Shrewsbury Street

This is the north end of Shrewsbury St.  You can see what is now the Farmers Market to the left.  The house behind the trailer was one of the earliest built wood houses in the area.  It was divided into 2 apartments and I lived in the bottom one in 1956 when I started school at Mercer.  I later moved around the corner to Smith St.  "Jumbos Eggs"  took over the old building in front,  sometime in the early 60s.   Shrewsbury St had several house trailers on it.  These were finally banned by the city sometime around Urban Renewal.  "Brittons Chicken House" was in the alley behind this area.  This was a very large and modern slaughter house.

Here is the same scene today:


Another shot from the early 60s

Another shot of Shrewsbury Street looking at "Jimbos Egg" building.  The alley to the left went towards Broad St. and then split in two directions:  One way traveled behind Parkins Motors,  Brittons Chicken House and other businesses... and came out on Lewis St.  The other way came out on Smith St. behind "Bernies Drug Store" (beer joint) and the Elk Hotel.  (Broad St Hotel).  Again, you can see my house (apartment) behind Jimbos.

Same scene today:


Below,  you see this same house in a turn of the Century photo,  proving that it was one of the oldest wooden structures in this area.  Even the long structure in front of the house that later would become Jimbo's Eggs is in the photo. You are also looking at what is today's"Farmers Market" in the foreground.

Epilogue:   Shrewsbury Street was part of "The Block".  This was the Black section of town that supported many Black businesses and Black middle income homes.  On Washington and Shrewsbury Street was the seventy-two room Ferguson Hotel, constructed in 1922 by G. E. (Cap) Ferguson. In World War I Cap Ferguson had been the first black officer to command a troop ship to France, hence the nickname. By 1923 he added to the hotel a cafe, barber shop, haberdashery, theater, smoke shop and a ballroom. Adjoining the Ferguson Hotel, a building was being constructed by black real estate agent Anderson H. Brown. The building extended from Washington Street around the corner to Shrewsbury Street. Eventually, in the building would be a pharmacy, Mr. Brown's real estate office, a beauty shop, a restaurant, a printing shop, barber shop, pool hall, and many other businesses. Walking north on the east side of Shrewsbury Street, one would come to the parsonage of the First Baptist Church located at the south east corner of Shrewsbury and Lewis Streets. Across the street was a location that was Garnet High School for Blacks. The site was chosen in 1927.

Civil Rights pretty much brought an end to The Block.   All of the support that the Black businessmen had gotten in the past now went to White businesses. The area was sold and among other things,  the "Heart-O-Town Hotel was built.   That hotel is still there under another name.  All of the homes were removed for the Interstate off ramp and Urban Renewal.  The Black business community never recovered.



One of Charleston's best kept secrets was Brittons Chicken House, ( official title was Country Produce Exchange Company )   Why?  Imagine this: A complete poultry slaughterhouse,  processing thousands of chickens and turkeys,  completely hidden from view by houses.  Driving down Shrewsbury Street wouldn't have looked any different than any other neighborhood.  Looking to the left and right, you would have seen houses, churches and apartments.  Other than the "egg building" seen in the photo above,  nothing was unusual.  But BEHIND those houses, hidden from view was the chicken plant.  You got there by going through the alley that you see in the above photos.  It was directly behind Parkins Motors, the Studebaker dealership.  It WAS next door to my house as a little kid.  I often went into the processing plant, walking from where they off-loaded the live chickens to where women would wrap the gizzards and innards and stick them back in the chicken.  Needless to say, it was a pretty bloody affair, hanging up the chickens on an overhead conveyer and then slitting their throats manually.  The chickens went into a hot water bath and the "beater machine" where rubber fingers on both sides of the chickens beat their feathers off.  The plant was very sophisticated for it's day,  and very successful also.


How about supplying all the Kroger stores in WV?

The fine print says " These are genuine Jackson County turkeys scientifically raised and dressed by Country Produce Exchange.

The Kroger ad below tells folks that only the best,  Brittons Chickens would be sold.


As a kid, I only remember Walter Britton.

This is what the area looks like today.  The chicken plant stood about where the shrubs are... and continued down the alley.


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