Regular readers of our Throwback column know that from time-to-time, we enjoy a casual stroll along one of Sanford’s prominent and historic streets. This time, we’ll travel along Wicker Street and drop in on a few notable businesses and buildings. Wicker’s footprint is rather unusual. It begins a few miles west of town as the extension of Carbonton Road and ends abruptly in downtown at the Chatham Street intersection, where McIver Street begins. Of course, much of Wicker’s downtown real estate has always been prime, as we see in this photo dating all the way back to 1923.
If we move back up up the road slightly and advance a few years, we see a quintessential Wicker view that includes the 6-story tall Wilrick Hotel on the left and the Sycamore Building on the right, present-day location of Dossenbach’s. These 2 buildings were constructed in the mid-1920s. This picture dates to approximately 1930.
Another noteworthy building that was constructed in the 1920s boom time was the Bower Building, located across the street from the Wilrick at the corner of Wicker and Steele Streets. This structure was the prominent home of Rimmer’s Drug Store, eventually to become Mann’s Drug Store. The Sanford post office operated from this location between 1927 and 1937. A wide range of professional offices were in use on the top floor of the building during much of its hey day.
Moving a little further back up Wicker in the direction of modern-day Depot Park, this is a snowy look at 1930s activity. During this timeframe, Wicker Street was filled with filled with plenty of retailers, business professionals and eating establishments. Notables in this picture include the Sanford Cafe and the Western Auto store on the left side of the street.
Our next picture is from within a few yards of the exact same spot, roughly 10-15 years later. Here, we still see Coca-Cola signage to the right and the Sanford Cafe on the left. The store in the immediate front on the left side is a Progressive Market grocery store. Progressive was a small regional grocery chain and the first in the area to feature self-serve shopping.
Speaking of “progressive,” we’ll end today’s travels along Wicker Street by dropping in on an innovative company named City Dry Cleaners & Tailors. From their Wicker location at the intersection of what is now Horner Boulevard, the company fanned out through the region with a fleet of service trucks from the 1930s into the 1950s. They travelled as far as Fort Bragg, to provide garment cleaning services to their many customers. This picture shows at least 6 drivers ready to start making their rounds.
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.