1. 616 North Main Street Built in 1885 by John W. Easley, a merchant and tobacco warehouse owner. His daughter, Mrs. E. L. Evans, Jr., lived there until she died in the 1980s.
2. 700 North Main Street Queen Anne Victorian house with gable roof, 6-bay wraparound porch with turned posts, spindle frieze, turned balustrade. Built by the Willingham family in 1899. Purchased by the Dickerson family in 1920 and remained in the Dickerson family until the 1980s. Mr. Dickerson started a pool hall in 1901, and was located downtown at 521 N. Main Street. Mrs. Benjamin Dickerson's maiden name was Terry and her sister married E. B. Jeffress. Their portraits hang in the South Boston - Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts & History.
Fondest memory: 3. Open to all in the community, the Prayer Garden is filled with azaleas, peonies, tulips, dogwood trees, and a myriad other flowers and growing things. It offers "a quiet place, to be still and know that He is God". The garden is located on church property once occupied by the Hunt House. The garden is divided into three sections: The first area as people come in from the entrance on Main Street is "the pure meditation part of the garden," and is patterned mainly in green and white for the soothing qualities of those colors. This part of the garden is already home to a copper and steel cross created by local artist Bob Cage. Visible from three churches in the area the Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches Cage created a three-dimensional rather than a flat cross.
4. The First Presbyterian Church at 800 North Main Street is a Gothic Revival-style brick building with a steep cross gable slate roof, corner square bell tower, and pointed-arched stained glass windows. The oldest church building surviving in South Boston today, it was built in 1887 and is the most eyecatching historical church in the town.
5. Spanish Colonial Revival Style house, now Boston Commons Retirement Home on 1146 North Main Street. Lee thinks I am old enough to be a resident and I'm lucky he didn't leave me here. The Italian Renaissance section on the right was built by Tucker C. Watkins, Jr.. Dr. Rawley H. Fuller bought this mansion for $25,000 in 1927, and remodeled as the South Boston Hospital. It was expanded for the first time in 1928 by building a 2-storey wing at the back, along Sixth Street. In 1943 it was bought by Dr. William R. Watkins, son of the builder, and Dr. I. Keith Briggs, and the old Halcyon Hospital was then closed.
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1. On the right in the same block, is 425-427 Main Street the old Glascock Hardware Buildingwith its iron columns and Victorian Italianate design. This is a block of two stores, one with its original storefront, containing large upper-storey windows with heavy girders and an elabourate conjoined cast-iron cornice extending across the top of the building. A cast-iron segmental base with panels is in the middle of the cornice.
2. Most of the buildings downtown are two-storeys which was common with respect to late 19th and early 20th century commercial buildings. The exception that makes the rule is on the southeast corner of Main and North Main, 441 Main Street, the old Masonic Temple Building, formerly A.R. Via Jewelers. Besides being taller than most buildings downtown, the arches and the unusual corner location makes the building stand out. The third floor still has a large Masonic room with all the secret symbols.
3. The South Boston Municipal Building is the main landmark of the commercial district, the South Boston Municipal Building, a distinguished two-storey brick building with a rounded corner entrance framed columns and dominated by a full base. The impressive U-shaped building sums up South Boston's boom time at the turn of the century. The main entrance is Neoclassical, the preferred style for government buildings at that time. The most distinctive characteristic of the building is the tall circular brick tower on top of the corner of the building. The building was once a grocery store, and later the firehouse. Its tower contained a siren for the firehouse.
4. Across the street from the Municipal Building is the old United Virginia Bank at Ferry Street and Wilborn Avenue, which now houses Fry, Jordan, and Wilson, Inc. The 1918 building, stone building with the look of an ancient temple with ornate ionic columns on either side of the entrance enhanced by a classical ornamental facades.
Fondest memory: en español, em português
1204 Washington Avenue The E. L Evans House is a fine representative example of the Queen Anne style. It was built in 1892 by Edward L. Evans, the impressive residence has elabourately detailed porches, and pressed-brick ornamentation. It is unusual for its porches, wide central passage plan, and combination of different building materials including weatherboards, wood shingles, and pressed brick. This house had the first sidewalk and the first central heating system in South Boston. it was occupied until recently by the two daughters of Mr. Evans, a former mayor of South Boston in the 1890s. The current owners are the first owners outside the Evans family. It will always be the E.L. Evans home. E. L. Evans owned a lumber mill and was the mayor of South Boston at one time. I like the design and craftsmanship in the house, but I wish they would revert the paint job back to the original dark red with dark green trim. As it is, the house looks like a giant blackberry ice cream sundae.
1002 Washington Avenue The Noblin House is one of the most impressive Queen Anne style houses in South Boston. The well-preserved frame dwelling features a 13-bay wraparound porch with turned posts and decorative sawnwork, turned balustrade, spindle frieze, 2nd-story single-bay porch; 3-level comer tower topped by a belicast roof, stained glass windows and wooden shingles of various shapes and patterns. A central front gable has decorative woodwork, a Palladian window, and is curiously decorated with a series of wooden bullseye blocks. Richard R. Noblin, Sr. completed the residence in 1893. It remained in the family until the late 1890s. Mr. Noblin was a tobacco warehouseman, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and was elected to the state Senate, but died before he could serve. The house is now owned by Carrington Powell (of Powell Funeral Home) and his wife Sally Ann. Before the funerals of each of my grandparents, Sally Ann hosted a luncheon here.
Fondest memory: en español, em português
My grandma Terry lived over on Fenton Street. I would often take the dog for a walk down Fenton past the lodge, up Jeffress, and Yancey rounding out the trip. It's hard to believe so many grand homes were along the short route.
1. 1313 Jeffress Street Built in 1896 by James Traver (builder of the Dan River Covered Bridge and many other bridges, homes and buildings between 1856 and 1907) for the Throm family. Mr. Throm was associated with Singleton Lumber Co. which, until 1959, was located where Southern States is now located on Factory Street.
2. The house on 1328 Jeffress Street is a folk Victorian built by Colonel Henry Easley in 1896 as a wedding gift for his daughter Annie and Dr. Humphrey Singlet Belt. It features a spindlework porch. Lt. Col. Edward Trice, great grandson of Capt. Jeffress, lives here now. Note that Dr. H. S. Belt's name is engraved in the sidewalk in front of this house. My second cousin John Sibley who ran an aluminum siding business in town lived and raised his sons there.
3. This house on 1352 Jeffress Street Built in 1888 on land bought from Capt. Jeffress by Charles Thomas Lovelace. Governor and Mrs. William M. Tuck later lived here. Mrs. Tuck was Mr. Lovelace's daughter.
4. This Queen Anne house on1358 Jeffress Street has an 8-bay wraparound porch and slender Ionic columns. Dr. William Peter Lacy, the first of three generations of dentists to practice in South Boston, built this house before the turn of the century.
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I have been walking in downtown South Boston since I could walk, but, sadly, I never bothered to look up. I recently discovered how much I was missing:
1. The Planters and Merchants Bank at 209 Main Street (now an antique shop called Enchanted Surroundings) is the most notable late 19th century commercial building in South Boston. It is one of the most deluxe designs in the commercial area and clearly reflects the accomplishment of the tobacco planters and merchants who founded it. It consists of a recessed, two-storey central block with one-storey wings with semi-hexagonal exteriors on each side. The central block is highlighted by a cast-iron false front featuring ornate panels, moulded cornices, and a central base inscribed with P & M Bank 1891.
2. The E. L. Evans Building at 225-227 Main Street (home to the Bistro 1888 restaurant) is among the most eye-catching buildings of the period and probably the oldest surviving example of its kind. When it was built in 1888, the building was easily the most beautiful storefront in South Boston. A decorative pressed brick cornice, the centre with E. L. Evans 1888. sets the two-storey building apart. It is basically a Victorian Italianate brick building characterised by prominent brick supports, panels, corbeled cornices, and heavy semi-circular window heads. Fortunately, the building still keeps to its original design.
3. Across the street at 234 Main Street is a building that was a bar, hotel, drugstore, and bus station. It is now Sullivan's Antiques. It is interesting to note that just before prohibition, between 1900 and 1920, there were seven bars located on the west side of the Main Street. Ladies would never walk on that side of the street.
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At one point in the early 1990s, Downtown South Boston looked to be down and out. Key businesses like Leggett's, J.J. Newberry, Carroll's, Fuller's, and Faulkner & Lawson's drug store closed. Downtown appeared to be destined to fall victim to neglect like the architecturally beautiful, but abandoned, buildings at Virgilina's crossroads. However, after the turn of the century, efforts were made to lure businesses back downtown. Sadly, we could not revive the lost old businesses, but different ones moved in. With the notable exception of the Legett's and Newberry's buildings, the empty slots are pretty much filled. There is a wine shop on Main Street and even an upmarket restaurant, not to mention a good number of antique and gift shops. Also, South Boston decided to retrovate (accent the old architecture which makes Downtown pleasing to the eye, even more so if you care to look up). They even have park benches with the new South Boston logo which includes the emblem of the bell tower of the old fire house. South Boston hasn't bounced all the way back, but it's getting there!
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The Yancey House on 509 Yancey Street is the oldest house in South Boston. Capt. E. B. Jeffress built it about 1840 after he gave up farming on the frequently flooded south side of the river. In 1871 he gave his house to one of his daughters (he had 11 children). The first daughter was born in the upstairs room of the home. E. B. Jeffress, father of South Boston, built another house which is now part of the American Legion building on Jeffress Street. One daughter married Patrick Henry Yancey; thus the street's name. The garage is an original outbuilding. During World War II, the son of the family, Watt Baptist, flew over the house to wave at his mother. But the plane crashed into the backyard, killing both the pilot and his mama. This house changed hands and was again remodeled in about 1950.
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Here are some more memories. It was hard to cut them down to just 8.
1. Yeah, I made a glutton of myself as usual even this far back. Grandma used to make great turkey and all the trimmings.
2. Grandma Terry really did try to make Christmas magical from me (and later for my younger brother). Grandma and Grandpa would always get a live tree, string on bright and multi-coloured lights with ornaments of all shapes and sizes. I can remember when I was real young lying awake Christmas Eve night waiting on Father Christmas and hearing the tick-tock and hourly chime of the old house's many clocks and the droning on of the furnace down in the basement.
3. My aunt, uncle and two first cousins Scott and Eric lived in California. Therefore, a visit by them once every 2 or 3 years was a welcome change from the ordinary. I liked to hang out with my cousin Scott who was 3 years older than I was.
4. Stefan Samse, my penfriend from Germany, spent the 1988-89 school year as an exchange student in West Virginia. After special permission was obtained, he spent that Thanksgiving with my family and me. We took him to South Boston, Virginia to meet and take the Thanksgiving meal with Grandma and Grandpa Terry. Stefan met Grandpa Terry less than 2 months before he died in January, 1989.
A lot of memories happened at or near 1223 Fenton Street from my birth through to almost age 23.
1. The photo first is of my Daddy and me on the walk in front of Grandma and Grandpa Terry's House at Easter in 1971.
2. At my 2nd birthday party, I had quite the crowd over to my Grandma Terry's house. In this photo, my Grandma Atkins still has dark hair (she was pushing 55). My daddy just made 30. Unfortunately, my mama's mama, Grandma (Mildred) Terry (by the freezer) died in 1992, Aunt Alice died in 2002, my Grandpa Terry (just to her left) died in 1989, and Uncle Albert (the bald man in the glasses) also died in 1989. Y'all might not believe this, but I still remember the gumdrop cake.
3. I used to be fascinated with all kinds of trucks as a kid. The truck I was pretending to drive when this picture was taken in the summer of 1975 was a 1958 American LaFrance with a 100' (32 m.) ladder.
4. During the school year, we would visit South Boston less often. On at least one occasion I can remember, snow caught us off guard and cause us to either be stranded there until the roads cleared or we left early before it got much worse.
Fondest memory: This Carpenter Gothic Style house was built by W. D. Barbour in 1885 on land bought from E. B. Jeffress. It is a Triple Front gabled house, complete with elabourate cornices and decorative woodwork decorating bay windows. Mr. Barbour was the brother of R. S. Barbour of Barbour Buggy Co. who operated a five and dime store on Main Street, and was mayor of South Boston. This is not just an ordinary house along the historic walking tour. See, it was my Grandma Terry's house. Mama and Aunt Natalie grew up in this house and I spent hundreds of nights here from when I was a baby until after I graduated from university. When I was in school, I would spend about half the summer at grandma Terry's house in South Boston. Sadly, Grandma Terry died on 6.6.92 and Granpa Terry died on 1.4.89. The house chock full of 3 generations of memories was sold in late 1992. Nearly 12 years after Grandma Terry's death, the house still appeared to be in good shape. In fact, the new owners seemed to make some improvements including the picket fence in the front yard and getting rid of the weeds that grew in Grandpa's old garden (from the backyard through to Charles Street) from the time he was unable to tend it. Twice since 2004, I have been back to see this old house and miss the days when Grandma would be greeting my family and me on that front porch.
Fondest memory: I have been to the Harvest Festival before, but I have never had so much fun as I did in 2005 when my best friend Lee gipper84 accompanied me here. Lee and I both like the fact that Southern Heritage remains in the name of the festival in the face of attempts in other places to cleanse Southern pride from American culture. This was a day of old meeting new. 24 September 2005, we were fresh off a 3-mile (5 km.) parade route in Emporia. That would have tired out most folks, but Lee and I were thirsty for more festival action. We parked right in front of my grandma's old house on Fenton Street and took a short walk downtown. Main Street was closed to traffic and each side of it was lined with food and craft vendors. The local Republican party had a tent and many of those folks knew me either from previous events or they knew my late grandparents and grand aunts and uncles. It was great to introduce Lee to these folks. We went to the Prizery, which is a renovated tobacco warehouse or textile mill turned into an art gallery. Since my grandparents on my mama's side have all gone, I have not had much chance to visit South Boston since then. Even then, the downtown had started its decline. However, many of the vacant buildings have been filled by upmarket businesses such as Vintner's Cellar and Bistro 1888. In 2006, there seemed to be a more diverse selection of food. I visited a booth selling Asian food, a nice departure from the usual cuisine de fun fair.
Faulkner & Lawson's was a typical small town drug store complete with soda fountain and lunch counter. The shortest route there from my Grandma's house was through the back entrance, where a flight of stairs led to ground level where the drug store was. The thing that set this place apart was the odour- a mixture of cherry syrup for the sodas at the fountain, hamburgers on the griddle and coffee. Then there is Pearl Compton, whom I thought was a store fixture herself. Every time I went to or through there, she was at the cash register. She worked there at its original location before it moved to 413 Main Street and she worked just about to the last when she died in 1997 at age 78. That kind of drug store is fast giving way to national chains such as CVS and Walgreen's. Faulkner & Lawson's closed in 1999.
It was established in 1875 and was the site of a number of South Boston firsts:
distributor of Coca-Cola
motor delivery of prescriptions
Fondest memory: I was too young to remember being christened here on 3 April 1970, but I remember attending some services here together with Grandma Terry. Sadly, this was the church at which both Grandma and Grandpa Terry's funeral services took place.
Fondest memory: Grandma and Grandpa Terry got married on 1 April 1934. At that time, Grandma was 25 years old and Grandpa, up to then a confirmed bachelor (there may be hope for me yet) was almost 37. Although their anniversary proper was in April, we couldn't get everybody together until after school let out in June. Friends and relatives came from far and wide for the celebration. Aunt Natalie, Uncle Dick, and my cousins Scott and Eric came. It was far too big to be had at Grandma's house, so we used the Masonic Lodge just down Fenton Street from where my grandparents lived. Besides a lot of people, the type of food served there was just like that at a catered reception. However, people brought things. I got into trouble with my grand aunt Patsy for calling her cheese straws cheese things. I have the recipe for them under local customs on my Virginia page.
Fondest memory: Leggett's was a department store downtown until round about 1985 and, for many years, was where Mama would buy my "back to school" clothes when I was a kid. Although it merely moved to Hupps Mill Plaza, it lost its character. When Leggett's was downtown it had the inexplicable character of an established business located in a broken-in building. Aside from that, the aroma of fresh roasted peanuts emanated all over the store from a trolley in the lower floor. They never have put a new tenant in the Leggett's building since the move. After that, the downtown area started its decline.