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Downtown Brevard was a busy place in

the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.

Throughout the
1940s, 50s, and 60s the local economy was strong and the population of Brevard
continued to grow.  The strong economy
was the result of manufacturers like Ecusta, DuPont, American Thread, and
Mitchell-Bissell.  Good jobs brought in
new workers and their families.  The
result was more people with more money to spend and downtown Brevard responded with
business expansions and new businesses opening.

Most businesses
were concentrated within a three to four block area along Main Street and South
Broad Street with a few scattered on the side streets of Caldwell, Gaston, and

Long’s Drug Store
and Macfie’s Drug Store had long been fixtures in the center of town.  Long’s continued to operate until the
mid-1950s.  From 1957-1981 Morris
Pharmacy was in that location which is today O.P. Taylor’s.  Directly across Main St., Macfie’s was in
business until 1969.  Varner’s Walgreen
Drug Store included a popular soda fountain and sandwich shop that continues to
operate today as Rocky’s.

There were four
main department stores downtown during the mid-20th century.  Plummer’s and Trantham’s were both in
business before the 1930s.  In 1940 the
new Belk Store opened on East Main. That same year Patterson’s opened in the
former Belk location on West Main.  In
addition there were a few smaller department or clothing stores, like Ayers,
Cato’s, Schulman’s, and Winner’s all located on Main Street.  Patterson’s closed in 1989 leaving Belk as
the last downtown department store until they relocated in 1993.

This aerial photograph shows the business district in 1953. 

Abercombie’s Furniture on North Broad is in the lower right,

with McCrary Auto above it. The courthouse is just above the “N.C.”

Furniture stores
were also a major part of downtown. 
Houston’s Furniture opened on South Broad St. in 1926.  In 1941 they moved into a newly remodeled
modern store on East Main St. where they remained until 1990.  D.T. Abercrombie opened a furniture store on
West Main St. in 1938.  Ten years later
he built a large new building on the corner of Probart and North Broad St.  Pearlman’s Furniture opened on East Main in
1950 before moving to West Main.  In 1968
Edwin Rice bought the Pearlmans location and it has been Rice Furniture since.

Banks, barber and
beauty shops, grocery, hardware and jewelry stores, newsstands, restaurants,
and for many years two movie theaters were all part of the vibrant and lively
downtown where shoppers could accomplish all their business in one location.

During the last
three decades of the 20th century downtowns across the country saw
big changes.  Next week Picturing the
Past will examine the effects of these changes on downtown Brevard.

Photographs and information for this column
are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County
Library.  Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday)
to learn more about our history and see additional photographs.  For more
information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at
[email protected] or

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(828) 884-3151

212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712