Looking Back: Property transfers clear way for first shopping center

Published 9:02 am Friday, May 18, 2012

by Clyde Parker

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back features past articles from The Tidewater News with commentary by local historian Clyde Parker.

May 18, 1962

Franklin gets first shopping center

Two property transfers were approved by Franklin City Council Monday night, one of them clearing the way for a proposed shopping center at the southeastern corner of Main and South streets.

The city will receive an additional right-of-way, measuring 50 by 400 feet, along Pinpoint Road in return for erasing some never developed streets from old pre-1900 maps of what is known as the Bogart place.

Pinpoint Road begins at the south end of Main Street and extends into a residential area called “Pinpoint,” which is adjacent to the Blackwater River and borders the Bogart property.

City Manager Harold Atkinson said the city’s master plan calls for Pinpoint Road to be realigned and extended through the woods to the city dump off South Quay Road.

The landscape in that part of Franklin will be greatly altered.

The Bogart place with its early 1800s home is considered to be one of Franklin’s most historic properties. It dates to Franklin’s earliest settlement as a Blackwater River village. The future of this old home is in jeopardy. No effort is being made to retain the house.

Currently under local ownership, the property is scheduled to be sold to Bonnie Enterprises of Norfolk, headed by Frank Fentress, who will begin developing the shopping center within 30 to 60 days. Plans include a Be-Lo supermarket, a hardware store and other retail establishments.

In another property swap approved by Council, the city and Pretlow Peanut Co. will divide a lot on Elm and Crawford streets just off the eastern side of Main Street near the City Street Department shops. And, two long narrow strips of land, one owned by the city and the other by Pretlow, will be exchanged so that both owners will have larger and more suitable lots for building or other needs.



The Franklin-Southampton negotiating committee, which was formed to transition the Town of Franklin to independent city status, has come to a deadlock concerning schools. At issue is the division of county schools into two independent systems and the establishment of school property ownership in the City of Franklin.

After seven months of negotiations, Southampton County officials, in a surprise turnaround, have now proposed that the county continue operation of schools located in Franklin on a permanent basis. The new county proposal also calls for the city to go ahead with its plans to build a new white high school and a new Negro elementary school. The city would pay for the buildings, but would be under county control and operation.

This most recent proposal by Southampton officials was put forth after Franklin officials refused to accept Southampton’s expectation that, when or if the two systems are divided, the city would compensate the county for schools located in Franklin. But, at no time during the negotiations have county officials publicly specified an expected compensation payment. The estimated value of school property located in Franklin is $1 million.

City officials offered to pay $170,000 of the county school debt. Franklin’s refusal to pay for any of the real estate is based on a little known fact. Prior to 1948, the Town of Franklin was a separate school district, and for decades, the town with funds paid by its taxpayers, built, operated and owned its school buildings and property. Since 1948, when the special school district was abolished and Franklin’s schools began to be operated as a part of the county system, the citizens of Franklin contributed, through county taxes, to the general county school fund.

“The city has a rightful claim to the school facilities that were built with funds derived from its citizens to serve their own children,” said a spokesman for the city.

An earlier tentative agreement called for combined school systems through June 30, 1963, at which time Franklin would have an independent system, but things started to get complicated.

The Franklin School Board and City Council have rejected Southampton’s new proposal.

“It completely overlooks one of the principal reasons, if not the controlling one, that prompted the town to make its decision to become a city,” the city spokesman said. “It is our desire and intention to establish, own and operate our own school system. Unless the county has any realistic proposal, the only recourse appears to be to submit the matter to the courts for determination.”

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is ParkerC@seva-redcross.org.