It’s A Steele!

This week’s Throwback Thursday feature shines the spotlight on one of Sanford’s leading streets of commerce for well over a century.  Steele Avenue covers roughly 15 blocks of terrain in downtown Sanford, ending just past it’s intersection with Hill Avenue at its northwest terminus, and merging into Moore Street at its southeastern end.  How many of these decades-old pictures look familiar to you?

We begin our visit at the home of well-known Dr. Lynn McIver, approximately a century ago.  This home was at the corner of Steele and Summitt, before its demolition in 1960. The area is now a parking lot. If we were to head toward downtown from that location, we might walk past the office of Carolina Power & Light. This picture from 1910 includes 2 CP&L employees outside the front door.

Several churches have made their home on Steele Street over the years.  The Steele Street Methodist Church, at the corner of Steele & Cole Streets looked like this 100 years ago.  The church itself was founded in 1887. After the congregation migrated off of Steele Street and moved to its current Wicker Street location in 1974, it was renamed St. Luke United Methodist Church.

In the heart of downtown, department stores dominated the space for much of the first half of the 1900s. Here we see the Isaacsons Department Store in the foreground, in a picture from the 1920s. Eiford’s Department Store was a community mainstay in Sanford for many decades.  Here is what the outside of the Eiford’s storefront looked like in the 1950s.

Finally, let’s pull back a bit, for a wider view of Steele Street in its 1950s heyday. Here’s what Steele Street looked like, when looking down the street from atop the Wilrick Hotel. Yet 2 more department stores are visible in this picture, with the Williams-Belk store in the foreground on the left side of the street, and J.C. Penney’s original downtown store further down on the right.

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.