Looking Back: Franklin’s Main Street is booming!

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2019

By Clyde Parker

July 24, 1919

About six weeks ago, property worth more than $44,000 changed hands when Jones-Haydes Co., G.H. Steinhardt’s and Beale Brothers bought stores and building sites on Franklin’s Main Street. Now, more Main Street business activity is reported. This past week, approximately $50,000 in new deals were consummated.

Tuesday morning, W.T. Brown, proprietor of the Star Grocery, bought from M.H. Moore two stores, next to the Franklin Theatre, now occupied by Sanderford Electrical Co. and Bell’s Poolroom, the consideration being $13,500. Mr. Brown, who is one of Franklin’s most progressive merchants, will occupy these stores with a strictly modern grocery and cold storage plant.

Next, J.N. Bell bought the Franklin Theatre from Mr. Moore, consideration $10,000; and, as we are informed, Bell’s Poolroom will be relocated into that building after it is remodeled to suit that business.

The scene shifts to the lower end of Main Street, next to the railroad depot. Jonah Soble just purchased from Mrs. G.G. McCann the store now occupied by D.A. Holland, just below Vaughan & Co. Bank, for $6,000, and from Barclay Pretlow the store occupied by Smith Brothers for $5,000. These purchases give Mr. Soble a huge amount of space in which to operate his new business — Soble’s Department Store.

On Thursday night, Franklin Lodge A.F.&A.M. closed its option with Wayland F. Jones on the lot between the new post office building and R.H.B. Cobb’s residence property on the southwestern corner of Main Street and Fourth Avenue at $5,500. This lot has a frontage of 53 feet on Main Street and runs back a distance of 210 feet. The Masons expect to erect a handsome temple on this property which will be a credit to the town and provide a fitting home for the order. The plans will probably include a large store on the first floor, offices on the second and the lodge room on the third.

Vaughan & Co. Bank is planning a handsome new building on their present site, on the northeastern corner of Main Street and First Avenue, to take in the old bank building; the offices of Lytton Manufacturing Corp.; and, in the rear, the local Western Union Telegraph Co. office. The building will be of elegant appointments. The bank proper will be on the first floor and eight offices are planned for the second floor. They also propose as a new and much-needed innovation here, a woman’s rest room in the bank building with a maid in attendance.

The directors of the Merchants and Farmers Bank have appointed a building committee to secure plans and specifications for a new building on their present location, the northwestern corner of Main Street and Second Avenue, the structure to be 40 feet wide on Main Street and running back 70 feet on Second Avenue. The building will not be less than four and probably five stories in height, will be modernly equipped in every respect, will have a number of office suites, and will have electric elevator service. It is the plan of the bank to dispose of their other holdings on their corner, including the remainder of the Virginian Hotel building, R.A. Peters’ Barber Shop and W.J.M. Holland’s undertaking establishment. [Note: The location is now occupied by the building that, most recently, housed the “Floor-to-Ceiling” business.]

The Farmers Bank, E.L. Beale-president, has plans about complete for the erection of a new banking house on a vacant lot within the block occupied by the Stonewall Inn. Their new building, which will be on the northeastern corner of Main Street and Third Avenue, will be two stories in height and will probably include one or more stores on the first floor with several commodious offices on the second floor. The building committee proposes to make the new structure modern and creditable in every respect. It may be noted with interest that, in their recent campaign to increase the capital stock of their bank from $20,000 to $30,000, applications for $61,800 worth of stock were received. This speaks exceedingly well for the confidence of the investing public in Franklin institutions and particularly of the rapid and substantial growth of The Farmers Bank since its organization in March of 1916. [Note: The property is now known as the “Bradshaw Building”.]

Back in June, Dr. E.A. de Bordenave announced sale of his Virginia Pharmacy, at 204 N. Main St., to Mr. Herbert Cobb of Holland. Mr. Cobb is a Franklin boy, the son of Mr. T.W. Cobb of this community, and is well-known here and has been conducting a successful drug business in our neighboring town. He is a full-registered pharmacist and will give the business his entire time, having sold his Holland store to parties in that town. Mr. Cobb has taken charge of the Virginia Pharmacy and will move his stock from Holland, merging it with the business here which will be conducted at the same place and under the old firm name.

Dr. de Bordenave, who established the Virginia Pharmacy in the Pythian Building here in March 1917, has made quite a success of the business; and, although he is retiring from its ownership and management, he will continue to maintain his office in the Virginia Pharmacy building.

Mr. Cobb, who is an energetic and hustling young business man, will move to Franklin at once with his family. He contemplates a number of additions and improvements to his new enterprise. [Note: In later years, occupants of the property included The Virginian Drug Store, owned and operated by W.R. Atkinson Jr. Presently, it is the site of the newly established Virginia Peanut Co. and Gourmet Market, owned by Mike and Lauren Smith.]