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Posted on January 20, 2022 at 1:55 PM by Ken Kocher
In our earlier blog, Fill ‘er Up, we followed the evolution of gasoline sales in Madison from the turn-of-the-20th century to the 1920s. Curbside pumps were certainly an improvement over the early days practice of dipping gas from an open barrel. Nonetheless, gassing-up autos parked at the side of the street could be at best a nuisance and at worst a hazard. The 1920s would change all that with a transition to drive-in stations generally dedicated to a specific oil company.
Madison’s early forays into drive-in station maintained a traditional view of where business should occur – downtown. Corner properties on Main Street drew the most interest due to their dual access and high traffic. Of course, these properties were already built out, so to accommodate pumps and auto lanes, some demolition would need to occur. Madison’s first drive-thru gas station would be on the corner of Main and Washington, the location of the Broughton Building, which was a two-story building. Although later on Americans were willing to sacrifice substantial buildings to the automobile, the owner of this property, who was leasing the property for a gas station, was not willing to entertain complete demolition. The solution? Remove most of the first floor.
The June 29, 1923, issue of the Madisonian reported that W.D. Cavin had secured the contract to tear away the lower floor of the corner store recently vacated by W.E. Shepherd. W.A. Perkins (Ab), who ran a tire and battery business in the adjoining building, was having the work done. The result, which included a ladies’ restroom on the second floor (the plumbing done by Charles Cavin), was “a modern and up to date station in every respect.” He named it Perkins Place and sold “that Good Gulf Gas.” Perkins painted the first floor yellow, and it was referred to in ads and articles as “the Yellow Front” or “the Yellow Corner.” This color choice may seem odd to those of us who remember the primarily orange Gulf Logo, however the 1920s logo, while still orange, was much lighter and would have worked well with a yellow.
Ab and his wife took an apartment over the filling station in January of 1924 putting him “in a position to provide quick, efficient, and continual service.” The station became “one of the most popular resorts in town for the radio fans” when Perkins purchased a $300 radio through an Atlanta concern, supposedly the first to be shipped to that city. It was fully described in the Madisonian, “A loop antenna takes the place of the aerial, and the instrument is a six-tube supper-heterodyne, made by the Radio Corporation of America. It is equipped with a second harmonic and radiola loud speaker. Such distant points as Portland, San Francisco, points in Canada and Cuba, can be heard distinctly.”
Ab Perkins appeared to thrive on the extremely competitive nature of the gasoline business. He placed a newspaper ad in September 1924 to correct the report that he was interested in the Texas Filling Station. “I am running my own business and am not trying to buy any place that will cut competition.” The Madisonian noted, “Ab’s the cat’s derby when it comes to telling the public what’s what and why.” Perkin’s called out the newspaper in 1926 for “giving him a black eye” by incorrectly reporting that no local dealer had met the last cut in gas made by Pan-Am Oil Co. The paper admitted that it had failed by being misinformed by a presumed reliable source.
Pan-American Oil Co. and Perkins Place were again mentioned in the same article six months later when Pan-Am purchased the lease of the building from Ab. Consequently, the this came to be known as the Pan-Am corner in the ensuing years. W. A. Perkins was not out of the gas game though. He had already built a new station at the intersection of Augusta and Athens roads (441 & 278) where he continued to sell Gulf gasoline. Those locating gas stations had already begun to think outside the downtown box.
We’ll continue with the history of the Pan-Am corner in a future blog.
Posted on January 20, 2022 at 1:24 PM by Ken Kocher
No doubt, on the morning of April 9, 1869 J. A Broughton was inspecting the charred rubble of his Dry Goods and Grocery store at the southeast corner of Washington and Main, a victim of the Great Fire that consumed nearly all downtown Madison. The Greenville Enterprise (SC) reported nine months later “one could hardly tell there had been a fire” and “Four large brick buildings were going up on the public square.” The two-story building that Broughton built was probably one of them. Little mention of Broughton’s business shows up in the local papers through the 1870s though we do find mention in lists of Madison’s businesses in Monroe’s Southern Witness, in The Atlanta Constitution, and a couple of trade journals. J.A. Broughton died in 1880 bringing a new business to the building which continued to be referred to as the Broughton Building or Broughton’s Corner.
The Hammonds moved their Augusta Cash Store – sometimes called the Augusta Cheap Store– from the Foster Building, cattycorner across Main Street, to the Broughton Building in September of 1883. Although the business was run by a husband-and-wife team, Mary Ann Hammond was more closely associated with it. Her stature in Madison’s commercial sphere is evidenced by the newspaper referring to her as Mrs. M. A. Hammond using her initials rather than her husband’s as was typical. In describing the move, The Madisonian noted that she would “carry on an extensive dress making department up stairs [sic] and conduct her usual business on the first floor – adding greatly to her dress goods department." The paper congratulated “this elegant lady on her success.” The Hammonds sold dress goods, millinery, embroideries, novelties, etc. here for a decade.
In early 1894 the building transitioned to a drug store. Clark & Hunter’s Drug Store moved from the Richter Building a few doors down on Main Street to the corner. E.B. Clark and J.H. Hunter owned this business as well as a furniture store. At the drug store, Neil Vason was the clerk and a Mr. Mountcastle was the prescriptionist. Clark left the partnership later that year to return to farming in Oglethorpe County. Hunter continued the business solely under his name until 1897 when he teamed up with Dr. M. F. Brooks. Like most drug stores at the time, they had a soda fountain where, in 1900, they introduced a new drink: Dr. Pepper’s Phospho Ferrates. You could also drop your laundry off to have it cleaned by the Guthman Steam Laundry in Atlanta. The firm employed several prescriptionists over the years including: W.B. Ogletree, Ewell Spearman, Mr. Quillian, and Butler Atkinson. Hunter & Brooks Drug Co. moved to the Atkinson Corner in 1902.
The Anderson Dry Goods Co. opened in March 1904. Their ads noted “Known by its Blue Front,” and “The only Blue Front in Madison,” and “The Blue Corner.” Guess what color they painted the building? It appears that by the Anderson's tenancy the arched window openings had been retrofitted with larger square windows. Roscoe Anderson plied his trade here for about four years. A 1906 advertisement announced, “a change in business causes us to offer our entire stock at exactly invoice cost.” It is unclear when the business closed, but the Madisonian reported in April 1908 that W.E. Shepard had bought Anderson’s stock of goods and would conduct a fancy dry goods business at the same stand. It was during Shepard’s occupancy that the storefront had a radical change. The newspaper reported improvements to the store in September 1914. The front appears to have been recessed and the corner opened.
The next tenant, following W. E. Shepherd’s relocation to a Main Street building in 1923, would undertake an even more radical change to the building. Enter the Age of the Automobile. This we will save for a later installment of Madison Moments.
Posted on January 11, 2022 at 9:30 AM by Ken Kocher
Leonard Marbrey Thompson arrived in Madison around 1890 and soon formed a partnership with G.M. Dexter, a carriage maker and undertaker. L.M. Thompson announced in 1893 the dissolution of the partnership and the opening of his business as an undertaker, embalmer, and dealer in carriages and wagons. He stated that he was prepared to provide caskets and coffins of the best quality at the lowest prices. Thompson had “two good hearses – one for the white people and the other for the colored.” His place of business was located in the rear portion of the Hotel Turnell which was located at the corner of Jefferson and Hancock (current location of The Sinclair, Community Roots, and Dolce Caffe). Thompson constructed a large blacksmithing shop and a two-story carriage repairing facility on the adjacent lot.
Thompson then relocated carriage sales and undertaking business to the building owned by R.N. Booth on the southwest corner of Washington and Hancock. This building had an interesting feature: while being a wood frame building, its eastern wall was constructed of rubble granite plastered over and scored to mimic stone block. This wall was one of the few remnants still standing after the 1869 fire which devastated downtown Madison. At this location Thompson’s business grew. The Madisonian reported in 1897 that he was “receiving new vehicles almost every day, and is putting them up and rolling them out almost as fast as they come in.”
Mr. Booth died in 1896 and Thompson purchased the building from his estate in 1901. He announced that he would build a handsome two-story brick building where all aspects of his business would be combined. Demolition and construction got underway in 1902 with local mason W.B. Dickson laying the brick. Meanwhile, Thompson temporarily moved back to his old shop in the hotel. By the end of April, the building was nearly complete. The original construction announcement indicated that the building would be 50x100 feet – about half of what we see today. Physical and documentary evidence point to the original building being about 50x135 feet with an additional 64 feet for added before 1909. Possibly Thompson kept his blacksmithing operation at the lot on Jefferson Street for a few years before adding to the new building.
Thompson opened for business in his new building, which also retained the granite wall, in May 1902. The enterprise was as much a manufacturing concern as a retail establishment. The building not only contained carriages and wagons for sale, but was also a place for their manufacture and repair with sections devoted to woodworking, iron work, and painting. Of course, the undertaking business was here as well. His youngest son, Brooke, joined the undertaking business becoming a skilled embalmer and all agreed he was well suited for “discharge of his delicate duties.” Sadly, while the business continued to be a success, L.M. Thompson’s health began to fail. He sojourned to Hot Springs, Arkansas with hopes that "taking the waters" would improve his health. He died there a month later.
Thompson’s sons, W.C. and Brooke, announced that the business would be “continued as formerly at the old stand” under their direction. Each of the departments were to be given careful and competent personal attention. Two years later, tragedy struck with the death of Brooke Thompson from a sudden attack of appendicitis. W.C. Thompson soldered on, providing and repairing vehicles of all types and shepherding the dead to their final resting place. He did this for another six years when in 1916 he became the County School Superintendent. Clinton (the “C” in W.C.) split the business in two parts selling the undertaking, buggy, and wagon business, located in the front, to George Shaw and Carter Shepherd and the woodwork and blacksmith shop, located in the presumed rear addition, to J.C. Caudle.
From this point on, these two sections of the building were treated as separate which is reflected in their stories – all for another time.