Featuring photos from the collection of Jim P. Bryan
The view down Main Street looking south toward the tracks, 1951. On the left you can see the Hotel Gildare has been renamed the Warren Hotel. On the far side of the hotel is Railroad Avenue and the train depot and passenger station. The period following World War II brought new prosperity, not only to Allendale, but to the country in general. Americans had suffered through the Depression, then a war and were ready for better times. It looks like the shops on both sides of Main Street were doing a brisk business on the day this picture was taken. The Wolf Department Store building was now occupied by two stores, one of which is a 5 and 10 cent store and the other, Edens grocery store. On the corner is Wengrow's Department store. On the far right something you don't see much anymore -- a billboard ad for Lee Work Clothes hand painted by a skilled sign maker… paint on brick. Thriving businesses on the left (east side of Main Street): Carolina Commercial Bank, Farmer's Drug Store, Allendale Hardware, Bennett's Department Store, South Carolina Power Company (Now SCE&G), Sanitary Restaurant and the Warren Hotel and drug store. The bank building on the far left was built in 1909 and is occupied today by the Palmetto State Bank.
Drive a block down Main Street in the photo above, cross the tracks, and this photo is your view…. a continuation of Main Street…also Route 301 heading south toward the Savanna River and the Georgia border 12 miles away. The Cleveland Hotel on the far right has a filling station on the first floor under the overhang but appears to continue to function as a hotel. The sign under the Esso Sign shows distances: 15 miles to Hampton (to the left) and 416 miles to Tampa (straight ahead). The stores on the left were later replaced by one-story brick structures to house a pharmacy (now RiteAid) and a supermarket (now the Lanai Fitness Center) with parking in front.
Turn right on the other side of the tracks, and you are looking north on Augusta Highway. The puff of black smoke in the distance comes from furnaces that fired wood-drying kilns in the box plant. The box plant made wooden crates for shipping fresh asparagus. Asparagus was a major crop in South Carolina. Past the Cleveland Hotel you see a row of stores and diagonal parking spaces with parking meters. It looks like you could park on the track side of street for free. About 3/4 of a mile up the road on the right is where a large garment factory would be built. All of the structures in this photo are still standing. The Happy Home Baptist Church, built in 1911, is one of the oldest African American churches in the country and is beautifully maintained and in use today. The congregation was form shortly after the Civil War.
The row of stores in this photo on the far side of Main Stree has been replaced with an open park. At the time this photo was taken in 1951, there were a number of thriving retail businesses. Karlson Dept. Store ("Mens and Ladies ready to wear clothing, Jordan Cola, branded shoes); All's City Market (Groceries and Fresh Meats, Sealtest Ice Cream); Western Auto, Garber & Co. (shoes), United 5 & 10, Edens Food Store and Wengrow's Dept. Store. The street had diagonal parking with parking meters. On the far right is the Allendale Train Depot and passenger station.
Note: The four photos above were taken in 1951 by a professional photographer hired by The Savannah River Site as a part of a study to measure the economic impact of building the Savannah River Plant that would be creating many jobs. These photos were to be the "before" pictures. The plant, affectionately referred to as the "the Bomb Plant" by most people in the area because it brought jobs, was created to refine nuclear materials for use in nuclear weapons.
A masterful photo-illustration of Main Street on this post card announces a new era of prosperity for Allendale, which has become by the early 1950's a popular stop-over along the highway to the South.