The Vagabond – A history of 514 Broad Street


By Danny Crownover

A couple of weeks back, The Vagabond wrote on 414 Broad Street, the new home of the J.P. King Auction Company and all the building’s historical connections. Craig King and other King families restored and preserved the old historical building with great results.

The Etowah Historical Society is able to locate old maps, insurance maps, doc-uments, city directories, photos, etc. for a small fee.

This week, The Vagabond reports on the history of 514 Broad Street, where the Downtown Tavern currently is located.

Written history begins on March 25, 1881, when Benjamin Bridges Whorton and his wife L.E. sold this lot to W.W. Stevenson for $475.

In 1885, Stevenson erected the building. The 1885 Sanborn Map shows the building operating as a restaurant and bakery. Three years later in1888 the building is show as being vacant according to the Sanborn Map. The 1894 Sanborn Map shows the building as being damaged by fire on Jan. 30, 1894.

The Vagabond researched the local newspapers for that time period and came up with this article from February 6, 1894:

Incendiaries Abroad

“Sutton’s Grocery Store [was] robbed then set on fire to hide the deed. Last Wed-nesday morning between 4 and 5 o’clock, dense volumes of smoke was seen issuing from the grocery store of W.H. Sutton [located] opposite Hasseltine & Turner’s livery stable. The alarm was given by the policeman and a few men. The hose was soon on hand, and by hard work the flames were subdued and a serious fire prevented.

“The fire originated in the center of the store near a large lot of hay and was evidently the work of an incendiary, as no fire was left in the store the night before. A large glass in the windows was broken out where the burglars entered. Half a sack of coffee, about 100 pounds of lard, several sacks of flour and a lot of cigars were taken. The hay was piled up and then set on fire to burn up the store and hide the crime.

“The store was owned by W.W. Stevenson and is badly damaged [with] part of the ceiling being burned. Mr. Sutton lost about $250 with no insurance, and the loss is a heavy one to him. He is a hardworking and honest man, and the people will help him to weather his reverse.

“The stock of wall paper in the store adjoining, be-longing to W.W. Stevenson, was badly damaged by smoke and water. [It was] covered by insurance.

“There are many people in and near this city who are without employment and food to subsist on, and they are resorting to robbery and incendiarism. It behooves all to be on the watch. If one were to look inside, you can see where the walls were extended higher and the original 1881 walls are in placed on the lower walls.”

The 1894 Sanborn Map shows the building as being named Milly’s (I’m not sure if it was a store or a restaurant). The 1905 Sanborn Map shows the building being operated as a grocery store. The 1910 Sanborn Map shows the building being a restaurant and bakery with a kitchen and oven added in the back. That same year a drugstore was operated in the location.

In 1910, 514 Broad Street and 516 Broad Street were both owned by W.W. Stevenson and were deeded to his children, Rosemary and Carey Worth Stevenson, alter his death.

The 1915 Sanborn Map shows the building being a drugstore, with an ice cream factory in the back.

Sometimes around 1914-1915, Ralls Drug Store was operated by Oscar B. Ralls with Lacey P. Ralls as a clerk.

From 1916 to 1920, Jack’s Place Inc., with carom and pocket billiards, tobacco, soda foundation and shoe-shining parlor, was located in the building. C.H. Blum was president and L.R. Blum was manager.

In 1923, Rosemary Stevenson and Julia F. Stevenson sold 514 Broad Street to C.H. Blum. The location was still is known as Jack’s Place.

From 1927 to 1930, Ralls Hardware Company was operated in the building by Lacey P. Ralls.

The 1930 Sanborn Map shows that the building was extended in the back.

The city directory shows in 1931 that Ralls Hardware Company was operated by Joseph C. and A.W. Ralls, Jr.

Stay tuned as we continue the history of 514 Broad Street.

Latest News

Rotary Club welcomes Commissioner Pate to recent club meeting in Gadsden
City of Gadsden and Gadsden State continue partnership
Free events planned for Poetry Month
Pinwheel Ceremony brings awareness to child abuse advocacy
Downtown Walking tours now underway

Latest Sports News

Panthers clinch playoff berth with OT win over Springville
Lady Titans win area soccer title
Hokes Bluff to host area softball tournament
Panthers tops in 5A, Titans No. 2 in 6A in latest AHSAA coaches soccer rankings
Southside shows out at Oneonta meet