Now and Then #4

Now and Then #4

This, our fourth in the “Now and Then” series, focuses on the even-numbered homes on the north side of Main Street’s 1000 block. Few of Danville’s downtown blocks have changed as much as this one has.

Beginning at the corner of Main and Holbrook Streets, where the Wednesday Club at 1002 Main Street presently stands, there were two houses. 1002 Main Street was the home of Dr. Benjamin Walker and was built sometime in the 1880’s. Next door at 1006 once stood a structure built sometime in the first decade of the 1900’s and was the home of John F. Rison, president of the street railway. These two houses were torn down around 1969 to make way for the building that stands there presently. It was also here, and on an angle adjacent to 1002 that the old Holbrook Street intersection was located before it was realigned in the 1950’s.

The home at 1012 Main Street was built for tobacconist Thomas Williamson in 1898. The Williamson family maintained the home well into the 1980’s. In the 1990s, it served as offices and data center for Gamewood Data Systems.

Next door at 1020 Main Street is the impressive Penn-Carter house, affectionately known by many as “The Wedding Cake House” owing to its elaborate Adams-esque ornamentation and truncated turret. The house was built by James Gabriel Penn for his daughter Mary Katherine upon her marriage to cousin Barnes Penn in 1897. The house was built around 1904, and it, too, was miraculously maintained by Penn descendants until the mid-1980’s. The Penns built and maintained several of the city’s most architecturally significant houses.

At 1026 Main Street is the Swain House, which, judging by its footprint on the 1910 Sanborn map above, looked considerably different than it does today with its stucco exterior and chunky mission-esque roofline (see featured image). The house was the home of George Washington Swain as early as 1880. Mr. Swain was a tobacconist and partner in Swain, Wyllie & Co. William Bethel Hill acquired the property in 1919, and it was likely he who converted the home into its present iteration, in keeping with the Art Deco aversion to all things Victorian.

1032 Main Street, presently the site of the Danville Urologic Clinic, was the site of the Tyack home, believed to be part of the Doe farm. According to the 1880 Census, Joseph Landon Tyack lived here with his wife, Sallie Allen Doe, daughter of Thomas Bartlett Doe. To offer some idea how large the Doe farm was, the Catholic church on Holbrook Street was built on land purchased from a portion of that property. The Doe’s have been mentioned previously. Thomas Bartwell Doe was Sallie’s brother, and it was Thomas Bartwell and his wife, Dora Dean Williamson, who were responsible for much of Danville’s early development. Later, in the 1920’s, the house was occupied by Elisha Jones, brother of Witcher Keen Jones and cousin of Nancy Langhorne Astor. The house was torn down in 1968 to make way for the present medical office.

The homes at 1042 and 1046 Main Street (pictured above as they were situated next to each other, rather than in numerical order) were both lost to the expansion of the medical clinic which required more parking. 1042 (on the right) was the home of Isaac and Dora Rosenstock. Isaac owned a successful dry goods store and was a founding member of the Sunday School that formed the first iteration of “the congregation of Beth Sholom.” After his death in 1932, the house was sold. In 1946, while converting the house into apartments, a fire broke out and caused “considerable damage.”

1046 Main Street was the home of William Pinkney Bethel, a tobacconist, and Mary Sue Price Bethel from at least 1870 until their deaths in 1915 and 1929, respectively. From 1940 until its demolition in 1972, the house belonged to Eleanor T. Southall, and was therefore known as the Southall house. It is interesting to note that, when the survey was conducted in 1971 as part of the application for the neighborhood’s historic designation, the house was deemed to be  in “excellent” condition and one of architectural and historical significance, both to the neighborhood and to the city of Danville.

Still standing, the Haskins-Meade House at 1050 Main Street was built around 1893 for Robert and Mary Haskins. Mr. Haskins was a representative of the Imperial Tobacco Company. From 1915 until about 1933, the house was the home of Randolph Meade, brother of city Mayor Edmund Baylies Meade and uncle to world-renown author, Julian Rutherford Meade. It was Mr. Meade, with the help of architect J. Bryant Heard, who transformed the house from its asymmetrical Queen-Anne style into the stucco-clad structure it is today. The house is soon to be the new location of King Cropp.





One Comment
  1. Thanks for this article! Have always loved the Haskins-Meade house in particular but knew nothing of its history. Always thought of it as pleasantly 1920s — maybe that’s when Messrs Meade and Heard gave it its makeover. Can’t believe it was once that Queen Anne gem!

    The rounded upstairs window looks like doors to a porch or balcony — maybe there was one once. Otherwise, very unusual for a window frame to stretch that low?

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