style made popular by Irene Castle.”  Holland Talley also operated a women’s beauty parlor in conjunction with his barber shop for several years in the 1950s.

Mrs. Lodema Robertson operated a beauty parlor on W. Jordan St. in Brevard in the 1930s.  Originally known as the Nobby Shoppe Beauty Parlor the name changed to Harper Method Beauty Shop in May 1932.  In addition to haircuts and permanent waves the shop carried cosmetics.  Mrs. Robertson and her assistants blended powder specifically for individual complexions and instructed ladies on how to apply make-up.

Edith Mull and Marie Davis, East Main Beauty Shop, 1933.
Edith Mull York worked as a beautician in Brevard for several years before opening her own shop, Modern Beauty Salon, on W. Jordan St. around 1943.  Ladies typically had a standing appointment each week to have their hair fixed.  York’s daughter said her mother always enjoyed her work and became good friends with her weekly customers.  Mrs. York continued to work until retiring at the age of 82 ½ in the late 1990s.

By 1972 the Brevard Beauty Nook was the largest beauty shop in town with eight beauticians, six shampoo booths, and eleven driers.  They offered permanents, frosting, styling, cutting, wig care, and manicures.  Mrs. Ruth Sams and Mrs. Edna Fullbright, who had both worked at Anne’s Beauty Bar previously, opened it in 1954.  The Beauty Nook was originally located on the 2nd floor, above Osborne-Simpson Funeral Home on E. Main.  In 1958 they moved downstairs after the funeral home relocated.
Anne's Beauty Bar on East Jordan Street operated in the 1940s.
Over the years there have been many other beauty shops and salons in Brevard and throughout the county. 
During the next few weeks Picturing the Past will continue to look inside some of Transylvania’s other past businesses.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.  Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs.  For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at marcy.thompson@transylvaniacounty.org or 828-884-1820.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Barber Shops Were Busy Businesses

Hart's Barber Shop on East Main St. was a busy place in 1953.
Notice the shoe shine stand in the back left.
Like drug stores and cafes, barber shops and beauty shops were important businesses in mid-20th century downtowns across America.  People were able to take care of their shopping, banking, and other needs with a weekly visit to town. 

As early as 1904 the Aethelwold Hotel in downtown Brevard had a barber for businessmen and travelers.  Early barber shops also offered shaves, baths, and shoe shines.

The Simpson brothers operated a barber shop
from the late 1920s intl the 1940s.
John W. Smith was a barber for 55 years, most of them at his shop on West Main St. in Brevard.  His shop was a hub of civic activity where patrons could play checkers, exchange news and opinions, or debate local issues.  For many years Smith also had a department for women to get haircuts. 

In 1957 J.S. Simms and Mitchell Crawford opened their West Main Barber Shop in Smith’s former location.  Over the years a number of barbers worked in the West Main Barber Shop but by 1970 it consisted of Simms, Crawford, Holland Talley, and J.A. Gray. 

Talley had worked for Smith and the Simpson Barber Shop before opening his own shop in 1948.  Both Simms and Crawford had worked for Talley before joining together to open West Main.  J.A. Gray had also worked for both Simpson’s and Smith’s and had even been partners with Smith for several years before opening his own barber shop in 1955.

The four longtime barbers and friends work together at West Main Barber Shop for several years.  In the late 1980s Randy Austin went to work at the barber shop.  Later Austin and his brother Ricky purchased the shop.  Mitchell Crawford continued to work part-time until about 2002.

Next week Picturing the Past will take a peek inside a few of Brevard’s early beauty shops.


Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.  Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs.  For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at marcy.thompson@transylvaniacounty.org or 828-884-1820.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Gaither's Was Brevard's Longest Operating Restaurant

Since the early 1900s downtown Brevard has been home to numerous cafes and restaurants.  The earliest mention of a local restaurant found in the Sylvan Valley News is for Jim Aiken’s Restaurant and Bakery.  Aiken was a prominent African-American businessman with a general store on Main St. in Brevard.  In 1903 Aiken added on to his store and began serving lunch.  It apparently was particularly popular during court week.

Other early restaurant operators included A.B. Benjamin, G.F. Chapel, Ed Flack, Chester Gallamore, and Spurgeon Osborne.  Osborne owned the Royal Lunch Room which later became the Royal CafĂ© operated by H.C. Aiken.

Jimmy Gaither, second from left, and his staff at his Broad St. restaurant in 1951.
Berry Gaither is on the far right.
By mid-century dining options included the Casino Grill and Billiard Parlor on N. Caldwell, the Chicken Kitchen on N. Broad, the Coffee Shop and Stroller’s Inn on E. Main, and Galloway’s and Gaither’s on S. Broad.

Gaither’s was by far the longest operating of Brevard’s downtown restaurants.  Jimmy Gaither had been in the food service business in Statesville, Franklin, and Sylva.  When Ecusta opened he saw an opportunity and opened the first “modern” restaurant in Brevard in 1940.  It grew to include cafeteria-style service on the main level with banquet space in the Rhododendron and Dogwood Rooms on the second floor.   Gaither also operated a food service for Brevard College for a couple of years and for Brevard Music Center for several years.  He ran the Toxaway House at Lake Toxaway in the 1960s.  In addition he operated a burger place, provided food service at the bowling alley and owned a miniature golf course.  Gaither’s downtown location closed in 1977.
Berry Gaither at Berry's Restaurant on the Asheville Highway.

Berry Gaither and a cook in the kitchen at Berry's.
Berry’s Restaurant on the Asheville Highway, where Wendy’s is today, was owned and operated by Jimmy Gaither’s brother Berry.  The brothers had worked together until Berry decided to open his own place on the new four-lane highway on the outskirts of Brevard in 1959.  For many years the restaurant was open from 5:00 am until 1:00 am to feed Ecusta shift workers.  After Berry’s death in 1978 his son Rodney ran the restaurant and they began closing at 10:00 pm.  Berry’s closed in 1994.

Picturing the Past will continue looking inside more former businesses next week.

Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.  Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs.  For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at marcy.thompson@transylvaniacounty.org or 828-884-1820.