Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Chapel Hill Daze: Pictures of Another Gone World: West Franklin Street, 1968-2018

Along West Franklin Street, starting at the Columbia Street intersection and heading toward Carrboro, there are still some vestiges of the Chapel Hill of 1968. There were more when I was a student at the University of North Carolina.

Of the "south" side of West Franklin, I've previously discussed University Square in another post. Next was Hardee's at 213 West Franklin (now there's a Panera at that address); Union Bus Station at 311 (the Franklin Hotel is now at that address) and the Chapel Hill Weekly newspaper at 501.

I certainly remember the Hardee's and the newspaper building, having eaten at the former and worked immediately next to the latter (at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill).

The bus station building I remember vaguely. Having been completed in 1946, it soon thereafter became part of the history of the civil rights movement:

"On April 9, 1947, eight African American and eight white members of CORE (known as the Freedom Riders) set out from Washington, D.C. on Greyhound and Trailways buses; on April 12, both buses arrived in Chapel Hill. As the buses departed Chapel Hill for Greensboro on April 13, four of the riders were arrested. The commotion aboard the buses drew a large crowd of spectators, including several white taxi drivers. 

The men were taken to the police station, with a fifty dollar bond placed on each man. As white rider James Peck got off the bus to pay their bonds, a taxi driver struck him in the head.  

In May 1947, those members who had been arrested went on trial and were sentenced. The riders unsuccessfully appealed their sentences. On March 21, 1949, they surrendered at the courthouse in Hillsborough and were sent to segregated chain gangs." 

The bus station's food service desegregated in the early 1960s, under pressure.  Source: "Trailways Bus Station," Open Orange. Website link here.

Of the "north" side of West Franklin, an earlier post covered the first block off from Columbia Street, heading toward Carrboro. If you crossed Church Street going in the same direction in 1968, there was a Belk-Leggett department store at 206 West Franklin, Fowler's meats at 306, Carolina Grill at 312, Village Pharmacy at 318 and The Cavern at 452 1/2.  

The Bookshop (pictured above) came into being in 1985 at 400 West Franklin, a merger of Keith Martin Bookshop and Bookends (both Chapel Hill book shops). I remember all three of them, having bought books at each. The Bookshop closed in the summer of 2017, having lasted close to thirty-two years in that location.

Belk-Leggett was gone from its 206 location by the time I came to Chapel Hill. Fowler's was still at 306 for a while and then folded. There was one in Durham, too. 

I loved the Carolina Grill -- you could eat like a king on the budget of a college student. Which may be why they eventually had to close. I remember flat steaks there, excellent meat and potatoes type staples, probably requisitioned from next-door Fowler's. It was sort of like a large hall with tables, for some reason making me think of a Bavarian beer hall in memory. 

Village Pharmacy, 318 West Franklin, "Home of the Big O." This place was around for a while but must have eventually died on the vine. Browsing issues of the Daily Tar Heel, I came across an advertisement for Village Pharmacy from the September 28, 1949 issue: "Opposite Bus Station - Phone F-3966."  In "land line" telephone exchanges of the twentieth century, "F" might be named Flanders, Fleetwood, Factory, etcetera.  In any case, when I was working at Algonquin Books, I'd occasionally walk to Village Pharmacy for its soda fountain features. They served fresh lemonade, orangeade, milkshakes and grill food. No longer.

The Cave is a long-standing underground bar and music venue. Because I have detailed location notes from college journals dating to the 1980s, I'll devote more time to The Cave in a later post. It nearly folded after fifty years (1968-2018), but was saved by Melissa Swingle and Autumn Spencer in the summer of 2018 -- thank God! Here's a link to their website. Dig it!

Invaluable resource to cross-check memories, places:  OCCUPANTS AND STRUCTURES OF FRANKLIN STREET, CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA AT 5-YEAR INTERVALS, 1793-1998, by Bernard Lee Bryant, Jr. Chapel Hill Historical Society, printed out by J.D. Eyre in 1999. Link here.

Today's Rune: Partnership. 

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