Posted by: jbbeale | September 19, 2011

Shorts: The word is that all is go on the Deep Roots grocery store. Construction could begin as early as late this year. The store would be 10,000 square feet, with 7,000 devoted to retail space. The store would on North Greene, occupying part of the block where the old gas station where city and county cars and vehicles fueled. It will be across from the old North State Chevrolet site, which may become an apartments  similar to the popular City View complex on downtown’s south side.

We wrote recently about the new Historic Forbis Street signs along the downtown section of Church, which until the 1960s was Forbis Street. Here’s a photo of one of the new signs.

Posted by: jbbeale | August 29, 2011

Back to blogging after a break

Sorry to have been away so long from the blog. Been tied up with other assignments and also spent a week at the Wyndham Championship covering for the Southern Pines Pilot newspaper.  The tournament, by the way, was the best in 20 years in terms of field quality, weather consistency, crowd size, course condition and name of the winner.  It’s additional proof that the decision to return the tournament in 2008 to Sedgefield Country Club  was right on.

The field could even be better in future years if tournament officials could persuade some nearly local players to spend a week in Greensboro. Bubba Watson has ties to High Point and is said to own property on High Rock Lake. He should be playing here.  So should Dustin Johnson. He’s from Myrtle Beach, went to Coastal Carolina University and has played a lot of golf in the Carolinans.

Webb Simpson is one nearly local who can be counted on to tee it up here. He finished high in 2010 and won this year’s event by three strokes. He’ll be back many times. He grew up in Raleigh, went to Wake Forest, lives in Charlotte and has a half-brother, Sam Simpson,  in Greensboro. As tournament director Mark Brazil said,  Simpson’s win here will open the flood gates for many future victories. He nearly won earlier this year. He tied for second in Tampa and lost a playoff to Bubba Watson in New Orleans.  It wouldn’t  be surprising to see him win one of the golf ‘s four major tournaments in 2012.

In other action, it was disappointing that Simple Kneads bakery closed. It’s location seemed so quaint and European, tucked away at the end of an alley off South Elm Street. Patrons usually found other customers when they went there, but for years owner Bill Snider kept saying he needed additional capital. At one point he posted a  sign asking people to invest in the bakery. It didn’t work and one of downtown’s most charming businesses appears gone.

City Center Grill has closed, too, but a new restaurant-sports bar is preparing to open a few doors away.   The question is when will the restaurant advertised in the window of the Kress Building open? And we’re still waiting for the Downtown Dollar Store to open in the same 200 block of South Elm.  It was supposed to be in business this spring. The sign “coming soon” remains on the display window. We’re also waiting for ground to be broken on Deep Roots, an essential grocery store for the growing residential population downtown. The proposed location takes up part of a block of North Eugene Street, between where Smith and Battleground come together on the south and Fisher Avenue on the north.

The big telephone tower above the AT&T building is coming down. It has been a fixture on the city’s landscape since the 1960s and it will be missed by some. Too bad it couldn’t have been updated and given new purpose in this wireless world. Preservationists, however,  aren’t mourning. They believe the tower contributed nothing but height to the city skyline.

In retrospect,  it’s regretable that what was there before the tower and telephone building couldn’t have been saved. Really old timers will recall that the tower and the building over which it hovers caused the demise of Hanes Funeral Home, which occupied a lovely old house at the southwest corner of West Market and Eugene streets. It was one of  many fine houses that bordered both sides of West Market from Eugene westward from downtown.

Just before the house was torn down, if memory serves me, Al Lineberry bought Hanes Funeral Home.  With the Hanes location threatened, Lineberry moved the funeral home to the old Forbis & Murray Funeral Home at the corner of North Elm and Fisher Avenue. It became Hanes-Lineberry. The funeral home still operates by that name at the same location.

We blogged sometime ago that David Craft and others won the city’s permission to erect signs  along Church Street downtown commemorating the time when the stretch was known as Forbis Street, before it was lost to a re-alignment of Church Street.  The new street signs say “Historic Forbis Street” are now in place and remind passersby of what used to be.

Let’s hope other signs will go up, especially one memorializing Gaston Street, which ran from Church Street (or Forbis) westward to about Mimosa Drive in Westerwood, where it became Madison Avenue. Gaston and  the section of Madison between Mimosa and the old Ham’s restaurant vanished when alignment of the stretch from Church Street to Guilford College was renamed East and West Friendly Avenue.  The re-alignments that took Forbis and Gaston came in the 1960s.

Hope to be more regular with blogging in the future.

Posted by: jbbeale | July 17, 2011

Terry the Cannon now a suit and tie figure on TV

For those who watched the British Open Thursday through Sunday, that announcer Terry Gannon?  Wasn’t there a basketball player in Raleigh in the early 1980s by that name?

There was, and he was the guy talking golf at the Royal St. Georges course in England during the Open. He has also been on television describing basketball, football, baseball, soccer, auto racing, horse racing and more. Over two decades, he’s worked for several sports networks and is now a main on-air presence at big events for ABC sports.

I don’t know if he plays golf, probably does, and I bet he sinks a bunch of putts from 20 feet plus. He did so with a basketball often from that range.

It’s been forgotten but Gannon led the nation in accuracy in 1983 among players in college conferences experimenting with the three-point shot. (It became universal in 1986).

He was nicknamed “Terry the Cannon” as a result of his accuracy hitting the trey. That ‘83 Wolfpack team, of course, won the NCAA championship under Coach Jimmy Valvano.

According to one internet write up,  Valvano was the one who encouraged Gannon to get into broadcasting.

That’s how he’ll be remembered, as an announcer. But for me, when I see him on the screen I always think of those deadly three-pointers he canned for the Wolfpack

Posted by: jbbeale | July 12, 2011

The Flatiron Condos were designed by Charles Hartmann

Just how many buildings and houses Greensboro architect Charles Hartmann designed from 1918  until his death in 1977 may never be known – he did so many, including the 17-story Jefferson Standard Building, which opened in 1923, and Grimsley High School, which dates from 1929.

Every now and then a Hartmann design unknown to most people surfaces.  The latest is what has been known since the 1970s as the Flatiron Apartments,  more recently called  the Flatiron Condominiums on Summit Avenue, across from the Greensboro Historical Museum. They have been owned for years by Greensboro businessman Dick Levy, who is now marketing them as The Hartmann at the Flatiron Condominiums.

From their origins, which Levy dates to the early 1920s, the units were known as the Kaplan Apartments, after their original owner.  Levy came up with the name Flatiron when he purchased them in the 1970s.

The complex is triangular and reminded Levy of the Flatiron Building in New York. He’s amazed that Hartmann managed to take a  triangular-shaped building and make all the rooms inside rectangular.  In all, there are eight units, four small and four large.

Not counting the Lyndon Street row houses, which were built circa 1905,  the Flatiron may be the oldest apartment building in Greensboro.  Levy believes Hartmann designed the Flatiron in between his work on the O. Henry Hotel – which brought him to Greensboro from New York – and his decision to remain in Greensboro to do the  Jefferson Building and many subsequent commissions.

Posted by: jbbeale | July 7, 2011

An era ends. No more Fun Fourth races for me.

Saturday, June 25, was a sad day for me. I avoided North Greene Street. For the first time in more than 20 or 25 years I couldn’t run in the Fun Fourth 10 K race, which starts and ends on Greene behind the Marriott Hotel.

On my doctor’s advice I have given up jogging after more than 40 years. Arthritis in my left knee is the problem. When I ran the knee swelled and the next day I could barely walk.

The Fun Fourth race meant much to me because it was the one I consistently ran year after year. I remember the first time, when the course was different, from South Greene Street out to Lindley Park and back. It was grueling, loaded with hills. I remember they had a guest runner, a former Boston Marathon winner, if my memory serves me, and he complained about how hilly the course was.

The next year or the year after and every year after that the course has been from North Greene Street out through Irving Park and back. A beautiful layout, with a long flat stretch bordering Bill Craft Park and Latham Park.

Instead of running, I’m trying to do a fast pace walk five times a week. I could have done the two-mile walk/run that’s part of the Fun Fourth Race, but I just decided it was the 10 K or nothing. And nothing was it.

Posted by: jbbeale | June 21, 2011

A way to get to Wilmington: by train and by boat.

Essentially, one option awaits beach-bound  travelers from Greensboro to Wilmington.

Go by car.   That means a boring ride down Interstate 40 or taking a more scenic route, though with slow downs in Sanford and Dunn, on U.S. 421.

The old days offered other options.  One was by railroad. The Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad, which reached Greensboro in the 1880s, was a relaxing way to travel to the Port City.  Eventually, a railroad from downtown took arrivals in Wilmington ten miles to almost the edge of the ocean.

There was still another way of getting there, according to a front page advertisement in the Nov. 5, 1888, issue of The Daily Evening Patriot of Greensboro.

Take the train from downtown Greensboro to Fayetteville. There, board the Cape Fear and People’s Steamboat Co.’s vessel and go the final 90 miles on the Cape Fear River.  The company’s steamboats left Wilmington every Tuesday and Thursday and Fayetteville every Monday and Thursday.

Back then the Cape Fear River between Wilmington and Fayetteville was a busy commercial and passenger waterway.  Three locks were encountered during the journey.

The river remains navigable today but little if any activity takes places except pleasure boats.

Would it be possible to go all the way from Greensboro to Wilmington by water?   A canoe or kayak seemingly could put in at Randleman Lake, which is fed by the Deep River in Guilford County.  The boat would emerge from the lake in Randolph County and enter a wide, but at times rocky,  Deep River.  Near Moncure, the Deep River merges with the Haw River to become the Cape Fear. From there it’s on to Fayetteville and Wilmington on the river.

The railroad that connected Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach is long gone, but it’s still possible to reach the beach without using a car. One can south on the Cape Fear River  to near Carolina Beach and detour onto Snow’s Cut. The cut connects the river to the Intra-Coastal Waterway. The waterway goes to Wrightsville Beach and points north all the way to New England.

One interesting aspect of that Nov. 5, 1888 edition of the Daily Evening Patriot:  It has been assumed that Greensboro didn’t have a daily newspaper until 1890, when the Greensboro Daily Record began publishing.  The Daily Evening Patriot seems to amend this aspect of the city’s history.  For most of its history, from the 1820s to about 1940, the Patriot was a weekly, sometimes a semi-weekly.  It must have been a daily for a short period.

The Battle of New Garden gets a sign. John A. Gilmer gets a rejection.

The state has approved and already erected on the Guilford College campus a state highway historical marker commemorating the Battle of New Garden, a little known skirmish between the Americans and British. It took place on the morning of the major clash between the two larger armies at Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781.

American scouting troops, under Col. Lighthorse Harry Lee, and the British, commanded by Banastre Tarelton, swamped fire along New Garden Road, in the vicinity of New Garden Friends meeting house,  at what’s now Guillford College.   One or two Quakers who lived in the New Garden community are said to have been “read out,”  which means kicked out, of the meeting house for taking up arms in the battle.

The Americans got the best of the British, but the two sides fought again later in the morning. This this time the British put up a better fight.  America’s Lee was trying to separate Tarelton’s troops from the main contingent of Red Coats under Gen. Lord Cornwallis marching toward Guilford Courthouse.  The Americans killed or wounded 15 to 20 British, but had to retreat when they spotted Cornwallis’ troops coming toward them.  It is said that Tarelton lost two fingers  to musket fire in the fighting.

The late historian Algie Newlin of Guilford College wrote a book on the battle.

Alex Stoesen, a retired Guilford history professor who has served several terms on the commission that approves state highway historical markers, said he submitted a request for a sign honoring U.S. Rep. John A. Gilmer of Greensboro.  Gilmer represented Guilford and several other counties in Congress at the outbreak of the Civil War.  He tried mightily to head off the clash and to save the Union.  President Abraham Lincolin was so impressed with his efforts that he offered Gilmer a place in his cabinet.  Gilmer refused after it became apparent war was inevitable. He returned home and reluctantly served the Southern cause.

Stoesen said he was disappointed the marker panel rejected Gilmer. He said the members didn’t feel Gilmer was significant enough in the scheme of state history to merit a marker.

Posted by: jbbeale | May 22, 2011

Who was the Guilford Limner? His works are valuable.

Four primitive water colors of Guilford County people by an unknown artist of long ago may be worth $60,000.

That was the figure the expert on Public Television’s the Antique Road Show, during the week of May 14, estimated as the value of the paintings by the person known as the Guilford Limner.

A limner,  “is an untrained portrait painter,” writes Karen Cobb Carroll, the author of “Windows to the Past,” a booklet done in 1989 for an exhibit of Guilford Limner paintings at the Greensboro Historical Museum.   ” The limner was an itinerant, an independent journeyman, who plied his trade wherever and for as long as support lasted.  He saw himself as a craftsman rather than an artist, and rarely signed his work..”

The Guilford Limner stands out because he painted a large number of subjects during the  the 1820s . Most were prominent people in the tiny village of Greensborough and in the county, including the Gillespies and Lindsays.

In most cases, a limner sent an advanced notice, perhaps through the local newspaper, if there was one, that he would be in town at a certain date.  People were invited to hire him to paint their portraits. The paintings usually showed the full person, not just head and shoulders.

A Guilford family who moved to Biloxi, Miss., carried four Guilford Limner paintings with them and the works have been passed down in the family. The road show featuring the paintings was taped in Biloxi.

“His identity remains unknown,,” Carroll writes in her booklet,  “but it is probably that he traveled through the area at least twice and perhaps more often.”

She says it’s possible, but not likely, the limner was a Guilford County resident.

She described the Guilford  Limner’s style as unique.

“He was a miniaturist; details around the face and shoulders of the subjects are quite sharp and chiseled.  Moving away objects become more primitive.”

Carroll goes on to  say, “The Guilford Limner remains an enigma.” He painted a large number of works, but signed none.  “Perhaps he did not see his efforts as being worthy of his hallmark.  No bills or receipts can be linked to the works, and they do not bear comparison with examples of works of known artists.”

The “Windows of the Past” booklet  contains  paintings of 15 families. Some times as many as a half dozen paintings were done of one family.  The  Greensboro Historical Museum has a collection of Guilford Limner paintings, and curators believe there are probably more out  waiting to be discovered.  The “Voices of the City” exhibit at the museum includes Guilford Limner paintings.

The expert on the Antique Road Show said the Guilford Limner did at least 40 paintings within  five miles of Greensboro.

Posted by: jbbeale | May 18, 2011

Deal Printing had a NASCAR connection

Sorry to read Deal Printing Co. on South Elm Street, south of the tracks,  has closed after being in business many decades.  For  number of years, it had a close association with NASCAR.

At one point, when NASCAR had a southern headquarters in Daytona Beach, it had a northern headquarters here, above Deal Printing.  The green picket fence  that was in front of Deal’s guarded the entrance to the basement where NASCAR’s photographer had his dark room. There the photographer printed photos of races in the area, including those at the old Fairgrounds dirt track, now the site of the Greensboro Coliseum.

Even after NASCAR consolidated its headquarters in Daytona, a NASCAR official kept an office for awhile above Deal’s. And Deal’s printed for many years the official programs of NASCAR races.

Posted by: jbbeale | May 4, 2011

Street preacher plies his trade at Elm and Market

Many decades ago, it was a common to see people bunched on the sidewalk downtown, listening to a street preacher deliver an impromptu sermon with generous amounts of hell, fire and brimstone.  Later the preachers disappeared. The city may have adopted an ordinance banning their presence.

If there was an ordinance, it’s apparently gone. At least one street preacher is back.  The other day a young man with a backpack over his shoulders and holding a portable amplifying device preached the gospel in a calm, unemotional way on Jefferson Square, as old timers call the intersection of Elm and Market streets.  No crowds gathered. Just one woman leaned against a light pole listening. The young man didn’t seem discourage by the lack of audience. He was deeply into his message.

Many will no doubt condemn street preachers as a noisy nuisance.  But as long as they don’t block sidewalks or attempt to embarrass anyone passing by, street preachers add a colorful dimension to downtown street life.  The young preacher’s amplifier made him modern.  But his voice seemed no louder that the leather lunged street preachers of old.

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