As we begin a new year, it seems appropriate to set aside this Thursday for a closer look at some of the beginnings of Sanford itself. As we’ve noted before, Sanford came into being as a railroad town shortly after the Civil War — the centralized location where 2 railroads intersected, largely for the purpose of exchanging passengers and product. The city’s first population surge was in the 3 decades between it’s official founding in the 1870s and the start of the 20th century. Our first photo, taken from the Commercial Building sometime between 1901 and 1905 gives us a good view of the depot building, Chatham Street and this early growth in East Sanford.
Of course in Sanford’s early years, all the roads were unpaved. This look down South Steele Street from the Wicker Street intersection is from around 1890. The notable landmark in the distance is the Steele Street Methodist Church, formed in 1887. By 1915, the church was worshiping in a new building at the corner of Steele and Cole Streets. When the congregation decided to move to a new location on Wicker Street in the 1970s, it took on a new name as well, St. Luke’s Methodist Church.
Can you imagine this building sitting on the corner of Chatham and McIver Streets? McIver’s Store was among the leading mercantile operations in Sanford and the immediate region between 1873 and the first quarter of the 20th century. This version of the store was built in 1883 and remained a prominent community landmark until its demolition in 1932.
This next building also boasted an interesting history. Owned by S.D. Jones, an early merchant in Sanford, this home was originally situated on Carthage Street, right across the street from the Temple Theatre is today. In 1918, the entire home was moved a few blocks down to a location on Endor Street (since renamed Horner Boulevard), where it remained before being torn down in 1958.
Finally, let’s end our travels with a visit to the home of another leading merchant and citizen in early Sanford. George Henry Makepeace and his family lived in this home at the corner of Gordon and North Moore Streets, currently the location of the Heins Education Building — the home of Lee County Schools’ administrative offices. Mr. Makepeace gained fame in the area as a leading executive for the Sanford Sash & Blind Company, starting in the 1880s. He became the mayor of Sanford in 1907, but passed away shortly after taking office.
Editorial content, pictures and research background, compliments of Jimmy Haire and Images of America: Sanford and Lee County, by Jimmy Haire & W.W. Seymour, Jr, available here for purchase. All book proceeds go to Sanford’s Railroad House Historical Association, Inc.