For nearly a century, one of the most prominent roads in Sanford was Endor Street.
Doesn’t ring a bell? Perhaps the Endor name is familiar to you because of the Endor Iron Furnace Greenway, or possible plans to turn the furnace grounds into a state park. The furnace was one of the first means of commerce in the area, created in 1863 to produce pig iron for the Confederacy. The furnace closed in 1873, roughly the same time Endor Street came in to being in the heart of Sanford.
Our first photo is of the Farmers Warehouse in the 1940s, a thriving source of business at the corner of Endor and Wicker, until a fire destroyed it in the late-1950s. Next, we get a closer look at a crowded Endor Street, between Wicker and Carthage. Also dated from the late 50’s, on the left side of the street is the charred remains of the market.
Still confused by our location? Let’s head down the street several blocks for look at the Lee County Courthouse in the 1950s. This picture pre-dates construction of the new jailhouse and courtrooms that have now been in existence for a few decades. If you’re thinking the court house is located on Horner Boulevard, you’re also correct. Here’s why.
Until the mid-1960s, Endor was a 2-lane street, traversing from its southern origins near the court house and Rose Street, and travelling north out of town and into the country. In the heart of Sanford, it served as an informal border to the heart of downtown. As this postcard of Caddell’s Cafe from sometime in the 1930s or 1940s suggests, Endor Street’s designation as both US and state highways, conveyed its importance — both as a throughfare for local residents and as an artery for travelers from out-of-town.
A little over 50 years ago, a decision was made to alter the size and scope of Endor Street, in order to accommodate all the road’s traffic. “Highway 421” was modified to become a 4-lane boulevard and was renamed in honor of William E. Horner, long-time publisher and owner of the Sanford Herald, as well as a state highway commissioner. Businesses such as those pictured here in the 1950s were casualties of modernization. By the 1980s, US 421 was completely rerouted around Sanford and the roadway inside the city was renamed as Business US 421.
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.