|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
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)
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.
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.
BRITTONS CHICKEN HOUSE
|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
The Kroger ad below tells folks that only
the best, Brittons Chickens would be sold.
As a kid, I only remember Walter
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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