Around the Square

I thought it might be of some interest to describe how the center of Fayetteville looked in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s since I may be one of the few who remembers. Few pictures were taken at that time since photography was not well developed.

The Fayette County courthouse was one of the oldest courthouses in Georgia. The roads that separated the square’s buildings from the courthouse lawn were still dirt. Large oak trees shaded the lawn. There was a walkway that extended from the road at the south end up to the courthouse steps, around to a walkway that went to the road at the west side, and around to a walkway that extended to the road at the north. People didn’t always use the walkways and made paths that they needed that were more direct. The courthouse was the center for all activity. It had a public telephone in the hallway (the only other public one was at Seawright’s ), the only restrooms in town, and a water fountain on the south lawn.

On the north side of the square starting at the west end was Jenkin’s Store which belonged to the Redwine Brothers. Although it was open to the public, it mainly acted as the “company store” for all of the share croppers who farmed small individual Redwine farms for a share of the harvest. Just east was Redwine Ford where a new Ford could be purchased and serviced. Usually there was one Ford on display. The adjacent building served as the county jail and next to it was the public library housed in a small wooden white building.

On the east side ,facing Highway 54, was Ms. Beauty Griggs home. It was the only structure on that side of the square and Ms. Beauty lived alone there.

On the south side beginning at the east end was a two story building with Judge Hollingsworth’s office and Ben Hand’s barber shop on the ground floor. Dr. Busey’s clinic occupied the top floor. The front sidewalk was paved with large octagon shaped blocks. My daddy ran a dry goods store just down the street. A sign hanging over the walkway read, “BROWN’S 5¢ AND $1.00 STORE” . Most of the remainder of the block had been neglected since the recent depression and empty hollow spaces existed where businesses had once been. Further west there were a few useable spaces including Blalock’s Bank which had closed.

The west side was the busy part of town. The walkway was paved with red brick staggered side by side. Cars could park horizontally to the sidewalk but had to avoid some full grown trees growing next to the sidewalk. Starting at the south end was Rosenblum’s dry goods store. Mr. Rosenblum and his wife ran the store. He always parked his T-model under one of the trees directly in front of his store. Next was Fife’s Restaurant. They sold a few canned goods, served a dinner (middle of the day) plus hotdogs and hamburgers anytime. There was a porch like overhang with benches between the outer posts in front of these two businesses. There were no trees in front of the next two businesses, the Farmer’s and Merchant’s Bank and Seawright’s Drug store. Dr. Seawright had made an attempt to make the front of his store look special with black mirror like panels and cement pavement directly in front. Above the drugstore Jimmy Edward’s mother fixed the hair of all the ladies in town. Next was the post office. The next three store fronts also had the porch like overhang. Two of these were closed but the third was Beadles Drugstore the only store that sold magazines and comic books. The final two stores were owned by the McElwaney family. Although they were open to the public these stores also served as “company stores”. The McElwaneys were large land owners with many share croppers.

In this scene there was one eyesore that I often wondered about. Why was an old inoperative gasoline pump just off the pavement directly in front of Seawright’s drugstore? I later found out that when gasoline was first sold it was sold by drugstores.