The Website of



Where Old Gastonia Lives

On Gastonia, On Gastonia. We Are All For You!

Lest we forget.

Please contact us to receive information about linking to this site or reproducing images and text contained herein.

Thank you.
                         CELEBRATING TWELVE YEARS ON THE INTERNET                          

What do we mean by Old Gastonia?
Click here to find out!

The original Home Page contents can now be found on the Introduction Page.
(See instructions at bottom of this page for link to username and password 
located on the "Fair Use Principle" page .)

 Be sure to see the latest addition to the Lost and Endangered page.

"Greasy Corner" reveals its secrets.
Visit our new page, now under construction, and learn about the story of the former Loray/Firestone Square business district as it prepares to awaken from a decades-long slumber.


In the time of another pandemic, we take an early 1917 look east on West Main Avenue from South Street. On the left, the new U.S. Post Office is the pride of the city, while next door, the First National Bank Building (today known as the Lawyers' Building) nears completion. The tower of the Craig and Wilson Building (later part of the Raylass department store chain and now renovated as the Carriage Company Lofts) rises in the distance. On the right are the drug stores of Kennedy and Adams. The seven-story Third National Bank Building will be constructed on the Kennedy site in 1923. In a few short years, the sleepy railroad town has become a young industrial giant. 

True rebirth of Gastonia's center city will eventually come as citizens discover the joys of living in pleasant, comfortable homes surrounding a convenient, compact, walkable, human-scale commercial district that offers all the goods and services required by the local residents. A healthy uptown will never result from government spending on the latest trendy "big idea" that is based on attracting suburban residents to special events. A permanent residential population with disposable income will pump undreamed-of vitality back into the city's core, if that core is left intact, spared from political and social folly.

To some an eyesore. To others a reminder of...
  A shopping wonderland!
A tribute to the former home of Sears, Roebuck & Company and its                    amazing architect, Fred M. Simmons.

With the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. department store on West Franklin Boulevard now only a memory, it is only fitting that we take a moment to remember the building and its architect in former days. Both represented a time of exuberant enthusiasm and unity in the Spindle City before politics and demographics forever changed Gastonia and created, in essence, two cities. The late Mr. Simmons (his groundbreaking modernist office still stands on East Dixon Boulevard, US Highway 74, in Shelby)  was a pioneer aviator, engineer and architect, and, at the time of his death at age 99, was the oldest living Eagle Scout in the eleven-county Piedmont Council BSA.  Learn more about him by reading an article published in the Shelby Star  December 15, 2014 and his obituary, which appeared  in the Gaston Gazette December 11, 2014. Never forget that every structure built by the hand of man was for a purpose. Sometimes that purpose was to construct something that was modern, convenient, attractive, and wondrous, as was the case of Gastonia's class "A" Sears Store. Pass the vacant site and remember.
Tuesday night October 4, 2016, the Gastonia City Council voted to purchase much of the former Trenton Mill Village property, including the Mill, the former Coca Cola plant, and the three block former location of Sears. The meeting was positive, and Council voted to purchase the property, remove the old Sears store, and work toward integration of the two historic properties into the overall FUSE plan. Attitudes toward preservation of historic structures in Gastonia seem to be changing for the better. It has been a long journey.

The historic Trenton Mill, Gastonia's second textile factory and the oldest still standing--1893, is threatened with demolition along with the architecturally important Coca-Cola bottling plant.
This proposed action is part of a planned downtown ballpark that,  without concurrent commercial and residential development, will create a permanent "dead space" and also will abandon Sims Legion Park, which itself brings much needed activity to the depressed former "machine shop row" area of North Marietta Street (now Dr. Martin Luther King Way). See pictures of both structures and read why loss of the city's architectural heritage continues to be the tragic legacy of government interference in the organic operation of the private sector and market forces. 
At the rollout of the ballpark plans, an elected official was reported to have remarked, "We cannot wait for the cavalry." The urgency with which demolition of viable structures is being pursued is chillingly reminiscent of the statement by the previous Mayor that buildings needed to fall to show that the Mayor and City Council meant business about the swim center/conference center project. That project has forever removed a quarter of downtown's main business block from dense development that would have ensured vitality and security with pedestrian traffic and 24-hour eyes-on-the-street.
The cavalry is coming--and soon. Recent events across the river will signal to many that Charlotte has reached a tipping point regarding liveable size and that many who wish for lower taxes, better schools, cheaper property, and a more sane way of life, will look west. The tidal wave of the Queen City's outmigration, which was interrupted by the Great Recession, is about to resume. This time it will go well beyond Belmont, Mount Holly, Cramerton, and Lowell. With that tidal wave will come young creative minds that will see more potential for undeveloped urban land in the center of a mature infrastructure and transportaton network than an isolated ballfield.


On Wednesday March 23, 2016 Smith Drugs closed its doors. Its passing marked the end of Old Gastonia's retail history on West Main Avenue. This picture was taken from a series recorded just before the beginning of the removal sale of Matthews Belk department store on June 23, 1976 and appears in A Glimpse as It Passed: Scenes from A Vanished Gastonia, North Carolina, 1972-1992 published by Trenton Creative Enterprises © 2004.


  On a sunny March Sunday afternoon in 2009, after church and lunch with my mother (the primary inspiration for my love of Gastonia history), I rode over to Gaston Avenue to take some pictures of the old Gastonia Bottling Company building at Gaston and Firestone. To finish the roll of film, I turned to my right and snapped a quick shot of the old neon sign that once announced the location of Stowe's Florist to an almost unbelievably different "across the tracks," back when the Airline/Gaston Avenue area was full of life and vitality. I had the film developed and put the pictures in a box with hundreds of others. Life rolled on. Ten years passed. Mom is gone, the Gastonia Bottling Company building is gone, and Stowe's Florist is gone .

We often focus upon the big things of Old Gastonia: The Loray Mill, The Lawyers' and Commercial Buildings, and so on, while the small places that figure so prominently in our collective and individual pasts quietly disappear without mention or mourning. These are the real landmarks of Old Gastonia and of Old Anyplace. They are worthy of preserving in pictures, memories, and the oft-recounted stories of our lives. 

Below are the pictures captured Sunday afternoon March 8, 2009 of the former Gastonia Bottling Company building at the northwest corner of North Firestone Boulevard and Gaston Avenue. 


One of our primary goals at is to refute the misconception regarding the older parts of the city that they were always dilapidated and dangerous . Native Gastonians who remember the years before 1970 are often shocked at the views newer residents have toward places that were, in our minds, only recently filled with life and vitality. The wastelands of old West Gastonia (now referred to as the western edge of Downtown) are slowly being stirred from their restless and troubling slumber by the energy and promise of the advancing Loray / Firestone Mill project. 

Gastonia's original Holiday Inn was constructed on former Trenton Mill Village property in 1962 amid much fanfare. For a time, it represented the highest development of the hospitality industry and was state-of-the-art for the company. 

Within a short time after the motel's construction, the bulk of the remaining Trenton Village property was sold  for the construction of a Sears Roebuck Company
class "A" store. Ample parking was provided in front of the store on Franklin Avenue with an additional two blocks of well-lighted space at the rear entrance across Main Avenue bounded by Trenton Street, Hill Street, and the Southern Railway tracks.

These anchor institutions and the surrounding churches, homes, stores, and the sparkling new YMCA teemed with life. It was a good place.

Sometimes the past presents a picture of what the future can be.

Our mission is to be interpretive and educational as well as visual and entertaining.
Thank you for visiting. 

(Credits: The Holiday Inn Postcard was produced by Curt Teich & Co., Chicago, c.1960; the newspaper clipping is from the "Weekender" supplement to the Gastonia Gazette, October 31, 1965.)

This is the book that led to the creation of the website.
Now in its thirteenth year of publication.
Visit the 
History page to read how it happened.


Due to widespread "sharing"--unauthorized copying and reposting of creative efforts and material that resulted in this site--certain pages are only password-accessible.
For now we are providing the required username and password (that will change from time-to-time) to all visitors free-of charge.
They are posted at the end of the Fair Use article along with our user agreement.
(Click link here or below.)

be aware that posting of material lifted from on such sites as Pinterest without permission constitutes unauthorized use and possibly violates their Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy.
Please use this site with care so we can continue sharing it with everyone.

Please click here to read
information about fair use of copyrighted material from the
United States Copyright Office and to obtain the username and password.
(Scroll to the bottom of the page to find username and password.) 

Go to Retro Vintage Gastonia to see scenes from Gastonia's past, 


browse this website (from where B.T. Haynes copied many of them without permission, including two that are protected by United States copyright laws) to see those and many more images that represent a lifetime of collecting and preserving Gastonia's visual history. 


Copyright 2020 Trenton Creative Enterprises. All rights reserved.
Note: This is a commercial website. It is the creation of Timothy Craig Ellis, DBA Trenton Creative Enterprises, who holds registered copyright protection over his photographs and reserves copyright over design, layout, and content of this website. Intellectual property rights are reserved under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other pertinent laws and regulations. 
We may seek legal remedies against any who reproduce or repost material contained in this website without first obtaining permission in writing. We monitor websites and social media pages regularly.
Please contact us for information regarding linking to Help us keep the site open for everyone. Thank you for your cooperation.

Website Builder