Corner of Newman Avenue and S Main Street,
Harrisonburg, Virginia about 1940
(click on image for better view)
This is an old photo of Harrisonburg, Virginia taken approximately in 1940 or 1941. On the next street corner up, on the left, is a large sign on the outside of the building that says “New Home of Hostetter’s Cut Rate Store.” A National Register of Historic Places Registration form found on the Virginia Department of Historic Resource’s web site states that the Hostetter Building, the description matching the one in the photo, was built about 1940. The sign stating the “New Home …” and the date on the Register’s form is how I am placing the date of the photo. Dating the cars in the photo would be other clues, but I am not that proficient in that area!
Hostetter’s Cut Rate, which was a pharmacy and drug store, actually has signs on both sides of E. Water Street on the left of the picture. On the north side of Water Street, the old location of Hostetter’s, is today a pizza and sandwich place aptly named The Corner.
The “New Home” of Hostetter’s on the south side of Water Street is now The Oasis, a fine arts cooperative gallery.
The next sign on the street reads “Mick or Mack Cash Talks.” Mick or Mack was a grocery store chain that began in Roanoke, Virginia and at its height had stores throughout Western Virginia and some in West Virginia. The “Cash Talks” on the sign describes one of the corner stones of the business. To shop there you needed cash, nothing was sold on credit. Today Mick or Mack’s location is occupied by Dance & Company which offers classical and contemporary dance training.
The building with probably the most interesting sign on the block, in the shape of a large “dinner bell,” belongs to Loewner’s Cafe. Loewner’s, according to an ad placed in the 20 March 1937 edition of the The Breeze (James Madison University’s student newspaper), offered “A Quiet Dining Room for Those Who Desire a Restful Meal.” Today, this is the location of Dave’s Downtown Taverna which offers Greek dishes along with classic America burgers and other cuisine. They have live music and show sporting events (which I experienced on my last visit) on a large screen. Definitely a great place for Harrisonburg’s college crowd.
The building to the far left corner of the photo is no longer there, it is a parking lot. Finally, in the group of buildings on the right side of the photo, directly across from Mick or Mack in the photo, is the only remaining occupant of the block shown in the above picture that is still located there today: the Masonic Temple of Rockingham Union #27.
What a difference 70 some years make! Thinking in terms of the services offered on this block then compared to now displays the changes in the needs and lifestyles of the community it serves.