Looking back: Widening of U.S. Route 58

Published 10:39 am Friday, May 30, 2014

by Clyde Parker

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

May 30, 1964

About three miles of U. S. Route 58, from Courtland to the Nottoway Swamp Bridge, will soon be widened to four lanes. This is part of the Commonwealth’s new arterial highway development program. Bids on the project will be advertised over the next couple of months.

New Negro elementary school to be built

A new elementary school for Negroes will be built in Franklin. And it will be built adjacent to Hayden High School. City of Franklin Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Brickell made the announcement following a special School Board meeting held last Thursday night. During that meeting, final approval was given on architectural drawings put together and submitted by the Macilroy and Parris architectural firm.

The Board also decided to advertise the project for bids starting June 15 if review and approval by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education is completed by June 14 as scheduled. If approved by that date, project description and drawings would then be issued to contractors. Bids must be received not later than 2 p.m. on July 9. The new facility is expected to be ready for occupancy by September 1965.

VNB announces personnel changes

C.A. Cutchins III, senior vice president of Virginia National Bank in Norfolk, announced today that the Bank Board, meeting in Norfolk, approved three promotions. V.S. Pittman Jr., vice president and manager of the Bank’s Capron office, was promoted to vice president and trust officer and will be transferred to the Franklin office. Succeeding Pittman in Capron will be Charles B. Settle, assistant cashier in Capron, whose promotion to assistant vice president also received Board approval.

The third promotion was for James L. McLemore Jr. of the Suffolk office of Virginia National Bank. He moves up from vice president to senior vice president. Upon retirement of Jack Nurney, McLemore will succeed him as Chief Executive Officer of Virginia National Bank’s two Suffolk locations.

Raiford hospital to ‘bite the dust’

Another prominent Franklin historical landmark will soon be history. Six bids have been received for demolition of the abandoned Raiford Memorial Hospital building situated on the northeastern corner of Main Street and Second Avenue.

The beautiful and up-to-date Southampton Memorial Hospital situated on the northwestern corner of North High Street and Fairview Drive has taken the place of the old Raiford Hospital.

Soon after demolition of the Raiford building, Rose’s Stores, Inc. will construct a new variety store on the site. According to Ralph Cox, assistant construction manager for Rose’s Stores out of Henderson, NC, the new store should be ready for occupancy by the fall of the year.

Raiford was in operation for nearly 34 years. It was housed in a building that in the early 1900’s was the Virginia Hotel. Raiford became a community owned hospital in 1943.

Old armory to be razed

Still another Franklin landmark is giving way to progress. The Armory on Fourth Avenue is to be razed to make way for the expansion of the Starr Beaton Chevrolet dealership next door. It is near the northeastern corner of Fourth Avenue and Franklin Street.

Given to American Legion Post #73 soon after World War I by General C. C. Vaughan, the building has been the Legion’s local headquarters ever since.

Also, over the years, the building has been the scene of many area social activities. Basketball games took place there, teenagers attended dances there, ladies put on flower shows there, and many other various and sundry activities were staged there.

Unfortunately, it is now a decaying structure. It is almost entirely of wooden construction and, in appearance, is very similar to buildings that you will see on military installations. However, the structure has not stood the test of time. The floor is not as strong as it used to be. The walls are not as safe as they once were.

Still, it is an old Franklin landmark and a cherished one. But it is wise that it should be replaced before it really becomes an unbearable eyesore and a hazard.

Four local men get w&l degrees

Two Courtland men and two Franklin men are among 264 seniors slated to receive bachelor degrees June 5 in graduation ceremonies at Washington and Lee University.

The two Franklin men are: Wyatt Durrette Jr., 507 Gardner Street, who will receive a Bachelor of Laws degree. Robert Powell III of 400 Lee Street will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in commerce.

The two Courtland men getting degrees are Charles Rowe, who will receive a bachelor of laws degree, and Charles Urquhart III who will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.

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 cpjeep99@yahoo.com