The Loray/Firestone Mill pumped energy and vitality into Old West Gastonia from 1901 until its closing in 1993.
The Loray Mill Redevelopment project now getting underway promises to do even more,
not only for West Gastonia, but for the entire city.
Congratulations to all those who kept the faith and continued the good work for 21 years that made this auspicious event a reality.
(The Loray Mill photograph circa 1907 is from the Loray Historical Collection, Loray Baptist Church, Gastonia, North Carolina.)
Gastonia, North Carolina was established at the intersection of two railroads in 1877. The textile industry was planted in the city in 1887 and found fertile ground for its flourishing with the rapid growth of many mills and their accompanying employee villages. In 1976, with the opening of Eastridge Mall, Uptown ceased to be Gastonia's retail center. The area then endured two major governmental redevelopment projects: a devastating Main Avenue "beautification" that reduced onstreet parking and drove several struggling businesses out of existence and the lowering of Southern Railway's main line tracks into a ditch that wiped out one-third of Uptown's built environment. The twenty-first century witnessed the demise of textiles as a major industry in the United States. The center city, which by that time had become known as "Downtown" (possibly because of the direction it had taken), continued a long, slow decline as development increased at a fever pitch on the eastern fringe of the city (the Charlotte side). In recent years, there had been growing hope that private development would bring life back to the lightly-traveled streets, and some progress had indeed been made. But then the tentacles of government again moved into the arena, bringing attention and controversy back to the heart of Gastonia. Political arrogance once again wreaked havok, and irreplaceable buildings fell. In their place was raised a monument to narcissism, about which future citizens will wonder.This is where we find ourselves in 2013.
Here on this website we celebrate what was, is, and again might be. Along the way we hope to assist in the efforts to make the forgotten places again full of life and vitality. Welcome and enjoy.
BEFORE YOU GO ANY FARTHER, READ ABOUT OUR MISSION .
EASY NAVIGATION THROUGH OLD GASTONIA!
IF YOU FOLLOW ONE OF THE MANY LINKS ON THIS WEBSITE, YOU MAY RETURN BY SIMPLY CLICKING ON THE "BACK" BUTTON OF YOUR BROWSER.
SEE PICTURES OF THE OLD GASTON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL ON THE
LOST AND ENDANGERED PAGE.
This was possibly the wakeup call that alerted Gastonians to one threat to their heritage they could not ignore.
GOOD NEWS! Three Winston-Salem companies (Landmark Asset Services, Dewey Anderson, and Rehab Builders) are completing renovation of the old Gaston Memorial / City Hospital complex into 75 units of senior housing and the old Armstrong/Marietta Apartments into 18 quality market rate apartments. These projects were part of a financing package that included funding for the long-awaited Loray Mill Project following 21 years of hopes, dreams, and prayers. Many thanks to Preservation North Carolina for its steady, unwavering guidance and support for this project, which promises to bring life back to Old Gastonia's central core.
Perhaps the tide of destruction of Gastonia's architectural heritage is beginning to recede.
Take a short, nostalgic tour of what has disappeared in recent years from Uptown/Downtown Gastonia's western gateway. Read "Avenue of Ghosts," posted April 28, 2009 on the Journal page.
Click here to read Timothy C. Ellis' address at the Gastonia City Council Meeting September 7, 2010 entitled "Gastonia's Downtown Revitalization: A 40-Year Retrospective." Mr. Ellis first appeared before City Council in 1977 to protest the pending demolition of a once-grand house on South Street. He spoke a second time May 4, 1982 as an advocate for the preservation of Central School.
He appeared at the January 3, 2012 Council meeting to offer a welcoming challenge to the new Mayor and City Council. See it on the City of Gastonia website. (Go to the "Public Expression" section of the 1/3/12 City Council meeting video.)
THANK YOU FOR VISITING WWW.VINTAGEGASTONIA.COM.
MORE THAN 57,000 VISITS DURING OUR 61 MONTHS ON THE INTERNET!
We are regularly adding new material to this website.
(Last updated April 20, 2013.)
Visit us often.
Send us information about upcoming Gastonia events of a historical nature and reunions as well as links to
Gastonia-themed websites by visiting the "Contact Us" page.
Sign up for our free occasional email newsletter!
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Simply go to the "Contact Us," page, click on our email address, and type "Add me to the list."
(If you have ever contacted us before, you are probably already on it.)
Your purchase of items listed on the Products page helps us remain on the internet.
Keep the memories of Old Gastonia alive!
Visit the Gastonia History page!
Noted Gastonia and Gaston County historian Robert Allison Ragan tells the story of the founding of
Gastonia, North Carolina!
(Article 19 was posted December 6, 2012.)
Robert Ragan's latest book and crowning achievement,
The History of Gastonia and Gaston County North Carolina:
A Vision of America at Its Best,
is available now!
Click on the title to learn where you can get a copy.
York Chester National Historic District
to see how the past fits wonderfully into the present.
Click here for more information about the YCNHD.
PLAN NOW TO PROWL THE YCNHD JUNE 1 FOR
THE ANNUAL NEIGHBORHOOD YARD SALE.
BARGAINS, TREASURES, ANTIQUES, AND RARE FINDS AWAIT YOUR DISCOVERY!
SEE THE NEIGHBORHOOD WEBSITE ABOVE FOR A MAP OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
SEE YOU THERE!
Visit the Millican Pictorial History Museum located at 35 Catawba Street in Belmont, North Carolina.
Among the huge collection of archival scenes are many interesting pictures of Gastonia's past!
(Click here to visit their Facebook page.)
Don't miss Charlotte architect Terry Shook's article describing his awakening appreciation for Gastonia, his hometown. The article is published on PlanCharlotte.org, the website of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.
We are proud to add G-Town Sound, a website celebrating Gastonia's dance bands of the 60's and 70's
to the Music section of the Time Travel page!
Visit Adam Prince's fascinating website Carolina Lost! (See us there.)
Read the story of Sun Drop® and its beginnings in Gastonia on the Journal page. (Posted January 29, 2011.)
See selected pages from the scrapbook of pioneer Gastonia radio station WGNC, provided through the efforts of former DJ Randy Jenkins and by the generosity of Mr. Jerry McSwain. Don't touch that dial! (Click here.)
Read excerpts from our correspondence with Hugh E. White, Jr. the grandson of Hugh E. White, architect of several iconic Gastonia structures, and find the link to his fascinating website containing heretofore unpublished drawings and photographs on the Journal page.
Visit our page entitled "The Lay of the Land" featuring vintage aerial views of Gastonia.
The late 1940's addition to the First National Bank (Lawyers' Building) has been removed. This beneficial demolition has uncovered the architectural grandeur of the structure that once welcomed travelers as they made their way through the landscaped walkway that passed between it and the old Post Office from the Southern Railway station to Main Avenue. That which is now visible is breathtaking to anyone who loves Uptown/Downtown Gastonia or just beautiful architecture in general. You must see it! (Until you can get there in person, see the photo essay here.)
Gastonia's Brookwood Historic District is compiling its history. If you have information about, or once lived in Brookwood (located on South York Street, below the former Gastonia/Ashley High School buildings), please contact email@example.com.
The 1960 Class of Frank L. Ashley High School held its 50th anniversary reunion October 8-9, 2010.
Visit their website (below) for news of the event.
The 1959 Class of Frank L. Ashley High School held its 50th anniversary reunion October 9-10, 2009.
Visit their website (below) for news of the event.
The 1969 Class of Frank L. Ashley High School held its 40th anniversary reunion November 28, 2009.
A great time was had by all!
(Visit the Ashley High School Facebook page for pictures, news, and information.)
Visit these Frank L. Ashley High School class websites:
Class of 1957
Class of 1959
Class of 1960
Please share any information you might have on Gastonia schools prior to the 1971 county consolidation.
Randy Whitesides found a wonderful image of Armstrong Elementary School (originally named South School that stood on the west side of Union Road just south of what is now Garrison Boulevard) and shares it with us (through the courtesy of the Gaston County Schools) here.
Be sure to read the forgotten story of the "First Union" building
on the Journal page.
(Just as every life weaves a tale, so does every structure built by the hand of man.)
On November 18, 2008 the Gastonia City Council voted to demolish all five historic buildings on the site of the proposed Big Splash project. Many questioned if this would be the "third strike" of government intervention in Uptown/Downtown since the tragic eastward exodus of the mid-1970's.
It appears that it was.
Read "This Is Our Property!" on the Journal page.
Have you visited the Time Travel page lately? Immerse yourself in the past!
Share your Gastonia news, stories, and pictures here!
Invite every Gastonian you know to visit and participate.
Life is fleeting; make the most of it by remembering how you became who you are.
Is there a Ratchford in your family tree? If so (or even if you are just curious), visit the Ratchford family website and spend some time with your kin. (We are there, too, even though we are not Ratchfords.)
Add this site to your "favorites," and patronize the businesses mentioned herein.
(Tell them they were mentioned on vintagegastonia.com.)
We are looking for photographs of businesses and residences that once stood Uptown along Airline Avenue. Send us an e-mail with a description or an attachment.
Do you have vintage maps, advertisements, brochures, matchbook covers, grand opening "giveaways,"or other publicity pieces featuring Gastonia businesses and organizations from the 1930's through the 1970's? See the Ephemera page. If you would like to see your items displayed there, along with proper credit, please send an e-mail attachment or contact us to make arrangements for them to be scanned and returned.
Gastonians! Realize the treasure you possess before it is gone!
The first Gastonia Post Office / Federal Building, dedicated January 31, 1916 (2,000 in attendance), opened for business February 1, 1916. Built at a cost of $70,250, the imposing structure stood on the northeast corner of West Main Avenue and North South Street. It was erected on the site of the old town square, later known as the City Park. Built of brick and Indiana limestone, the Post Office was part of a monumental building program in the city from 1915 to 1917 that included a new Central School (completed in 1915 to replace the original one that burned), the Armington Hotel (on Airline Avenue across from the Southern Railway passenger station, September 1915), the Post Office, West School (later known as Abernethy, west of the Loray Mill, March 1917), its twin East School (on the North side of Ozark, across from the Ozark Mill--later Wix Filters' original plant, 1917), and the seven-story First National Bank Building (now known as the Lawyers Building, July 1917). Of these six monumental structures that were substantial enough to have lasted into the 21st. century, only two did. This Post Office building was demolished in 1937 after the opening of the present Main Post Office farther west at York and Main. A Revolutionary War commemorative bronze plaque that had been placed in the loggia of the building at its opening by the William Gaston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution was moved to a similar location at Memorial Hall on Second Avenue. (Print from a copy of the original byJim Brown / Cam Art Studios. See the original here.)
Intersection of North York Street and West Airline Avenue, 1969. Pictured is the Gastonia Ice Cream Company, home of Honey Kist Ice Cream. This area was obliterated for the excavation of "the ditch," Gastonia's premier eyesore and Downtown's greatest impediment to healthy redevelopment.
(Photograph credit Charles Kaylor. Print by Jim Brown, Cam Art Studios.)
A view of the south side of the 100th block of West Main Avenue
at the close of a business day in July 1974
A view of Chester Street, taken in the summer of 1984 using a 200mm telephoto lens, looking north from the entrance to the Oakwood Cemetery. Note the Southern Railway overpass in the distance, the house on the northeast corner of Franklin and Chester, and the red roses on the cemetery fence. This photograph appears (in black and white) in A Glimpse as It Passed: Scenes from a Vanished Gastonia, North Carolina, 1972-1992, published by Trenton Creative Enterprises. It can be purchased through any of our retail partners.
Opposite view from the railroad overpass, looking south on Chester Street (US 321), early spring 1973. From A Glimpse as It Passed: Scenes from a Vanished Gastonia, North Carolina, 1972-1992, published by Trenton Creative Enterprises. It can be purchased through any of our retail partners.
Y.L. HONEY'S "MINUTE GRILL" AT 1414 EAST FRANKLIN AVENUE.
Originally opened at 1414 East Franklin Avenue as "Green Gables" around 1935 by Winston Salem native Yates Louis Honey, the "Minute Grill" (as it was known from 1939) was a popular 24-hour eatery.
It was remodeled in the 1950's, and the name was changed to "Honey's." The building was demolished in 1964, and a "D'Lites" restaurant was built on the site. It became an Arby's, and is now the "Fiesta Margarita" Mexican restaurant.
Photo and information courtesy of David Bedinger, Vice President of Honey Properties, Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
(Click here for the story of Honey's.
The Albion Grocery Company (wholesale grocers), founded by W.J Clifford and J.O. Rankin, served the larger independent grocery stores as well as the "Mom and Pop" variety that proliferated in Gastonia during the first half of the twentieth century. The advent of the large grocery chains with their own centralized sources of supply spelled doom for Albion and its competitors by the late 1960's. This building stood in the curve on the south side of Airline Avenue (now the beginning of Long Avenue), immediately east of the Chester Street railroad overpass, where Airline adjusted its path to line up with the railroad. In this eastward view taken in the spring of 1973, the Lawyers' and Commercial buildings can be seen in the background on Main Avenue.
This view along with more than 250 others of old Gastonia can be seen in A Glimpse as It Passed: Scenes from a Vanished Gastonia, North Carolina, 1972-1992 published by Trenton Creative Enterprises and available through our Retail Partners. (Copyright enforced.)
Trenton Street tiles November 23, 2003
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